Friday YA- Audio Review: A Question of Holmes (Charlotte Holmes #4) by Brittany Cavallaro

Charlotte and Jamie are on the same coast, both enrolled for some pre-college courses at Oxford. It seems like it’s finally their time to find out if they will work as a couple. However Charlotte is approached to help solve a disappearing person case from a year ago and finds herself the understudy for the roll of Ophelia – and Jamie is cast in the roll of blinded by love boyfriend.

I am a big fan of this Holmes and Watson series. As a fan of mysteries it’s been great fun to be given a behind the scenes look at the screwed up Holmes family. In A Question of Holmes, Charlotte is coming off of rehab and living with her uncle in England, the most normal family life she’s ever had. Written from Charlotte’s POV we are given her insights into not only the mystery but also her true feelings about family, life, and her love for Jamie. At times these vignettes were difficult to listen to, but overall I feel like the author was very true to who Charlotte was, and also realistic in who the future Charlotte was to become. Her voice was narrated by Julia Whelan who did a fabulous job giving her that upper posh British accent, but also gave her a hint of vulnerability that we saw for the first time in this novel.

I have listened to this whole series, which is normally told from Jamie’s perspective (read amazingly well by Graham Halstead) with a final chapter from Charlotte. I really liked the switch in this final novel because Jamie’s character has been revealed to the reader through the previous three novels. We know exactly who he is, but not how he fits into Charlotte’s life. Is he just her sidekick? Or her one true love? What is she really thinking? We discover all of these things in A Question of Holmes.

The mystery in this novel had a few twists and turns that fed some tension into our two main characters relationship but I’m going to avoid talking plot points because I don’t want to run the risk of giving anything away. I will say that it’s deftly done and there is a big reveal in the latter half of the book that creates a path that I didn’t see coming. The conclusion to the mystery was satisfactory and the conclusion to the series although a little confusing, did fit the characters and how they grew throughout the series. Would I change anything if I could? Yes. Do I know what I’d change? Not really. That doesn’t really help does it? LOL. My overall recommendation is that if you’ve read this series A Question of Holmes is a solid conclusion with nothing left unsaid, yet I feel like their story was just not finished. I wish we had one more novel. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Opinions from around the Blogosphere

“Now, the ending. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but it was very ambiguous. It felt like a close to the story while it was still very open for more books if the author decided to revisit it. …Definitely an impressive “retelling” that has earned a spot on my Holmes-focused bookshelf!” BW Reviews

“This story was, in my opinion, way better than the third book in the series, has some surprises to it that might shock you, has a nice mystery to it and of course – most importantly – Jamie and Charlotte.” Blogger Books

Click this link to purchase!* A Question of Holmes (Charlotte Holmes Novel)

Copyright 2019 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate

Friday YA: Come Find Me by Megan Miranda

Come Find Me is the story of two teens, Kennedy Jones and Nolan Chandler. Both of them have lived through terrible tragedies and in their own way are searching for answers. Kennedy by continuing her brothers search in space and Nolan on his radio frequency. One day they both notice an anomaly in that radio frequency and through an online blog find each other. They live only a few miles apart, could there be another answer for what has happened in both of their lives?

Megan Miranda hit all of the right buttons with Come Find Me. Kennedy and Nolan were both very easy to relate to, their tragedies were both eerie- although in different ways, and their discoveries led the reader through every emotion. A recipe for an un-putdownable novel!

I don’t want to spoil the mystery at all, but let’s just say that even though they found each other through tragic circumstances, as they investigated this strange frequency and other clues came to light their characters were able to lean on each other and grow stronger together. I loved how they had faith in each other and leaned on the other for strength. As the story reached the conclusion, both resolutions were tragic and yet it didn’t split them apart, that tragedy helped them be each other’s strength. An unusual concept in a teen novel and one I’d like to see explored more.

Even though I just said “teen novel” this didn’t read like it was written for that age group. Other than the fact that one of them didn’t drive, their thoughts and problems were very adult. It was almost as if two kids were swapped in for an adult storyline. Maybe that’s why I could relate to these characters so well? I don’t know, but I was totally enmeshed and enjoyed this novel thoroughly. If you like psychological mystery/thrillers, no matter your age, you need to give Come Find Me a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by it’s depth and emotional impact.

❤️❤️❤️❤️

Opinions from around the Blogosphere

“I’ve always enjoyed all of Miranda’s novels and will certainly read anything she puts out for us readers. Those who love the YA thriller genre should surely pick this one up – don’t let the slow beginning deter you. The build up of these characters resonate.” Jessicamap Reviews

“I loved that there was a supernatural element to the story. Though it is a realistic thriller, there is the suggestion that something extraterrestrial or supernatural is happening there. ” Jill’s Book Blog

Click this link to purchase!* Come Find Me

Copyright 2019 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate

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.

Friday YA: Once a King (A Clash of Kingdoms #3) by Erin Summerill

Once a King carries on the story of King Aodren and his fight to bring peace between his people and the Channelers who were persecuted under his fathers reign until most of them escaped to other kingdoms. This novel takes on the topic of drug dealing, although in a fantastical way. Someone is creating an oil called Sanguine that seems to give the non magical Channeler abilities, but in fact causes them to go mad with anger and cause death. Lirra, who we met in the previous novel, investigates the mystery of who is distributing this drug, reporting her findings back to Aodren. Whew!

While all of this is going on, there is a tournament between all of the kingdoms champions. It is a sort of Olympics but with jousting, sword fights and blood. Needless to say, this fake Sanguine (the real Sanguine is a miraculous healing drug and really rare) is being taken by the champions. Needless to say, bad things happen.

I really liked Aodren in the previous book and had looked forward to reading his story. I wasn’t disappointed! It’s easy to admire a character that wants to make a big change like racial discrimination and hatred. The tournament setting gave him the chance to be a “hero” in a physical way, which balanced well with the honorable aspects to his character. It made him come to life more than in the previous novel where he seemed to be not fully fleshed out.

I was a little confused by the Lirra in Once a King. In Ever the Brave she was more of a hard ass so I was surprised by how youthful she seemed. Yes, she was still heroic in investigating Sanguine but there was another side to her in this novel that was sweet and young. It made the budding romance between she and Aodren more believable. The young honorable King with the beautiful uncertain maiden. 

I liked the story overall and enjoyed Erin Summerill’s writing again. She’s a very consistent writer and I know what I”m going to get when I read one of her books. An enjoyable fantasy written with a lot of heart. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest.

Click this link to purchase!*Once a King (Clash of Kingdoms Novel)

Copyright 2018 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick all rights reserved

*Amazon Associate

Friday YA: Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black

Valentine grew up in a small New England town where her legacy as the daughter of a woman who murdered the beloved son of one of the founding families and was hanged for it. Years later when more people are murdered in their town people start pointing fingers at Valentine and she has to investigate to prove her own innocence.

Girl at the Grave is labeled as a Gothic Mystery and definitely gives off that dark historical vibe. Told from Valentine’s POV we see the townspeople change from her childhood views to a new adult perspective. The mystery intertwines through so many layers of not only Valentine’s life but those of the people around her as well. It was worth the time it took for the author to take us on the road to discover who was behind these crimes. I was truly surprised and did not figure this one out. I must’ve changed my mind every time that road twisted.

There were two love interests for Valentine. Sam, the boy she grew up with. He was comfortable, solid, and sweet. There was also Rowan who was the son of the man that her mother killed. Handsome, rich, smart and always on the peripheral of her mind. Someone she admired, living a life she wanted to be a part of. I loved the intricacies of the mystery so much that I thought this love triangle actually detracted a little bit from the story. It did not ruin it though.

Girl at the Grave is a very refreshing historical mystery. Technically it’s a YA novel but most of the time I forgot the age, and unlike other YA novels the adults had a presence and were actually a HUGE part of this story and Valentine held her own. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!

Opinions from around the Blogosphere

“Girl At The Girl is a stand-alone YA debut novel by Teri Bailey Black. Well, this book has a great potential but sadly it falls short of perfection. To be honest, I enjoyed the story-line, but it was disappointing that the plot focused more on the romance and less on the murder mystery.” Dreamy Addictions

“This novel kept me guessing.  At certain points, I rolled my eyes, certain I knew which direction the plot was headed, and how similar this book was to so many others I’d read.  And I was very pleasantly proven wrong.” Books and Such

YA Gothic Mystery

Click this link to purchase!* Girl at the Grave

Copyright 2018 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate