Book and Author Spotlight: Other Than by Mia Jo Celeste

This book has such a beautiful cover! Okay, enough of that. With an average rating of 4.55 on GoodReads, the reviews have all been positive with nothing lower than 4 out of 5 stars. Might be an interesting book to add to your To-Read shelf.
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Author Interview
When did you know first discover you wanted to be a writer and why writing?
Since I can remember I’ve loved stories, and I come from a family of writers, so I knew I wanted to be an author my whole life.

Tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
I went through a Gothic Romance stage in High School. I always wanted to see if I could write one.

What message or lasting thought do you hope your readers will take away from your book?
Redemption, or changing your ways is always possible. The heroine’s love interest, Victor is an antihero, who finally figures how to turn his life around with his brother’s and the heroine’s help.

What author and/or what book has had the greatest impact on your life?
The Bible

Can you offer any advice for beginning writers or those trying to get published?
Keep trying.

Beside your book, are there any other books you would recommend reading?
Any books you read are good, but if you’re a writer, you should probably read and enjoy the genre you hope to publish in.

What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the world-building within your book?
Other Than probably is the result of all the Gothic romances I devoured as a teenager and still add to my reading list today. Another example might be my novel Dark Bringer where I combined my childhood fantasies about the dark with a week-long power outage I lived through. I really missed the lights, heat and electronics I usually take for granted.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I loved writing the Howler attacks. Particularly when Evie’s father was murdered because of the emotional pull.

What are your future project(s)?
I’m working on a series called The Fairy Tale Effect, and I’m super excited to say that Other Than will soon be available as an audiofile.

Quick Draw:
Jeans or sweats? Jeans
Coffee or Tea?     Earl Grey
Chocolate or Chips?  Chocolate
Boxers, briefs or commando?  Boxer briefs
Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla

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Published: January 27,2017
Pages: 394

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Where to Buy:
Amazon
Kobo

Genre– a Gaslamp Fantasy/ Paranormal Historical Romance

Synopsis:
It only takes one drink from the Water of Immortality to kill Evie Woods—halfway. Trapped in undead flesh, the world’s last skin-slider wakens on an island purgatory where a cursed spring bubbles with immortality, and zombie cannibals crave living flesh.

Her only hope of escape rests in the hands of the one man who would see her fail. Bound to her by cords stronger than death, Lord Victor Lowell is both the man of her dreams, and her darkest nightmares. Contrary and intractable, Victor preys on others to maintain his angelic charisma and preternatural prowess. Drawn to the compellingly gallant and vulnerable soul behind his mercurial humors, Evie can only watch as protecting her forces Victor to sacrifice yet more of himself to the ancient evil long tethered to his soul.

Trapped in an ever-escalating war they can’t stop, Victor and Evie fight time for a cure, but as the long days pass blackness tears at Evie, ripping her thoughts from her one memory at a time. Victor will to do whatever it takes to prevent her from deteriorating into a rotting husk, even if it means dooming himself, but Evie won’t surrender his soul without a fight. Battle lines drawn, the soul mates resolve to find redemption or die trying.

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Excerpt:
He materialized in the inky shadow.

Or rather his apparition did. His ghostly frame hovered before her, sinuous and lithe. Against his shadowed form, the string glimmered like liquid silver. Slowly he unwrapped her, tossing the spectral bands to the floor until a coil lay between him and her.

Something inside her chest fluttered. “You followed me.”

An accusation.

He nodded. With a slight shrug, he spread his hands. “You shouldn’t be alone.”

She wanted to turn, giving him her back, but her betraying gaze remained fixated upon him. When he paced around her, she waved him away. “Don’t.”

He caught her hand and placed an insubstantial kiss in her palm. “Let me help you…please.”

A gallant gesture, perhaps, but her skin-slider sensitivity noted the rigidity of his stance, the twitch along his jaw, and the slight narrowing of his eyes. How could he think of helping her when he was in so much pain?

Ordinarily, she might be grateful. Might…if loss hadn’t hollowed her.

She ripped her cooling flesh from his spectral arms. “I don’t deserve kindness.”

“Good.” He gave her a rakish smirk. “Because I’m not kind.”

She shook her head, biting back the emerging smile that had no place on her countenance. She couldn’t be civil, couldn’t risk the involvement. “I can’t go on like this—stuck betwixt life and death.”

“You must. Don’t you see, sweet dove? You’re beyond both. You’re immortal. Like me.”

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Author Bio:

Mia Jo Celeste comes from a family of writers and English teachers, so it was no surprise when she chose to pursue both careers. She grew up watching horror movies and reading romances. To her, the two genres go together like salty and sweet in kettle corn.

 

Author Blog     Twitter     Facebook     Amazon Author Page

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Would love to hear from you! Comment below with your thoughts and until next time, Happy Reading 🙂

 

 

 

 

Djinn by Sang Kromah- Book Review

I am not really sure what happened to this post.

I wrote it months ago but instead of publishing it, for some unknown reason, I saved it for later. There it sat until now, waiting to be rediscovered. But the odd thing, is the book never really left my thoughts. I have found my thoughts drifting back to this book, and thinking about what happened and wondering about what next. I think that speaks volumes for the book and something to consider when thinking about whether or not you want to read it.

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This book is about deception, never knowing who to trust, and a destructive prophecy. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book. Looking forward to the sequel. 


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Author: Sang Kromah
Published: March 20, 2018
Pages: 343

Stars: 4 out of 5

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Where to Buy:
Amazon (Part of Kindle Unlimited)
Barnes&Noble
Synopsis:
Some believe that at birth, we’re each born with a guardian attached to us, watching from afar, but never seen. Truth is, there are certain people, special people, born of this world and of the other, who need that extra protection. They go their entire lives, unaware of the other world, and unaware of the existence of their own personal watcher, watching from afar. But what happens when fate takes a turn for the worse, and The One who needs the aid of a watcher most can’t be found to be protected?

Bijou Fitzroy is strange. With the unwanted gift of being an empath, she has spent her entire life as a sheltered recluse, homeschooled by her secretive and overprotective grandmother, who never allows them to stay in one place long enough for Bijou to settle and make friends. When Bijou and her grandmother move to Sykesville and she starts to attend the local high school, Bijou’s world begins to crumble. Town locals begin to disappear and the creatures from her nightmares begin to take shape in her reality. She finds herself at the center of a war she never knew was being fought all around her.

Review:
I feel for Bijou! Never having a friend unless you count the faceless man from her dreams. She has never known who she is and is left struggling to discover her purpose. To say Bijou is an empath would be a lie because she is so much more than that. As I’m reading this book, I thought I’d figured out exactly who she is. But by the end of the book, I’m not really sure because things are left unclear. 

And then there’s Sebastian. Once the author introduces him, you know right away this character is going to be important. From the first encounter when Sebastian and Bijou meet, there are strong emotions and conflicting actions. Sebastian is a complicated mystery that slowly unfolds throughout the book. By the end of the book, I know I like the surface level of his character but I can’t say I really know anything about him. In all honestly, I felt that way about most of the characters throughout this book. Beyond Bijou, the author didn’t really go in depth with any of the characters. 

A quote from the book that really stood out to me –

“Why would I want to be like everybody else when I can be myself?.. Being normal is highly overrated.” – Sebastian. 

This book is heavy on the mystery and initially I thought the book would be perfect for young adults (YA book lovers) and maybe even those in high school. Yet there are elements within the characters and plot that appeal to me. And the further I get into the story, the more I find myself enjoying the book. Especially around half way to two thirds of the way through – I didn’t want to stop reading. I was so curious how the book was going to end, I kept thinking ‘one more page, one more chapter’. I felt like the author really gained her momentum around this part of the book too. 

But there were a couple things that I didn’t really enjoy about the book. Some of these things were corrected the further you got in the book. But some did not.. 

Let’s break these down:

1. The main character is sheltered from everything going on around her. Her grandmother, Gigi, has sheltered her from who she is and Sebastian continues to shelter her while also trying to protect her. Everyone talks in code or makes cryptic comments. Not to mention all the weird and suspicious looks everyone is constantly giving her. The thing that really bothered me was at first she doesn’t pry, doesn’t ask what that look meant or what in the world is going on.

As I was reading this book, I was getting so frustrated. The plot is truly captivating but why must the heroine be so naive. And then I get far enough into the plot when things begin to change – thank goodness! Bijou finally gets mad and demands answers.

If you were borderline on liking Bijou’s character in the beginning of the book, you are going to love her now! Somehow she has transformed from this docile weird girl into a stronger woman whose finally ready to take charge of her life. This is the exact moment that I didn’t want to put down the book. I’m really glad the author didn’t leave Bijou as docile and weak. 

2. The next thing that struck me wrong is this concept of instant love. Bijou has known Sebastian for three days and she is already in love with him. At first I thought the only reason for this instant love for him is because he looks her in the eye and he acts somewhat protective of her. But that didn’t make any sense because he hasn’t even been overly nice or gone out of his way to flirt with her. I don’t want to ruin the book, so what I’ll say is this – Trust me, it’s more than that. The author clarifies this better later in the book even though you kind of guess this along the way. But then there’s this twist that I absolutely hate and this concept of instant love is back in the fold of things once more. I am not a fan of this. 

Because there is such a strong division of either hating this or loving it, I feel like I have to mention the author ended the book with a possible love triangle. I know what some of you are thinking.

I’m not thrilled about this either. I’m curious to see where the author takes this. But nonetheless, it’s not enough to dissuade me from reading the sequel. The plot is intriguing enough to look past this. 

The author does a nice job describing all the anxiety, clicks, and awkward social rules that can be found in a small town high school setting. I think some of the characters actions were a little dramatic and over the top, but that may just be me. 

 Overall I did enjoy the book and I am interested in reading the sequel. If you didn’t notice my many references I’ll say it again, I did enjoyed the plot. There were times I didn’t want to put the book down and the day I finished the book I kept wondering what would come next. I would say those are some of the qualities every author hopes their reader will walk away with. I wasn’t crazy about the instant love or the love triangle and I think the characters could use more depth. I only say that last part because I do like the characters but I want to know more about their personality. Bijou’s character is borderline annoyingly thick headed but she’s slowly growing on me. 

Comment below and share your thoughts with me. Until Next Time, Happy Reading 🙂

Author Spotlight – Sang Kromah with her new book, Djinn

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Authors like this make blogging so much fun! I am extremely excited to talk to you about Kromah’s upcoming book, Djinn.

“Hauntingly captivating. Perfect for fans of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and all things myth and fantasy. I can’t wait to read the next one!” – GoodReads Reviewer

This Young Adult book is full of mystery and sure to catch your attention! I had the opportunity to talk with Sang Kromah about her upcoming book, Djinn, and ask her a few questions about being a writer. 

When did you first discover you wanted to be a writer and why writing?
Honestly, I’ve always been a storyteller. Well before I could read or write, I was taking apart the traditional Liberian folklore my parents would tell me and reassembling them as stories of my own. When I became literate, I always had a notebook and a novel with me, reading and writing simultaneously. I remember telling my parents in the first grade that I was going to be a writer, so every time we’d travel (which was a lot), they’d make my younger brother and me write a story about that trip. After that, I would write down the things I’d see daily, and adding magical aspects to make reality seem a little more fantastical. In the seventh grade, I had the best Language Arts Teacher, Mrs. Norvell, who would allow me to read my stories to the class every Friday. After that year, I knew more than anything, I wanted to be a writer more than anything else in the world.

Tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
While most people were told fairytales of princesses losing slippers and beauties being awakened with kisses as children, I drifted off to sleep with stories of dwarfish baby snatchers, unearthly beauties, and looming shapeshifters, who granted twisted wishes. These were the tales my parents told me nightly from their native land of Liberia. Both of them had a knack for weaving dark and alluring characters of mystical beings, but there was one story that stood out to me about a strong-willed, mischievous girl named Femeni who escaped—what should have been sudden death at the hands of a notorious Djinn. After hearing the story, I always wondered what happened to Femeni, and did she have any other encounters with the Djinn? As I grew older, the questions became more complex; what was so special about Femeni that helped her escape the Djinn? What if Femeni had a child, would there be something special about that child as well? These questions and my obsession with ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ gave birth to my novel, Djinn.

This book has a very long history. As I would finish a chapter, I’d email it to my mom, and she would tear it apart, only to have me re-write it. I was angry with her at the time, but I’m grateful that she did, because my novel became something that I am so proud of.

After reading your book, it seems like this is the first in what looks to be a series.
There will definitely be more. I know exactly where I’m going with the story and I just completed my outline last night.

Can you tell me more about this series?
I feel like there’s no way to answer to this question without spoilers, but I can say the lore gets much deeper and since the truth is out, there’s no holding back.

I can tell you that this book takes place at the high school I went to, in the town that I grew up in, and although it’s fantasy, there are many real elements in this world I’ve created. (I’ll attach a photo of Main Street) (middle picture above) The bookstore (A Likely Story) (below) that Bijou, Sebastian, and Amina really exists, as well as the candle shop (Unwined) they visit.

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Where do you see this series going and what can the readers look forward to next?
I see the story eventually leading back to where it all began for Bijou. Liberia.

What message or lasting thought do you hope your readers will take away from your book?
Stay true to who you are. This is something Bijou (my MC) struggles with when the story starts. She’s insecure and constantly doubting herself and comparing herself to others. Within a few minutes of meeting Sebastian Sinjin, she makes a comment about why he speaks the way he does. His response? “Why would I want to be like everyone else when I can be myself?”

(I’ll be honest readers, before I asked if i could do an author spotlight, I was given the book to read. And don’t worry, the review is coming!! But I know exactly where this quote is in the book because I highlighted this exact one! I love that the author also singled this quote out. We so often get stuck in the day to day grime of life and politics that we sometimes forget who we are. This is such a great quote and reminder!!)

This message was important to me, because I’ve never really been able to conform. As a kid, I was bullied and never truly fit in at school, so I went through a stage, where I didn’t think I was good enough. Even though I was born and raised in America, you could look at me and tell I wasn’t a typical American kid and my name was definitely foreign. Then on the other hand, I didn’t truly fit in with people from my parent’s country as well. I always seemed to be on the outside, looking in. What helped a lot was having parents and a younger brother, who believed in me and supported my endeavors so much that I became so sure of myself that I didn’t mind marching to the beat of my own drum or sitting alone at lunch.

By the time I made it to middle school, I knew exactly who I was and what I was capable of. As I’ve grown, I’ve seen that there are other kids who can relate to how I felt and what I went through, so even when I write fantasy, my stories and characters reflect those experiences, how to cope, and how to rise above it. It seems easy to try to conform, but the more time you take trying to fit in, the longer it takes to find yourself.

What author and/or what book has had the greatest impact on your life?
This probably sounds very cliché, but To Kill a Mockingbird is the first book that moved me to tears. I actually read it before my classmates, because my mom made me read it the summer after seventh grade. I think I read it in two days. I remember hiding to read it at night, because it was after my bedtime, and crying so hard during the trial.

In the fifth grade, I became obsessed with R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps and Fear Street series. After reading Say Cheese and Die, I thought, I could definitely do this too. By that time, I was already used to writing every day, but I asked my mom to make sure I wrote a hundred words a day. I wrote my first book in middle school about vampire cheerleaders.

But if I’m talking about stories that have stuck with me, I’d have to say, just about Isabel Allende and Alice Hoffman. Both authors have the ability to weave magic into the lives of everyday people, transforming the mundane into something wondrously strange. That’s something I’ve always wanted to accomplish as a writer.

Can you offer any advice for beginning writers or those trying to get published?
Get used to hearing the word, “No!” I would be lying if I said that rejection has never hurt, but I’ve heard no so many times that I take it as a challenge, because all it takes is one “yes” to change your life. So I look at “no” as a message from the universe to keep going. I feel like that’s the only way you will ever get published. You have to develop thick skin, keep writing, and be persistent.

Besides your book, are there any other books you would recommend reading this Winter?
Currently, I’m really into witches (I’m lying. I’ve always been into witches) so I’m currently reading A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan. After that, I’m going to read A Discover of Witches by Deborah Harkness. But I’ve decided to re-read Alice Hoffman and Isabel Allende novels this year, and I suggest that if you love magical realism or witches that don’t have moles, you should do the same.


1
Published
: March 20, 2018
Pages: 343

Add to GoodReads

Synopsis:
Some believe that at birth, we’re each born with some sort of guardian attached to us, watching from afar, but never seen. But are they wrong? Truth is, there are certain people, special people, born of this world and of the other, who need that extra protection…that extra guidance. They go their entire lives, unaware of the other world, and unaware of the existence of their own personal watcher that watches from afar. But what happens when fate takes a turn for the worse, and The One who needs the aid of a watcher more than anyone before her can’t be found to be protected?

Bijou Fitzroy is strange. With the unwanted gift of being an empath, she has spent her entire life as a sheltered recluse, homeschooled by her secretive and overprotective grandmother, who never allows them to stay in one place long enough for Bijou to settle and make friends. When Bijou and her grandmother move to Sykesville and she starts to attend the local high school, Bijou’s world begins to crumble. Town locals begin to disappear and the creatures from her nightmares begin to take shape in her reality. She finds herself at the center of a war she never knew was being fought all around her.


Excerpt, Chapter One:
Imagine not being able to tell whether it’s you or the person beside you who’s schizophrenic. That’s the story of my life.

Most mental illnesses have thousands of web pages devoted to them online, but whenever I insert my symptoms into a search engine, I get pages upon pages of fanfiction.

The only word that describes my appearance is “peculiar.” Almond shaped eyes might be considered beautiful on some people, but my almond shaped eyes can’t decide whether they’re green, amber, or gray, so “frightening” becomes a more accurate description. The changing colors of irises may not sound scary, but my eyes are the size and shape of a little green man’s. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but this is what I see when I look in a mirror. Peculiar.

I’m not white. But I’m not black. Well, at least I don’t think I am. I’m somewhere in between. Maybe. I’ve asked these same questions about my background, but the topic of race has always been off-limits with my grandmother Gigi. So, on an EEO survey, I have to choose other.

Gigi has always made excuses for people’s confusion. Words like “exotic,” “unique,” and “special” are thrown around, but never “pretty,” “cute,” or “beautiful.” People tend to stare, but when I look back and attempt to make eye contact, they look away in fear. How do I know it’s fear? Because I can feel what they feel. It doesn’t happen with everyone, just with typical people. While most people see race or ethnicity when they first meet, it isn’t that simple for me. Through my eyes, there are two types of people in this world, and the color of their skin has no part to play in the matter. With the Typicals, their emotions rub off on me when they’re in close proximity. It’s even worse if they happen to make eye contact; I see things—sometimes truly horrible things. It’s like being in a room full of babies who are screaming at the top of their lungs for attention. Luckily for me, eye contact is as rare as my interactions with Typicals. When I do have to be around people, I have to keep my hands busy or I’ll go into shock.

And then you have the Others. They’re a little harder to explain. I can’t feel what they feel and, when I see them, I know exactly what they are. They’re ethereal. Some are beautiful, but there’s always a haunting element about their appearance and presence that makes people want to avoid them. You would think I’d prefer their company since I can’t read them, but they scare me.

When I was a kid, my grandmother would tell me I was imagining these things, that I had an overactive imagination, so I just stopped talking about them. Claims like those would land me in a psychiatric ward, so, to block out emotions, I began carrying a deck of playing cards with me everywhere I go. Now I constantly shuffle, distracting myself from all the emotions that are vying for my attention.

“Bijou Fitzroy!” My grandmother’s voice startles me out of my closet. “You harass me about going to school, and, now that I’ve agreed, you’re going to be late on your first day. Allez! Dépêche-toi!”

She always becomes more French when she’s yelling.

“Webster’s defines a door as a moveable piece of wood that people use to enter or leave a room, but if Miss Manners were here, she’d insist on you knocking on said door before entering my bedroom.”

My grandmother, Gigi, is not amused as she addresses me with a cold blue glare. The chilly look, combined with her crown made of a tightly wound blonde bun, brings the term “Ice Queen” to mind.

“If you can memorize the entire dictionary, you have no business going to high school in Hicksville, USA.” She comes toward me in that intimidating way of hers, the way the Victoria’s Secret angels fly down a runway. “We could scrap the whole high school idea, go back to homeschooling, and spend the day exploring Eldersburg.”

“We live in Sykesville, Gigi, and I’m going to school. You know, like normal kids do?” Since moving to Maryland, Gigi and I have been in a constant argument about this. Sykesville and Eldersburg are neighboring towns with smudged borders. They’re so smudged, in fact, that you can live in Sykesville while your next-door neighbor lives in Eldersburg. It really doesn’t matter because the towns share one zip code. “My problem is that I can’t find anything to wear.”

Gigi rushes into my closet and, five seconds later, emerges with skinny jeans, a cute top, a cardigan with elbow patches, and tan Oxfords to match.

“How did you do that? I’ve been in there for the last half hour and nothing.”

“It’s a gift,” she says, leaning against the wall, her impatience apparent. “Magic, really.”

Gigi isn’t like other grandmothers. Yes, she’s the mother of my mother, but other than that, she looks as regal and young as Grace Kelly in High Society, and dresses like her too. She hardly looks like anyone’s grandmother, which is why calling her grandma is forbidden, and hence the name Gigi. Hell, we don’t even look related. She’s pale and tall with bone-straight, long, blonde hair. I’m of a darker hue, about five-foot-seven, and although my hair is long, it’s so black and wild that I break combs and brushes on a weekly basis. So she’s Tracy Samantha Lord and I’m Holly Golightly’s ethnically ambiguous half-sister with the crazy curls. We look nothing alike.

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“I really don’t understand the need to go to high school here,” she says as she follows me to my mirror with the only brush in the house that hasn’t lost the battle with my hair yet. “Jou Jou, you’re in the eleventh grade and it’s the middle of the school year. And besides, with your marks, you could get your degree now.” She’s right. I’ve been homeschooled my entire life. With a photographic memory, retention of information makes schoolwork simple, but I’m sixteen years old and I’ve never set foot in a school building, never had a friend.

I know why I’m supposed to respect her opinion about my education. She’s been a mother to me since my mom died during childbirth, and my father is an unknown entity. Parents should be respected, but our relationship is a strange one. To me, she’s Lilith Fitzroy, my vain grandmother who looks too young to be a grandmother. To the world, Gigi is the international bestselling paranormal romance author, Anastasia Powers. She writes under a pen name to conceal her identity from the world, and whenever some nosey journalist starts to get close to discovering who she really is, we pack up and move. This is why I’ve been homeschooled my entire life. This is why she’s not very comfortable with me making friends with random strangers, but all that changed last month when she bought a house in Maryland and decided to move us here. It’s a huge change from the big cities we’re used to. Imagine leaving Park Avenue for a home at the end of a cul de sac in a development where most of the houses look the same, the grass is measured, and people smile when they really want to spit at you. Sykesville may be a little too normal, but it’s home now, and I’m glad we’re here.

After Gigi gives up the fight of taming my curls, we leave for school.

On the way, she continues trying to convince me to go shopping instead of going to Liberty High School. “Last chance to change your mind.” Her tone is less than enthusiastic as she glares at my new peers with disgust. “Didn’t you say once that you wanted to write a book? I could talk to my agent, and we can make it happen.”

Just as I’m about to retort, a figure wearing a black hoodie and black jeans comes into view. He’s standing completely still, staring at me, as the crowd maneuvers around him. I close my eyes tight in disappointment, knowing that he’s found me once again.

“You’re not here. You’re not here. You’re not here,” I whisper to myself. When I reopen my eyes, he’s no longer there.

Maybe I’m imagining him, but this hooded figure has been following me for a long time.

“No! No! No!” Gigi interrupts. “You’re not doing this again. If you’re going to attend school with these people, no weirdness and no talking to yourself. The last thing we need is these people running us out of town or attempting to burn you at the stake because you start doing or saying things they don’t understand.”

She can be such a snob. She fails to realize how much I need this. I could get into any top-tier university, but when it comes down to the test of relating to my peers, I fail miserably. I have zero social skills, and I am sure I will be a laughingstock once I open my mouth. The girls will probably snicker and point, while the boys won’t bother looking at me at all. But I’m not too concerned about the boys.

There is one boy though, a boy I’ve always thought about. The disappointing part is that he only exists in my dreams, faceless like so many characters in dreams. Though I don’t know what he looks like, I think about him entirely too much. I know this makes me certifiable, but he’s the only friend I’ve ever had. He was my playmate as a kid and grew to be my protector, keeping me safe in my dream world.

I’m sure other homeschooled kids have friends and some semblance of a social life, but not me. Gigi is an overprotective hawk, watching my every move, keeping me busy with one activity or another. I have been taking martial arts, gymnastics and piano lessons for as long as I can remember, but none of these activities involves an outside individual. She’s always taught me, so it’s always just been us.

“I love you Gigi,” I say as I exit her red Jaguar F-type, “but I’ll write a book after I get some real-world experience.”

“You’re so special, Jou Jou, and my fear is you may be too special for small-town folks,” she murmurs. I’m sure her words are supposed to be comforting, but they put me on edge even more. I smile weakly as she pulls off.

Cursed is a more fitting description.

Cutting through the schoolyard chatter, a flood of emotions hits me like a bloodcurdling scream at the beginning of an Anastasia Powers novel. It’s sometimes hard to separate my own feelings from the influx of emotions that come from others. I pull out my cards and begin shuffling. It must look like I’m about to do some magic trick. I shuffle so fast I have no need to look at the cards as I survey the school from the entrance to the yard. It looks large for a small-town high school. I glance around as I try not to run through the crowd to the entrance. They all look so comfortable with each other. They’ve probably known each other since kindergarten and won’t welcome the arrival of a weirdo who will unbalance things.

I definitely don’t fit in.

“Check out the cards,” a blonde girl says as I walk by. She isn’t exactly one of the Others, but something’s not right about her. “Don’t we belong in a freak show!” The sarcasm in her voice is venomous.

Something about her makes me stop walking and shuffling completely.

“Tell me she doesn’t have a perm,” another girl says as they continue toward the school.

My heart beats wildly, but the moment she leaves, everything returns to normal. Or as close to normal as it gets for me.

I am becoming more agitated by the second, so I resume shuffling my cards and walk away. I’m relieved to enter the front office. It’s not as intimidating as the entrance of the school. The walls are a pale shade of blue and in dire need of a paint job.

Breathe, I tell myself as I walk toward the front desk, clearing my throat.

“Hello, I’m Bij—”

I am interrupted mid-sentence by a dirty look from a frail, spray-tanned receptionist with salt-and-pepper hair. She looks up from her romance novel as if I have disrupted the juiciest part, and she points in the direction of a tall boy I hadn’t noticed until now.

“Hi, I’m-”

“Bijou Fitzroy. I’m aware.”

Normally, I would’ve been irritated about being interrupted for a second time, but I am distracted.

He’s perfect.

His lips are so full that I can only pray he has horrid teeth to make me feel better about my own appearance. He’s slender, muscular, and tall. A veil of dark lashes almost hides the intensity of his eyes. He looks as though he’s swallowed a piece of the sun, and its golden rays glow within his flawless skin. Though we don’t know each other, there is something familiar about him.

“Well, that’s kind of rude,” I say. “You know who I am, and I have no idea who you are.” His silence and unblinking stare make me nervous, so I keep yammering. “Okay, you have about five seconds to say something before I start believing you’ve been stalking me.”

He just stands there staring at me with deep-set, gray eyes—never blinking. I can’t help but stare as well. It takes me a moment to notice he’s making direct eye contact with me. No one ever does.

He tilts his head to the side like a dog ogling a shiny new object when a sudden look of mystification etches his dark brows, and he contorts as if something ghastly has appeared before him.

He looks sideways.

Have I somehow offended him?

He turns back. “My apologies. G’day, I’m Sebastian.”

G’day? Is this how high school students talk? It’s nothing like Pretty Little Liars.

He reaches out to shake my hand, not giving me more than a glance. I stop shuffling, stuffing my cards into my leather satchel to take his hand.

The touch of his hand sends a jolt of electricity through my body, and flashes of a familiar scene of someone drowning surges through my mind until he retracts his hand, putting an end to the vision.

It’s obvious he feels something as well.

The look of concern returns to his face, and then he quickly looks away.

“Just consider me your personal tour guide, eh? They want you to follow me ‘cause we have identical schedules, so where I lead, you’ll follow. No sooking and no whinging.”

The more he speaks, the more evident his accent becomes.

I nod, intimidated by his assertiveness, but I am intrigued.

“Right-o, let’s be on then.” He starts toward the door, expecting me to follow. “Hooroo, Mrs. Reaper,” he salutes the unfriendly receptionist, who actually smiles at him, exposing teeth smudged with red lipstick.

The halls are quiet as we make our way to first period.

“Liberty High,” he says. “Not a ripper. Small town, so lots of bogans, but it’s fair dinkum.”

“I don’t mean to be rude, but I didn’t understand half of what you said.”

He doesn’t stop walking. He doesn’t even look my way. He smiles as if my comment is right on time.

“It’s Aussie-speak.”

“Why don’t you just talk like everyone else?” The stupid question escapes before I have time to censor it.

“Why would I want to be like everyone else when I can be myself?” He holds the door open for me. “Being normal is highly overrated, ta.”

He looks at me point blank and winks.


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Sang Kromah was born in Philly, raised in Sykesville, became confident as a writer in New York, but is Liberian at heart and by blood. As a child, Kromah would sit in the living room with her brother and listen to her parents recount the folklore of their native land of Liberia, absorbing in the words and falling in love simultaneously.  Born a storyteller, Kromah would run away with the words, creating her own stories, telling them to her family and anyone else who would listen. The summer after receiving her Master’s degree in Communications from New York Institute of Technology, she decided she was going to do what she said she would as a little girl. She moved to Liberia and wrote the novel she was born to write, Djinn.

As a communications specialist, Kromah’s credits range from her work at Seventeen Magazine to UN Women and Half the Sky Documentary. As a model, she’s been featured in Essence Magazine, Jet Magazine, and more, but her greatest accomplishments are with Project READ, a female-run library initiative she started and Project GirlSpire, an online media site she started where girls and women empower each other through digital storytelling.

 Facebook           Twitter           Instagram           Project GirlSpire


Keep an eye out for my review and don’t forget to comment below if you have already read the book or your thoughts on this author! Until next time, Happy Reading 🙂

Author Spotlight -Emmanuella Hristova, with a look at her new Poetry book called: The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder

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Welcome beautiful people to this weeks author spotlight! Today we will take a look at Emmanuella Hristova’s new Poetry book, The Day my Kisses Tasted Like Disorder, ask her a few questions on being a writer and get a inside look at a couple of her poems!! 

Emmanuella Hristova is an amazing woman who has a refreshing view on feminism and the part women play. As I am writing this post, I find myself internally screaming YES!! and agreeing with so much of what she says. In the world we live in today, we need more stories, perspectives like this!! 

To quote Ms. Hristova, 

I hope that my poetry allows women—or anyone—the right to grieve, to feel deeply. Women don’t need to smile all the time, or to be pleasant. If they want to cry, they can cry and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Emmanuella also has amazing advice for new writers and is a lover of Sylvia Plath. I truly feel like this is a woman after my own heart!! Please check her out and take a look at her poetry. She will be someone worth noting and someone I expect to hear more from!


When did you first discover you wanted to be a writer and why poetry?
I decided to become a writer one year ago, but the catch was: I already was a writer. I just wasn’t sharing my work with anyone. I had written two Moleskin notebooks full of poems and novel material, but nobody knew about it.

Last January, I read some poems out of said notebook, that would later become my first poetry collection, to one of my best friends. “Babe, you need to publish this,” she told me. So, I began doing research on poetry publications and the self-publishing industry and I decided I would do it for myself. I planned to have it done a few months later, by my 27th birthday. I roped in one of my studious coworkers, Maria Ciccone, to help me edit my work for content and order of the poems, and “The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder” was born.

As for why I write poetry, I never planned on it. I wrote to express my feelings and sentiments. I fell in love, and I didn’t plan that. My sister was dying, and I didn’t plan that either. So, pent up emotions swelled up inside of me and they had no other place to spill other than onto a blank page. And I became a poet.

Tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, a young woman I used to mentor gave me a green Moleskin notebook. She told me to document all of my adventures. My undergraduate graduation characterized many changes in my life, and at the time I was working out my own definition of feminism. But what began as short musings about sexism jotted down on the BART train, eventually became woeful poems about oppression, harassment, and assault. And then, two months later, I fell in love for the first time.

I never decided to write my poetry collection; it came out of me, rather. I documented the relationship from beginning to end, birth to death. I wrote to express everything I was going through on the inside—which was heavy and hectic. Eventually, that green Moleskin became a chronological account of one of the darkest periods of my life. And when I read it again, years later, I realized I had written some amazing poetry. Poetry I needed to share with others.

What message or lasting thought do you hope your readers will take away from your book or poems?
I hope the lasting thought readers have from my work is that they are not alone. If they too have gone through heart-wrenching ordeals, they are not alone. If they too need healing, are healing, they are not alone. The final chapter is dedicated to such women:

The aftermath.

For crying girls everywhere,
hiding in the bathroom stall.
May you find your healing.

I hope that my poetry allows women—or anyone—the right to grieve, to feel deeply. Women don’t need to smile all the time, or to be pleasant. If they want to cry, they can cry and there’s nothing wrong with that.


What author and/or what book has had the greatest impact on your life?
The greatest impact is quite a lofty description. It would have to be the Bible; I was raised quite religiously, and I’ve read it many times. Following the death of my sister, I’ve struggled with my faith a lot and it’s something I’m still struggling with, so it’s had less of an impact on my life. But that’s what my novel is about—struggling with faith in God after a loss. So I would say, yeah it’s still had the greatest impact on my life. However, Charles Dicken’s Tale of Two Cities and George Orwell’s 1984 are my all time favorite books. They have shaped my writing, ethics and taste in books and film.

Can you offer any advice for beginning writers or those trying to get published?
The best advice I can give you, is the advice my editor gave me when I wasn’t being “recognized” and when I was having doubts about self-publishing: just do it and keep writing! No one will notice you at first, and you may be talented as hell. But just keep writing, keep posting, keep promoting yourself, and eventually people will start to notice and read your work. It’s a hard effort, but it’s worth it in the end when readers make connections with you. That’s priceless.

Beside your book, are there any other books you would recommend reading this winter?
The best books I read last year were: Homegoing, Memoirs of a Geisha, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (that’s my favorite in the series), anything by Sylvia Plath, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Do you have any strange antics you do while you write?
I just drink a lot of black coffee and occasionally smoke a Cuban cigar. Sometimes I get this idea in my head that I’m a female Ernest Hemingway or something. I do enjoy it though; it’s not just to fulfill a writer cliché.

What are you currently working on?
Right now, I’m finishing up the second draft of my first novel: all these things i never said. It’s a story about a prophetic young woman born to immigrant parents. Even though she can see the future, and the fact that her family members will die, she can’t prevent it from happening. Meanwhile, in another realm, a golden statue of a young girl wakes up. Once the statue realizes who she is and why she’s there, she embarks on this perilous mission to get the main character, Emmy, out of the labyrinth-like castle.

Meanwhile in the real world, Emmy’s left to deal with the psychological trauma of losing loved ones too soon, with her inability to make the American Dream materialize, and with her wavering faith in God. She turns inward to deal with the pain–to the fantastical world she’s built for herself to hide from her grief. However, she’s stuck inside her mind and can’t seem to get out. She’s guided by some fantastical sidekicks inside this dream-world that she hasn’t shared with anyone. The world in her dreams, and in between dreams. It is, as I’m sure you can gather, a novel based on my life.


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Published: June 11, 2018
Pages: 50

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Where to Buy:
Amazon
Barnes&Noble
itunes
Kobo
Bookshout

Synopsis:
I hesitate when you kiss me because I
am afraid you will taste the disaster
brewing underneath my skin.

Hristova’s debut poetry collection documents the birth and death of a relationship, and the death of her sister. Each poem is an emotional time-stamp that plunges the reader into the depths of the author’s feelings as they burgeon and wane. The book reads like a diary and chronicles the boundaries of the things that we all feel: love, heartache, and pain that gives way to hope.


Book Excerpt:
This is the first chapter of my book, as well as a few poems from the second chapter. The first chapter is a prologue, with a dedication to my sister, who passed away while I was writing the book. The epigraph references the fact that I wrote “June 23rd” at the end of the year, after I had written all the other poems and after having gone through everything that I went through. But, my editor told me to move it to the front. “It’s the preface!” she said, because I originally wanted it to be the epilogue. She told me I already knew the meaning of my suffering, and that the book should end with here’s to the woman, which is an empowering feminist poem written in honor of International Women’s Day. That way, the conclusion would look forward to the future, to my current voice, which had changed since I wrote The Day My Kisses.

The preface.

When the end was the beginning, and
the beginning was the end.

For Dora; I wish you were here.

June 23rd
In the depth of
winter, the flowers do not
bloom, no fruits
appear, the leaves
fall off, and the tree looks
dead, but deep in the
darkness underneath,
the roots grow
and grow
and
grow.


The beginning.

I guess I should thank you,
because you turned me into a poet.

upon identifying the day
I knew I loved you
the moment I saw you
the second time I came to
visit you in The City and you
were wearing a cerulean button-down
that matched your eyes and you
had just shaved your beard and
I wanted to kiss you, but
not like a nervous first kiss or
a slobbery wet one; but rather,
the kind of peck lovers give to one another
after being together for years and
what they’re passing between their lips
is time.

September 21st
upon telling you
The air is cold on the rooftop,
running across my bare shoulders
as I tell you how I feel about you.
My arm presses against yours;
yours doesn’t move. I use it
for support. Our bodies pressed
against the cool, gritty concrete
of the wall that keeps us from falling to
our deaths down below.
Your eyes wax, deep and
limpid like
pools of ocean water
that I see into, staring back at me,
as if you’re
seeing me for the first time.
I see the fear in your face,
breath clutched
between your lips like a
piece of ice
stuck in your throat.
You’re afraid to exhale. Oh shit, oh shit,
oh shit, say your eyes.
No shit.

upon telling me
I am sitting in a middle school
classroom at lunchtime when you
tell me you want to kiss me. My
breath stops in my throat. Instantly,
my heart beats faster and faster
like an unhinged train racing down
its tracks. I was hungry before,
I’m not hungry anymore. A heat
rises from the depths of my soul,
steaming the surface of my cheeks,
pouring out over the tops of my breasts,
and spilling out in between my thighs.
I flush. My flesh heats up, unable
to contain the fireworks exploding on
the inside of my heart.
He wants to kiss me.
And these explosions
going off inside me I imagine will be
bolder, brighter, and more beautiful
when you finally do.


authorbio2

Emmanuella Hristova was born in Oakland, California and grew up in the Bay Area. She is the third daughter to Bulgarian parents who immigrated to California shortly before she was born. She began drawing at the ripe age of four, and studied the fine arts for five years in high school. There, she received many art accolades including a Congressional award for her piece Boy in Red in 2009. In 2015, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley. She began writing poetry at age twenty-four when she was in graduate school. She earned her Master’s in Education from the same alma mater in 2017. Emmanuella spent two years as an English teacher in Richmond, California. During that time, she self-published her first poetry collection: The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder. Currently, she is writing her first novel. She speaks English, Bulgarian, Spanish and is now learning French. You can find her on Instagram: @emmy_speaks

Author Page      Instagram     Amazon Author Page      GoodReads Author Page


I hope you get a chance to check out Emmanuella and her new book! As always, I love hearing from you. Comment below with your thoughts and until next time, Happy Reading 🙂

Magic in the Blood (Allie Beckstrom, #2) by Devon Monk – Book Review

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I couldn’t stop thinking about book one, Magic to the Bone, and decided to jump into the next book in the series. This book was a fun one to read and packed full of emotions. With close to 7,000 ratings and over 300 reviews, Magic in the Blood is holding solid at 4 stars. If you haven’t already, check out my review of book one. This just might be the series for you 🙂


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Author: Devon Monk
Published: May 5th, 2009
Pages: 368

Stars: 4 out of 5

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Other books in the series:
Magic in the Bones (Allie Beckstrom, #1)

Where to buy:
Amazon
Barnes&Noble

 

Synopsis:
In the second book in Devon Monk’s Allie Beckstrom series, when the police’s magical enforcement division asks Allie to consult on a missing persons case, she finds herself drawn into an underworld of criminals, ghosts, and blood magic.

Working as a Hound—tracing illegal spells back to their casters—has taken its toll on Allison Beckstrom. But even though magic has given her migraines and stolen her recent memory, Allie isn’t about to quit. Then the police’s magic enforcement division asks her to consult on a missing persons case. But what seems to be a straightforward job turns out to be anything but, as Allie finds herself drawn into the underworld of criminals, ghosts, and blood magic.

Review:
I feel for Allie! Losing important memories and walking around fearful of losing more would be terrible. I am also saddened by the loss of what could have been and what was between her and Zayvion. Ugh, starting over would suck, especially when you can’t remember anything but the other person can. But in all honesty, it was kind of fun watching Allie fall in love with Zayvion again. I am a sap for a good romance.

I really do like Zayvion’s character. But he is just as mysterious as ever. I was really hoping the author would give us more information about him. Don’t get me wrong, there is something sexy and fun about a mysterious guy. But by book two, there should be some known aspects about him. I mean, he doesn’t have to be an open book but he shouldn’t be a complete mystery either. And what is with the constant flip-flopping of moods?!?! One moment, he’s acting all cute and is determined to date Allie.. then the next moment, he’s dangerous, cold, and holds too many secrets. I feel like this is getting old and it why the book lost one star.

Allie is really outside her element and in way over her head in this book. She has all this Magic but constantly struggles to control it. She has this huge gap in her memory, conflicting feels for Zayvion, and so many people are after her. She just can’t catch a break! And not to mention her ‘Daddy’ issues continue to haunt her. Even in death Allie can’t seem to catch a break from her Dad.

Allie isn’t one to have a lot of friends. Add in her trust issues and you can see how this might complicate things in the friends department.  Which makes it all the more worse when one of the few people she has in her life that she calls a friend is hounded and found to be using blood Magic. But of course not everything is as it seems…

And in case you were wondering, this book has some good twists that keep the pages flying by. Wouldn’t expect anything less from Devon Monk 🙂

I really like this series. Allie is strong, stubborn, and has a beautiful heart. If only she valued her life more. The risks she takes are too high and are always life threatening. Does that make her brave or stupid.. I don’t know.

And the ending, holly hell, the ending is awesome. I promise not to give anything away, but let me say it’s not so much a cliff hanger but your reaction to it is all the same. I don’t think I’ll be able to pick up book three fast enough.

3 Year Anniversary!?!? How the time flies

                    

I couldn’t decide which one I liked better 🙂

It’s hard to believe it’s been three years. I can remember the day I decided to start blogging – I was a stay at home Mom and I was losing it!! I’m sorry, but anyone who thinks being a stay at home mom is easy has lost their marbles. It’s one of the most challenging jobs I have had and yet I really miss it.

Fast forward three years, lots of posts, and here we are today. And really, I am still here today because of you! So Thank You!!

Thank you for hanging with me!! Until Next Time, Happy Reading 🙂