The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer, in which you answer a book related prompt. The Book Blogger Hop, helps you discover fellow contributors to check out and follow! You can view Coffee Addicted Writer’s post here.
This Week’s Question
If you can recommend a book from the following genres, what would they be? A book from Romance, NA, YA, Fantasy (submitted by Tabatha @ Broken Soul Reviews)
Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
YA (Young Adult)
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Crier’s War by Nina Varela
NA (New Adult)
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Feel free to share your book recommendations down in the Comments section!
First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? You can view Wandering Words’ post here.
If you want to make your own post, feel free to use or edit the banner above and follow the rules below:
Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
Finally… reveal the book!
“Candlelight reflected off the silver anchor etched onto my sister’s necklace. It was an ugly piece of jewelryand something Eulalie would have never picked out for herself.”
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
This fairy tale retelling of The 12 Dancing Princesses is both frightful and captivating. I was engaged from start to finish!
In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.
Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.
Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?
When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.
What are your thoughts on House of Salt and Sorrows? Feel free to share!
‘Sunday Sentence‘ is hosted by David Abrams. We share the best sentences read during the past week, ‘out of context and without commentary’.
“Our numbers continue to show what they have shown for the past 35 years: Despite slow progress, the number of books featuring BIPOC protagonists lags far behind the number of books with white main characters–or even those with animal or other characters.”
**I received a copy of Love Unfeigned from the author, in exchange for an honest review**
Love stories hold special meaning when it’s rooted in friendship. ‘Love Unfeigned’ by Nadine C. Keels is a story packed with meaning and heart!
This novella follows the life of Lorraine Tyson. Lorraine is a spunky free spirit, and catches the eye of Isaiah James, her brother’s BFF. Isaiah has a close bond with the Tyson household, even after he moves to another part of town. However, everything changes when miscommunication and rumors fracture Lorraine and Isaiah’s friendship.
“Love Unfeigned’ is told in two timelines; Lorraine’s life throughout her childhood, and in her 20s. We witness Lorraine’s growth as she navigates friendship, experiences love’s joys and sorrows, and reconnects with bonds fractured through time. Love Unfeinged also reminds us of the support of a higher power. Nurturing guidance through friends and family leads to a deeper understanding to peace.
I recommend ‘Love Unfeigned’ for lovers of contemporary romance with a deep message. It was such good novella!
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Love to the chords of a classic jazz band, spanned over more than a decade…
Lorraine: plucky and competitive. Isaiah: impish, with a smile that gleams in more ways than one. From the time the two first square off for a wall ball battle as children, Lorraine and Isaiah can’t help knowing each other. But neither can they avoid passions and misfortunes lining their path to young adulthood. After Isaiah’s family breakup disrupts the haven he’s shared with Lorraine, their relationship is threatened by jealousy, abandonment, and a life-altering trauma too grave to…forget.
As one year follows another, what might it take to reunite this divided man and woman in love: a love unbounded by time?
“Everything didn’t have to turn out perfect. I just wanted you there.”
What are your thoughts on Love Unfeigned? Feel free to share!
In the Dark, Soft Earth by Frank Watson Publisher: Plum White Press Genre: Poetry Format: ebook Length: 232 pages Release Date: July 7, 2020
**I received a complimentary copy of ‘In the Dark, Soft Earth’ from NetGalley and Plum White Press, in exchange for an honest review**
In the Dark, Soft Earth was a lovely collection of poetry. Frank Watson manages to create thoughtful imagery with his phrases, centering on life’s precious moments. The chapters (labeled as Books), categorizes the purity and essence of the human spirit. Watson’s poetry manages to capture raw emotions such as desire, longing and frustration. These are human emotions that everyone endures throughout life, and his poetry reflects such a vast array of feelings.
Along with reading stories, poetry is my usual go-to when guiding people people through their situations. A poem paints a picture of a given emotion and thought process. I feel that Watson’s work provides such a selection of prescriptive imagery in helping people identify with their experiences. I would definitely recommend In a Dark, Soft Earth to those searching to assist people through the written word!
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Dig into this delectable journey through the dark, sensual, and ravishing poetry of Frank Watson. Ruminate the searing to the sultry as you absorb this haunting lilt of burning carnality. The poems ignite rapid and surprising shifts in focus and perspective as they twist and turn your preconceptions, allowing the implications to linger in your thoughts.
Vignette verses explore the workings of love, nature, spirituality, and dreams with sprinklings of tarot symbolism and jazzy blues. Together these verses contemplate the subtle underpinnings of a soft earth.
What do you think of In the Dark, Soft Earth? Would you put this book in your TBR? Feel free to share in the comments!
‘Rewritten’ by Tara Gilboy Publisher: Jolly Fish Press Length: 200 pages Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy Release Date: April 7, 2020
Hi everyone! Today I’m here to talk about ‘Rewritten’ by Tara Gilboy. It is under the Middle Grade genre, focusing on Gracie navigating through life after the adventures from the first book, ‘Unwritten’.
A few months ago, I reviewed ‘Rewritten’ on NetGalley, and I enjoyed it! You can read my review of ‘Rewritten’ here!
I had the privilege to speak to Tara about her process in creating ‘Rewritten’, as well as some handy advice for writers beginning their own creative journeys. I hope you enjoy!
Cathleen: Thank you for speaking with me! How are you holding up during this pandemic? These are such crazy times!
Tara Gilboy: Thank you so much for having me! I am holding up pretty well. I think writers are better suited than most for social distancing because we already spent so much time alone, reading and writing, even before the pandemic. I’ve actually been busier than ever the past few months: I also teach creative writing for San Diego Community College District, and it’s been a lot of work converting my classes to an online format. But I’ve also been careful to make time for myself: I’ve done a lot of hiking, learned some new songs on the piano, finally perfected a homemade tartar sauce recipe, and played waaayyy too much online Scrabble.
C:How did you get your start in writing?
TG: I’ve always wanted to be an author; ever since I learned to read, I’ve written stories. The trouble was that I’d never met an author and had no idea how to go about actually making this a career, so I lost sight of this goal a bit in high school. When I returned to college in my twenties, I signed up for a creative writing class and was immediately hooked once again. After college, I went on to complete a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing, wrote a novel that never sold, took more workshops, joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, attended conferences, joined writing groups, and most of all, wrote, wrote, wrote. It was about ten years from the time I took that college creative writing class that I sold my first novel, and along the way there were many, many failures and rejected manuscripts.
C:In ‘Rewritten’, Gracie takes charge of her own story after facing extreme odds. What inspired you to create a story that follows a book character’s growth?
TG: The Unwritten series didn’t start out with the idea to follow a book character, actually. I only knew that my character was on the run from something, and I wasn’t quite sure what. As I was writing early scenes, I was also doing a lot of jogging in the woods near my dad’s cottage in northern Wisconsin, and I remember looking at the trees as I ran and thinking that the forest looked like a fairy tale. Then I thought: “what if my character was from a fairy tale?” I’ve always loved reading books with fairy tale themes, like Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted and Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark and Grimm, so the idea immediately appealed to me. I didn’t quite realize then how complicated and difficult this would be to pull off, which is likely a good thing, because it might have scared me away from the project!
C:During ‘Rewritten’, I was fascinated with the Vademecum’s ability to record one’s actions as they were occurring, like a ‘real-time’ diary!
TG: Thank you! As I was writing Rewritten, I was thinking a lot about what some of the biggest struggles are for children Gracie’s age. Privacy is always a huge issue for teens and preteens, and I thought: “what if someone had absolutely no privacy at all? What if their worst enemy had a direct line to all their thoughts and actions?” This might be one of the most terrible things that could happen to a teen, worse than someone reading your most private diary. One of my creative writing teachers always stressed: “dream up the worst thing that can happen to your character, and then make that happen,” so I did. Poor Gracie!
C:I love that Gracie’s actions and choices are conveyed in a manner that children can immediately relate to! Have you always felt that calling to communicate with children?
TG: You know, it’s interesting, but when I’m writing, I’m not actually thinking about the fact that I’m writing for children. I’m simply trying to really inhabit the mind of my child protagonist and imagine how she would feel and react to the things that are happening to her. If I’m being true to my character’s point of view, then I think I naturally write and make choices that will be relatable for kids that age. Occasionally, I will have to stop and remind myself that my story is geared for children (for example, I struggled a bit in Rewritten with navigating the climax scene in a way that wouldn’t be too frightening for readers), but for the most part, I just try to write honestly and authentically and be true to my child characters.
C:What led to the decision to write for the middle grade genre?
TG: Middle grade books are my favorite books to read – middle grade is all about good storytelling. They are the books that inspired me to love reading in the first place, and so they have always had a special place in my heart. When I first started writing, when I was in second and third grade, I started out writing middle grade, mostly because that’s what I read. But then I grew up and went to college, and I developed this idea of what it meant to be “Writer” with a capital “W” that involved lots of black turtlenecks, exposition-heavy stories full of metaphors and symbols, and words like “myriad” and “plethora.” I think I was in love with this “idea” of being a writer, but at the same time, I had lost my sense of what I loved about writing in the first place, which is that I love story. It was only when I took a class on writing children’s books in graduate school that I reminded myself how much I loved writing middle grade: the wonder, the sense of magic and adventure, the sense that anything is possible in these books as long as you are telling a good story. I fell in love with middle grade all over again and never looked back.
C:I love that there is a strong theme of mother/daughter bonds in ‘Rewritten’. Do you think you will continue on that familial thread in future writings?
TG: I have a feeling that I won’t be able to avoid it, even if I try. I didn’t set out to write about mother/daughter bonds, but it’s a theme that pops up again and again in my work. I’ve had conversations about this with my writing group, as they often experience the same thing. I think as women, the mother/daughter relationship is one of the most complicated relationships we will ever have, and so it’s one that is endlessly fascinating and provides rich material to mine.
C:I took some time to view your website. I love that your gift for the written word began at a very young age!
TG: Thank you! Yes, I’ve always been happiest when surrounded by books. My mom used to have to force me to go outside and play with the neighbor kids; otherwise I’d have spent all my time reading. It wasn’t until I went to graduate school that I met people who read and made up stories as much as I did. It was a relief to finally meet other people just like me!
C:Who are your favorite middle grade authors, and why?
TG: Ooo, this is a tough question! I love Kate Di Camillo: I think her books are full of wonder and magic and endearing characters, and I love how different all of her stories are from one another. I also love Rebecca Stead (When You Reach Me is one of my favorite middle grades of all time), and some newer authors who have really blown me away are Lisa Schmid, Ann Braden, Leslie Youngblood, and Amy Makechnie. I think they do an amazing job of getting into the middle grade mindset, as well as not being afraid to navigate difficult topics in a way that is appropriate for readers this age.
C:What do you feel is your biggest challenge and achievement as an author?
TG: My biggest achievement so far was publishing Unwritten and then Rewritten. Publishing a book was something I’ve wanted ever since I was seven or eight years old, and so it was a pretty amazing moment the first time I got to walk into a book store and see my book on the shelves. I remember being on vacation in New York City and going into a Barnes and Noble and getting kind of teary when I saw my book was there. But I also know that I hope to have many more writing achievements, so I have to keep working at writing every day. Right now my biggest challenge is finding the time to write amidst my work both teaching and managing the business side of writing.
C:What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
TG: One of my creative writing teachers once said something to me that’s always stuck with me. She said (and I’m paraphrasing): “I’ve taught a lot of amazing writers over the years, but in the end, it wasn’t the most talented ones that made it. It was the ones who worked the hardest, revised the most, and didn’t give up.” I return to her words again and again. There’s not much I can control about the publishing industry, but I can control how hard I work and how much I revise. So my advice is: don’t give up if you don’t succeed right away. Writing is hard! Keep writing, keep taking classes and joining writer’s groups, and most of all… revise! My books go through over 20 drafts before I send them out (and that’s a low estimate – I actually lost count at 20). Don’t put pressure on yourself to write great early drafts. I’ve seen a lot of writers give up because of that.
C:What projects are you working on next?
TG: Lately I’ve been starting and stopping a lot of projects, but I am working on a spooky mermaid story that I am really having a great time writing….
C:Thank you for your time! TG: Thank you so much for having me!
Come check out Tara’s website for more information on ‘Rewritten’!
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally created by Jill @Breaking The Spine. This post spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.
This Week’s Post
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Release Date: June 30, 2020
This story sounds so chilling! A debutante heads to High Place, a home on the Mexican countryside, to aid her cousin fears for her life. When she gets there, she learns that temptation and shocking secrets are entwined within High Place’s history. I’m looking forward to reading this thrilling tale!
An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic artistocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .
From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico—“fans of classic novels like Jane Eyre and Rebecca are in for a suspenseful treat” (PopSugar). After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.
Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.
Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.
And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.
What are your thoughts on Mexican Gothic? Feel free to share!
Heir of Ashes (Roxanne Fosch Files #1) by Jina S. Bazzar Received Copy from Author Length: 434 pages Format: eBook Genre: Urban Fantasy Release Date: November 10, 2018
**I received a complimentary copy of Heir of Ashes from the author, in exchange for an honest review**
I knew I was in for a ride at the first couple chapters of Heir of Ashes!
Roxanne Fosch is on the run from the Paranormal Scientists Society, who stole her childhood away when she was 12. This story begins a little over a year after she escaped from the PSS, but now Roxanne faces new, dangerous challenges! Along the way she meets Logan, a supernatural being who blames the PSS for tragic changes in his life. I was very intrigued with Logan’s abilities as a vampire/werewolf hybrid, and his interactions with the main character were bonded halfway into the story. While I wanted to learn more about Logan’s abilities, I still enjoyed this supernatural world!
I loved all the plot twists in Heir of Ashes, and there was non-stop action throughout! Roxanne (now living under a different name) lived through many complications while captured with the PSS. She’s also endured many obstacles in her adventures, yet she stands as a very fearless woman. The PSS sees her as a definite threat, as she is not one to mess with! I love a story entwined with supernatural abilities and strong female characters, and Heir of Ashes certainly lived up to that!
Definitely read Heir of Ashes if you’re a fan of fantasy and the supernatural realm!
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Roxanne Fosch had a perfectly normal life at the age of twelve. Cool, popular, pretty, smart. Her dreams of a perfect, successful and prosperous future seemed well within her grasp. By the time she was twenty-two she had become a commodity. A fugitive. She was being hunted.
As Roxanne embarks on the dangerous quest to search for half-truths about her past, she discovers she’s not just an abnormal human, but a rarity even among her Fee peers. She is hunted by scientists, keen to exploit her extraordinary abilities, as well as other beings far more dangerous whose plans for her she cannot fathom.
What are your thoughts on Heir of Ashes? Feel free to share!