An Interview with Author Teri Bailey Black!

Hi Teri, congratulations on the release of your debut novel Girl at the Grave. It is being released as a Gothic YA Mystery. Would you please  give a little bit of insight over what inspired you to write Valentine’s story?

I’m a very visual person (I grew up in a family of artists), so for me a story usually starts as an image in my mind. This story started as the image of a little girl in the 1800’s, with wild curls and dirty feet, looking through a schoolhouse window. The teacher tries to draw her inside, but she runs away. I wondered why that little girl feels like an outcast and decided her mother was hanged for murdering a prominent man. And suddenly I was writing a murder mystery, which excited me because I love mysteries.

My first draft of GIRL AT THE GRAVE was quite different than the final printed story. The first quarter of the book was Valentine’s childhood (seeing her mother hanged, then learning to fend for herself), then the story jumped to her teen years, with some romance and new murders in town. I sent out queries to agents, and one asked for a revision and resubmit, with a suggestion to make it either a full children’s story or a full YA story. Which seemed so obvious, suddenly. I spent about six months completely rewriting it as YA, cutting the childhood chapters and changing the teen story quite a bit. The story continued changing as I went through revisions with my editor. But, at its core, it remains the story of that little girl and how she overcomes the shame of having a mother who murdered someone and facing her own mistakes.

There were a ton of mysterious elements in Girl at the Grave, but one that stood out to me was the house she lived in. It was an old partially burned down estate yet you imbued the rooms with a rather gloomy life so that it almost  became another character. Did you have a real life setting that you based this house on? Or as some authors do did you create a picture board of houses for inspiration?

When I write, I always have a clear picture of the setting in my head and have fun putting it into words. But I don’t want the descriptions longwinded. My goal is to create a rich atmosphere in as few words as possible, mingling descriptions with action and dialogue. Honestly, creating a setting is the fun, easy part of writing for me. I have other challenges, but thinking up settings and characters brings me joy. 

I didn’t base the Barron estate on anything except my own imagination—no picture boards or anything. In the first draft, the main house was fully burned and uninhabitable, and Valentine and her father lived in a small carriage house on the property. But I had to keep inventing reasons for her to wander out to the burned ruins—and then it came to me—she should be living in that creepy house! So much more fun.

When I read Girl at the Grave I was surprised that adults played such a large role in the novel. Did you ever discuss tweaking the novel so that it became more YA than General Fiction? It could so easily have been labeled a Gothic Mystery novel with a young woman in her early 20’s

I love YA—both reading it and writing it, even watching it in movies. It’s such a pivotal point in life, where everything seems more intense and hopeful and scary, when choices are made and life turns one direction or another. My initial idea for GIRL AT THE GRAVE included much of Valentine’s childhood, from age 5 through her grammar school years, then jumped to her teen years. So, for me, it was always a coming-of-age story. I eventually cut the childhood chapters and focused on the teen years, making it purely YA, but I never saw it as an adult story.

Let’s discuss the love triangle. YA readers either love them or hate them. As you wrote the novel, how many times did you change your mind about who Valentine would choose, Sam or Rowan? Is there anything you wish you had done differently with those relationships?

Ha! (I’m going to try to answer this without spoilers.) This was the biggest surprise for me after the book was published—that people see it as a love triangle. I honestly didn’t see it that way as I wrote. For me, it was very clear from Chapter 1 which boy she wants—which boy will be The One—and the story is how she gets from point A to point B. She doesn’t feel worthy of him because of social standing and a past mistake, so she thinks she has to settle for a more reasonable choice. But I thought it was pretty clear that she doesn’t really want that other choice. Valentine redeems herself and then DOES feel worthy of the boy she loves—and makes a surprising choice. So, yeah, two boys in her life, but for me it was more of a line with a little swerve as the story hits a crisis point, not a triangle. But—oh my! People have strong feelings about love triangles. Hopefully, as one reviewer wrote: “This is one love triangle that actually doesn’t suck.” I’ll take it!

As Valentine unraveled the mystery there were so many twists and turns my mind changed frequently over the outcome and I was completely surprised in the end. What is your process for keeping it all straight?

The quick answer to your question is—I keep it straight in my head. I do make feeble attempts to outline, but I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer by nature, making it up as I go. For me, the joy is being creative, wandering one direction, then another, exploring the possibilities. As soon as I map out exactly what should happen, I change it. Since GIRL AT THE GRAVE was written without a book deal or deadline, it evolved slowly. I remember making a few noble attempts to map out every detail, but I never followed those notes.

However, that said, with my current manuscript I DO have an agent, editor, book deal, and deadline, so I did outline ahead of time so I can write faster. I tried Post-it notes and didn’t like it; moving one note led to unsticking and re-sticking a dozen more. Then I tried index cards, which are easier to slide around on the rug, but I didn’t love that method either. What IS working for me is writing rambling thoughts in a notebook that I never read again. That loose, sloppy handwriting helps my brain think through the story. THEN I type up a pretty outline. THEN I write ten chapters, allowing myself to wander in unexpected directions. When the story has detoured (and I know the detour is the right choice), I stop typing and go back to the sloppy notebook so I can think through the details—then I type a new, organized outline—then I go back to writing the manuscript. Rinse and repeat. It has been a nice mix of outlining and exploring.

Did you always know who the murderer was or did you change your mind as you wrote the novel?

I knew who the murderer was from the beginning. Hm, this question makes me realize for the first time that most of the mystery never changed at all—not the reasons for the murders or the way they were done. What DID change were the characters. Valentine’s personality changed quite a bit. And in the first draft, which included a lot of her childhood, Sam was a mean bully, not a friend. I added more characters, like Birdy, and reduced others who didn’t add to the story. But the murder mystery remained as first imagined.

Teri, thanks again for answering my questions! My last question is about your next project. Are you working on your next novel and if so, can you tell us anything about it? Genre? Release date?

Whelp, I keep missing deadlines, haha, but the plan is to send this manuscript to my editor at the end of January 2019, and it will be published in 2020. It’s a Young Adult murder mystery, but quite different from GIRL AT THE GRAVE. Lots of atmosphere, because I love that, but a different era, different place, different tone. It’s actually been a delight to write. I adore the characters and setting and can’t wait to share it with the world. More details coming soon—title, synopsis, cover. People can follow me on Instagram or Twitter, or sign up for my newsletter on my website to get the announcements as they’re made (user name TeriBaileyBlack).

Thanks!!

About the Author:
Bio:
Teri Bailey Black grew up near the beach in Southern California in a large, quirky family with no television or junk food but an abundance of books and art supplies. She’s happiest when she’s creating things, whether it’s with words, fabric, or digging in the garden. She and her husband have four children and live in Orange County, California.
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This Chicks Confession- 2019

I CONFESS– I struggled to reach my Goodreads goal for 2018. I set it for 200 and was 7 away with one week ago. I read a bunch of novellas, included two audio re-reads, and ended the year at exactly 200 on 12/31/18. I feel guilty, should I?


So, I only set my 2019 challenge for 170 books this year. Although I’ll have to say, I’m off to a very quick start!

I CONFESS– I stopped accepting review requests on my blog midway through 2018. I do still request ARC’s through NetGalley though…

Well….I will accept reviews from authors I’ve previously read and enjoyed though…so not totally!

I CONFESS– I frequently run out of ideas for posts on my blog. It’s frustrating! I really admire those of you who post with brand new content all the time. How do you do it??? Advice is welcome!

I CONFESS– Sometimes I just want to read a fluffy feel good book! I don’t want to read a book just because it deals with a subject that I’m supposed to want to read because it’s popular. I want romance! I want escapism! I want to quit my job! wait, what??!! LOL

I CONFESS– I got tired and stopped blog hopping. I KNOW! What a lazy bum, right? My husband got me this really cool little laptop for Christmas and makes blog hopping so easy and fun! I’m going to say that dreaded word, but my GOAL (ugh!) is to amp up my hopping activity. I love checking out everyone’s blogs. I just got tired. Then the holidays, and well, I got sick. A couple times. So then, anyway… I will!

That’s me. Bunny, um yeah, blog hopping. LOL

So now that I’m done confessing… I’m just going to get back to it.

I hope 2019 brings you joy, happiness, romance, good luck and GREAT books!

Deb

Blogger to Blogger Series: An Interview with Eva @NovelDeelights

When you read Eva’s bio you can tell that she’s a lover of books, mostly crime novels and mystery’s. What I like the best is that her voice is really clear and she’s full of sass! I like a woman who has a sense of humor, especially when it’s directed at herself. Eva’s posts are fun to read, so if you haven’t checked out her blog yet, please click the link below!

Eva @ Novel Deelights

Let’s see how Eva answered my 10 questions!

Blogging is universal and even though we inhabit the same community, we don’t always live in the same country. What country do you live in?

I live in the north of Belgium, quite close to the border with the Netherlands.

What is the view outside your front door? 

I’m already cheating here but I have a good reason for it. There’s a building site across the street from me and a bunch of trucks blocking my driveway on a daily basis and really, who wants to see that? So, instead, I’ve taken a picture of my garden which is the view I have when I’m working on my blog or replying to emails.


Most blogs have a fun story of origin. Please share the story behind your blogs name and/or why you started blogging.

I’d been using my nickname “Dee” on the internet for years so I thought Novel Deelights was actually really clever. I didn’t realise until months later there’s another blog with a similar name. If I had, I would have tried to come up with something else.

As to why I started blogging, I didn’t really know it was a thing until some time in 2016 when I friended someone on Goodreads. I was in awe of her blog and we had so many books in common. She’s one of my dearest friends now as well. That’s when my itch sort of started. But it wasn’t until December of that year when I desperately tried to share my favourite ten books of the year via twitter that I thought there must be a better way of doing things and a few months later, my blog was born.

Describe where you write your blog. Include a picture if you’d like!

At the weekend, when my other half is at home, I’ll be at my dining room table with the view of the picture I shared for question 2. During weekdays, I’m sat very uncomfortably on my sofa with the laptop on the coffee table. This is because I have an incredibly needy dog who doesn’t like it when she can’t be right next to me.

Most of us have a stack of books sitting next to our couch or bed waiting to be read. What books are in your stack? 

I’m one of those who doesn’t have a stack persé. I do have a bookshelf where I put the books I’d like to read in the near future. It’s a bit of a mess. I also have a few more piles tucked away in a cabinet but I’m not showing that one. I may just die of embarrassment 😉

If you have had a bad day and want to spend an hour reading a book, what is your go to genre or favorite book that will lift your mood?

I’m all about crime fiction, whether I’m having a bad day or a good one, all year long. Although to be fair, if I was having a truly bad day, I’d probably end up binge-watching something on Netflix instead of picking up a book.

When you aren’t blogging, how do you spend your time? Work, Play, School?

Reading, mostly. Or buying books. That counts, right? Catch up on some tv shows or watch a movie. I’m also known to take out a few weeks to build some ridiculous big Lego thing. My husband bought the Star Wars Millennium Falcon a few months ago and that took me two weeks to do. Fun! And in between, household chores because the fairies are useless 😉

What is your favorite blog post you’ve ever written? 

Since I tend to only write reviews and I’m never happy with them once they’re published, that’s an impossible question to answer for me. So I’m going for my weekly wrap-up feature, which I post every Sunday. They’re a lot of fun to put together and also there ones where I seem to get the most interaction. This is the latest one : https://noveldeelights.com/2018/12/02/weekly-wrap-up-december-2/

Have you ever met one of your favorite authors? If so, what did you say to them? Looking back, what do you wish you had said instead?

I haven’t met any authors, no. That’s probably a good thing. I have no doubt I’d make a complete fool of myself. 😄

If you could sit down with an author for a slice of cake and a question,  who is the author, what kind of cake would you serve, and what is the first question you’d ask?

Wow. For the easy question, it has to be chocolate cake. Or cheesecake. Or maybe both. It’s good to have options. My favourite author is Karin Slaughter so I can’t not choose her but as to what to ask her, I have no idea. I’m so bad at these things. I’d be perfectly okay with her just telling me her life’s story so I can just sit and listen and not need to say a word.

Thanks so much Eva for sharing your story! The view you shared is so gorgeous that I don’t think I could get anything done besides sit and stare at it. I love seeing all of the bloggers different landscapes.

If you know of a blogger, or would like to answer these 10 questions and be featured on my blog, please reach out! 

Thanks for reading Blogger to Blogger!

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: I’ve read THE book, now what?

What do you do when you read a book that everyone else has done flips over, but you just can’t see what all the fuss is about? Do you cave to pressure and rate the book high, be truthful, or take a pass and not follow through on the review? I’ve read quite a few discussion posts lately on this topic and I thought I’d take a moment to weigh in.

I was that reader that didn’t know what a big deal it was to an author to have a review left on a bookseller site. It wasn’t until I entered this book blogging world that I learned how those rankings helped the algorithm (that I still don’t even understand) show their book to more buyers, think “if you loved this romance author, then you should read this one who is very similar”. Who knew? I loved the thought that my review helped show off their book! But, what happens if I don’t like it? What do I do? Especially if it is THE book that everyone else likes?

Reading THE book for Pleasure– If I haven’t been asked by the author, or committed myself in some way to have read and reviewed a book by a certain date and am just reading the book for pleasure, then the answer is easy. I just move on! Unless I feel like I really have something to say because something in the book struck a chord that I needed to talk about I don’t review the book on my blog. I do definitely rank it on Goodreads, more because it’s kind of a journal for myself on what I’ve read and liked/didn’t like. I won’t put a ranking on Amazon or B&N. I just don’t spend the time on it. I read the book for fun, and if it wasn’t fun, oh well!

THE book is an ARC- I made a commitment. Ugh. Not that I’m commitment shy but sometimes if I have to read a book it might affect how I feel about it. Picking out a book is like picking what you’re going to eat for dinner. If you aren’t in the mood for Mexican then you shouldn’t make that burrito because you just aren’t going to enjoy it! If I’m in the mood for a light and fluffy romance and I have to pick up a mystery because the book comes out on Tuesday and it’s Sunday night and I’ve been procrastinating? Well…. it might behoove your book for me to set this one aside and wait until I’m in the mood for that burrito. BUT, sometimes I surprise myself! I might’ve thought I didn’t want a burrito but when I got down to eating it, it was surprisingly satisfying! You just never know. I will confess, there have been a few times where I just couldn’t get into a book and I sent a note to the author/publisher that I wasn’t going to read and review it. Sorry not sorry! I probably will give an opinion on how I felt about the book on one of my fellow bloggers posts though. I like to throw an opinion out there and see what kind of response I’ll get.

I am reading THE book with a group, club, or friend- This is probably my favorite way to read a book that has gotten so much hype. Let’s say you pick three friends and none of you have read THE book yet. You decide you’re all going to read it at the same time and then discuss. I know my opinion and have written my review but not hit post or scheduled it yet before we talk. After our discussion you all might have changed my mind, maybe, I’m not sure. Aargh! Do I place my review? Sit on it? Some bloggers sit on their reviews to let their thoughts settle. I have one of those minds that checks off that read book and moves on. I MUST post! Have I ever written a retraction or changed my review? No, but maybe I should.. There are probably quite a few where my opinion has changed as time has gone on.

What do you do if you don’t agree with what everyone else has been saying about THE book?

Does it matter if it’s an ARC or if you’re reading it on your own time for pleasure or in a book club?

Thanks for reading! Until next Sunday,

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: October Wrap Up!

Pumpkins and witches and little kids in costumes OH MY! I saw the funniest little guy in a dinosaur costume that I just have to share. Yes, I was filming and driving, but I was very careful! This is just too adorable.

Halloween is over, but I’m still eating Halloween candy! Picture me noshing on a Milky Way as I’m writing this recap of October on The Reading Chick.

October’s Favorite Reads on The Reading Chick- I did review more than these books, but these were my favorites for the month.

Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

Love, Life and the List

I enjoyed experiencing life through Abby’s character and loved how quickly this plot moved. If you are looking for a one hanky lighthearted romance, I think this is the story for you!

Look The Part by Jewel E. Ann

Look the Part

I was immersed in this novel and incredibly patient with these characters letting the story build up in what felt like a natural ending with all the I’s dotted and the T’s crossed. Look the Part is an apt title because not only did Flint look the part of Elle’s man and Harrison’s father, but this novel Looked the Part of a rock solid romance.

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

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I enjoyed this novel a lot. It was an easy read with a lot of humor. This families antics actually reminded me a bit of my own family and I wonder if everyone who reads it won’t see a bit of themselves in one of these characters.

BLOGGER TO BLOGGER SERIES

I was excited to have two members of our Book Blogger community agree to participate in my blogger interview series.  Click these link’s to check out these fun and entertaining bloggers. Make sure you follow them too so you can check in on their blogs occassionally.

Jo @My Chestnut Reading Tree

Megan and Lauren @ YA Bookers

This Chicks Sunday Commentary!

My Sunday commentary is kind of a mixed bag of posts. It may be a tag or editorial, but I hope it’s always interesting! Here are October’s posts. Please feel free to click on the link if you missed them the first time around.

September Wrap Up!

Blah, Blah, Blah, Blogging

The Fall Reading Book Tag

Have you read any of the books I really liked? What did you think?

My Most Anticipated Read for November:

I don’t want to end this post without taking a quick glance forward into November. I am currently listening to the audiobooks for Ilona Andrews Hidden Legacy series in anticipation of a novella that’s being released on November, 6. I am so excited!

Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews

If you’re looking for a fun tag, The Fall Reading Book Tag was fun and pretty quick to put together. Help yourself! If you do the tag, please let me know so I can read your answers.

Until next Sunday!

Deb

Blogger to Blogger: An Interview with Claire @ A Knight’s Reads

A jump into Claire’s blog A Knight’s Reads is like a walk in a dark park at night by yourself where you’re being hunted… Just kidding! It’s actually the other way around! You are the hunter searching for the next crime thriller or mystery. Although it will be hard to choose as Claire’s reviews make them all sound good! If you haven’t checked out her blog, please click the link below, but come back and read this interview so you can get a little behind the scenes info on this blogger that you will soon grow to love.

A Knight’s Reads

Knights logo

Let’s see how she answers these 10 questions!

Blogging is universal and even though we inhabit the same community, we don’t always live in the same country. What country do you live in?

I live just outside of Leeds, Yorkshire in the UK

What is the view outside your front door?

This is the view from my front door. We live on a small housing estate close to the city of Leeds but far enough out so I can see green fields yards from my doorstep and our garden backs onto some woodland.

Claire 1

Most blogs have a fun story of origin. Please share the story behind your blogs name and/or why you started blogging.

Initially I started guest reviewing for Noelle Holten and Crimebookjunkie.co.uk. I started there late 2015 and stayed for over 2 years. I always knew I wanted my own blog but with two energetic young boys, I didn’t have the time alongside the reading. But in January this year, my youngest started at preschool so I knew the time had come to fly the nest and go solo!  I admit that its not exactly a fun story…

Describe where you write your blog. 

I vary where I blog. I do a bit at work, bit in our home office, a bit on my phone but at the moment, I’m most comfortable sat on the sofa in front of the TV (currently binge watching the fabulous Suits).

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Most of us have a stack of books sitting next to our couch or bed waiting to be read. What books are in your stack? 

At the end of every month, I plan what I’m reading for the following month – these are my October reads.  When I get a physical of an advanced copy of a book I pop a little sticker on the spine to plan when I’m going to read it. If it’s an electronic copy, I’ll note in my blogging diary (I’d be lost without it) as to when publication day is and when I’m planning to read it.

Claire 3

Claire 4

The Lingering by SJI Holliday

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there, and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history. When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution. The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalizingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

Lisa is living a lie and everyone is about to find out.

Lisa lives for her daughter Ava, her job and her best friend Marilyn.

But when a handsome client shows an interest in her, Lisa starts daydreaming about sharing her life with him, too. Maybe she’s ready now. Maybe she can trust again. Maybe it’s time to let her terrifying secret past go.

But when her daughter rescues a boy from drowning and their pictures are all over the news for everyone to see, Lisa’s world explodes.

As she finds everything she has built threatened, and not knowing who she can trust, it’s up to Lisa to face her past in order to save what she holds dear.

But someone has been pulling all their strings. And that someone is determined that both Lisa and Ava must suffer.

Because long ago Lisa broke a promise. And some promises aren’t meant to be broken.

If you have had a bad day and want to spend an hour reading a book, what is your go to genre or favorite book that will lift your mood?

My go-to genre is crime fiction, I love the escapism of solving crimes or having an author mess with my head to make me forget the day.

When you aren’t blogging, how do you spend your time? Work, Play, School?

As I mentioned in question 3, I’m a mum of two gorgeous boys (I’m biased yes) so they’re a big part of my life along with my husband. I also work four days a week for a third party pensions company. When I get chance, I do like a bit of TV watching.  I’m gradually working my way through US legal drama Suits and some of the excellent BBC dramas we’ve been gifted with.  I also love a good cookery show like Masterchef and the fabulous Marvel series that Netflix are putting out.

My favorite blog post banner

What is your favorite blog post you’ve ever written?

I’ve got two favourites. The first is my very first blog post that I prepared for A Knight’s Reads – it’s my review for Graham Smith’s Past Echoes, the third in his Jake Boulder series which I love. It was the most petrifying moment of my blogging time as it’s all me, not hiding behind the fabulous name of CrimeBookJunkie. Mr Smith very kindly offered to take part in a short Q&A as well to help launch me into the blogisphere!

#Blogblitz Past Echoes by Graham Smith

The second is a guest post that C.S. Duffy wrote for me.  She gave me a number of different titles to pick from and I chose “The Intimate Thriller”.  When I received it, I was amazed. I was inspired by the post!

Dark of Night by C.S. Duffy

Have you ever met one of your favorite authors? If so, what did you say to them? Looking back, what do you wish you had said instead?

I have met quite a few of my favourite authors. To start with I was a tad nervous to say anything as I’m not the most confident and out-going.  But at my first time at Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, a wise author said to me that authors are just normal people like me and all they want know is that you liked their book. So I tentatively wandered up to Sarah Hilary and told her that I loved her books.  Since then I’ve met a number of authors whose books I’ve loved and I’ve told them that – got to say I love their reactions, big smiles!! 

If you could sit down with an author for a slice of cake and a question, who is the author, what kind of cake would you serve, and what is the first question you’d ask?

I would love to have cake with the late great Agatha Christie. I’d serve her a scone cream tea and I’d quiz her about her disappearance in 1926.

The penultimate mystery for a crime buff like yourself, for sure! Thanks Claire, so much for letting us look into your life. I found some new authors and am going to google Agatha Christie’s disappearance. Don’t hate me, but I didn’t know she had!

What did you all think of Claire’s answers? Did you find any new books to add to your own TBR?

Thanks for reading Blogger to Blogger!

Deb

Blogger to Blogger Series: An Interview with Megan and Lauren @ YA Bookers

I’ve enjoyed following Megan and Lauren’s blog YA Bookers because we share a love for YA books. I also love a good fantasy novel and those book reviews always jump out at me and pull me back in to read. Their bookish discussions are so well written and you can tell that they are passionate about what they are saying! I must’ve been blind and dumb, but I didn’t realize that they were twins. TWO women who love books and can put their thoughts into words? Yes!! What a find! If you haven’t visited their blog, please do! The pretty graphics will be the first thing you notice, but what will keep you coming back is the thoughtful content. Visit their link below, but come back and read their interview!

YA BOOKERS

YA Bookers logo

Blogging is universal and even though we inhabit the same community, we don’t always live in the same country. What country do you live in?
We are twins, and we both live in not-so-sunny England.
What is the view outside your front door?
Just a plain old boring English street. A little dull and, obviously, bad weather.
YA Bookers 1.jpg
Most blogs have a fun story of origin. Please share the story behind your blogs name and/or why you started blogging.
I can’t say it is all that interesting. We were sixteen, just starting Sixth-Form (don’t ask me translate that into the American school system, it still confuses me) and we saw all these amazing book blogs on Tumblr and kind of just joined that community (booklr). It is only in the last two years that we moved our platform primarily onto Twitter and WordPress and found a whole new supportive bookish community! Obviously, being twins, we decided to venture into a shared passion together. We get sick of each other sometimes, but we get over it because we really love books and we really love blogging.
Describe where you write your blog.
A shared desk, where we can never get away from each other. Poorly thought out. JUST KIDDING. We love working side-by-side, jotting notes in our notebooks, and it makes blogging and twitter chats, such as #UKYAchat, run a lot smoother when you can communicate so easily.
YA Bookers 2
Most of us have a stack of books sitting next to our couch or bed waiting to be read. What books are in your stack?
Megan: My stack is actually pretty small at the moment. I started Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann, which is a contemporary romance which I wasn’t really in the mood for. So then I started The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow, a dystopia. It has been so long since I’ve read a dystopia read as they weren’t really in for a while. So far I am enjoying it. I’ve also got my Kindle there too, because I love reading on it and it is always handy having it close by where ever I go.
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The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
Greta is a Duchess and a Crown Princess. She is also a Child of Peace, a hostage held by the de facto ruler of the world, the great Artificial Intelligence, Talis. This is how the game is played: if you want to rule, you must give one of your children as a hostage. Start a war and your hostage dies.

The system has worked for centuries. Parents don’t want to see their children murdered.

Greta will be free if she can make it to her eighteenth birthday. Until then she is prepared to die with dignity, if necessary. But everything changes when Elian arrives at the Precepture. He’s a hostage from a new American alliance, and he defies the machines that control every part of their lives—and is severely punished for it. His rebellion opens Greta’s eyes to the brutality of the rules they live under, and to the subtle resistance of her companions. And Greta discovers her own quiet power.

Then Elian’s country declares war on Greta’s and invades the prefecture, taking the hostages hostage. Now the great Talis is furious, and coming himself to deliver punishment. Which surely means that Greta and Elian will be killed…unless Greta can think of a way to break all the rules.

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Alice had her whole summer planned. Nonstop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting—working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating—no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library-employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

Claire Kann’s debut novel Let’s Talk About Love, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, gracefully explores the struggle with emerging adulthood and the complicated line between friendship and what it might mean to be something more.

Lauren: I usually read on my kindle because I get quite a bit of e-ARCs, but right now I’m actually  caught up for once so I’m reading Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (three years after I finished the first one!). The other book in there is a signed ARC of Bloodleaf which I won in a giveaway, and it’s the next book on my TBR! I’m never one to have a big book stack because I’m a mood reader so I finish a book, and pick up one I’m in the mood for. I’m never one for planning my TBR (or planning anything, to be honest).
Lauren Bookers stack.jpg
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets—a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.
Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith
A roar of a dark and luscious epic fantasy that’s layered with heady romance, bloodthirsty magic, and ghostly intrigue—an absolutely wicked delight.Princess Aurelia is a prisoner to her crown and the heir that nobody wants. Surrounded by spirits and banned from using her blood-magic, Aurelia flees her country after a devastating assassination attempt. To escape her fate, Aurelia disguises herself as a commoner in a new land and discovers a happiness her crown has never allowed. As she forges new bonds and perfects her magic, she begins to fall for a man who is forbidden to rule beside her. But the ghosts that haunt Aurelia refuse to abandon her, and she finds herself succumbing to their call as they expose a nefarious plot that only she can defeat. Will she be forced to choose between the weight of the crown and the freedom of her new life?
If you have had a bad day and want to spend an hour reading a book, what is your go to genre or favorite book that will lift your mood?
Megan: I really love a good and well researched historical fiction. I’m a history graduate, so history has always been a passion of mine. I especially love historical fiction that feature angry and foul mouthed girls who go against the societial expectation of the time. One of my all time favourite books is Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein which features a stubborn and arrogant scotswoman called Julie who has been captured by the Nazi’s in wartime France, and a female pilot called Maddie who would go to the ends of the earth for Julie. It’s a brilliantly written and researched book that really tugs on the heartstrings.
Lauren: I definitely love a good fantasy when I’m having a bad day. There’s something about immersing yourself in a completely new world when the one you live in is getting you down. I’m not really one for re-reading books, but Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst would definitely be one I would go back to after a long day.

When you aren’t blogging, how do you spend your time? Work, Play, School?

We used to work in fast-food until recently when we were having a really bad day, enough of the long hours and bad pay and verbal abuse from customers and managers, and so we rage quit in solidarity with each other. So we are currently unemployed and looking for something better. But when we weren’t working or blogging we loved spending time with our niece and nephew, the literal light of our world.
My favorite blog post banner
What is your favorite blog post you’ve ever written?
Megan: One of my favourite blog posts I’ve written is ‘”Contemporary YA is dead”. Really?’ In terms of reviews though, my favourite review I’ve written is for Sadie by Courtney Summers, one of my all time favourite books.
Lauren: I love looking for new, upcoming releases, and they always get me excited for the year to come. My favourite post has definitely got to be our ‘2018 Highly Anticipated Releases’. I’m already collecting releases for my 2019 list!
LInks:
Have you ever met one of your favorite authors? If so, what did you say to them? Looking back, what do you wish you had said instead?
Unfortunately, we live in the North of England where authors rarely venture up here. If we ever met an author, we have no idea what we would say, probably incoherent babble. We are determined though to eventually make our way to YALC, the Young Adult Literature Convention, down in London.
If you could sit down with an author for a slice of cake and a question, who is the author, what kind of cake would you serve, and what is the first question you’d ask?
Megan: I would love to meet and sit down with Elizabeth Wein, author of Code Name Verity. I’d love to ask her about her writing and historical research process for her book! In terms of cake, I think it would have to be a really good Victoria Sponge. Yum.
Code Name
Lauren: Leigh Bardugo, for sure! I own all her books, and I love her Grishaverse. I’d have a million questions and so I wouldn’t be able to pick just one, but I would tell her to never stop writing! As for cake, I’d serve chocolate cake. Who doesn’t love a good chocolate cake?!

These two ladies may be twins, but their reading (and cake!) tastes definitely differ! Although the separation between historical novels and fantasy novels seems to be shrinking in some YA novels. I need to check out their blog to see if one of them has read My Lady Jane  and its sequel, books that are a definite mash- up of those two genres.

Doesn’t reading this interview make you even more curious about Megan and Lauren? I certainly am! It’s also abundantly clear why I follow these ladies. They are talented, well spoken, and truthful in their reviews and discussions. Qualities I admire in a blogger!

Do you follow YA Bookers? What surprised you the most?

Thanks for reading Blogger to Blogger!

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: Blah, Blah, Blah, Blogging…

Last year I set a fast and furious pace for myself. I was posting 3 reviews a week, had my Sunday Commentary post and filled in with a few bookish discussions, tags, etc. I religiously posted every other day. I did see my follows rise, but my energy level fell. To keep up that review pace I had to read 4 books a week, write religiously every weekend, and give up a little bit of my life. That second book I wanted to write kept getting pushed back as I slogged through trying to keep up the pace.

burn out

I didn’t want to quit blogging because I really love it! I just wanted to love other things too.

I know there are other bloggers out there who feel the same way I did, so I wanted to share a few things I did to get my life and my blogging back on track.

BACK OFF!– No! Not you guys! Me!! I needed to back down from this frantic pace I had set for myself. I backed down to two reviews a week (Tue and Fri) and made one of them my Friday YA post because a little YA just makes me happy. 🙂 I’ll confess, I do occasionally have three reviews in a week, but it’s usually because I have an Arc I forgot to read and review and I’ll throw one into my schedule to meet that due date.

Goodreads Challenge

Do you all do these Goodreads challenges? Well, I had set myself the challenge of reading 212 books this year. Ummm, not even close. I lowered it to 200 and am still 7 books behind schedule, so I’m just throwing this year out the window. 200 is NOT going to happen and I don’t know what I was thinking!

Aha

I had an AHA! moment- I wanted to show my fellow bloggers some love and approached a couple that I had admired to ask if they would answer a few questions in a new series I had been mulling over in my mind. They said yes, my Blogger to Blogger series was born. I really enjoy getting to know all of the bloggers in our universe and seeing how diverse we are! It’s a fun little series that seems to be taking off and brings joy to my little blog!

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I walked my dog!- This seems like such a small thing, doesn’t it? But getting outside with my dog and my husband starts the day off right. I get to see the neighborhood, enjoy the weather, and get a goofy grin from my baby, Nash. Isn’t he adorable?

Nash pumpkin

Be social! I”m lucky because I live in one of the best cities in the US for concerts, Nashville TN! My husband, who is my best friend and willing participant, has agreed that we must DO THINGS! So I’ve put the book down and started trying to get out of the house and do non bookish things. This helps so much! When I have time to relax and I relish getting back to that book instead of forcing myself to pick it up.

Maroon 5 concert

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Salon@615 at the Nashville Library with Deborah Harkness talking about her newest novel in the Discovery of Witches series.

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The hubs and I at an NFL Titans game.

What did I learn???

Having fun in life means having fun reading and writing again, and yeah, don’t over schedule myself…. that is no fun at all!

Do any of you have the same kinds of problems? What did you do to get yourself back on track?

Thanks for reading! Until next Sunday…

Deb

This Chicks SundayCommentary: September Wrap Up!

Even though the weather is still warm the leaves are starting to turn in Nashville, making me feel like fall MUST be around the corner (my fingers and toes are crossed!). September is gone, gone, gone and that means it’s time for a monthly wrap up post. Here’s what happened on The Reading Chick last month.

I only gave one book a five rating last month but I enjoyed so many! Here are a few recommendations. If you’ve read them please let me know if you agree with my rating!

A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

A Murder‘A Murder in Time is part mystery with a hint of romance. The Duke is not Kendra’s romantic partner, but instead it’s his nephew that she ensnares. The tension between the two of them is intense but really the story revolves around solving the mystery of who among their peers is the killer. This novel held my interest and truly I didn’t want to put it down.’

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

The Dinner List

‘This book made me reflect upon my own list of five people I’d like to sit down to dinner, dead or alive. Should I sit Jon Bon Jovi next to Abraham Lincoln or Margaret Thatcher? Or maybe I should ask Candice Bergen if she’s available? Regardless, I don’t think it would be as interesting as Sabrina’s journey was in this book.’

The Hot Shot by Kristen Callihan

The Hot Shot

‘I loved the slow build up of Chess and Finn’s friendship. I am a firm believer in being friends before becoming lovers and Kristen Callihan hit that trigger for me. Finn is a self described one night stand man and even though Chess finds him attractive she determinedly put him in the hands off category and Finn has his work cut out for him to make her see him in another light.’

The Changeling by Molly Harper

The Changeling

‘If you’re jonesing for a quick Harry Potter-esque novel I think you’ll enjoy The Changeling. At times I expected Hermione would walk around the corner of this girls school and join in the fun!’

This Chicks Sunday Commentary Posts: (click the link to read)

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: August Wrap-Up!

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: Uppercase Box September ‘18 Reveal!

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: What? My Review got Blocked?

Are you familiar with my Blogger to Blogger series? I ask the same 10 questions to different bloggers and share their answers. Their words and the pictures they share have really surprised me! We all have this love of books but are all so different! You can really see that diversity in their answers. In September I highlighted 2 bloggers. If you didn’t get a chance to read their interviews, please click the link if you’re interested.

Blogger to Blogger Series: An Interview with Trang and Lashaan with @Bookidote

Blogger to Blogger Series: An Interview with Lynne @Fictionophile

I have noticed that the number of books I’ve been reading has slowed down. I think it’s a mixture of a busy schedule, moving into a new apartment, and just being generally exhausted. I have tried to give myself a break and not set such stringent rules on my reading and you know? I’m a bit happier with my life! I doubt anyone cares if I put out 3 or 4 posts a week. So I backed down by one and it’s so much more manageable and I’m back to enjoying blogging again!

Anyway, the above reviews and posts are the highlights of my blog for the past month. I hope you all have enjoyed this September Wrap Up.

Keep reading, writing and living life to your greatest potential. Most of all be HAPPY!

Deb

 

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: What? My Review got Blocked?

Google+ has become a very important medium for my blog. I have 2,231 followers nationwide on my page and sometimes when I share my blog posts from The Reading Chick onto my Google+ my views spike tremendously. I haven’t yet figured out a rhythm of what works and what doesn’t, even after 574 posts. However, I see the significance that posting on that medium makes and I take the time to share each post to relevant pages, hoping to spread my bookish words.

If you are curious and want to see my page This Chick Reads, Reviews, Writes and Comments, click HERE.

This past week I had the pleasure of having my review of Kristen Callihan’s novel The Hot Shot blocked on Google+.  I was really surprised! It only said it was blocked due to content, so I have to guess as to why that particular post got chosen out of the 550+ that I have shared on that site?

  • I scanned the review for curse words. Yes, even though I try to keep my review PG-13, every once in awhile I forget and cuss. Nope, no curse words!
  • Did I talk too much about sex? No, actually I only mentioned the two main characters growing relationship. Although I did say the word “firm”. Maybe they misunderstood the context?
  • Was it the title? The Hot Shot, doesn’t seem too salacious. It could refer to a personality trait, a really good businessman, or as in this case a really hot guy. Hmmm. I can’t believe that’s why it would get blocked?
  • Maybe it was the book cover? The Hot Shot does have a good looking man laying face down with a bare chest, slightly arching his back. There is not a woman laying underneath him, and I’ve seen a LOT more books with sexier covers. I actually admired the restraint of the publisher on this one! I think that might even be a yoga pose. Not that I do yoga but isn’t that a plank pose, or something like that?img_1246Really this cover is not any different than a number of other covers with naked male chests, and those reviews made it onto Google+ just fine! (see examples, below).

I am so tempted to just keep adding and see if I can get it blocked again! But, you get my point. They are all pretty much the same, aren’t they? With the exception of The Hot Shot laying face down. Maybe that is too suggestive.

Anyway, here’s my question to you! Have you ever had one of your reviews blocked for content? Or for another reason?

I’m curious! Please let me know.

Until next Sunday,

Deb

Oh! If you want to read my review of The Hot Shot. Click HERE!