‘Story Magic’ by Laurel Gale | Author Q & A

‘Listeners, I have a story that may interest you…’

Kaya speaks these words in Story Magic. Despite her village preventing girls from casting, Kaya indeed gets it done! When her brother goes missing, Kaya relies on quick thinking as she travels through unfamiliar land. With the help of stories, of course!

Today I’m here with Laurel Gale, the author of Story Magic. She shares her writing process, as well as the awesome gift of writing strong, magical female characters! You’ll certainly be excited to pick up your copy!

‘Story Magic’ Book Information

Story Magic by Laurel Gale. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1581012277l/51136406._SX318_SY475_.jpg

Story Magic by Laurel Gale
Publisher: Jolly Fish Press
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Release Date: October 27, 2020

Synopsis

Girls are forbidden to practice story magic. Only bad things happen when they do. Everyone knows this, but that doesn’t stop twelve-year-old Kaya A’Dor from learning the basics from her older brother Hob. The trick is to sense a listener, one of the magical beings that inhabit the world, and tell it a story. If the listener likes the story, it will allow the storyteller to work magic.

Although Kaya knows the risks, she attempts a little story magic to impress Hob. When Hob is taken prisoner in Prima, the faraway capital city, Kaya is convinced it’s her fault. Either because someone discovered what she was doing, or because the bad luck has found her.

Desperate to save her brother, Kaya will do anything to make it to Prima, including story magic. With each story she tells her ability to wield story magic grows. She soon begins to wonder if her brother’s imprisonment was really her fault or something else entirely. Thus, each story brings her one step closer to finding Hob and leaving everything she’s ever known behind.

‘Story Magic’ Author Info

Story Magic, Laurel Gale author photo. Link: https://www.laurelgale.com/p/about-me.html
Photo by Tal Miles

Laurel Gale writes books for children. Her middle grade novels include Dead Boy and Story Magic. She lives with her husband and their ferrets in Washington. In addition to writing, she enjoying hiking, playing board games, and reading. She loves animals and is easily distracted by squirrels.
Visit Laurel online through her Website or Twitter.

Website | Twitter

Author Q & A

1. Cathleen: How are you and your family during this time? I think we’re all ready for 2020 to end!

Laurel Gale: Thanks for asking! We’re doing well, but yes, we’re ready for 2020 to end.

2. C: Congratulations on the release of Story Magic! It’s such a heartfelt story!

LG: Aww, thanks! I’m super excited to share this book with everyone.

3. C: How did your love for writing begin?

LG: It’s hard to say because I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember! It started with poems and short stories when I was a kid. I’ve always loved to read, and I’ve always found that writing is the most natural way for me to express my ideas. I’m happiest when I’m writing something.

4. C: What inspired you to create ‘Story Magic’?

LG: Story Magic started with the magic system. I was talking to my husband and how magic systems are used in fiction, and this sparked an idea for a magic system based on storytelling. From there, I came up with the main character and the listeners, and the rest followed.

5. C: Kaya is truly fearless in her use of magical storytelling. What made you create such an empowering character?

LG: Kaya is very brave, but at the same time, she does experience quite a bit of fear. I think that’s what makes her empowering – she pushes past her fear to do what’s right. That’s certainly something I aspire to.

'Story Magic', Jolly Fish Press Promo photo.

6. C: While searching for her brother, Kaya faces many harsh truths in society. She goes through many growing pains!

LG: She starts off being a bit naïve, but she learns so much on her journey. This can be hard for her, but she finds her inner strength and grows. I think this is something a lot of middle grade readers can relate to. Even if they’re not going on magical adventures, they are learning more about the world at that age.

7. C: I love how Kaya sticks to her intuition throughout the book. Is she created after a particular figure in your life?

LG: I didn’t base Kaya on any particular person. I wanted to make her a realistic twelve-year-old who has a lot of doubts and sometimes messes up, but who is also very strong and tries to do the right thing.

8. C: Themes such as girl power and fighting intolerance are strong in ‘Story Magic’. Have you always wanted to carry this message in your writing?

LG: In Story Magic, only members of the Story Magicians Guild are allowed to practice story magic, and girls are never allowed to join the guild. This is a way for the guild to control who has power. I don’t think I could have done this concept justice without exploring themes of girl power and tolerance.

When I write a book, my main goal is to tell an entertaining story, but I think the message matters, too. Kindness, fairness, courage, and tolerance are important themes in my writing because those are important ideas in life.

9. C: Which authors inspire your work? It can be Middle Grade, YA, etc.

LG: There are so many amazing writers out there, and I think it’s important for writers to read widely.

When I was kid, I was obsessed with Christopher Pike books, and I think that’s where I really developed my taste for speculative fiction. Neil Gaiman has also been an inspiration.

10: C: What advice do you have for those starting their writing career?

LG: Persistence is key. I think a lot of new writers feel like they have to get published immediately, but it’s not a race. I spent a few years and wrote several manuscripts before I got my first book deal, and looking back, I’m glad those early manuscripts were never published. I still trunk manuscripts occasionally.

It takes time to learn the craft of writing, and not everything you try will work. Just keep pushing yourself to be better, and if you really want to make a career out of writing, focus on your long-term goals.

Also, please don’t feel like you’ve wasted your time on something just because you never publish it. As long as you’re learning and improving, you’re not wasting your time. You wouldn’t expect a musician to start performing concerts immediately! It takes practice to master any skill that’s worthwhile, and that’s normal.

Thank you, Laurel, for your time! ‘Story Magic’ is certainly thrilling! It’s available today, so get your copy! You won’t be disappointed!

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‘When Life Gives You Mangos’ by Kereen Getten | Book Review

Book Review: When Life Gives You Mangos by Kereen Getten

When Life Gives You Mangos by Kereen Getten
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Length: 208 pages
Genre: Children’s Fiction (Middle Grade)
Release Date: September 15, 2020

Synopsis

For fans of deeply poignant middle grade about friendship and loss like The Thing About Jellyfish, comes the story about a young girl who can’t remember anything from her previous summer after a hurricane.

Twelve-year-old Clara lives on an island that visitors call exotic. But there’s nothing exotic about it to Clara. She loves eating ripe mangos off the ground, running outside in the rain with her Papa during rainy season, and going to her secret hideout with Gaynah–even though lately she’s not acting like a best friend.

The only thing out of the ordinary for Clara is that something happened to her memory that made her forget everything that happened last summer after a hurricane hit. Sometimes things come back to her in drips like a tap that hasn’t been turned off properly. Other times her Mama fills in the blanks…only she knows those aren’t her memories and it is hard feeling like she is not like everybody else.

But this summer is going to be different for Clara. Everyone is buzzing with excitement over a new girl in the village who is not like other visitors. She is about to make big waves on the island–and give Clara a summer she won’t forget.

My Thoughts

*I received a copy of ‘When Life Gives You Mangos’ through NetGalley and Delacorte Press, in exchange for an honest review*

My heart went out to Clara in ‘When Life Gives You Mangos’! All Clara wants is to repair her complicated friendship with Gaynah. The face that Gaynah isn’t supportive of her memory lapses doesn’t make things easier! Clara has an exciting cast of characters in her island community: a nagging matriarch with a heart of gold, an uncle known for his ‘eccentric past’, and a new girl with fashionable clothes with an eye for Clara’s well being.

The road to Clara’s memory recovery is indeed a struggle, as she comes to grips to the events that led her to that predicament. Her community is very supportive and protective, going to great lengths to keep secrets for the sake of security. It isn’t until a adventurous playdate in the neighborhood that Clara begins to discover there is more to her friendships than what she’s aware of.

I love Clara’s island community, for it has two identities. For many, it’s an exotic place, where tourists visit to admire for days at a time. However, Clara’s island is home. Her island brims with her community’s rich identity. Neighborhoods flow with beautiful trees and vibrant homes, their history dating back centuries. It’s where Clara feels the safety of her family, holding her close when times grow difficult.

This is a middle grade novel, and it does an exceptional job handling the topic of traumatic events to a young audience. The story begins with a storm impacting the community, yet it doesn’t go overboard with graphic details. The takeaway is always a community uniting together in order to support each other. Clara goes through rough patches with her memory loss, yet her community is there to support on of their own.

I would recommend When Life Gives You Mangos for those wanting stories about friendship and recovering from trauma. Such a heartfelt story!


Would you want to put When Life Gives You Mangos in your TBR? Feel free to share in the comments!



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Book Blogger Hop | August 16

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer, in which you answer a prompt each week. It also helps you discover fellow contributors to check out and follow! You can view Coffee Addicted Writer’s post here.

This Week’s Book Blogger Hop Question Is:

How often do you visit your local library? (submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer)

Well, before the pandemic changed everything, I visited my library about once a week. My library is always my go-to place for curriculum materials. I can’t wait for everything to be safe enough so I could visit frequently once again!

Levar Burton & friend exploring a Library

How often do you visit your local library? Do you miss it even more during these chaotic times?

Love and Light, Cathleen

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For more musings about Library Love, check out my post ‘Library Memories’!

This week’s Sunday Sentence was made possible by my library!

First Lines Friday | August 14

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!

‘Amber Patterson was tired of being invisible. She’d been coming to this gym every day for three months–three long months of watching these women of leisure working at the only thing they cared about ‘.

Any guesses?

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine


Synopsis

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.

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Folklore Book Tag

It’s Thursday, so you know what that means…Book Tag Time!

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Today I’m happily taking part in the Folklore Book Tag. Thank you to Star @ Star Is All Booked Up for tagging me!

The 1: A Book You Grew Out Of

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

I got swept up in the Grishaverse a couple years ago. While I still appreciate the Grisha trilogy, I’m not as enthused as I was once was!

Cardigan: a book you keep coming back to

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi 
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Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi

I have many fond memories of Reading Lolita in Tehran! This takes me back to my days living in New York City several years ago.

The Last Great American Dynasty: A book where everything goes wrong

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1528312647l/8908._SX318_.jpg

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

This story had every possible worst case scenario in play!

Exile: An ending you didn’t like

The Stand by Stephen King
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1213131305l/149267.jpg

The Stand by Stephen King

I enjoyed this story, but that ending…why???

My Tears Ricochet: Broke Your Heart

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1525714353l/39863498.jpg

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Oh my, that ending…yanked at my heartstrings!

Mirrorball: A book that speaks to your soul

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1580255154l/40597810._SY475_.jpg

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I flowed with this story so much! This was a rock documentary I never wanted to end!

Seven: Characters you want to take home and protect

Eve Brown. She seems like such a free spirit! can’t wait to read her story next year!

August: Summer Love

Crier's War by Nina Varela
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1553803423l/41951626._SY475_.jpg

Crier’s War: Crier and Ayla

This bond is so complicated and beautiful!

This Is Me Trying: Mental Illness Rep

When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1405084743l/22032788.jpg

When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez

This is a riveting story about two girls at a crossroads, and a teacher who stops at nothing to guide them through.

Illicit Affairs: Forbidden Romance

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1506208318l/333716._SY475_.jpg

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

The story about a demon who’s entwined with the Mayfair witches throughout the generations

Invisible String: Soulmates

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1553318108l/43884209.jpg

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (Chloe Brown & Red Morgan)

Chloe and Red are made for each other!

Mad Woman: Vengeful Woman

GIrls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1518109125l/34433755.jpg

Girls of Paper & Fire (Lei)

Lei is out for revenge, and nothing will stop her!

Epiphany: A Loss You’re Not Over

The Oyster Thief by Sonia Faruqi
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1507842161l/36327121.jpg

The Oyster Thief by Sonia Faruqi

There was a death in the Oyster Thief that was so heartbreaking. It was such a journey!

Betty: Love Triangle, F/F Romance

A Blade so Black by LL. McKinney
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1524085521l/36952594.jpg

A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

This series is filled with a thrilling F/F romance!

Peace: Found Family

I would go with The Gilded Wolves again. This is such a solid group!

Hoax: Character That Fooled You

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1539378101l/36118682.jpg

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan (Malachiasz)

He was a definite trickster!

Those are the questions for this tag! I hope you enjoyed reading my responses!

Feel free to take part in this tag!

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First Lines Friday | August 7

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!

‘My sister Kwan believes she has yin eyes. She sees those who have died and now dwell in the World of Yin, ghosts who leave the mists just to visit her kitchen on Balboa Street in San Francisco.’

Any guesses?





First Lines Fridays

The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan
Link: https://i2.wp.com/i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1356505999l/761903.jpg?resize=304%2C475&ssl=1

The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan

Synopsis

The Hundred Secret Senses is an exultant novel about China and America, love and loyalty, the identities we invent and the true selves we discover along the way. Olivia Laguni is half-Chinese, but typically American in her uneasiness with her patchwork family. And no one in Olivia’s family is more embarrassing to her than her half-sister, Kwan Li. For Kwan speaks mangled English, is cheerfully deaf to Olivia’s sarcasm, and sees the dead with her “yin eyes.”

Even as Olivia details the particulars of her decades-long grudge against her sister (who, among other things, is a source of infuriatingly good advice), Kwan Li is telling her own story, one that sweeps us into the splendor, squalor, and violence of Manchu China. And out of the friction between her narrators, Amy Tan creates a work that illuminates both the present and the past sweetly, sadly, hilariously, with searing and vivid prose.

I can’t wait to read this wonderful book! What are your thoughts on The Hundred Secret Senses?

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My Life In Books Book Tag

Hi everyone!

Today I’m doing the My Life In Books Book Tag. Thank you so much to Cielo @ Bellerose Reads for tagging me. Feel free to check out her blog for some amazing content!

1. Find a book for each of your initials

C – Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
A – A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
T – Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
H – Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
L – Lobizona by Romina Garber
E – Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
E – Eva’s Treetop Adventure by Rebecca Elliott
N – No Exit by Taylor Adams

2. Count your age along your bookshelf

42 – The Stationary Shop by Marjan Kamali

3. Pick a Book Set in Your City/Country

The Riot Grrrl Thing by Sara Larsen (United States: set between my home state in New Jersey & Pennsylvania)

4. Pick a book that represents a destination you’d love to travel to

CIty of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab – I want to visit Scotland one of these days!

5. Pick a book that has your favorite color on it

These Witches Don't Burn by Isabel Sterling. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1541163363l/36484081._SY475_.jpg

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling – Purple is my fave!

6. Which book do you have the fondest memories of?

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1490354970l/20971474._SX318_.jpg

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman – I read this story a few years ago, while working at a local private school. It’s such a heartwarming book!

7. Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?

Starfish Pier by Irene Hannon. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1561765554l/46161125.jpg

Starfish Pier by Irene Hannon – This story had very slow pacing. I was so glad when I finally finished reading it!

8. Which book on your TBR pile will give you the most achievement when you finish it?

The Buried: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution by Peter Hessler
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1532437738l/40641080.jpg

The Buried: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution by Peter Hessler – I’ve had this book in my TBR pile for a year. It’s a big one, so I’ll be happy when I finally get to it/finish it!

Tagging

Corina @ The Brown Eyed Bookworm
Karen @ Twisted in Pages
Tessa @ Tessa Talks Books

Those are my answers! Do you have any similar books in common? Let me know in the comments!

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Waiting on Wednesday | August 5

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme that first originated with Jill at Breaking the Spine. It has now linked up with Tressa at Wishful Endings (under Can’t Wait Wednesday). You can view Tressa’s post here.

This Week’s Post

Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar
Release Date: August 11

Synopsis

This gorgeously imagined YA debut blends shades of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and a breathtaking landscape of Hindu mythology into a radiant contemporary fantasy.

The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be “normal.” But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star’s help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago.

Sheetal’s quest to save her father will take her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows, where she must take the stage as her family’s champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens–and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all.

Brimming with celestial intrigue, this sparkling YA debut is perfect for fans of Roshani Chokshi and Laini Taylor.

Are you excited about Star Daughter like I am? I’m really looking forward to reading this story!


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Top 10 Tuesday | Aug 4

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. You can find the themes/dates for Top 10 Tuesday here.

This Week’s Question

Top 10 Books in my To-Read List With Colors in the Titles

While searching through my list, I was surprised that I had very little stories with a color in the title! This was fun to search through!

  1. Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige
  2. The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gillman
  3. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
  4. Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene
  5. Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown
  6. The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
  7. Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West
  8. Red At the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
  9. Coral by Sara Ella
  10. The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

I can’t wait to see your ‘colorful’ stories!



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Manic Monday: What I’m Reading | Aug 3

Happy Monday everyone! I’m taking part in Manic Monday, a weekly meme hosted by Bianca @ Always Bring Books.


Animated gif of a amiling coffee cup, with the word 'Monday' written on top. Link: https://i2.wp.com/media.giphy.com/media/xUNd9PPt42S2BA4RtC/giphy.gif?resize=326%2C326&ssl=1

I hope everyone’s week is starting well. My Monday morning consisted of me baking Zucchini Bread. I’m really putting my baking skills to use during these ‘Indoor Days’!

A loaf of zucchini bread, in a metal tin. Sitting one a wooded table.
Manic Monday
Purple Leaf
Link: PurpleLeaf.jpg

Manic Monday: What I’m Reading

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Alone Together: Love, Grief and Comfort In the Time of COVID-19 by Jennifer Haupt
ALONE TOGETHER: Love, Grief, and Comfort During the Time of COVID-19 is a collection of essays, poems, and interviews to serve as a lifeline for negotiating how to connect and thrive during this stressful time of isolation as well as a historical perspective that will remain relevant for years to come. All contributing authors and business partners are donating their share to The Book Industry Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit organization that coordinates charitable programs to strengthen the bookselling community.

The roster of diverse voices includes Faith Adiele, Kwame Alexander, Jenna Blum, Andre Dubus III, Jamie Ford, Nikki Giovanni, Pam Houston, Jean Kwok, Major Jackson, Devi S. Laskar, Caroline Leavitt, Ada Limón, Dani Shapiro, David Sheff, Garth Stein, Luis Alberto Urrea, Steve Yarbrough, and Lidia Yuknavitch.

ALONE TOGETHER is divided into five sections: What Now?, Grieve, Comfort, Connect, And Don’t Stop. The overarching theme is how this age of isolation and uncertainty is changing us as individuals and a society.

I received Alone Together through NetGalley and Central Avenue Publishing. This anthology addresses the Covid-19 pandemic through many voices in the artistic world.

What are you reading today?


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