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”.

Advertisements

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

Advertisements

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


Advertisements

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. 


Advertisements

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, 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. 

Advertisements

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).

Advertisements

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js
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

Advertisements

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)

Follow the blog tour with the hashtag #OutofNoWay #MadamC.J.Walker #RojeAugustin

Posted in Guest Post

Guest Post by Roje Augustin

I first learned about Sarah Breedlove — or Madam C.J. Walker as she would come to be known — in my early 20s. I remember it clearly because when I read her story in A’Lelia Perry Bundles’ wonderful book Madam C.J Walker Entrepreneur, my jaw literally dropped. Prior to reading her book, it never occurred to me that a woman like Walker could even exist. African American history, such as it was taught in my early school years, was biased and flimsy at best. That her life story was not a standard part of the curriculum was offensive to me.


I was taught about Anne Frank, Amelia Earhart, Florence Nightingale, Susan B Anthony, Joan of Arc… But where my people were concerned, all I learned was that we were slaves and one day a slave named Harriet Tubman chose to devote her life to freeing her follow slaves from bondage. An important and inspiring story no doubt, but as a black girl, it would have been so edifying to have learned about Madam C.J. Walker, too.

After discovering her, I devoured everything I could find about Madam Walker, which included a second biography, On Her Own Ground The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker, also written by her great-great-granddaughter, A’Lelia Perry Bundles. There were also a handful of other biographies and two novelised accounts of her life.

Fast forward to 2018. When I started to write Out of No Way, I returned to these biographies as well as material I found on online, namely old Walker advertisements for her hair care products. On Her Own Ground proved invaluable for providing timelines, dates, locations, events, and names, which became the foundation for my poems: the who, what, when, where, and to some degree, the why. But the thing that became clear to me in re-reading the books a second time around was how starved I felt for personal details, for a more intimate voice, particularly with regard to Madam Walker’s relationship to her daughter, A’Lelia, as a working mother. Because of my deep desire for more intimate knowledge of their relationship, the mother/daughter dynamic became the overarching theme of Out of No Way, the lens through which all the poems were written.


Like any successful entrepreneur, Madam C.J. Walker was driven. How else as a black woman could she have become America’s first self-made female millionaire during one of the most racially violent periods in American history? As a mother myself, I’ve always been intrigued by highly successful working moms. Knowing that great achievement requires great sacrifice I wondered, what were Madam Walker’s sacrifices?


I started with this question, and it led to many more: What did money mean to Sarah? How did her daughter feel about their journey from rags to riches? What, if any, were the drawbacks of their wealth? Did Sarah’s ambitions have an impact on Lelia’s sense of self? Could the death of her own mother when she was a child have compromised Sarah’s more nurturing instincts? And how did they really feel about their hair?

I took all these questions and attempted to answer them through verse. While I enjoy a lot of contemporary poetry, I felt her story would be best served by turning to the kind of poetry that relied on meter, rhyme, and structure. So I re-read a lot of my favourite ‘old school’ poets (Hughes, Cullins, Poe, Angelou, Yeats, to name a few) as part of my research as well.


I then organised the research into themes, or issues, that were relevant to their lives. Then, in thinking about my overarching theme of the mother/daughter relationship, a flash of inspiration hit me. The words Mother and Daughter gave way to a kind of acrostic structure that allowed me to divide the themes into chapters so that the entire book itself became an acrostic poem.


Money

Orphan

Travel

Hair

Envy

Resilience

Death

Art

U…

Generations

Hatred

Transcendence

Education

Regrets

Once I landed on this structure, I had another flash of inspiration — to write each chapter in a different form of poetry. This made the task infinitely more enjoyable. I love working within a defined structure. I am most creative when I have boundaries, and working within the boundaries of say a haiku or a sonnet meant that I had to focus my research into a fine point for each poem, which in turn helped me to stay on theme. The experience gave me a newfound appreciation and respect for poetry and for great poets, from Shakespeare to the rapper Stormzy.


It is my hope that Out of No Way will introduce readers to Madam C.J. Walker’s incredible legacy while also serving as a kind of instructional guide to different poetic forms. At the very least I hope it will introduce young readers to the joys of structure, rhyme, and meter.

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. She established Breaknight Films shortly after her move to Sydney in 2009 to develop and produce television projects across a range of formats, including television, web, and audio. Her first Sydney based project was a podcast and visual web series called The Right Space, which explores the relationship between creatives and their workspace. Rojé continues to work as a television producer while also writing in her spare time. She is an Australian citizen who currently lives in Sydney with her Aussie husband and two daughters.

Add to GoodReads:

Out of No Way

Available on Amazon.

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)

Follow the blog tour with the hashtag #OutofNoWay #MadamC.J.Walker #RojeAugustin

Enter the Giveaway:

2 copies available (digital for international entrants; print for U.S./Canada entrants) Giveaway ends Oct. 31, 2020.

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

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”. 

Advertisements

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

Advertisements

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.

SOCIAL:

Jude Deveraux

Author Website: http://hesterfox.com/

TWITTER: @HesterBFox

Insta: @trotfoxwrite

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

BUY LINKS:

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Walmart

Google

iBooks

Kobo

Advertisements

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.

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

The Day Lincoln Lost By Charles Rosenberg Review

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

A web of conspiracy and corruption makes it’s way into one of the United States most impactful elections in the historical fiction thriller “The Day Lincoln Lost” by Charles Rosenberg. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

An inventive historical thriller that reimagines the tumultuous presidential election of 1860, capturing the people desperately trying to hold the nation together – and those trying to crack it apart.

Abby Kelley Foster arrived in Springfield, Illinois with the fate of the nation on her mind. Her fame as an abolitionist speaker had spread west and she knew that her first speech in the city would make headlines. One of the residents reading those headlines would be none other than the likely next President of the United States.

Abraham Lincoln, lawyer and presidential candidate, knew his chances of winning were good. All he had to do was stay above the fray of the slavery debate and appear the voice of compromise until the people cast their votes. The last thing he needed was a fiery abolitionist appearing in town. When her speech sparks violence, leading to her arrest and a high-profile trial, he suspects that his political rivals have conspired against him.

President James Buchanan is one such rival. As his term ends and his political power crumbles, he gathers his advisors at the White House to make one last move that might derail Lincoln’s campaign, steal the election, and throw America into chaos.

A fascinating historical novel and fast-paced political thriller of a nation on the cusp of civil war, The Day Lincoln Lost offers an unexpected window into one of the most consequential elections in our country’s history.

The Review

A truly unique and fascinating story that comes along during a time where our world is facing more injustice and painful experiences in the fight to bring equality and recognition to all people, not just a select few, author Charles Rosenberg’s “The Day Lincoln Lost” is a much needed political thriller with a historical fiction bend. 

The author does a great job of utilizing historical figures into the narrative while also giving ample room for new characters to come along for the narrative and bring about a new depth to the theme of racial equality. The horrors that the Black Community faced during this time period of slavery are showcased greatly within this narrative, and show that although slavery has ended, discrimination and hatred are still very much alive in this day and age, and only by learning from the past can we change. 

The Verdict

A good mixture of meaningful lessons and an intriguing political thriller that highlights the complex fight to end slavery and how the more prominent figures of that time rose to the level people now know them for, the author does an amazing job of introducing enough new material to keep readers invested in the narrative. Fans of the Historical Fiction genre and political thrillers will not be able to put this book down, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 8/10

Advertisements

About the Author:

Charles Rosenberg is the author of the legal thriller Death on a High Floor and its sequels. The credited legal consultant to the TV shows LA Law, Boston Legal, The Practice, and The Paper Chase, he was also one of two on-air legal analysts for E! Television’s coverage of the O.J. Simpson criminal and civil trials. He teaches as an adjunct law professor at Loyola Law School and has also taught at UCLA, Pepperdine and Southwestern law schools. He practices law in the Los Angeles area.

Social Links:

Author website: https://www.charlesrosenbergauthor.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/whomdunnit

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/whomdunnit/

Advertisements

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Day-Lincoln-Lost-Charles-Rosenberg/dp/1335145222

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-day-lincoln-lost-charles-rosenberg/1133354517

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/the-day-lincoln-lost/9781335145222

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335145222

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/9781335145222?AID=10747236&PID=7651142&cjevent=dcfae1e7924811ea828701380a1c0e12

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/audiobook/the-day-lincoln-lost-1

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-day-lincoln-lost/id1478903595?ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Charles_Rosenberg_The_Day_Lincoln_Lost?id=x0CtDwAAQBAJ

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/the-day-lincoln-lost/9781335145222-item.html?ikwsec=Books&ikwidx=2#algoliaQueryId=0cb52dcdba3b997f62ee33523e57409f

Advertisements

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Kentucky

Early August, 1860

Lucy Battelle’s birthday was tomorrow. She would be twelve. Or at least that was what her mother told her. Lucy knew the date might not be exact, because Riverview Plantation didn’t keep close track of when slaves were born. Or when they died, for that matter. They came, they worked and they went to their heavenly reward. Unless, of course, they were sold off to somewhere else.

There had been a lot of selling-off of late. The Old Master, her mother told her, had at least known how to run a plantation. And while their food may have been wretched at times, there had always been enough. But the Old Master had died years before Lucy was born. His eldest son, Ezekiel Goshorn, had inherited Riverview.

Ezekiel was cruel, and he had an eye for young black women, although he stayed away from those who had not yet developed. Lucy has seen him looking at her of late, though. She was thin, and very tall for her age—someone had told her she looked like a young tree—and when she looked at herself naked, she could tell that her breasts were beginning to come. “You are pretty,” her mother said, which sent a chill through her.

Whatever his sexual practices, Goshorn had no head for either tobacco farming or business, and Riverview was visibly suffering for it, and not only for a shortage of food. Lucy could see that the big house was in bad need of painting and other repairs, and the dock on the river, which allowed their crop to be sent to market, looked worse and worse every year. By now it was half-falling-down. Slaves could supply the labor to repair things, of course, but apparently Goshorn couldn’t afford the materials.

Last year, a blight had damaged almost half the tobacco crop. Goshorn had begun to sell his slaves south to make ends meet.

In the slave quarter, not a lot was really known about being sold south, except that it was much hotter there, the crop was harder-to-work cotton instead of tobacco and those who went didn’t come back. Ever.

Several months earlier, two of Lucy’s slightly older friends had been sold, and she had watched them manacled and put in the back of a wagon, along with six others. Her friends were sobbing as the wagon moved away. Lucy was dry-eyed because then and there she had decided to escape.

Others had tried to escape before her, of course, but most had been caught and brought back. When they arrived back, usually dragged along in chains by slave catchers, Goshorn—or one of his five sons—had whipped each of them near to death. A few had actually died, but most had been nursed back to at least some semblance of health by the other slaves.

Lucy began to volunteer to help tend to them—to feed them, put grease on their wounds, hold their hands while they moaned and carry away the waste from their bodies. Most of all, though, she had listened to their stories—especially to what had worked and what had failed.

One thing she had learned was that they used hounds to pursue you, and that the hounds smelled any clothes you left behind to track you. One man told her that another man who had buried his one pair of extra pants in the woods before he left—not hard to do because slaves had so little—had not been found by the dogs.

Still another man said a runaway needed to take a blanket because as you went north, it got colder, especially at night, even in the summer. And you needed to find a pair of boots that would fit you. Lucy had tried on her mother’s boots—the ones she used in the winter—and they fit. Her mother would find another pair, she was sure.

The hard thing was the Underground Railroad. They had all heard about it. They had even heard the masters damning it. Lucy had long understood that it wasn’t actually underground and wasn’t even a railroad. It was just people, white and black, who helped you escape—who fed you, hid you in safe houses and moved you, sometimes by night, sometimes under a load of hay or whatever they had that would cover you.

The problem was you couldn’t always tell which ones were real railroaders and which ones were slave catchers posing as railroaders. The slaves who came back weren’t much help about how to tell the difference because most had guessed wrong. Lucy wasn’t too worried about it. She had not only the optimism of youth, but a secret that she thought would surely help her.

Tonight was the night. Over the past few days she had dug a deep hole in the woods where she could bury her tiny stash of things that might carry her smell. For weeks before that, she had foraged and dug for mushrooms in the woods, and so no one seemed to pay much mind to her foraging and digging earlier that day. As she left, she planned to take the now-too-small shift she had secretly saved from last year’s allotment—her only extra piece of clothing—along with her shoes and bury them in the hole. That way the dogs could not take her smell from anything left behind. She would take the blanket she slept in with her.

She had also saved up small pieces of smoked meat so that she had enough—she hoped—to sustain her for a few days until she could locate the Railroad. She dropped the meat into a small cloth bag and hung it from a string tied around her waist, hidden under her shift.

Her mother had long ago fallen asleep, and the moon had set. Even better, it was cloudy and there was no starlight. Lucy put on her mother’s boots, stepped outside the cabin and looked toward the woods.

As she started to move, Ezekiel Goshorn appeared in front of her, seemingly out of nowhere, along with two of his sons and said, “Going somewhere, Lucy?”

“I’m just standing here.”

“Hold out your arms.”

“Why?”

“Hold out your arms!”

She hesitated but finally did as he asked, and one of his sons, the one called Amasa, clamped a pair of manacles around her wrists. “We’ve been watching you dig in the woods,” he said. “Planning a trip perhaps?”

Lucy didn’t answer.

“Well, we have a little trip to St. Louis planned for you instead.”

As Ezekiel pushed her along, she turned to see if her mother had been awakened by the noise. If she had, she hadn’t come out of the cabin. Probably afraid. Lucy had been only four the first time she’d seen Ezekiel Goshorn flog her mother, and that was not the last time she’d been forced to stand there and hear her scream.

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

Eden Rising (Eden Rising #1) by Andrew Cunningham Review

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

Two young teens find themselves in a fight for survival as they become one of the few survivors of a planet-ending event, and must discover how far they are willing to go in order to live in author Andrew Cunningham’s “Eden Rising”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

“The Earth died in less than a minute. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. It’s not like the planet ceased to exist altogether. It just seemed like it. Cities were reduced to rubble. Millions of people died that day. I’ve since been told that 95% of the Earth’s human population was wiped out. I don’t know if that’s true—I mean, who can know that for sure? It’s not like we still have any of the technology that we once used to determine such things. But I do know that it was almost empty of people—live ones, that is…”

Thus begins the journey of Ben and Lila, two ordinary teenagers forced to rise to extraordinary heights when faced with a world that has suddenly and inexplicably died. Dealing with the sorrow of all they have lost, but the love they have found in each other, they set off on an odyssey that will bring them to the limits of human endurance and face to face with the frailty of their very existence. From the extreme violence of many of the surviving humans toward one another, to a world physically falling apart at the seams, Ben and Lila are determined to make it through the devastation in their quest for a place to quietly share their life together. In the process, they have to become as violent as the world around them in order to survive, while struggling to hold onto the humanity that will keep them sane. Eden Rising is a survival tale and a love story, but it is also a book that delves deeply into the human psyche to discover just how far we would go to survive, and how much inner strength can be found when things are at their absolute worst.

The Review

This audiobook was not only well read, but incredibly well-written. The action kicks up immediately, as the two protagonists find themselves going from awkward teen romance hanging in the air to waking up and finding the people of the world dead. 

The author does an amazing job of leaning hard into the dystopian YA sci-fi genre, while also bringing a maturity to the narrative by examining the psychological affect an apocalyptic event like this would have on any survivors, let alone two young teens forced to grow up very quickly. The pain of the loss brings to them a bond that highlights a growing romance, while the horrors they endure in the narrative and the lines they must contend with crossing showcase complex and deep character developments, a key to this novel’s pacing and delivery overall.

The Verdict

A must-read, heart-pounding audiobook and novel, author Andrew Cunningham’s “Eden Rising”, the first in the Eden Rising series, is an edge of your seat dystopian YA novel that is not to be missed. Memorable characters, romance and deep psychological character studies all define this amazing novel, and readers will not be able to get enough of this wonderful work. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author 

Andrew Cunningham is the author ten novels, including the award-winning Amazon bestselling thriller Wisdom Spring; the “Lies” Mystery Series (All Lies, Fatal Lies, Vegas Lies, Secrets & Lies, and Blood Lies); the Cape Cod terrorist/disaster thriller Deadly Shore; and the post-apocalyptic Eden Rising Series (Eden Rising, Eden Lost, and Eden’s Legacy). As A.R. Cunningham, he has written a series of 5 humorous children’s mysteries in the Arthur MacArthur series for middle-readers. Formerly an interpreter for the deaf and a long-time independent bookseller, Andrew has been a full-time freelance writer and copy editor for the last 18 years. A 4th-degree Master Blackbelt in Tang Soo Do, Andrew finally gave up active training when his body said, “Enough already!” Andrew was a long-time resident of Cape Cod, and he and his wife now live in Florida. He can be contacted at info@arcnovels.com. Visit his website at www.arcnovels.com. He can also be found on Facebook (Author Andrew Cunningham), and Twitter (@arcnovels).

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, Interviews

Interview with Author Rita Pomade

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

I think I’ve been writing since the day I learned how letters combined for words. I had quite a collection of poetry before I graduated high school. Later, in order to support myself as a single parent, I took contract work with Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia editing down articles for their year book. They sent me galleys enabling me to be home with my children. Years later, while living in Mexico I was hired by Mexico This Month, an English language monthly tourist magazine, to do interviews. From then on, I continued freelancing to supplement my income as an English Second Language teacher.

Advertisements

What inspired you to write your book?

I met my second husband in Mexico. We talked about a sea voyage together. The idea of writing about it was part of my motivation for setting sail with him. Life at sea was harder and more precarious than I could have anticipated, and I didn’t have the mental space to do it. Some thirty years later he asked me if I’d sail with him again—this time from Tunisia to Tahiti. I told him I’d think about it, and wrote a childhood friend in Belgium about his offer. She mailed me all the letters I had written her during those years. Reading the letters triggered insights I didn’t have back then. I wanted to share my unique story and all I had learned from it. Had I written Seeker at the time, it would have not gained from the expansion that hindsight brought.

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

On one level Seeker: A Sea Odyssey is an adventure story filled with pirates, monsoons and raging seas. But it’s also a story of love, betrayal and forgiveness. I dealt with challenges and survival on many levels, healed wounds and found my voice. I hope readers can relate to my insights and find their own strengths through reading my journey.

What drew you to this particular genre? 

In the sixth grade I had written the class poem for graduation, but it was given to another child to read as though it was her poem. I seethed at the injustice, and thought about other unfair situations I had seen. At that moment I decided I wanted write about them, so the world would know and put things right. I remember thinking I didn’t have enough life experiences to make a difference, and knew I’d have to grow up and experience as much of life as I could. I actually did that, and writing and sharing insights about what I have learned through life experience lends itself to memoir writing. 

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

I met many people at sea who had interesting stories—interesting pasts. Some traumatic or life changing experience caused them to drop out of society. One such character was Johnny. We first met Johnny in the Philippines and met up with him again in Cypress. He had been in Hitler youth, but was never deprogrammed after the war though many others were. At one point, he told us his father had denounced and stolen the property of a Jewish friend.  His mother had a nervous breakdown over the event and never fully recuperated. He carried the burden of parents’ story, felt at home nowhere and drank too much. I’d like to ask him why he refused to be deprogrammed, preferring to carry guilt and needing to share this part of his family story with others. The writer in me always wants to know the interior conflicts that define character and motivate behavior.

What social media has been most helpful in developing your readership?

I’m a bit of a luddite, and don’t use much social media though I’m on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Seeker: A Sea Odyssey has received good reviews and was shortlisted by the Quebec Writers’ Federation as the best first book for 2019. I’m hoping word of mouth, combined with readings and interviews will bring readers to the memoir.

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

 Don’t give up. Rejection is part of the process. If you aren’t receiving rejections, you aren’t sending out your work. But don’t send indiscriminately. Research and know what each publisher or publication is asking for so that you pinpoint your market.

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books on the horizon?

 I’m working on a childhood memoir tentatively titled Genesis. It covers the period of my life from embryo to eleven years old. Research in the field of epigenetics is lending credence to the idea that trauma passes down through the genes. We come into the world innocent, but we carry family history from earlier generations. It’s a fascinating discovery, and I’d like to show how it relates to my childhood and how I believe it shaped my early development. 

Seeker: A Sea Odyssey is available to purchase at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble, and Books-a-Million. You can also add this to your Goodreads reading list.

Advertisements

About the Author Rita Pomade

Rita Pomade— teacher, poet, memoirist—lived six years aboard a small yacht that took her from Taiwan to the Suez to Mallorca, dropping anchor in 22 countries. She and her husband navigated through raging monsoons, encountered real-life pirates, and experienced cultures that profoundly changed them. Seeker: A Sea Odyssey, published by Guernica Editions under the Miroland label tells her story. 

Rita Pomade, a native New Yorker, first settled in Mexico before immigrating to Quebec. During her time in Mexico, she taught English, wrote articles and book reviews for Mexconnect, an ezine devoted to Mexican culture, and had a Dear Rita monthly column on handwriting analysis in the Chapala Review. In Montreal she taught English as a Second Language at Concordia University and McGill University until her retirement. She is a two-time Moondance International Film Festival award winner, once for a film script and again for a short story deemed film worthy. Her work is represented in the Monologues Bank, a storehouse of monologues for actors in need of material for auditions, in several anthologies, and in literary reviews. Her travel biography, Seeker: A Sea Odyssey, was shortlisted for the 2019 Concordia University First Book Award. .

Advertisements

— Blog Tour Dates


June 29th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us in celebrating the launch of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.
https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

July 2nd @ Fiona Ingram’s Blog
Visit Fiona’s blog and you can read a guest post by the author about how she could have enriched her journey at sea.
http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/


July 5th @ CK Sorens’ Blog
Visit Carrie’s blog today and you can read her review of Rita Pomade’s memoir Seeker.
https://www.cksorens.com/blog


July 6th @ Create Write Now
Visit Mari L. McCarthy’s blog where you can read author Rita Pomade’s guest post about what she learned about herself through writing.
https://www.createwritenow.com/


July 7th @ The Faerie Review
Make sure you visit Lily’s blog and read a guest post by the author about cooking on a shoestring at sea.
http://www.thefaeriereview.com/


July 8th @ Coffee with Lacey
Visit Lacey’s blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
https://coffeewithlacey.com/


July 10th @ 12 Books
Visit Louise’s blog and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
https://12books.co.uk/


July 11th @ Bookworm Blog
Visit Anjanette’s blog today and you can read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
http://bookworm66.wordpress.com/

July 12th @ It’s Alanna Jean
Visit Alanna’s blog today and you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about the ten best traits you need for living aboard a yacht.
http://itsalannajean.com/

July 13th @ The New England Book Critic
Join Vickie as she reviews Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
http://www.thenewenglandbookcritic.com/


July 14th @ Bev. A Baird’s Blog
Visit Bev’s blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/


July 15th @ Reviews and Interviews
Visit Lisa’s blog today where she interviews author Rita Pomade about her book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/


July 16th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog
Visit Anthony’s blog where he reviews Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/


July 17th @ 12 Books
Visit Louise’s blog and read author Rita Pomade’s guest post discussing sailing myths.
https://12books.co.uk/


July 18th @ Author Anthon Avina’s Blog
Visit Anthony’s blog today and read his interview with author Rita Pomade.
https://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com


July 20th @ Bev. A Baird’s Blog
Visit Bev’s blog again and you can read author Rita Pomade’s guest post featuring her advice on writing a memoir.
https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/


July 21st @ Jill Sheet’s Blog
Visit Jill’s blog where you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about how her handwriting analysis skills made her a better writer.
https://jillsheets.blogspot.com/


July 22nd @ A Storybook World
Visit Deirdra’s blog today and you can checkout her spotlight of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
http://www.astorybookworld.com/


July 23rd @ Choices
Visit Madeline’s blog today and you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about the benefits of spending time abroad.
http://madelinesharples.com/


July 24th @ Books, Beans and Botany
Visit Ashley’s blog today where she reviews Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
https://booksbeansandbotany.com/


July 24th @ Tiggy’s Books
Visit Tiggy’s blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey. She’ll also be chatting a bit with the author!
https://tiggysbooks.com/


July 26th @ CK Sorens Blog
Visit Carrie’s blog today and you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about how she jumpstart her writing process.
https://www.cksorens.com/blog


July 27th @ Memoir Writer’s Journey
Visit Kathleen’s blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker.
https://www.krpooler.com/


July 28th @ Lady Unemployed
Visit Nicole’s blog today where you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade talking about stepping outside of one’s comfort zone.
http://www.ladyunemployed.com


July 31st @ Wild Hearted
Visit Ashley’s blog where you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about why she jumped at the chance to go to sea.
https://wild-hearted.com/

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

Seeker: A Sea Odyssey by Rita Pomade Review

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

A woman seeking paradise and happiness after witnessing a horrific event tells her story in author Rita Pomade’s “Seeker: A Sea Odyssey”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Seeker: A Sea Odyssey is the story of two people who meet in Mexico and fall in love. Rita is an American part-time English language teacher and freelance reporter for an English language tourist magazine struggling to raise two young boys on her own. Bernard is a French geologist under contract to the Mexican government to search for underground thermal springs. She dreams of finding Shangri-La after witnessing a bloody government crackdown from which she barely escapes. He dreams of having a yacht and sailing the world. Their dreams mesh, and they immigrate to Canada to earn the money to build their boat.

The Review

Many people often talk of adventure but rarely do we ever get to see it unfold as it does in this amazing memoir. The combination of an adventure memoir with the more personalized touch of including journal entries, photographs, and other material made this feel like a book that readers could really invest in on multiple levels. 

The vivid imagery of the writing and the outstanding experiences both good and bad that the author shares to tell a powerful story of adventure, but also lends itself to the overall message or theme as well. The theme that no matter how much searching a person does, there is no one paradise in this world or anywhere else, but true joy and change comes from within. 

The Verdict

Engaging, entertaining, and an evenly paced read, author Rita Pomade’s “Seeker: A Sea Odyssey” is a must-read memoir. Powerfully told and one of a kind, the book showcases the power of travel and the emotional core that comes from realizing true peace and understanding comes not from outside forces, but within us all. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Seeker: A Sea Odyssey is available to purchase at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble, and Books-a-Million. You can also add this to your Goodreads reading list.

Advertisements

About the Author Rita Pomade

Rita Pomade— teacher, poet, memoirist—lived six years aboard a small yacht that took her from Taiwan to the Suez to Mallorca, dropping anchor in 22 countries. She and her husband navigated through raging monsoons, encountered real-life pirates, and experienced cultures that profoundly changed them. Seeker: A Sea Odyssey, published by Guernica Editions under the Miroland label tells her story. 

Rita Pomade, a native New Yorker, first settled in Mexico before immigrating to Quebec. During her time in Mexico, she taught English, wrote articles and book reviews for Mexconnect, an ezine devoted to Mexican culture, and had a Dear Rita monthly column on handwriting analysis in the Chapala Review. In Montreal she taught English as a Second Language at Concordia University and McGill University until her retirement. She is a two-time Moondance International Film Festival award winner, once for a film script and again for a short story deemed film worthy. Her work is represented in the Monologues Bank, a storehouse of monologues for actors in need of material for auditions, in several anthologies, and in literary reviews. Her travel biography, Seeker: A Sea Odyssey, was shortlisted for the 2019 Concordia University First Book Award. .

Advertisements

— Blog Tour Dates


June 29th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us in celebrating the launch of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.
https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

July 2nd @ Fiona Ingram’s Blog
Visit Fiona’s blog and you can read a guest post by the author about how she could have enriched her journey at sea.
http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/


July 5th @ CK Sorens’ Blog
Visit Carrie’s blog today and you can read her review of Rita Pomade’s memoir Seeker.
https://www.cksorens.com/blog


July 6th @ Create Write Now
Visit Mari L. McCarthy’s blog where you can read author Rita Pomade’s guest post about what she learned about herself through writing.
https://www.createwritenow.com/


July 7th @ The Faerie Review
Make sure you visit Lily’s blog and read a guest post by the author about cooking on a shoestring at sea.
http://www.thefaeriereview.com/


July 8th @ Coffee with Lacey
Visit Lacey’s blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
https://coffeewithlacey.com/


July 10th @ 12 Books
Visit Louise’s blog and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
https://12books.co.uk/


July 11th @ Bookworm Blog
Visit Anjanette’s blog today and you can read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
http://bookworm66.wordpress.com/

July 12th @ It’s Alanna Jean
Visit Alanna’s blog today and you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about the ten best traits you need for living aboard a yacht.
http://itsalannajean.com/

July 13th @ The New England Book Critic
Join Vickie as she reviews Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
http://www.thenewenglandbookcritic.com/


July 14th @ Bev. A Baird’s Blog
Visit Bev’s blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/


July 15th @ Reviews and Interviews
Visit Lisa’s blog today where she interviews author Rita Pomade about her book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/


July 16th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog
Visit Anthony’s blog where he reviews Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/


July 17th @ 12 Books
Visit Louise’s blog and read author Rita Pomade’s guest post discussing sailing myths.
https://12books.co.uk/


July 18th @ Author Anthon Avina’s Blog
Visit Anthony’s blog today and read his interview with author Rita Pomade.
https://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com


July 20th @ Bev. A Baird’s Blog
Visit Bev’s blog again and you can read author Rita Pomade’s guest post featuring her advice on writing a memoir.
https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/


July 21st @ Jill Sheet’s Blog
Visit Jill’s blog where you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about how her handwriting analysis skills made her a better writer.
https://jillsheets.blogspot.com/


July 22nd @ A Storybook World
Visit Deirdra’s blog today and you can checkout her spotlight of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
http://www.astorybookworld.com/


July 23rd @ Choices
Visit Madeline’s blog today and you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about the benefits of spending time abroad.
http://madelinesharples.com/


July 24th @ Books, Beans and Botany
Visit Ashley’s blog today where she reviews Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
https://booksbeansandbotany.com/


July 24th @ Tiggy’s Books
Visit Tiggy’s blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey. She’ll also be chatting a bit with the author!
https://tiggysbooks.com/


July 26th @ CK Sorens Blog
Visit Carrie’s blog today and you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about how she jumpstart her writing process.
https://www.cksorens.com/blog


July 27th @ Memoir Writer’s Journey
Visit Kathleen’s blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker.
https://www.krpooler.com/


July 28th @ Lady Unemployed
Visit Nicole’s blog today where you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade talking about stepping outside of one’s comfort zone.
http://www.ladyunemployed.com


July 31st @ Wild Hearted
Visit Ashley’s blog where you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about why she jumped at the chance to go to sea.
https://wild-hearted.com/