Book Tour, Reviews

The Killing Gene

One of my favorite things as a reader, and a reviewer, is picking up a book that I’m skeptical about…and then being totally wrong. It’s the best.

That’s what happened for me with The Killing Gene, by E.M. Davey.

I was sent a request to review this by Duckworth publishing and am very excited to be participating in their #SummerReads tour for this book!

For more information on the tour, and to follow along, I’ll post a schedule at the end of this post that you can use.

And in the meantime, please enjoy my review of The Killing Gene by E.M. Davey.

When a young archaeologist goes missing in the Congo basin, Professor Randolph Harkness and troubled tearaway Ross McCartney go in search of her only to stumble upon a conspiracy to conceal ancient horrors lost to the passage of time.

Evading spies and trained killers, can they expose this cover-up in time or will they be buried with it? An unputdownable thriller The Killing Gene reveals the story of our species, the paradox of the modern mind and our innate predilection for murder…

I stumbled upon this book without knowing anything about it. And I enjoyed it a lot. The Killing Gene is a thrilling, fast-paced, well-researched piece of adventure fiction and it was a lot of fun to read.

The best thing about this book is hands-down the pace at which it carries itself. The writing is detailed, polished, and easy to read, carrying the plot with just the right amount of support. I kept reading almost compulsively. Because the chapters are short, every time I would finish one I would think to myself “It won’t take long to just read one more.” And then it was over somehow! That’s how they get you!

Moreover, this book was so well researched. I really felt that the author understood his subject matter the best that he could and that he translated that understanding to the audience well. Somewhat reminiscent of the feeling I get when reading Dan Brown’s books, The Killing Gene is rife with complex and fascinating theories that dip into history, culture, and science, among others. I feel like I learned some things while reading and I love getting that feeling from a book.

The plot was fun and unpredictable, and just “over the top” enough, in my opinion. I think that it uses the formula well, applying traditional choices when it made sense but then turning things on their heads at the next turn. This kind of writing kept the book interesting. I struggled with the Old Testament references, finding them a little heavy-handed, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the heart-stopping twists and turns on this adventure.

Finally, I enjoyed the characters in this book. Sometimes, with books like these in Historical Adventure, there is a tendency to place all knowledge, competency, and merit on the MC and not on the surrounding characters, or even cultures, that the book also talks about. I didn’t find this problem so much with The Killing Gene and it was a genuine breath of fresh air. Davey’s characters felt likable and relatable. I especially enjoyed McCartney and the complexity of writing a character with a life-changing diagnosis. He continually walked that line of endearing and reckless and I found that to be every entertaining, aware storytelling.

This book was so out of my normal reading comfort zone. I love adventure and thrillers and I used to read books like this ALL the time, but started getting away from the formula as I got older. This was one reason that I accepted the opportunity to review this book, I was excited to dive back into a known/unknown area of reading for a while! And guys, I wasn’t disappointed in the least. If you love the sound of adventure and running through the jungle and danger around every turn, this might be the book for you.


E.M. DAVEY is a journalist at Global Witness specializing in undercover investigative journalism into international corruption and environmental crime, which gives him the opportunity to travel to far-flung and unusual places. His novels incorporate real-world experiences and meticulous research, blurring the lines between reality and fiction. He has taught creative writing with the Wilbur & Niso Smith foundation and is the author of three novels: Foretold by Thunder (Duckworth 2015), The Napoleon Complex (Duckworth 2016) and The Killing Gene (Duckworth 2019). He grew up in Bristol and now lives in Kent. 

Website | Twitter

What do you think? Sound interesting? Leave a comment letting me know what you think!

Thanks for stopping by! See you tomorrow! x — A

Reviews

Daisy Jones & The Six

“I had absolutely no interest in being somebody else’s muse. I am not a muse. I am the somebody. End of f*cking story.”

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

I take back anything I’ve said before, this book has been my biggest surprise of 2019.

I loved Daisy Jones & The Six. I can’t even describe how much I loved this book, its hands down one of my favorites of the year. I can’t stop telling people about it. Your turn!

This book is written like a great segment of VH1’s “Behind the Music,” so much so that I could visualize huge parts of it like I was watching it on a screen. I am absolutely crazy about the format, which I thought at first might be a struggle for me. Nope! The interview/stream of thought writing format is so compelling, in physical or audio form. I listened to the audio myself and I was blown away by how quickly I was swept up into this story. The full cast did a great job of really immersing you in their lives and story and if you have a chance I definitely recommend listening to this one.

I liked so much about this book. The characters were raw and real and flawed and gut-wrenchingly honest. And they evolved over time, which had a mesmerizing effect of shrinking years into an afternoon. I could have listened to hours and hours more of this novel and not even noticed it was long. Every single one of them, lead singer or bass, told a gritty and compelling story that I could not turn off.

Now, I don’t know about you but I wasn’t sure if Daisy Jones & The Six was a real band or not when I started this haha. I know, I know! But I hadn’t read anything by Taylor Jenkins Reid at that time (how?!) and the book was marketed so well as a “behind-the-scenes, groupie memoir” that I totally bought it. The funny thing is, as much as it is fiction, it felt so real and tangible to me that I almost kind of believe it again. That’s what kind of book it was.

This novel is beautiful from start to finish. I don’t know how to describe the feeling exactly, but there was something so incredibly beautiful about the shades and facets of humanity that this book shines a light on. Humor, love, betrayal, compromise, ugliness, self-sacrifice, determination, empowerment, music, I felt and related to so many human moments in this book that it felt less like a book and more like an experience.

I recommend Daisy Jones & The Six whole-heartedly and with enthusiasm. If I could I’d buy a copy for every person I love, even the ones who say that this wouldn’t be their type of book. Yeah, I once thought that too, and now I’m so glad that I took a step out of my usual reading zone and experienced this great story. You’re all in for one hell of a ride with this one, but I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

“Music can dig, you know? It can take a shovel to your chest and just start digging until you hit something.”

“Don’t count yourself out this early…you’re all sorts of things you don’t even know yet.”

Read and loved this book too?? Let me know in the comments!

Instagram | Twitter Facebook | Goodreads

Book Tour, Reviews

Sabrina: Season of the Witch ( + GIVEAWAY)

“I spent so long thinking the future was forever away. I’m not ready for it to be now.”

It’s the summer before her sixteenth birthday, and Sabrina Spellman knows her world is about to change. She’s always studied magic and spells with her aunts, Hilda and Zelda. But she’s also lived a normal mortal life – attending Baxter High, hanging out with her friends Susie and Roz, and going to the movies with her boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle.

Now time is running out on her every day, normal world, and leaving behind Roz and Susie and Harvey is a lot harder than she thought it would be. Especially because Sabrina isn’t sure how Harvey feels about her. Her cousin Ambrose suggests performing a spell to discover Harvey’s true feelings. But when a mysterious wood spirit interferes, the spell backfires in a big way.

Sabrina has always been attracted to the power of being a witch. But now she can’t help wondering if that power is leading her down the wrong path. Will she choose to forsake the path of light and follow the path of night?

Our exclusive prequel novel will reveal a side of Sabrina not seen on the new NETFLIX show. What choice will Sabrina make…and will it be the right one?

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

I had a lot of fun reading this, I can’t even lie. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I never am when it comes to screen adaptations to text or spin-offs of any kind. But this was fun! I give it a solid 4 stars and I also had a fun afternoon diving into it. I love this new age of Sabrina as she struggles with coming of age, both in our world and in hers. The teen angst, the dark themes, the camp, its all wonderful and its all here too, in Sabrina: Season of the Witch.

While not adding a huge amount of new information or story progression (it is a prequel) from the television series, it does give us one experience that I thought was worth every page: a direct line into the thoughts and feelings of multiple characters that we love. I really enjoyed hearing Sabrina’s thoughts and struggles firsthand and I particularly loved hearing chapters from Ambrose, Zelda, and Hilda as well. This was a fun twist on bits of story we already know and I learned some new things about these characters in the meantime.

This was a fun, quick read that felt all the more fun and tangible for the fact that I could visualize every scene. Having seen the tv show helps with that, but the writing is also descriptive and visual and very true to the spirit of this new world. Season of the Witch is many things all at once: a light, witchy mystery; a teenage romance; a coming of age story; and a prelude of many bigger things to come.

If you’re a fan of the show then you will definitely enjoy this book. If you’re not a fan of the show, this might be a light primer for deciding if you want to dive into the deeper end on NETFLIX. Or maybe it’s just a good, little prequel you can enjoy no matter what you think about the show. Regardless, I enjoyed it a lot and I hope you do too.

SARAH REES BRENNAN is a New York Times bestselling author whose novels have been long-listed for the Carnegie Medal and short-listed for both a Nebula Award and a Hugo Award, as well as received multiple starred reviews. Her most recent novels include In Other Lands, Tell the Wind and Fire and the Lynburn Legacy trilogy. 

Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Enter to win 1 of 5 copies of Sabrina: Season of the Witch by Sarah Rees Brennan!

Giveaway is open to US residents and ends 8/1/2019.

Enter through this Rafflecopter form and may the odds be ever in your favor!

July 24th

July 25th

  • One More Chapter– Review
  • Booked J- Review
  • Rhythmicbooktrovert- Review & Favorite Quotes


July 26th

  • Lost in Storyland- Interview
  • Starlight Reads- Bookstagram
  • BookCrushin- Creative Post

July 27th

  • The Book Nut– Playlist
  • onemused- Bookstagram
  • Morgan Vega- Review

July 28th

July 29th

July 30th

  • Story-eyed Reviews– Review & Favorite Quotes
  • Musings of a (Book) Girl- Review/Creative Post
  • Twilight Reader- PlaylistA Book Addict’s Bookshelves- Playlist

Do you watch Sabrina?? Leave a comment letting me know!

Thanks for stopping by, and see you tomorrow! x – A

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Guest Post, Reviews

GUEST POST: Nevernight

I’ve got something exciting for you all today!!

As some of you know, I’ve been buddy-reading the bulk of Jay Kristoff’s work with two friends from my amazing book club, The Book Democracy. Jennie, Anita and I started with The Illuminae Files (by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff) and then we were hooked! Since Darkdawn, the third and final installment in this series is set to come out in September, we’ve been focusing on finishing the rest of this series in time.

I loved Nevernight and I can’t wait to tell you all about that love, but I’m not going to! Not here, anyway.

“What?? Not on your blog…then where??”

On Jennie’s blog, that’s where!!

This week up is down and blue is green and we are switching blogs!

That’s right, pals, below you will find a fantastic review for this fantastic book, Nevernight, written by none other than my friend Jennie from Jennie From The Book. I hope you enjoy her wit and humor as much as I do. Have fun and see you tomorrow!

“I can safely say that Jay Kristoff has definitely made his holy dark ways onto my auto-buy author list.

Oh Jay Kristoff. Sir. Nevernight hurts so good. While I have absolutely taken the journey of Mia Corvere and thoroughly enjoyed it, I have to say, it isn’t for everyone. I must state this for everyone in the back to hear… it is NOT Young Adult! The Illuminae series (by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kauffman) was…. This, my friends, is NOT. For one, this book has one too many blow jobs lol. Keep that in mind before going on this wild badass ride.

This is a book about revenge, blood, lust and death. Jay Kristoff wrote his book very brutally. He does not buy you dinner first and does not include vaseline with every purchase. So once you start reading page one get ready to take it. No bracing yourself. Right from the start.

With that said…I freaking loved it!

This book follows young Mia on a journey to avenge her family. She joins a group that can be compared to a place like Hogwarts, except here she’s learning how to murder people. She’s not a Hufflepuff training for O.W.L.s.

We go through every little detail and stage with her. Twists and horrors. My only complaint was actually her age. She’s 15 during this specific book. (I’m not sure about the rest) but I would have felt a tiny bit more comfortable with some scenes if she were at least 20. Regardless of her age, she is powerful, headstrong, and totally badass!

We meet some unforgettable characters in this story. Some you love, some you hate. Some you love to hate. They all stay with you though. I need to know more about all of them! Trust that they all made me gasp and yell at them at one point or another.

We end this book with a cliffhanger that made my head spin. Therefore, it’s safe to say you’ll be seeing a review for book two (Godsgrave) in August.

I hope this review actually helped you lol. Cause after writing it, then re-reading it… I’m still wondering wtf I’m even saying. Nevernight screwed me up in a great way.

Keep a lookout for more joint reviews with my awesome gal-pal fellow badass Story-eyed reviews!”

Want to read more from Jennie? Find her @ her Blog and her Instagram.

I LOVED Nevernight too so much, it was one of those fun, fantastic, crazy reads for me that sucked me in and then I popped out on the other side…changed. I want to tell everyone about it!

To read my own review, check it out HERE at Jennie’s!

Instagram | Twitter Facebook | Goodreads

Book Tour, Reviews

Meet the Sky

“It’s amazing how the storm of the century shook up our lives. […] My physical world suffered damage, but nothing that power tools and hard work won’t eventually fix. My emotional world, on the other hand, evolved into something completely new and different.”

It all started with the accident. The one that caused Sophie’s dad to walk out of her life. The one that left Sophie’s older sister, Meredith, barely able to walk at all.

With nothing but pain in her past, all Sophie wants is to plan for the future—keep the family business running, get accepted to veterinary school, and protect her mom and sister from another disaster. But when a hurricane forms off the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks and heads right toward their island, Sophie realizes nature is one thing she can’t control.

After she gets separated from her family during the evacuation, Sophie finds herself trapped on the island with the last person she’d have chosen—the reckless and wild Finn Sanders, who broke her heart freshman year. As they struggle to find safety, Sophie learns that Finn has suffered his own heartbreak; but instead of playing it safe, Finn’s become the kind of guy who goes surfing in the eye of the hurricane. He may be the perfect person to remind Sophie how to embrace life again, but only if their newfound friendship can survive the storm.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

I read Meet the Sky in one rainy afternoon and, thinking about it now, it was a good day. Part of that was because of this sweet, turbulent, and romantic little YA novel.

Meet the Sky was a quick and fun read, despite what I thought would be heavy subject matter. Both Sophie and Finn have obstacles in their families and lives at the time this book takes place, not to mention the giant obstacle that they both have to deal with: the hurricane.

Finn and Sophie, being teenagers, didn’t always make the same choices I would have in the midst of this disaster, but that didn’t matter to me. The characters in this book make every choice because they believe its the right one to do. Each of them is stubborn and obstinate and has wildly different views from the other, and yet they find the most vulnerable parts of themselves out in the storm. Like any good “enemies to lovers” plot, I enjoyed their discovery of each other and new ideas the most.

It was also very interesting for me to get a little taste of coastal and/or island life. Not only the storm, but the way their towns are built and maintained, the way their citizens respond to threats like this, the way of life out by the ocean. I’m a midwesterner, stuck out here in the middle of the country without an ocean, so I find things like this fascinating haha.

This story was simple but balanced so well with depth, feeling, and excitement. For all that its about the storm of a century, Meet the Sky is surprisingly light for the soul. I gave this one a solid 4 stars and if you’re a fan of teenage love in the face of death-defying obstacles then this might be just the book for you.

McCall Hoyle writes honest YA novels about friendship, first love, and girls finding the strength to overcome great challenges. She is a high school English teacher. Her own less-than-perfect teenage experiences and those of the girls she teaches inspire many of the struggles in her books. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s spending time with her family and their odd assortment of pets—a food-obsessed beagle, a grumpy rescue cat, and a three-and-a-half-legged kitten. She has an English degree from Columbia College and a master’s degree from Georgia State University. She lives in a cottage in the woods in North Georgia where she reads and writes every day.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Enter to win 1 of 5 BLINK Summer Reading Tour Book Bundles (A Touch of Gold, Meet the Sky, No Place Like Here, Pretty In Punxsutawney, and Swing)!

Giveaway is open to US residents and ends 8/9/2019.

Enter through this Rafflecopter form and may the odds be ever in your favor!

July 22

That Artsy Reader Girl – Summer Reading Tour Kick-Off

July 23

Pages & Pugs – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney + Favorite QuotesMangeuse de Livres – Q&A with Annie Sullivan (French & English)
Moonlight Rendezvous – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Favorite QuotesMusings of a (Book) Girl – Christina June Guest PostOhana Cascadia – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Favorite QuotesA Bronx Latina Reads – Book Review of Pretty In PunxsutawneyNay’s Pink Bookshelf – Book Review of Swing + Favorite QuotesTaylor Fenner’s Bookish World – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
Kayla Reads and Reviews – Book Review of Swing + Creative Post
Savings In Seconds – Book Review of Meet the Sky

July 24

J.R.’s Book Reviews – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
Book-Keeping – Book Review of Meet the Sky
Musings of a (Book) Girl – Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton
Lifestyle of Me – Book Review of No Place Like HereShelf-Rated – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney + Favorite Quotes
Reading Authors Network – Book Review of Swing
Read At Night – Interview with Christina JuneYA/NA Book Divas – Book Review of Swing
Cinnamon Summers – Book Review of No Place Like Here + Favorite QuotesInky Moments – Creative Post

July 25

Marshmallow Pudding – Christina June Guest Post
Never Too Many to Read – Creative Post for No Place Like Here
Ohana Cascadia – Book Review of Swing + Favorite QuotesNay’s Pink Bookshelf – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney + Favorite QuotesFictitiousWonderland – Book Review + Creative Post for A Touch of Gold (Instagram)
Story-eyed Reviews – Interview with McCall Hoyle
Will Read Anything – Book Review of Meet the Sky
Kait Plus Books – Book Review of No Place Like Here + Favorite Quotes
The Reading Corner for All – Book Review of A Touch of Gold + Instagram Post

July 26

Adventures Thru Wonderland – McCall Hoyle Guest Post
Here’s to Happy Endings – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
What She Will Read – Book Review of No Place Like Here + Favorite Quotes
Starlight Reads – Book Playlist for Swing
Story-eyed Reviews – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Favorite Quotes
Library of a Book Witch – Book Review of A Touch of GoldWill Read Anything – Book Review of Swing
Inky Moments – Book Review of No Place Like Here + Favorite Quotes

July 29

Beauty In the Binding – Author Q&A with Annie SullivanOnemused – Book Review of Meet the Sky (Instagram Photo)A Bronx Latina Reads – Book Review of No Place Like HereCinnamon Summers – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Favorite Quotes
A Dream Within a Dream – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
A Bookish Dream – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney
Savings In Seconds – Book Review of Swing + Favorite Quotes
FictitiousWonderland – Book Review + Creative Post for Pretty In Punxsutawney (Instagram)

July 30

What She Will Read – Laurie Boyle Crompton Guest Post
Never Too Many to Read – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Starlight Reads – Book Review of Swing
YA/NA Book Divas – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
YA Media Consumer – Book Review of Meet the Sky
Some Books and Ramblings – Interview with McCall Hoyle
Moonlight Rendezvous – Book Review of A Touch of Gold + Favorite QuotesThe Reading Corner for All – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Instagram Post

July 31

Feed Your Fiction Addiction – McCall Hoyle Guest PostTaylor Fenner’s Bookish World – Book Review of No Place Like HereBook-Keeping – Book Review of Touch of Gold
Utopia State of Mind – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Kait Plus Books – Annie Sullivan Guest PostMusings of a (Book) Girl – Book Review of Swing
Kait Plus Books – Laurie Boyle Crompton Guest PostRead At Night – No Place Like Here Creative Post
Ohana Cascadia – Book Review of A Touch of Gold + Favorite Quotes
Lifestyle of Me – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney

August 1

Reading Authors Network – Creative Post for Swing
Story-eyed Reviews – Interview with Christina June
Two Points of Interest – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney
The Secret Reader – Book Review of A Touch of Gold + Creative Post
Belle’s Archive – Book Review of Swing
A Dream Within A Dream – Annie Sullivan Guest Post
Smada’s Book Smack – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney
A Bookish Dream – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Adventures Thru Wonderland – Book Review of Meet the Sky

August 2

Here’s to Happy Endings – Book Review of Meet the Sky
Belle’s Archive – Book Review of Pretty In PunxsutawneyThe Secret Reader – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney + Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton + Creative PostSmada’s Book Smack – Book Review of No Place Like HereFaery Tales Are Real – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
Read At Night – Book Review of Swing + Creative Post
Two Points of Interest – Book Review of Swing

Thanks for stopping by! See you soon. — A

Instagram | Twitter Facebook | Goodreads

author talk

[BLINK Summer Reading Tour] Interview with the Author: McCall Hoyle ( + GIVEAWAY!)

I’ve got something special for you guys today!

I’m participating in the BLINK Summer Reading Tour right now and I get the pleasure of introducing you to Meet the Sky!

I read Meet the Sky this month and really enjoyed it. This YA contemporary was dramatic, suspenseful, and a little bit romantic in all the best ways. I can’t wait to share my full review with you tomorrow, as the tour continues!

Today, I’m going to be sharing with you a conversation I had with the author of this book, McCall Hoyle! From her book to her process to her advice to young writers, we covered it all.

You can also enter to win a bundle of all five books on the BLINK Summer Reading tour! Look for the Giveaway below!

It all started with the accident. The one that caused Sophie’s dad to walk out of her life. The one that left Sophie’s older sister, Meredith, barely able to walk at all.

With nothing but pain in her past, all Sophie wants is to plan for the future—keep the family business running, get accepted to veterinary school, and protect her mom and sister from another disaster. But when a hurricane forms off the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks and heads right toward their island, Sophie realizes nature is one thing she can’t control.

After she gets separated from her family during the evacuation, Sophie finds herself trapped on the island with the last person she’d have chosen—the reckless and wild Finn Sanders, who broke her heart freshman year. As they struggle to find safety, Sophie learns that Finn has suffered his own heartbreak; but instead of playing it safe, Finn’s become the kind of guy who goes surfing in the eye of the hurricane. He may be the perfect person to remind Sophie how to embrace life again, but only if their newfound friendship can survive the storm.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

1. Tell us about your book. 

My second book, Meet the Sky, is about Sophie, a girl struggling to keep her fractured family together. She’s all about sticking to the plan—keeping the family business running, saving money for college one day, and making sure her mom and sister don’t endure another tragedy—but when a hurricane forms off the coast of the Outer Banks, Sophie realizes nature is one thing she can’t control. She ends up stranded in the middle of the storm with Finn, the boy who broke her heart freshman year.

2. What was your inspiration for this novel?

My father died unexpectedly about eighteen years ago. It was the single most life-changing, world-rocking event of my life. Years past before I could talk about it without overwhelming emotion. Needless to say, I didn’t handle losing him very well. I was emotionally paralyzed for several years. I went about the business of doing life, but inside I was a train wreck. Writing was one of the things that actually helped me start processing some of that bottled up grief. Along the way, I learned that there are much healthier ways to grieve. My father was a lot like Finn in the book, he truly lived every day like it might be his last. The inspiration for the story came when I thought about what would happen if two people with totally different belief systems about living and dying fell in love.

3. Do you use music when you write?

I wish I could say I listened to really cool playlists when I write, but honestly, I prefer the silence of the wood-paneled quiet room at my favorite library or the background chatter of my local Starbucks. Sometimes, if the background noise is too much, I’ll put in my earbuds and listen to classical music.

4. What’s a writing day look like for you?

Oh my gosh, I wish I had a super cool answer for this one too, but I’m a very busy mom and teacher as well as writer. I’m also easily distracted by my golden retriever whom I adore and spend a lot of time grooming and training.

So a typical writing day looks like me scrambling to squeeze in an hour or two to write whenever I can, wherever I can. Sometimes, that’s late at night after the family goes to bed. Sometimes, it’s sitting in the line to pick my son up after school. Sometimes, it’s at the library or Starbucks. If I’m really desperate, I’ll even draft a quick scene in the notes app on my phone. I’ve even used dictating apps while I’m driving. 

But hope springs eternal. Someday, I envision myself writing in a really cool treehouse, sipping chai tea, and watching wildlife out the enormous window above my desk. 

5. What’s your favorite part about writing? Least?

My favorite part of writing is definitely coming up with shiny, bright new ideas and brainstorming plots sure to set the world on fire. I think many writers love this part. In fact, we often use these brilliant new ideas to distract us from the project we’re supposed to be working on when the going gets tough, and it always gets tough at some point. New ideas are so full of optimism, and enthusiasm, and creative energy partially because we haven’t figured out the inherent problems that are bound to arise. Even though, I know I shouldn’t be wooed away from an existing project, it’s so fun to get lost in a new idea.

My least favorite part of writing seems to be writing the middle of any book. I love, love, love writing the first ten to twenty-thousand words where I’m getting to know the characters and developing the conflict and setting. Since I usually have an idea of how a story will end before I start, it’s really exciting to see that coming together. But that darn middle gets me every time. The only two things that I’ve found that help are lots of brainstorming on the front end and just writing through the hard spots. Anything can be revised. Anything. But there have to be some words there to begin with.

6. If you could speak to a writer just starting out, what would you tell them?

It’s a marathon, not a race. Be kind and gentle with yourself and celebrate every step along the way, and I mean every step. Celebrate the first manuscript you finish, even if in hindsight it’s not very good. Celebrate the first time you receive a rejection from an agent or an editor. It means you finished a project and put yourself out there. For most of us, it’s a long, tough road to publication, and even once we’re published we’re constantly moving the bar and reaching for new goals and milestones. You’ll burnout your creative spirit if you don’t give her time to celebrate and enjoy along the way. If you can, find likeminded friends and critique partners to celebrate with. They’ll come in super hand when you’re having a bad day as well.

McCall Hoyle writes honest YA novels about friendship, first love, and girls finding the strength to overcome great challenges. She is a high school English teacher. Her own less-than-perfect teenage experiences and those of the girls she teaches inspire many of the struggles in her books. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s spending time with her family and their odd assortment of pets—a food-obsessed beagle, a grumpy rescue cat, and a three-and-a-half-legged kitten. She has an English degree from Columbia College and a master’s degree from Georgia State University. She lives in a cottage in the woods in North Georgia where she reads and writes every day.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Enter to win 1 of 5 BLINK Summer Reading Tour Book Bundles (A Touch of Gold, Meet the Sky, No Place Like Here, Pretty In Punxsutawney, and Swing)!

Giveaway is open to US residents and ends 8/9/2019.

Enter through this Rafflecopter form and may the odds be ever in your favor!

July 22

That Artsy Reader Girl – Summer Reading Tour Kick-Off

July 23

Pages & Pugs – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney + Favorite QuotesMangeuse de Livres – Q&A with Annie Sullivan (French & English)
Moonlight Rendezvous – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Favorite QuotesMusings of a (Book) Girl – Christina June Guest PostOhana Cascadia – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Favorite QuotesA Bronx Latina Reads – Book Review of Pretty In PunxsutawneyNay’s Pink Bookshelf – Book Review of Swing + Favorite QuotesTaylor Fenner’s Bookish World – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
Kayla Reads and Reviews – Book Review of Swing + Creative Post
Savings In Seconds – Book Review of Meet the Sky

July 24

J.R.’s Book Reviews – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
Book-Keeping – Book Review of Meet the Sky
Musings of a (Book) Girl – Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton
Lifestyle of Me – Book Review of No Place Like HereShelf-Rated – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney + Favorite Quotes
Reading Authors Network – Book Review of Swing
Read At Night – Interview with Christina JuneYA/NA Book Divas – Book Review of Swing
Cinnamon Summers – Book Review of No Place Like Here + Favorite QuotesInky Moments – Creative Post

July 25

Marshmallow Pudding – Christina June Guest Post
Never Too Many to Read – Creative Post for No Place Like Here
Ohana Cascadia – Book Review of Swing + Favorite QuotesNay’s Pink Bookshelf – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney + Favorite QuotesFictitiousWonderland – Book Review + Creative Post for A Touch of Gold (Instagram)
Story-eyed Reviews – Interview with McCall Hoyle
Will Read Anything – Book Review of Meet the Sky
Kait Plus Books – Book Review of No Place Like Here + Favorite Quotes
The Reading Corner for All – Book Review of A Touch of Gold + Instagram Post

July 26

Adventures Thru Wonderland – McCall Hoyle Guest Post
Here’s to Happy Endings – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
What She Will Read – Book Review of No Place Like Here + Favorite Quotes
Starlight Reads – Book Playlist for Swing
Story-eyed Reviews – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Favorite Quotes
Library of a Book Witch – Book Review of A Touch of GoldWill Read Anything – Book Review of Swing
Inky Moments – Book Review of No Place Like Here + Favorite Quotes

July 29

Beauty In the Binding – Author Q&A with Annie SullivanOnemused – Book Review of Meet the Sky (Instagram Photo)A Bronx Latina Reads – Book Review of No Place Like HereCinnamon Summers – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Favorite Quotes
A Dream Within a Dream – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
A Bookish Dream – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney
Savings In Seconds – Book Review of Swing + Favorite Quotes
FictitiousWonderland – Book Review + Creative Post for Pretty In Punxsutawney (Instagram)

July 30

What She Will Read – Laurie Boyle Crompton Guest Post
Never Too Many to Read – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Starlight Reads – Book Review of Swing
YA/NA Book Divas – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
YA Media Consumer – Book Review of Meet the Sky
Some Books and Ramblings – Interview with McCall Hoyle
Moonlight Rendezvous – Book Review of A Touch of Gold + Favorite QuotesThe Reading Corner for All – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Instagram Post

July 31

Feed Your Fiction Addiction – McCall Hoyle Guest PostTaylor Fenner’s Bookish World – Book Review of No Place Like HereBook-Keeping – Book Review of Touch of Gold
Utopia State of Mind – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Kait Plus Books – Annie Sullivan Guest PostMusings of a (Book) Girl – Book Review of Swing
Kait Plus Books – Laurie Boyle Crompton Guest PostRead At Night – No Place Like Here Creative Post
Ohana Cascadia – Book Review of A Touch of Gold + Favorite Quotes
Lifestyle of Me – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney

August 1

Reading Authors Network – Creative Post for Swing
Story-eyed Reviews – Interview with Christina June
Two Points of Interest – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney
The Secret Reader – Book Review of A Touch of Gold + Creative Post
Belle’s Archive – Book Review of Swing
A Dream Within A Dream – Annie Sullivan Guest Post
Smada’s Book Smack – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney
A Bookish Dream – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Adventures Thru Wonderland – Book Review of Meet the Sky

August 2

Here’s to Happy Endings – Book Review of Meet the Sky
Belle’s Archive – Book Review of Pretty In PunxsutawneyThe Secret Reader – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney + Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton + Creative PostSmada’s Book Smack – Book Review of No Place Like HereFaery Tales Are Real – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
Read At Night – Book Review of Swing + Creative Post
Two Points of Interest – Book Review of Swing

That’s all I’ve got for you guys today, I hope you enjoyed it!! If these types of interviews and tours are something you’d like to see more of, drop me a line and tell me what you think about it! See you tomorrow! x — A

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Book Tour, Reviews

Lock Every Door ( + GIVEAWAY )

“No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story . . . until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.”

I had so much fun reading Lock Every Door.

I requested to get on this release tour as soon as I saw it; I’ve been a Riley Sager fan since I read his other two books, Final Girls and The Last Time I Lied. When my copy of the book arrived, I’d planned to read it over the course of a week, juggling my schedule between a handful of other books. That’s not what happened. I powered through this thing like it was my damn job, I could not put it down! This was the Summer Thriller that I wanted and needed at just the right time.

Lock Every Door is everything that I love in a thriller: creepy, visceral, paranoid, and just “over-the-top” enough.” I was pulled in from chapter one, I had to know! What is with all the rules in this building?? What’s the catch to this dream scenario?? What awful thing is waiting in the wings?? I got everything I wanted and more, in answers, in scares, and in fun.

This might be my favorite out of all of Sagers novels and I don’t think that’s by accident. This book was tight, sharp, and buttoned-up; its obvious that Sager has grown as a writer. Satisfying and addictive, Lock Every Door does a cool thing in creating a countdown on the first page. The use of time to further the visceral urgency in this book was a brilliant choice, causing me to turn moments over in my head, wondering how they might all link together at the end. The slow burn of this novel was part excitement, part dread, and part pure entertainment, and before you know it you can’t turn the pages fast enough.

One of my favorite things about Sager as an author is that, again, he delivers a competent and relatable female protagonist who makes a lot of the same choices we all would. Especially in the situation that she gets into (paid to live in a lavish apartment??), I appreciated the modern social concerns that she, as a single young woman, would feel. What’s the catch? (Oh, and you know there’s a catch.) I also appreciated that Sager took this chance to write a thriller that not only delivers pulse-pounding thrills, but also makes a statement about privilege and grief and social judgement. Really interesting and applicable, all while somehow maintaining a tone somewhere comfortably between The Shining and Scooby-Doo.

Lock Every Door is a wickedly fun adventure of a book and I wish I could read it again without knowing the “secret.” I whole-heartedly enjoyed this classic “locked room” chiller, full of Sager’s signature style. Fans of his, and those who aren’t, would be wise to pick up this addition to his work. I had a blast reading it and I hope that you do too.

“Never take anything you haven’t earned, my father used to say. You always end up paying for it one way or another.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Riley Sager is the pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer.

Now a full-time writer, Riley is the author of FINAL GIRLS, an international bestseller that has been published in 25 languages, and the New York Times bestseller THE LAST TIME I LIED. His latest book, LOCK EVERY DOOR, will be published in July.

Giveaway!

7 copies of Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

CLICK HERE

Follow the Tour!

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Reviews

Four Dead Queens

“Be patient, child. Be calm. Be selfless. Wait for the right moment. Wait for your time. Rule with a steady hand. A steady heart.” 

“Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but in fact, she’s one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. Varin runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.”

Four Dead Queens was possibly the biggest surprise for me this year. I wasn’t expecting very much! I have to admit, I thought it would be like a lot of the other popular YA fantasy releases that have come out recently. In some ways it was, but in others it was definitely different, and those threads of originality really made this book fun and special to read.

My favorite thing about this book was the author’s use of time and separate timelines. Every other chapter (give or take) takes place in the present day, with our badass MC Keralie, and then in an unknown space of time with the four Queens of Quedara. I was so drawn in by this! At first I couldn’t tell which timeline had happened first, or if they were happened simultaneously, and then…it was neither! I was completely surprised, and very happily so! This was such a unique format in which to tell the story and I think it served Four Dead Queens so well.

Another thing I didn’t see coming was the twist at the end! Ah, and this is such a pleasure for me! I hesitate to say too much about it, in fear of ruining it for anyone else, but safe to say that I never correctly guessed “whodunnit!” And it was awesome when the big reveal came, it blew me out of the water. I had so much fun trying to guess and even more fun being wrong.

Four Dead Queens had so many interesting things going for it. Its use of technology, while still being a fantasy book, was such an interesting facet to add into the world of Quedara. Its women-forward and well-built political system is interesting without being dry, built into the country’s history without being long-winded. The characters were relatable while also being wildly different from me, and each other! I loved the diversity of person and personality in this book.

Four Dead Queens is a dark, unapologetic, and wild ride of a YA fantasy book, and I whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone who enjoys that genre. This is Astrid Scholte’s debut novel and I’m impressed! I was surprised and entertained, felt real emotions and never wanted to put the book down until I flipped that last page.

“Let love guide your, heart and everything else will fall into place.”

Book Blog Hop

Time to Hop!

One of the things I’ve been trying to do a lot of since starting this blog is check out other awesome book review blogs and get involved in some of the weekly challenges and prompts they use.

Today I’m going to be taking part in the Book Blogger Hop! This is currently active over at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer and bloggers all over the sphere get involved to answer the prompt, visit some of the other responses, and make new connections!

This week’s prompt comes from Elizabeth @ Silver’s Reviews and they asked:  “Do you review all of the books you read?”

And my answer is: Kind of, yeah, but I don’t review them all the same way. I review almost everything on Goodreads now, or I try to. I don’t always write the full review complete with many paragraphs that I post on my blog, but usually something. If a book I’m reading is older though or I don’t love it but no one’s heard of it or if I just don’t have that much to say at all about it, I’ll skip the review.

What I love about reviewing books is sharing the stories and characters that I LOVE. That doesn’t mean I won’t write a bad review, in fact my love for books just means that my bad reviews can be passionate. Still, the moment I think to myself while reading a book “I can’t wait to tell everyone about this” is the moment I know I’ll write up a full review for it.

I’m still new at this so I don’t yet have a specific system for what I will and won’t review, maybe I’ll develop one over time, but for now– I’m content to just review what my heart calls me to, the good and the ugly.

Reviewers, do you write a full review for every book you read? How do you decide?

Tell me in the comments!

ARC Reviews

Stargazing

“Moon is everything Christine isn’t. She’s confident, impulsive, artistic… and though they both grew up in the same Chinese-American suburb, Moon is somehow unlike anyone Christine has ever known.

When Moon’s family moves in next door to Christine’s, Moon goes from unlikely friend to best friend―maybe even the perfect friend. The girls share their favorite music videos, paint their toenails when Christine’s strict parents aren’t around, and make plans to enter the school talent show together. Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: that she sometimes has visions of celestial beings who speak to her from the stars. Who reassure her that earth isn’t where she really belongs.

But when they’re least expecting it, catastrophe strikes. After relying on Moon for everything, can Christine find it in herself to be the friend Moon needs?”

Stargazing is one of those books that I would love to hand to every kid in the world. And every adult, for that matter. This charming story about friendship, feeling alone in the world and defining who we are is a wonder of nostalgia and something that feels so original. I’m a huge fan of Jen Wang and she did not disappoint. One of my first reviews was another graphic novel by Jen Wang, The Prince and The Dressmaker, and I cannot recommend either of these books highly enough.

There are so many good things to say about this book that I don’t know where to start. The characters are real and relatable, their problems and fears are important and I felt their falls and victories like they were mine. Wang does an incredible job of bringing her own experiences and authenticity to Stargazing and it pays off in spades.

I loved so many things about Stargazing. Particularly, I loved the unique perspective that Moon brings to the story and the journey she undergoes. Though not for the same reasons, I too felt that I didn’t belong here as a child, that I was secretly from somewhere else and might one day go back there, where it all made sense and I fit. I felt her loneliness at learning that she is a child of this earth the way that we all are. I felt her loneliness at learning that some of us are always going to be looking upwards, looking for something fantastic, no matter how grown up we become.

Christine, the other primary character in Stargazing, takes us on a different but just as valuable story, in trying to figure out how she’s supposed to be. From painting her nails, to the music she listens to, to her values and the friends she chooses, Christine is at an age where we all asked ourselves so many of these same questions. Do I fit in? Do I have to be who my parents/community/expectations tell me to be? Do I like who I am? Who do I want to be? Her journey was so relatable, especially so for those living in a community like Christine’s where she feels there is a “right” and “rewarded” way to be, like everyone else.

I was so excited when I requested this ARC from Netgalley, and so lucky to have gotten my hands on it. Jen Wang has impressed me again with this beautiful, sweet, whole-hearted story of two new friends trying to find their way in the world. Stargazing is about friendship, forgiveness, and feeling otherworldly, but its also a powerful story of growing up. To anyone who has felt alone, that they don’t belong, or that there might be something greater waiting for them, don’t miss out on Stargazing. You won’t regret it.

I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This one hits shelves on September 10, 2019!

“We can’t change the past. But we can learn from the way we hurt the ones we love, and try to do better.”