Book Review: Canopy by D.M. Darroch @YABoundToursPR

 

Canopy Book Tour! 
Feb. 1-5
Canopy
The Silvanus Saga Book One

by: D.M. Darroch
Sleepy Cat Press, January 2021

Genre: YA, Post-Apocalyptic,
Dystopian, Science Fiction
 
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See the girl in the trees. Catch her if you can.

 

Several centuries ago, a group of ecologists escaped the breakdown of a society ravaged by climate change by vanishing into giant, genetically engineered forests in the North American west. Dwelling among vast canopies that hover several thousand feet above the earth, their descendants fear the cannibals roaming far beneath them and cling to the teachings of their sacred text, The Book of Silvanus. 

 

Sixteen year-old Ostrya considers it a burden to train as the canopy’s next doctor. But her life’s work has been preordained—and she’s desperate to reclaim her mother’s love. When a cataclysmic storm wracks the canopy, Ostrya begins to face her doubts about the teachings of the book and the laws of the canopy. If she is to survive, she will have to decide if her destiny is in the treetops or on the forest floor…

Although Canopy is billed as dystopian, it’s also post-apocalyptic and the combination is one  of my favorite kinds  of science fiction. With both, the most crucial element is worldbuilding; it not only should be complex and thorough enough so the reader really understands this very different way of life but also entertaining enough to make the reader want to learn more. In my opinion, Ms. Darroch has let her imagination run and created one of the best settings I’ve read.
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The author’s opening paragraph—having to do with spiders, of all things—let me know right away that I was in for an intriguing journey and, with each page, I was drawn in further. Imagine a world in which you never touch the ground, shoes are outlawed and genetic engineering has caused trees to become gigantic beings with the resulting increased oxygen production leading to the growth of lesser creatures that are six times the size of the same creatures generations earlier, before the devastating climate and health changes confronting humanity.
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Of course, all is not perfect for the tree dwellers and there are people still living on the ground with all its challenges The teen-aged Ostrya, pre-ordained to become a doctor because it’s expected of her, is restless and insecure about her future, wanting to know about the world below…and so begins a most interesting and fascinating tale, one I raced through but didn’t really want to finish. This will go on my list of best books read in 2021 and Book 2 can’t come fast enough 😉
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Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2021.
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Buy Links: 

B & N // Amazon // Apple Books 

Rakuten/Kobo // Angus & Robertson // Thalia

bol.de // Indigo // Mondadori // Indiebound 

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Canopy Book Tour Giveaway Contest!

Giveaway Prizes: 

Grand Prize: Hammock! (US and Canada)

First Prize: $30 Amazon Gift Card! (International)

Second Prize: Hand-signed copy of paperback (US and
Canada) 

Third Prize: Ebook (International) 

To enter, please visit: 

Rafflecopter

 
(Giveaway runs Feb 1-19, 2021) 

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Author Bio:

D.M. Darroch is the author of the Inventor-in-Training series as well as other speculative fiction stories. Her books weave together nature and science with adventure and often a touch of humor. Danelle lives in Washington State, USA and enjoys long walks in the forest. Her website is: https://www.dmdarroch.com.

Website  // Goodreads // Amazon Author Page

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Follow the tour here.

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Tour created by YA Bound Book Tours 

Book Review: For Better or Cursed by Kate Williams @DelacortePress @favouritepages

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Title: For Better or Cursed
Series: The Babysitters Coven #2
Author: Kate Williams
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: December 15, 2020
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Google Play
Amazon // Book Depository // Indiebound

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For Better or Cursed
The Babysitters Coven # 2
Kate Williams
Delacorte Press, December 2020
ISBN 978-0-525-70741-7
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Adventures in Babysitting meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this funny, action-packed sequel about a coven of witchy babysitters who realize their calling to protect the innocent and save the world from an onslaught of evil.

Esme Pearl’s life used to be all about bumming rides and babysitting. Sure, it wasn’t glamorous, but it was predictable. All that changed when Cassandra Heaven came to town, and they discovered their complicated, and connected, legacy: Esme and Cassandra are Sitters, supernaturally-gifted teens armed with an ever-changing grimoire of Sitter witchcraft to help them protect the innocent and keep evil demons at bay. You know, the typical teenage stuff.

But just as Esme is starting to adjust to–and maybe even like–her new normal, life lobs another glitter bomb her way. The Synod–the Sitterhood’s governing circle–has called a Summit, a once-in-a-generation gathering that promises training, education, and whole lot of ice-breakers.

Esme should be excited–a Summit might mean she can finally get the answers she desperately wants–but she can’t shake a building sense of panic. Especially since Cassandra’s not acting like herself; Esme’s dad is MIA; Pig is out of dog food; Janis is scared to be alone; and there’s a guy who seems too good to be true, again. Worst of all, it soon becomes clear, there’s no one watching the kids. It’s obvious the Summit is a haute mess, but will it be a deadly one, too?

You know the TV commercial for Geico that shows a group of teens trying to escape from a Michael Myers-esque killer and they choose to get behind the chainsaws instead of getting in the running car? I must have seen it a gazillion times and I still always chuckle, point being, this book’s description somehow made me think of that commercial. I was primed for some good, snarky laughs and Ms. Williams did not disappoint. Now, granted, some of the language is a bit rough but not excessively so especially when you consider that this is teens defending humanity from demons.

As you might expect when it comes to fighting evil, things don’t always go well and Cassandra is suffering some pretty important amnesia, leaving Esme not exactly on her own but definitely with a partner who’s not on top of her game. The timing for that isn’t great since their coven has to host the upcoming Summit and we all know that trouble is likely to ensue. It does, of course, but this is a fun read although I wish Esme were more aware of behavior that’s somewhat dismissive of Cassandra’s LGBTQ concerns; still, I have to remind myself that, as unenlightened as we might be today, it was worse in the 1990’s when this is set. Having said that, Cassandra has developed her own unpleasant ways so neither girl is entirely likeable. The pacing in this book is also a little slower than I like and, in fact, I think the plot takes a back seat to the characters.

Although I’m rarely bothered by not reading books in order, I do think it probably would have been best in this case and I recommend that anyone wanting to try this series start with the first one, The Babysitters Coven, to have a better understanding of how Esme and Cassandra came to be Sitters. After all, being a witch, even a good one, isn’t exactly “typical teenage stuff” 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2020.

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An Excerpt from For Better or Cursed

Chapter 1

The sun was setting, and up and down the street, I could see Christmas lights flicker on and blow-up snowmen fill with air. It was supposed to be festive, but I found it ominous, the snowmen especially. I’d seen demons that looked almost exactly like them, and now anything white and puffy automatically put me on guard. My breath billowed in front of me, and I pulled up the collar of my shearling-lined jacket, accidentally tugging it too close to my nose. I stifled a gag and immediately folded it back down.

The jacket was killer. It was pale-peach suede, had a ’70s Foxy Brown cut, and was about the warmest thing I owned. I’d found it at a thrift store the night before, and it was a serious score except it was dry-clean only. I thought I could get away with wearing it without spending more to have it cleaned than it actually cost, but nope. Breathe too deeply and I definitely got a whiff of weed, BO, and a third note I couldn’t identify. Maybe canned corn? I tried breathing through my mouth.

Cassandra wasn’t wearing a coat. Of course. Even in December. She sat next to me on the wooden bench, in just one of her brother’s hoodies over a flannel, her hair pulled back into a ponytail and anchored with a plain old rubber band. Cassandra doesn’t worry about split ends. She was gnawing on her thumbnail, making really gross sounds that were at odds with her I-sell-detox-tea-on-my-Instagram kind of beauty. Her right leg bounced at 180 bpm, and she spit a piece of nail onto the ground.

There were only three kids left on the playground, all bundled up like little marshmallows. Their shouts echoed off the school’s brick walls, and the swings made a metallic creak in the wind. The kids were taking turns throwing a red rubber ball at a basketball hoop, and one of the boys hurled the ball at the girl. She caught it and immediately turned and drop-kicked the ball away from him, sending it flying out into the playground. I stifled an urge to cheer her on.

“What do you think?” I asked.

“I swear it’s here,” Cassandra said. “It’s just weird that it’s waiting so long.”

Cassandra was right. It was here. I could tell by the sadness that tickled the edges of my mind, and the way I shivered more from disgust than the cold every time the air moved around me. It was the reason Cassandra was so nervous, even though we were about to do something that, in the past month, had become as routine to us as going to school or not doing homework. We’d been in its presence for a while now, and exposure to a Negative demon always brings nerves and despair. Even to Sitters.

On the basketball court, one of the little boys was on the ground crying, while the little girl stood over him doing some sort of dance and kicking at his shins, her dangling mittens giving her the appearance of having four hands. I was trying to decide whether I was still on her side when Cassandra jumped up and started running across the playground. I was right behind her, my eyes straining in the crepuscular light, to make out what she saw.

There. By the monkey bars. A Shimmer. Barely visible, but I saw it nonetheless, like a glitch in reality. I detoured to the basketball court and held up my hands, palms facing the kids. “Mnemokinesis!” I shouted at them. They stopped fighting and turned to look at me with blank stares, arms hanging limply at their sides. Cass and I now had five minutes to do what we needed to do before the spell wore off and the kids would remember everything they saw.

Except Cassandra had stopped, and she was bent over, staring at the ground. I caught up to her, my heart pounding. “Cass! Are you okay? What’s wrong?”

She looked up at me and smiled. Her pupils were huge, which made her dark eyes look like deep black holes. Her expression was peaceful. More than peaceful–euphoric. “Esme,” she said, her voice an excited hush. “Have you ever noticed there’s glitter in the concrete? Look at how it sparkles.” She reached down and ran a hand over the dirty ground. “We are literally walking on rainbows. A million tiny rainbows.”

What the?

“Are you serious?” I looked away from her as something flickered in the corner of my eye. Now that we were stationary, the Shimmer thought it was stalking us, and not the other way around. I looked back at Cassandra, and her expression shifted in a split second, like she’d just been snapped by a rubber band. She gave her head a quick shake and broke into a run again, jumping a merry-go-round in two strides. She collided with something midair and went pixelated as she crashed to the ground. Shoot. The Shimmer was on top of Cassandra, and her limbs were going in and out of focus as she thrashed. My breath caught in my throat as the Shimmer surrounded her head, lifting it like it was about to smash her skull against the teeter-totter.

I held out my palm and wedged my powers between Cassandra and the ground so the Shimmer was just pounding her into the air. The sensation disoriented the Shimmer enough that it loosened its grip for a second, and a second was all Cassandra needed to wrench free. She rolled away and pushed herself up to her knees, her palms held out in front of her. Instantly, the Shimmer erupted in a blaze. With it outlined in flames, I could see that it was as big as at least two jungle gyms. It let out a piercing hiss, and I clamped my hands over my ears.

Her fire bathed Cassandra in flickering orange light for an instant. Just as quickly as the flames appeared, they were out again. She’d put them out. She had one palm extended and was gripping something tightly in her other fist. She raised it, but in a split second the Shimmer swung and connected with her, knocking her through the air. I winced as she smacked against the monkey bars and she fell to the ground in a heap.

“Cassandra!” I yelled. “What are you doing?”

She was back up in no time, her fist raised again, and now I could see what she was holding: a rope I didn’t know she’d had. She unfurled a length of it behind her and started to swing it over her head. I was so confused that I stopped for a second. Was she trying to lasso this thing?

“Pin it!” she yelled back at me. “Don’t let it go!”

I glanced up. The Portal was here, swirling over the playground like a curdled latte, which meant we only had a few seconds to flush the Shimmer before the Portal closed again. Pinning the Shimmer and not letting it go was not part of the plan. “What?” I screamed back, but before I could do anything, Cassandra had swung the lasso. Only, instead of being pinned, the Shimmer caught the rope and gave it a hard yank, pulling Cass off her feet and toward it.

“What are you waiting for?” I screamed. “Torch it!” That was how we usually did this: she set something on fire, which disabled it just long enough for me to grab it and flush it into oblivion. But she was over there playing tug-of-war like we were at a barbecue, and the Shimmer seemed to be having a grand old time.

I glanced up. The Portal was already starting to shrink, and Cassandra was still cowgirling. I had to act. I held up a hand and took hold of the demon, then focused my energy and gave it the biggest, hardest yank I’ve ever given anything. And, crap, it weighed as much as a baby elephant. Who’d been snacking on Kälteen bars. I held out my other palm, as this was a two-powered-hands job. Cassandra was yelling something at me, but I couldn’t make it out. I sucked a breath in through my nose, and yanked.

I felt the Shimmer’s energy course through me. It was hot and angry and still writhing in pain, and I didn’t care one bit. I started to swing it around in a circle, gathering speed. With each swing, I grew more powerful and it got lighter. I looked back at the Portal, still burbling above us, and took aim. With a final swing, I let go of the Shimmer. It hurtled toward the swirl and sailed right through the middle. As it always did, the Portal flushed, a sound that never failed to send a rush through my body, from my eyebrows down to the tips of my toes.

Then I turned to Cassandra. “What the crap was that? Did you want it to stick around and hang out?” She wouldn’t meet my eyes as she stood there, dirty from the scuffle and trying to catch her breath. “And that whole walking-on-rainbows thing? When did you become a flower child?”

Her eyes locked on mine. “What are you talking about?” she said. She seemed genuinely confused, but I was not going to let her put me on the defensive.

“You were wasting all sorts of time out there!” I snapped. “And you got distracted by the concrete! Of all things.”

She was coiling the rope back up. “I just wanted to do it a bit differently this time.”

“And you didn’t think that this was something you should tell me?”

“It’s no big deal,” she said.

“Yes, it is, Cassandra,” I said. “It could have gotten loose. What were you trying to do, anyway? Tie it up?”

She turned and started to walk away from me. “I wanted to interrogate it,” she said. Which made such little sense that I needed her to repeat it.

“You wanted to do what to it?”

“Interrogate it,” she said. “You know, ask it some questions.”

I still didn’t get it. “I know what interrogate means, Cassandra,” I said. “But it’s a Shimmer. It doesn’t even have a mouth.” We passed a trash can and she tossed the rope in it. It landed on a bag of dog poop and a Wendy’s box. A bigger question hit me, and I stopped. “Wait, you wanted to talk to it?”

I stared at the back of her head as she kept walking. She reached up to redo her ponytail as she nodded, and I winced when she ripped the rubber band out of her hair, taking several strands with it. “What did you think it would say?” I asked, catching up to her. But she picked up her pace and I could tell she was starting to get annoyed with me.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I thought maybe we could learn something. Let’s drop it, okay? I won’t do it again.” Then she said something that really blew my mind. “I’m sorry.”

Wow. I had to play my cards right with this one. What she had just done was weird, there was no doubt about it, but it was also clear that she didn’t want to discuss it. She so seriously didn’t want to talk about it that she’d even apologized, which she never did. I wasn’t going to get anything more out of her, so sure, I’d drop it. For now, at least. It was hard to tell when Cassandra was being weird and when she was just being Cassandra. I did know that she kept her word, though, so if she said she wouldn’t do something again, she wouldn’t. But interrogate a demon? Maybe she’d been watching too many cop shows? “What about the sidewalk rainbows, though?” I asked, figuring that was at least a different subject.

“Huh?” she asked, looking over at me like I was the one not making any sense.

“Do you not remember that? Your pupils were huge. It looked like you were on a different planet.” Something flickered across her face, too fast for me to decipher it.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said, looking away from me and down the street. “I got really light-headed there for a minute. I didn’t really eat anything today.”

“Oh,” I said. “You should eat lunch. And breakfast.” She nodded. “Something with protein, like yogurt, or an egg . . .” Cassandra smirked.

“What’d you have for breakfast today?” she asked. I knew exactly what I’d had for breakfast: six Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and a venti iced coffee.

“Irrelevant,” I said, “as I’m not the one who had a . . .” I wasn’t sure what to call what had just happened to Cassandra. “Tripping balls” seemed most apt. “Episode,” I said finally. “In the middle of a Return. It did not seem like you were okay.”

“Thank you for your concern, Nutritionist Esme,” she said, reaching out to squeeze my shoulder. “I will make sure it doesn’t happen again.” Before either of us could say anything else about the subject, my phone started ringing. An incoming call from Jim Halpert, which is how I had Brian Davis–Cassandra’s and my Counsel, and also my dad’s best friend, hence the code name–saved in my phone. Brian always called me because he knew that Cassandra’s phone was usually broken, missing, or dead, and sometimes all three.

I answered and put him on speaker so Cassandra could hear too. “Hey,” I said. “What’s up?”

“Where are you?” he asked, his voice sounding more clipped and businesslike than usual.

“At the playground by Woodland Elementary,” I answered. “We just Returned a Shimmer.”

“Stay there,” he said. “I’m coming to get you.”

“It went well!” Cassandra called out. “Thanks for asking.” But Brian had already hung up.

“What do you think this is gonna be about?” I asked her.

She shrugged. “Something to do with his balls, probably.”

I nodded. She was probably right. Brian’s true passion was interior design, and he had a flair for mixing boho patterns and textiles with mid-century silhouettes. Overall, his style was very sophisticated and clean, yet it still felt cozy. But I digress, because Brian’s day job was as the football coach at our high school, and “his balls,” as Cassandra fittingly called them, stressed him out to no end. So much so that he neglected our training, which resulted in serious disaster. In the month or so since then, even though the Spring River Bog Lemmings (yep, the lemming is our school mascot) managed to close out the season and take home a trophy that they all spit in, or whatever it was you did with a trophy, Brian had been working overtime to get us up to speed. Which meant that Cassandra and I were working overtime too. We hadn’t planned to meet up to train tonight, so Brian’s urgent call was kind of a bummer. I was looking forward to a night off. I had plans. I mean, I was going to put a blackhead mask on my nose and watch the Versace American Crime Story for the fourth time. Those were plans, right?

Excerpted from For Better or Cursed by Kate M. Williams. Copyright © 2020 by Kate M. Williams. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Original Link: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/592191/for-better-or-cursed-by-kate-williams/

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About the Author

I’m the author of the YA novel The Babysitters Coven.

I also write for magazines, including Cosmopolitan, NYLON, Elle, Women’s Health, Shape, Time Out New York, Monster Children, Russh, Oyster, The Fader, NME, H&M, Smith Journal, Gather Journal, KnitWit, Popular, Style.com and more.

I have ghostwritten New York Times bestsellers, celebrity tell-alls, memoirs, how-tos, and beauty bibles (Shh…. I was never here, and you haven’t seen me.)

And, just ‘cause we’re still talking about me, I’ve also written windows, billboards, emails and captions, captions, captions for brands such as Urban Outfitters, Nasty Gal, Vans, Calvin Klein, Nike, Lively, BAGGU and more.

I love to write about witches, teenagers, girls behaving badly, palm trees, and other forms of magic. Teenage girl witches behaving badly under the palm trees is my penultimate subject.

AUTHOR LINKS

Website | Goodreads | Instagram

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Follow the tour here.

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Giveaway

Win a physical copy of FOR BETTER OR CURSED
by Kate Williams (INT)

Starts: 23rd November 2020
Ends: 14th December 2020

Enter here.

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Book Review: Endangered by Lamar Giles @LRGiles @harperteen

Endangered
Lamar Giles
HarperTeen, November 2016
ISBN 978-0-06-229757-0
Trade Paperback

Once again, I’ve found a book that ‘my’ students will want to read. I know this because I borrowed Endangered by Lamar Giles from their classroom library. This copy is clearly well-read.

Panda (it makes me so happy when a name and title go together better than peanut-butter and chocolate) has mastered the art of blending-in-until-invisible. A skill she’s particularly proud of. Imperative for tailing someone and snapping a series of not-so-secret photos. Handy for hiding in the hallways between classes.

What began as one, well-deserved, public humiliation has taken on a life of its own. Panda anonymously prowls to expose the not-so-great traits of seemingly superb human beings. Her photo-blog, Gray Scales, is incredibly popular. Her best friend, Mei, is a true fan. But even Mei has no idea that Panda is the person purportedly balancing the scales.

Things change the night that Panda sees so much more than she ever expected. Which happens to be the very night she, the original school-spy, was spotted. And photographed. Sadly, Panda remains unaware of her shadow until her latest sordid shots are available for all eyes on Gray Scales.

While disconcerting, Panda did not find it to be particularly worrisome. At first. She was absolutely not prepared for the murderous rage that soon follows. She’ll need to do her very best detective working to identify the culprit. Her life, and Mei’s, depend on it.

Endangered by Lamar Giles is a YA Suspense novel, in that the main characters are in high-school; but the plot pulled me in entirely. I stayed up stupid-late one night just because I had to know how it ended.

Oh-and when I later read a nature article that referenced a “camera trap”, I knew what that was because I’d read this book.

Reviewed by jv poore, August 2020.

Book Review: Lazarus by Maryanne Melloan Woods @maryannemwoods @owlhollowpress @RockstarBkTours

 

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I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the LAZARUS by
Maryanne Melloan Woods Blog Tour hosted by
Rockstar Book Tours.
Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

 About The Book:

Title: LAZARUS

Author: Maryanne Melloan Woods

Pub. Date: September 8, 2020

Publisher: Owl Hollow Press

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 230

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, B&N, Kobo, TBD, Bookshop.org

 

Margo and Hank are two teens in tiny, god-forsaken Lazarus, Nebraska. They have a profoundly deep relationship; the only hitch is that Hank has been dead for two months. Somehow he has remained in limbo— no doubt due to the sheer force of their love, and unfinished work to be done.

 

When the pair get tangled up investigating the latest local murder— with Margo doing the everyday detective work and the late Hank spying on suspects unseen—they discover nothing and no one in Lazarus are as they seem. The investigation becomes more dangerous, and it’s up to Hank to protect Margo—as much as a ghost-bodyguard boyfriend can. While clinging to each other, the teens uncover the sinister secrets of the people they’ve known all their lives, reopen the cold case of Margo’s mother’s death, and learn how to face their past—and how to move on.

 

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A teenager and her ghostly boyfriend solving crimes is an appealing premise and, with dollops of humor and a whodunnit atmosphere, Ms. Woods makes it work. Margo and Hank can’t help being a bit mired in sadness since Hank isn’t really alive and well but the two work well in tandem, perhaps even more efficiently than other detecting duos. After all, a ghost can go places and hear things that a living person can’t, right?

It’s not Hank’s death that they need to investigate but there’s a lot going on in Lazarus including a very unexpected murder and perhaps another one in the planning stage. Also, Margo has dealt with death before, seven years ago when her mother was murdered and her killer was never caught. Hank and Margo have their work cut out for them to discover some hard truths while trying to find their way back to a semblance of normalcy even if that means another loss.

Lazarus is a fun, quick read and is a nice way to while away a few hours; there’s nothing like a good ghost story when Halloween is just around the corner 🙂

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2020.

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About Maryanne:

Maryanne Melloan Woods is a novelist/ screenwriter/
playwright currently living in the New York area. She received a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Drew University and an M.F.A. in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles.

As a TV writer/producer, Maryanne has written shows for
networks including Showtime, NBC, ABC, Fox, the WB, Nickelodeon and ABC Family.

 

Maryanne’s plays have been produced by HBO’s New Writers Project, the Mark Taper Forum, and many theatres around the country. Maryanne has won the New England Theatre Conference’s John Gassner Playwriting Contest and the Venice (CA) Playwrights’ Festival. She also received a playwriting grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Her play, Smells Like Gin, was the first play produced by Writers Theatre of New Jersey, and she recently won “Best Comedy Script” in the Nashville Film Festival’s screenwriting competition for her screenplay Steve.

 

She has taught screenwriting at the Gotham Writers Workshop in New York, UCLA and the American Film Institute, and served as a panelist for TV writing seminars at NYU and the University of Wisconsin. Maryanne was also a
mentor/teacher for The Unusual Suspects, a playwriting workshop for at-risk teens in L.A.

 

Maryanne is represented by Liza Fleissig of Liza Royce Agency.

 

Website| Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

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Giveaway Details:

2 winners will receive a Finished Copy
of LAZARUS, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tour Schedule

Week One:

9/21/2020

BookHounds Ya

Excerpt

9/22/2020

YA Books Central

Excerpt

9/23/2020

Oh Hey! Books

Excerpt

9/24/2020

Lifestyle
of Me

Review

9/25/2020

The Phantom Paragrapher

Review

 

Week Two:

9/28/2020

Infinite Lives, Infinite Stories

Review

9/29/2020

Smada’s
Book Smack

Review

9/30/2020

Buried Under Books

Review

10/1/2020

A
Gingerly Review

Review

10/2/2020

Rajiv’s Reviews

Review

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Book Review: The Bonnet Book by Nancy Menees Hardesty @YABoundToursPR

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Check out my stop on the blog tour for
The Bonnet Book by Nancy Menees Hardesty!

Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // iBooks //
Smashwords // Amazon // Indiebound

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The Bonnet Book
Diary of an Orphan Train Hatmaker
Nancy Menees Hardesty
Solificatio, August 2020
ISBN 978-0-9977619-4-8
Trade Paperback

From the author—

Sent away on an orphan train at fourteen, smart and lovely Blanche Spencer lands in St. Louis, Missouri as a nursemaid, wearing rags and sleeping in a pantry. To rise above her servitude, she begins a self-education program. A trade booth at the 1904 World’s Fair and a Cobden, Illinois apprenticeship launch her into a hat-making career, which she documents in a tiny diary, The Bonnet Book.

An early example of self-determination and girl power, Blanche—now Bonnie—travels alone to the Wild West, where she’s presented with the chance of a lifetime and the possibility of love—both rife with challenges that test her drive, purpose in life, and sense of self.

The Bonnet Book diary and other historical items in the novel are real-life touchstones in this gripping, inspiring story based on the life of the author’s grandmother.

Imagine being a 14-year-old girl living a simple life in a family much too large for the very limited income her father earns as a teacher. It’s the turn of the 20th century and these conditions are not terribly unusual but things are getting worse, economically, and hard choices need to be made.

Blanche is a very intelligent girl growing up in a family that loves her, especially her father, but that same father makes a life-altering decision with no warning, a decision that sends Blanche into a future bereft of everything and everyone she’s known her entire life. Did he know what was in store for her, the years of servitude, or did he really believe she would be placed in a loving home full of opportunities she would never have if she remained in Oraville, Illinois? That’s something we can only guess at but, by setting Blanche on this path, he certainly changed her future dramatically.

The Bonnet Book is the tale of how this very resilient girl rose above her travails through her own efforts, determined to educate herself and develop a worthy trade, that of hatmaking, and learned to cope with the pain of abandonment. Along the way, I discovered how Blanche became Bonnie and shared in her adventures in the Wild West of Oklahoma. Based on the life of the author’s grandmother, it’s a fascinating story and I was completely captured by the way Blanche responded to her new life and was honored to see bits and pieces of her Bonnet Book diary.

Ms. Hardesty’s notes at the end and the photographs scattered throughout the book are equally fascinating and bring a vibrancy to this tale of a most uncommon girl. This is the best kind of historical fiction, a foray into a “real” person’s life in times very different from our own.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2020.

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An Excerpt from The Bonnet Book

Vinegar Dreams

Robey Household  •  St. Louis, Missouri

September 1902

A uniformed driver with a top hat steered the stylish carriage up Market Street, en route to the Robey household on West Bell Place.

Blanche watched her first city unfold before her blue eyes—tightly spaced buildings with unusual details; advertising services; a store with a carved fish over the entrance; a red-white-and-blue-striped pole at a barber shop; a ten-foot-high beer mug at a tavern. Their swift carriage followed other horse-drawn ones up the wide and busy boulevard. Sometimes they passed a double train car on a track in the center of the street. A city train, Blanche thought. None of what she saw seemed intimidating to her. It was just the first colorful page of her big-city adventure.

After twenty minutes, the carriage stopped at a three-story red-brick building with a glass vestibule. The building was much larger than a house, and it was in a cluster of eight similar buildings.

Blanche followed Mrs. Robey to the bathroom and closed the door. Just a few hours ago, she had seen a flush toilet and porcelain sinks for the first time. It was amazing how quickly one got used to these things! She came out feeling much refreshed.

“Blanche, Greta is cleaning the pantry for you. You can sleep there. You will have your own room for privacy, with a door and a light.” Mr. Robey closed the pocket watch and returned it to his vest pocket.

“Come, Blanche,” said Mrs. Robey. “Greta will walk you to the girls’ room to get your belongings. I have put your white dress in their closet. You can use your shawl as a bed cover.”

The two walked down the dark hallway, Blanche a few feet behind Greta.

As they returned to the kitchen, Blanche smelled the strong odor of vinegar coming from the pantry. Greta stepped aside as Mrs. Robey approached.

The pantry was only six feet wide, with floor-to-ceiling shelves and cupboards on both sides. It had no window and seemed airless. Opposite the pantry door was a built-in cabinet with a pull-out enamel surface for mixing dough. Below that were bins for flour and onions. Beyond the tall cabinet were two more cupboards containing baking supplies and bins of potatoes. The wall that backed the kitchen contained narrow shelves and was generously stacked with jars of jam, preserved vegetables, nuts, coffee, and spices. At the back wall were cleaning supplies, all stored neatly on old newspapers. This left a mere thirty-inch by six-foot space, with a floor drain in the middle. A single gas light hung by a bare cord from the ceiling.

“Well, here we are,” said Mrs. Robey.

Blanche saw a folded tarp with an old feather mattress over it. There was also a ragged pillow covered in purple floral fabric at the far end of the pallet, next to damp mops.

“You will be warm and dry here—much better than at the train depot. Greta will walk you to the bathroom, and then you can find your way back here on your own.”

“Yes, ma’am,” said a very tired Blanche.

Blanche finished her bathroom chores and found her way back to her bedroom, which she knew was really a kitchen pantry, not a bedroom. But on this first night, she was grateful for any safe place to sleep. She turned on the single dim light, closed the door, and took off her gingham dress, hanging it over the aprons. She got the pillow next to the wet mops and brought it over to the pantry door. The smell of vinegar and onions filled her nostrils. She turned out the light, leaned against the pantry door, and wiped a single tear from her cheek.

She thought about the day. She thought about the two sweet girls to whom she was assigned and their very reserved parents. She was in a home with nice furniture, lovely music, and good food. Maybe this was the beginning of “sweet hope” and new things to learn. But then here she was, about to sleep in an airless pantry.

It was not a happy space, but it was safe.

A sob came out as a choke.

Tonight I will have vinegar dreams, she thought. Sour and scary dreams.

She tumbled over and wrapped herself in the blue shawl.

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About the Author

Nancy Menees Hardesty, born in Illinois and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, moved to San Francisco, California in 1969. Nancy spent six years researching and writing her debut novel, The Bonnet Book. She had various family journals and artifacts and the extensive help of her mother, Mary Kay Menees, who was the daughter-in-law of the book’s protagonist, Bonnie Spencer. The tiny “Bonnet Book” of hat sketches and the wooden hat-supply trunk featured in the book are still in the author’s possession.

Facebook // Website 

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Giveaway

One print copy of The Bonnet Book

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Book Review: Lovestruck by Kate Watson @katew223 @fluxbooks

Lovestruck
Kate Watson
Flux, April 2019
ISBN 978-1-63583-030-9
Trade Paperback

Picture Cupid.

Now, destroy that image and any other preconceived notions that accompany it. Apparently, we are wrong and it is the Romans’ fault.

Of course, Kali does seem quick to blame the Romans for most misunderstandings of Greek gods and goddesses; but the image of a chubby cherub with an illogically-sized bow, well that one certainly chaps her ass. Then again, she is the crankiest Erote anyone could fathom. Traits that tend to be exhausting and annoying when exhibited by a mere human are like an adorable child venting frustration when this present-day deity pitches a fit. It should not be amusing and delightful, but it actually is.

Which is not to say that Kali should be dismissed or even taken lightly. Like all great goddesses, she is terrifying and revels in vengeance. Plus, she hasn’t always been a bitter anger-ball. At a time when she was happy in life and love, Kali took her matchmaking training very seriously. She stayed sharp and constantly competed with her cousin, Deya, to be the best student.

Until she abruptly ascertained that the Fates have already paved our paths and nothing she does truly matters. At that Kali, becomes the most cynical, careless matchmaker to ever come out of Olympus. And she just completed her fourth mismatch.

Not good for any student, it is entirely unacceptable for the very daughter of Eros to perform so poorly. Consequences for continuing in this fashion will be dire at best, so it is almost implausible that she should so royally ruin her last chance.

I love this modern-day myth and I believe Ms. Watson’s writing may have a bit of a goddesses’ blessing as she magnificently manages to share a fun story with some intriguing food-for-thought undertones. Yet another treasure that I am super-excited to take to “my” students.

Reviewed by jv poore, April 2019.

Book Review: Impact by K. Maze @KMazeauthor @AureliaLeoCo @YABoundToursPR

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Title: Impact
Author: K. Maze
Publication Date: June 25, 2020
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

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Purchase Links:
Aurelia Leo // Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon

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Impact
K. Maze
Aurelia Leo, June 2020
ISBN 978-1-946024-81-7
Trade Paperback

From the publisher:

Trapped underground with a mysterious scientist named Edison and his chess master AI, can Nala Nightingale find the will to live and to love in a dystopian future?

Set in post-pandemic Wind City, a young journalist races time against a certain natural destruction. Nala must decide between broadcasting the news of a lifetime or discovering keys to her orphaned past.

As an intern, Nala wants badly to prove her self as a real journalist, not just a broadcaster of fluffy pieces and, on a seemingly normal day, she heads for Intercambio 7 to make her pitch for an important story but she never gets to tell her boss about it. That seemingly normal day is anything but as she soon learns when it becomes apparent that people in the building are rushing out the doors in a panic.

Downtown Girl, as the viewing public knows Nala, is an orphan whose mother died mysteriously after engaging in food production for the Resistance and, although Nala has no leanings towards the rebels’ activities, she does want to know more about how and why her mother died. It’s been ten years since the Bovine Flu pandemic and now the world is about to experience an apocalyptic event that could literally destroy the planet.

While there are aspects of the story that I really liked, especially Nala and Edison as well as other characters, I had trouble truly connecting and the somewhat muddy worldbuilding was the main cause. Part of my confusion stemmed from the somewhat erratic introduction of futuristic technology without clear explanations. For example, the VID messages that pop up but are apparently controlled by the recipient..pop up where? And what exactly is the H-Lens that allows people to see virtual files in one’s mind, I think, while no one else can see them? Why would her boyfriend, who knew about the coming disaster at least the day before, pre-program a destination for her but not warn her? Most important, though, is my inability to suspend disbelief enough to accept that the coming asteroid impact could possibly have been hidden from the public, deliberately or otherwise, until just over five hours before the event. Even today, in 2020, that couldn’t be kept entirely secret from the nerdiest high school student and I can’t imagine that it could happen in 2098.

Despite those difficulties, I did enjoy this tale of survivors attempting to bring order to what’s left of society and of Nala’s self-discovery and understanding of her place in this brave new world. There is hope for the future.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2020.

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An Excerpt from Impact

Book excerpt (first page):

Chapter One

-05:11:08 (311 Before Impact-BI minutes)

Nala Nightingale pressed her way into the large rotating door of Intercambio 7, rushed because the tram was down. I hope the old goat Marcus won’t change his mind and not listen to my pitch. She hadn’t been late in two years interning, but the always-early Mimi was also presenting her idea today. She suggested a piece on robotic make-up art, but Nala’s interviews regarding the orphans of the Bovine Flu had more sustenance in her opinion. But her opinion didn’t matter. Only Marcus decided which pieces went on the broadcast; and the young interns were supposed to inform Wind City of the hottest trends. That usually meant fashion news and how to bypass dance club lines, but Nala insisted the youth were concerned about social issues, too.

Marcus loved Mimi’s ideas as well as her sleek hair and how perfectly it splayed to her clavicle. He commented often on how well the camera captured her presence. Nala struggled to keep her silver-streaked wanton curls in submission and often tied them into a loose bun. Marcus appreciated her offbeat style and perspectives on issues that mattered, but she couldn’t chance losing the broadcast to Mimi today. She had to talk to him first.

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About the Author

Kris Maze writes empowering, twisty stories and also teaches Spanish. After years of reading classic literature, mysteries, and legal thrillers, she sought to publish her own books. Her first Science Fiction novella, IMPACT, published through Aurelia Leo, is now available!

Kris Maze is fascinated with strong characters like her protagonist Nala, a teen journalist who reluctantly works with a crazed scientist Edison to survive an incoming asteroid implosion. For more information on her book, look here.

Check out her newly revised website and say hi! While you are there sign up for her newsletter to get freebies and updates on blog tours and media takeovers during the next couple months.

For Subscribers during August there will be Writer Wellness Tips and Tools, (also good for anyone working or studying from home) so now is a fantastic time to visit her website.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kmazeauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KMazeauthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kmazeauthor/

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Giveaway

One paperback copy of Impact

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