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

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: 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!

 

 

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

I will admit that I wish I had a friend, sibling, co-worker, (husband?) who shared my love for books and would consider blogging with me. There are a few blogging partnerships that I’ve run across and have even featured a couple on my blog. The partnership on the blog Bookidote seems to be a little different and wonderful.  Trang and Lashaan definitely share a love for books but they don’t necessarily love the same genre’s. They each have their own platform, yet share the same space. I LOVE that!

I was lucky enough that both Trang and Lashaan had the time to answer my 10 questions. Let’s see what they’ve got to say!

Bookidote 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 both live in Canada, Montreal to be exact !

What is the view outside your front door?  

Trang: It’s a pretty basic view hahah not like the beach or anything.

Lashaan: I live in a residential neighbourhood with a bunch of apartment buildings next to one another. I can’t say it’s the prettiest view you could ever land upon! Or maybe I’m lying, and I just don’t want the world to know where my Batcave is at. :O

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

Lashaan: It was the day I had suggested to Trang the idea of reviewing books in French because of her love for literature, but also writing. Knowing she had quite an amazing writing skill, I believed the idea of writing reviews in French and sharing it on a blog would have been an amazing public journal for her. The world would have been in awe at what she was able to convey. She then however wanted me to tag along and start an English book reviewing blog. While my own reading speed was pretty questionable compared to hers, I still found the idea exciting, especially since I looked at it as an opportunity to also review the little comic book collection I had started to build. That is how Bookidote came to life and grew to change our lives permanently! The idea behind the name is pretty simple. It combines “book” with “antidote”.

A definition for it was also once conceived and shared with everyone back in the day. Check it out:

Bookidote (\ˈboo-ki-ˌdōt\) : Lashaan and Trang’s creation. It is a commitment that holds countless ideas in one word. Three syllables. Nine letters. These two squandered souls firmly believe that books aren’t just a pastime for intellectuals or a mandatory purchase for your studies. Bookidote is so much more. It marries books with antidotes, knowledge with cure, imagination with elixir. It refers to the ability that books withhold in swallowing you into a boundless universe and encouraging you to live a unique and different adventure every time you crack open a book. Bookidote acknowledges the fact that books can help you explore ideas, stimulate your imagination and live innumerable lives.

Describe where you write your blog. 

Trang: I prefer writing my posts in my office or even in coffee shops. When I’m on a rush, I also do it in the subway hahah I always have the WordPress App to edit and finalize my drafts.

Lashaan: Fairly simple. I can’t write my reviews anywhere other than on my desktop computer. It’s just much easier there to get my mind to pour out all the thoughts I want to convey about anything. I currently operate on a dual monitor setup. I sometimes let myself believe that I’m a much more realistic version of Batman in his Batcave. 😀

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? 

Trang: A bunch of ARCs are waiting for me to get a new bookshelves to put them LOL

img_1550

(that’s quite a stack! Here’s the Synopsis for only one….)

Bloody RoseBloody Rose by Nicholas Eames

A band of fabled mercenaries, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, tour a wild fantasy landscape, battling monsters in arenas in front of thousands of adoring fans, but a secret and dangerous gig ushers them to the frozen north, and the band is never one to waste a shot at glory . . . even if it means almost certain death.
 

Live fast, die young.

Tam Hashford is tired of working at her local pub, slinging drinks for world-famous mercenaries and listening to the bards sing of adventure and glory in the world beyond her sleepy hometown.

When the biggest mercenary band of all, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, rolls into town, Tam jumps at the chance to sign on as their bard. It’s adventure she wants – and adventure she gets as the crew embark on a quest that will end in one of two ways: glory or death.

It’s time to take a walk on the wyld side.

Lashaan: I actually have a shelf dedicated for the books I hope to read. They’re queued up and just waiting for me to find time for them!

(Another HUUUGGGEEE stack! Again, here’s one to sample!)

Neverwhere by Neil GaimanNeverwhere

Neverwhere is the story of Richard Mayhew, a young London businessman with a good heart and an ordinary life, which is changed forever when he discovers a girl bleeding on the sidewalk. He stops to help her—an act of kindness that plunges him into a world he never dreamed existed.

Slipping through the cracks of reality, Richard lands in the Neverwhere—a London of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels that exists entirely in a subterranean labyrinth. The Neverwhere is home to Door, the mysterious girl Richard helped in the London Above. Door, a noblewoman whose family has been murdered, is on a quest to find the agent that slaughtered her family and thwart the destruction of this underworld kingdom. If Richard is ever to return to his former life, he must join the journey to save Door’s world—and find a way to survive.

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?

Trang: My go to genre is Fantasy (in novels and graphic novels as well), I think when I’m sad I just want to escape the ordinary world for a bit. As long as I can find magical fairies, orcs, spells and some magicians, I’m happy. If I’m having a heavy day because a lot work had to be done, I like to entertain myself with some light Young Adult reads. It can go from contemporary or even science fiction.

Lashaan: I am not one to go back and re-read a favourite book even if I love the idea itself. Because of my reading speed and the little time that I have for reading, I tell myself that re-reading will be something I’d do after a huge number of years has passed since my last read (i.e. 5 years or more). But my go-to genre to remedy a bad day or to get a quick read in would easily be comic books.

With Batman as my favourite superhero, I’ve got plenty of stories with him that I can’t wait to check out. I also have plenty of other stories I could visit, some that aren’t about superheroes and some that aren’t comic book series, but just a graphic novel too. Comic books are just so easy to pick up, so fast to read, so easy to enjoy! They aren’t to be looked down upon! Some stories are so powerful, they’d blow you away! 😉

Batman

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

Trang: My typical day in the week goes as follows: I’m working full-time for the National Research Council as an artificial intelligence in neurosciences associate. What the hell does that mean? It’s a lot of things but mostly I manage different research project teams, whenever a new technology can be developed to help the brain or we need to evaluate the functions of the artificial intelligence included in that technology, it passes by me and my team. I also do a lot of conferences and public speaking in different institutions to update people on what’s going on.  Around 6pm I spend my time to go through all my social media platform and manage my blogs (food, book blog and my main Instagram page) and turn to some watercolour painting keep my mind sane. Eating supper with my family or go to the food sponsoring events and then go to gym around 8pm until 10pm. I’m becoming pretty serious in working out now, I recently partnered with my local gym for some branding opportunities as well.  I usually read on my way to work or really late at night.

On the weekend I head out to Ottawa to work at the governmental headquarters and come back to Montreal on Sunday evening. I think because I have a lot projects and networking, people tend to think that I’m always going out with my friends. However since my week is packed, unfortunately, I rarely have time to see them so I tend to invite them to special events and see them like one or twice every year LOL

Lashaan: I work at a police headquarters as a crime preventionist. I wasn’t kidding when I said I was a realistic version of Batman. He has guided me through life in ways that no one could possibly grasp! 😀 Alongside that job, I’m also a researcher heading into a doctorate in criminology this fall 2018. As a researcher, I’m contracted on research projects as well as a teacher assistant. It’s safe to say I keep myself pretty busy! Outside of everything work-related, I hit the gym and play basket-ball. Basket-ball is a pretty significant part of my life, although I don’t practice it competitively like some of my friends do. I play it for the fun of the game! I’m also a gamer who enjoys late-night sessions with friends whenever they can. Even though free time for gaming is not easy to come by, I love to stay up to date with the technology and everything that goes on in that world of entertainment! Since the question was about everything outside of blogging, I must sneak in reading! I know, I know. Reading is sort of part of blogging, but man, the amount of reading I put in is insane! It’s hard to go a day without reading. That’s just how life is for me now.

My favorite blog post banner

What is your favorite blog post you’ve written?

Trang: Why We Love Psychological Thrillers – I love the research I did for this post. I learned so many things along the way and I get to experience a new format as well.

https://bookidote.com/2018/07/15/why-we-love-psychological-thrillers/
Lashaan : One of my favourite posts would have to be the one about co-blogging: https://bookidote.com/2018/01/06/the-perks-of-co-blogging/

I sort of really enjoyed highlighting the pros and cons of this particular relationship we have at Bookidote and how well it worked for us.

Review-wise, there a couple of reviews that I really loved writing, but the list could go on forever. As someone who loves to put into words his thoughts about the books he reads, I find myself loving every piece I write (maybe 99% of them), even if there will always be a hater among the crowd. An example of a review I really loved writing is for The Black Prism by Brent Weeks: https://bookidote.com/2018/07/19/the-black-prism-by-brent-weeks/

The Black Prism

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?

Trang: I met Marie Lu and Leigh Bardugo back in YALLWEST 3 years ago. I asked Marie Lu to write her favourite song instead of signing my book hahah and she did both!

Lashan: Most of my favourite authors have already passed away a very long time ago. I did get to meet a couple  of authors and artists at conventions, and I guess my favourite of them all would have to be meeting the outstanding author of Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo! As someone who rarely reads Young Adult novels, Six of Crows really blew my mind, and only a couple of YA authors can impress me like that. Meeting her in person was definitely a huge highlight in my life!

I got to see her at YALLWEST in Santa Monica a couple of years ago and I made sure to let her know how much I appreciated her book. Told her that as a researcher in criminology, the amount of research she put into writing Six of Crows merits all the respect in the world. I honestly don’t think I would have changed anything I had said or have anything in particular I would have wanted to say. Maybe I would’ve begged her to turn the duology into a never-ending series. In fact, I haven’t even read Crooked Kingdom yet. I just don’t want that duology to end. I also have super high expectations. The struggle is real!

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?

Trang: I would like to sit down with Neil Gaiman while serving tiramisu and ask him what was going on his mind while writing American Gods.

American Gods

Lashaan:  I’d probably sit with Brandon Sanderson and serve him a molten chocolate cake infused with a significant amount of truth serum. Once he’d had savoured his cake, I’d have asked: “How do you write like that?”

Legion

My first thought when reading Trang and Lashaan’s answers to my 10 questions was WOW! Even after the explanation I’m still not sure what an Artificial Intelligence in Neuroscience Associate or Crime Preventionist is and maybe we need to clone these two! Their reading tastes are so diverse and interesting and after getting a peak into their lives I can kind of understand the influences that sway them towards those authors.

What surprised you all the most when reading Trang and Lashaan’s answers?

Have you read any of the books they have on their TBR’s? I’ll admit to having a couple of them on my own, but also and equal mix of never having heard of some of them. Thanks for putting these on my radar!

I really enjoyed their response to my questions. Thanks guys for participating!

If YOU are interested in being featured or know of a great blogger that I should feature, please give me a shout in the comments!

Until next Sunday!

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: Will These Genre’s Get Me Out of My Book Rut?

What do you do when you are in a book rut? I’m not in a slump. I don’t have trouble picking up a book and reading it, I have just felt like nothing has made me think lately and I hate that. Maybe I need to try to read outside my comfort zone? Lately, I have split my reading between romance, urban fantasy, and YA. Do I need to jog myself out of this pattern? I still love those genre’s but I think I need a little stimulation. I want to take a look at some other genre’s and get your opinions on these books. Have you read them? Do they look interesting? Do you have another suggestion of a book that moved you to think about it long after you’ve read it?

Mystery: I love romantic suspense novels, but haven’t recently read contemporary mystery novels. I do love a great historical mystery and have enjoyed a few of those but of the many books out there, which books are people saying are awesome?

Woman

I have seen some many reviews about this book, and it’s definitely on my radar. It came out in January, so isn’t brand new, but the mystery has yet to be spoiled for me. I’m intrigued by the family that moves across the street and isn’t what they appear to be…

give-me-your-hand

Ohh. Two ex best friends, a secret, and a competition for a new job. Sounds like it could be thrilling! Has anyone read this novel?

Non-Fiction: Admittedly, this genre kind of scares me. Unless it’s a funny autobiography I typically steer away from non fiction books. However, there are a couple that are tempting…

captive-audience-1525443771

Is anyone else out there a reality TV junkie? I am a fan of Big Brother, Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You can Dance, Amazing Race and have watched past episodes of the Real Housewives of practically any city. This novel may open the window into just how scripted these “reality” shows may be. OK, I’ll admit to being curious about this one, anyone else interested?

caddyshack-book-cover-1-1525443738

Who doesn’t want to read behind the scenes of the making of Caddyshack? I can’t even imagine the hijinks, craziness, and maybe some bruised ego’s that could make this book fascinating. I didn’t even know this one was out there! Is anyone else curious?

Horror: I shudder to even think there could be a horror novel that could interest me. However, I do like supernatural novels that sometimes lean towards horror. I’ve been known to enjoy a Dean Koontz novel, althought typically I steer away from Stephen King. When I was younger I really enjoyed the occasional scary movie, but as I got older maybe it all got too real?

The hunger

The Hunger seems to be a horror/historical novel written about the Donner Party. This was on the list of one of the most anticipated horror novels for 2018, but the threat of cannibalism may keep me from reading this one…  Has anyone else read this novel? What did you think?

Bad-Man

A little boy goes missing in the grocery store when his brother looks away for a second. He spends the next 5 years searching for him. When he takes a job in the grocery store where he goes missing he realizes that there is something wrong with the people, his boss, and the whole place. This one looks really creepy! I’ll admit I’m intrigued. Has anyone read this? Is it more thriller than horror? Or is there an element of the unreal?

Other than that last book possibly scaring the crap out of me, will any of these novels make me think, feel, and well, linger?

Do you have any suggestions for a great book that will get me out of my comfort zone?

I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Until next Sunday,

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: My Secret Life…

When you are asked what you like to do when you’re not working, at school or wherever, how do you answer? I’m sure as a book blogger we should be big hand wavers when it comes to admitting that we love to read. However, when I do, I find it fascinating to see how people respond. Is it abnormal to like to read as much as I do? Gageing from some of the wide eyed looks I get sometimes I feel like that must be true.

When I look back on my life and it’s big events I do remember how I had to find time to read. When I met my husband we immediately clicked and spent every moment together. I remember having to explain to him that I had to read the last half hour of my day in bed before going to sleep. I HAD TO. Well, we are married now, and he gets it! For awhile, he would read beside me quietly- until notebooks came out and he spent the end of his day surfing Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I, however, still read and he loves me anyway!

Single

When you start a new job and go out for a glass of wine, lunch or whatever with your new co-workers, do you confess to the amount of time you actually spend reading? The conversation goes something like, “So, Deborah, what do you do when you aren’t at work?” I say, “well, my husband and I like to try out new restaurants, I love taking my dog Nash for walks, and umm, I read 4 hours every night.”  Confession time. I probably do read about 3-4 hours every night. I know! But don’t you do that too? I certainly DON’T admit that to my friends though. Is that bad? Somehow, I feel like if I admit to reading that much they’ll look down on me like I don’t have a life or something. Why is reading considered a bad thing?

Reading

OK, that picture above is pretty funny (and kind of gross) but as Book Bloggers we SHOULD be screaming to the world that we LOVE to read! We need to encourage others to read, that enjoying books is a wonderful thing. Sharing a great book and talking about it with your friend or family member is one of the best feelings ever. I would like to convey my love for a good book to a child and encourage them to read every night for a half hour before sleeping like my own mother did for me. It helps me shrug off a bad day, encourage fantastic dreams, and helps me sleep. That’s not a bad thing.

Benefits of reading

So Book Bloggers, share your love of books outside your blog. Take off your mask and reveal your true identity and shout it out to the world!

I, Deborah- The Reading Chick love to read! How about you? Join me!

Until next Sunday,

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: Re-makes, Re-tellings, and Repeats

Have you noticed that re-makes, re-tellings and repeats seem to be a trend? If it was done well the first time why would you try to make a better version? Is it even possible? Bad 70’s TV shows have been made into movies and were those movies any better? The only movie I can think that may have surpassed the original show would be 21 Jump Street and that is in large part due to Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill’s chemistry. Charlie’s Angels, my favorite campy TV show is being re-made with the third set of angels.  How successful does the first re-make need to be to make a re-make of a re-make?

It seems to be pretty normal for a great story to be re-told in a more modern manner. Jane Austen’s books have been re-told a great number of times. From the movie Clueless to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane’s stories are re-invented into fantastic new tales and genres quite frequently. Does anyone every get tired of all of these re-tellings and classic re-mixes? I’ll admit, unless the original title is quoted I usually miss the tie-in and just enjoy or hate the new story on its own merits. Maybe I’m not the most sophisticated reader/watcher…

Pride

In the past couple of years fairy-tale re-tellings and re-imaginings have gotten to be very popular in fiction. Do I like them? I have read a couple that have been well done and now that I’m looking back on them I think it’s because they didn’t stick to the story verbatim. As I mentioned above, I was able to forget it was a re-make and lose myself in the story.  I’ve also read a few that didn’t win me over because they stuck too close to the original and didn’t improve upon it. Should they have left well enough alone?  I know, that’s kind of harsh, but why re-create something that was done so well in the first place? It’s like on American Idol when someone chooses to sing a Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston song and they just weren’t as good as the original. Doesn’t the judge tell them that they were taking a huge risk? Yes! I believe the same thing applies to iconic stories like Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White, etc. I do give them points for trying though.

Why can’t originality become a trend? That’s kind of sad isn’t it? Our world has so many talented, creative, and clever individuals who want to be noticed for their own originality. I want to help them rise to the top! Let me just finish this one last fairy-tale re-make…

 

Do you agree or disagree with my opinion on re-makes?

If you’ve read a re-telling that you think is just fabulous, please share! I love a good recommendation, as long as it’s not a re-telling of Star Wars or something….

Until next Sunday!

Deb

 

Blogger to Blogger Series: An Interview with Marie from Drizzle & Hurricane Books

When I read through my fellow bloggers posts I’m often inspired by their graphics, ideas, books to read, and discussions. When I read Marie’s posts I am all of those things but mostly I’m amazed at the amazing content she produces. This is a woman who has a full time job and still spends a few hours daily writing a blog. Her posts are incredible, well spoken, and unique. If you have never gone to her website and visited her blog, please do!

Click this link to enter. And BEWARE! Time will fly!  DRIZZLE & HURRICANE BOOKS

I’m sure we all feel like we know Marie pretty well, right? I hope I can learn something new from her answers to 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 in the country of baguettes and croissants (and annoying strikes….), France.

Most blogs have a quirky name and a fun story of origin. Please share the story behind your blogs name?

My blog is called Drizzle & Hurricane Books and I thought my reference here would be obvious, yet apparently it’s not, for many people, so…

I’m a huge fan of John Green’s books and my favorite book is Looking for Alaska. There is a famous quote in that book, about drizzle and hurricanes and… when I was looking for a blog’s name, I actually stumbled upon one of the quotations up on my wall, and saw that one. I thought it’d make a pretty name for a blog and…. when you think about it, some books have the same effects as drizzles, or hurricanes, so… 🙂

Describe where you write your blog. 

I usually write my blog posts on my couch at home, either with some tv on the background or just nothing.

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 currently have three books waiting to be read :

Once and For All, A Quiet Kind of Thunder, and Little black dresses, little white lies

Marie's Bookshelf

In case you’d like to check out these books…

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

A girl who can’t speak and a boy who can’t hear go on a journey of self-discovery and find support with each other in this gripping, emotionally resonant novel from bestselling author Sara Barnard. Perfect for fans of Morgan Matson and Jandy Nelson.

Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life. The condition’s name has always felt ironic to her, because she certainly does not “select” not to speak. In fact, she would give anything to be able to speak as easily and often as everyone around her can. She suffers from crippling anxiety, and uncontrollably, in most situations simply can’t open her mouth to get out the words.

Steffi’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to help him acclimate. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk. As they find ways to communicate, Steffi discovers that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it. But as she starts to overcome a lifelong challenge, she’ll soon confront questions about the nature of her own identity and the very essence of what it is to know another person.

Click this link to purchase! A Quiet Kind of Thunder

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Is it really better to have loved and lost? Louna’s summer job is to help brides plan their perfect day, even though she stopped believing in happily-ever-after when her first love ended tragically. But charming girl-magnet Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged now that he’s met the one he really wants. Maybe Louna’s second chance is standing right in front of her.

Click this link to purchase! Once and for All

Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies by Laura Stampler

Harper Anderson has always thought she should have been born somewhere more glamorous than her sleepy Northern California suburb.

Already resigned to working at a Skinny B’s Juice Press for the summer, Harper is shocked when the ultra-prestigious teen magazine, Shift, calls to say they want her to be their teen dating blogger for the summer. All she needs to do is get her butt to New York in two days.

There’s just one teeny, tiny problem: Apart from some dance floor make-outs, Harper doesn’t have a whole lot of dating experience. So when Shift’s application asked for an “edgy” personal essay, Harper might have misappropriated her best friend’s experiences for her own. But she can just learn on the job…right? Will the house of lies Harper has built around her dream job collapse all around her, or will she be able to fake it until she makes it in the big city?

Click this link to purchase! Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies

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 will always be young adult contemporary – whether it’s to lift up my mood, get me out of a slump or, just, you know, always. I just LOVE contemporaries too much, haha.

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

 

 

I graduated university back in 2016 and I’m currently working full-time. When I’m not, I’m reading, blogging, traveling when I can, watching tv shows and waiting for my next holidays. Or book in the mail.

My favorite blog post banner

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

 

 

This is such a hard question? I think I’d go with my blog post about the struggles of an international blogger, since it’s a topic I hold really close to my heart.

The Struggles of Being an International Book Blogger

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 actually had never met any big authors up until earlier this year. I went to the biggest book fair in Paris and got to meet some of my favorite authors of all times: Sarah Dessen, V.E. Schwab and Marissa Meyer.

I kind of said hello and thank you a whole lot, even when there was no need to. Sarah Dessen told me she liked the book I took with me (The Truth About Forever) I said thank you, she said she liked the cover, I said thank you. Now, I’m like, WHY. I asked them about France and if they liked it there, but somehow I wish I could have expressed my love for their books a bit more?! I was just very awkward okay.

Do you have any blogging goals for the next year?

 

 

I’m not sure – I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, even if I love a good goal. I’d love to get more opportunities to work closely with publishers I admire. I’d love to help bloggers more. Most importantly though, I’d love to RELAX about blogging and just be chill and happy with what I put out there. And keep on loving it 🙂

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?

 

 

My favorite author of all times is John Green so, obviously I’d love to sit with him and have a slice of cake. I’d have chocolate cake, because it’s my favorite, but I have absolutely NO idea what the hell I would ask him, I’d probably be in shock or something. To be honest and practical, I’m thinking the first thing out of my mouth would be “how are you”.

Thanks Marie, so much for agreeing to answer my questions! FYI, I just read Sarah Dessen’s book myself, and it was very good! (review soon!) I am probably the only person who has not read any of John Green’s novels, but on your recommendation I may have to pick one up!

Has anyone else read any of the books on Marie’s bookshelf? If you’re a fan of John Green, which book is your favorite?

Thanks for reading my Blogger to Blogger post!

Deb

 

Blogger to Blogger Series: An Interview with Kat from Life and Other Disasters

This week in my Blogger to Blogger Series I am highlighting Kat from the blog Life and Other Disasters. Kat loves to talk about the TV shows she’s watching, the books she is reading and shares other tidbits about her life. Her blog is a lot of fun and when you check it out you will take a deep dive into Kats life and thoughts.

Check it out by clicking this link! Life and Other Disasters

Let’s get to the 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?

KAT: I was born and raised in Austria, where I still live to this day even if I do disappear for a couple months to go elsewhere every now and then. I could very much imagine moving away someday, maybe to an English-speaking country.

What is the view outside your front door? (Include a picture if you’d like!)

KAT: I live in an apartment complex, so the view really isn’t that great. I like that we are on the top floor, even though a lot of the surrounding area is now under construction with more apartments already there or coming soon, which has kind of ruined the view a little bit. I used to be able to see hills in the distance and that’s unfortunately not happening anymore.

Most blogs have a quirky name and a fun story of origin. Please share the story behind your blogs name?

KAT: I wish there was a good story to my blog name, but I think that the movie title “Love and Other Disasters” just always stuck with me and I adapted it into “Life and Other Disasters” for my own uses, especially because I didn’t want the blog name to just be about books.

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

KAT: Hmmm … there’s definitely not one place in particular I tend to write my blog at. I sometimes lounge on the couch, other times I am at the desk in my room, then I just make it work on my bed and if I am in the right mood, I even write at Starbucks. Although I prefer to work on my book when I am there and not on my blog.
(I’ve included a picture that shows the backside of my closet with character aesthetics for my book “Arcadia” as well as some of the pillows on my bed)

writingspotbedKat

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? (Include a photo if you’d like!)

This is a mix of the books I am currently reading or about to read as well as my sketchbooks for drawing and painting.

nightstandbookKat

Want to check out the books on her nightstand? Read the Synopsis’ below!

Synopsis: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.

Synopsis: Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter

In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R. F. Jackaby, are called upon to investigate the supernatural.

First vicious shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens, and a day later, their owner is found murdered. Then in nearby Gad’s Valley, now home to the exiled New Fiddleham police detective Charlie Cane, dinosaur bones from a recent dig mysteriously go missing, and an unidentifiable beast starts attacking animals and people, leaving mangled bodies behind. Charlie calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.

Synopsis: Only Human by Silvain Neuvel

Brilliant scientist Rose Franklin has devoted her adult life to solving the mystery she accidentally stumbled upon as a child: a huge metal hand buried beneath the ground outside Deadwood, South Dakota. The discovery set in motion a cataclysmic chain of events with geopolitical ramifications. Rose and the Earth Defense Corps raced to master the enigmatic technology, as giant robots suddenly descended on Earth’s most populous cities, killing one hundred million people in the process. Though Rose and her team were able to fend off the attack, their victory was short-lived. The mysterious invaders retreated, disappearing from the shattered planet . . . but they took the scientist and her crew with them.

Now, after nearly ten years on another world, Rose returns to find a devastating new war—this time between humans. America and Russia are locked in combat, fighting to fill the power vacuum left behind after the invasion. Families are torn apart, friends become bitter enemies, and countries collapse in the wake of the battling superpowers. It appears the aliens left behind their titanic death machines so humankind will obliterate itself. Rose is determined to find a solution, whatever it takes. But will she become a pawn in a doomsday game no one can win?

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?

KAT: If I had a bad day, there are generally two options for me. One would be to indulge the bad mood and go into something very emotional like a family drama or some sort of tragic love story. However, the other option would be to really just dive into a light and fluffy YA contemporary. Something that wouldn’t require too much thinking but mainly entertainment.

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

Admittedly, I do spend A LOT of time on my laptop. I am currently working on my own Fantasy book (it’s called Arcadia and if anyone is interested you can find more details on it here: https://lifeandotherdisasters.com/2018/02/05/lets-talk-about-arcadia/) and I am obsessed with TV shows, so I definitely have a screen with me at most times. I also really like to draw and have indulged in that hobby more and more lately.

What is your favorite blog post you’ve ever written? Please include the link!

My favorite blog post banner

Last year I went abroad and didn’t have as much time for blogging during that time as I used to have. My content changed a lot and I struggled to know my place in the community, which lead me to write a post about “blogger identity”. It was something that really weighed on me at the time, but it helped me so much to put my frustration into words. I feel like I have found my way since, but the support at the time was really helpful.

Discussion Time: Blogger Identity

(I think we can all identify with an identity crisis on our blogs! I certainly have!)

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 really met any of my favourite authors yet, as they don’t really tend to visit my country a lot. However, I have had the opportunity to see Nicholas Sparks and Cecelia Ahern, who were both very nice. There wasn’t really time to say much, as the line was pretty long and we were ushered along quickly. I am pretty sure I thanked them and told them which book was my favourite, but I don’t wish I had said something more.

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 give right about anything to meet Pierce Brown, so he would definitely be the author I’d want to meet. I am not sure which cake he likes the most, that would need some research I don’t have the resources for right now, but my go-to-cake would be the red-wine cake after my grandma’s recipe. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love that cake. And lastly the question, I think I’d go with something really stupid like “How do I get a part or job on set of the adaptation of your books?” and then I would immediately laugh it off and take it back, while in all honesty, I would love to be on that set.

I loved getting to know Kat a little bit better! I can see we share a love for YA and Fantasy novels. I have had both William Ritter’s Jackaby series and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series on my TBR forever! It’s always nice to hear how much someone loves an author, it makes me want to just reach for that book next, doesn’t it? Oh, and Kat, I’m dying to try that red wine cake. Would you share the recipe?

Thanks Kat!!

Do you share Kat’s taste in novels? If not, I’d love to hear what books are on your own nightstand!

Deb