2019 End of Year Book Survey

When I did my 2018 End of Year Book Survey, I had this whole explanation for why 2018 sucked and I knew why it sucked but I didn’t want to discuss it because I was letting everyone down and felt horrible about it, etc. I still feel all those things, so I’m not going to repeat them – you can just go read that introduction here, if you want to. Not only do I not want to be repetitive with this intro, but it’s already 2020 here in NY, so I just don’t want to bring that vibe/energy into this post. With this post, I simply want to recap my 2019 blogging and reading year, and then move on, forget about it (and all of 2019, for that matter), and go forward with 2020.

This survey is hosted by the lovely Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner. All questions and images belong to her! Thanks, Jamie!!

So yeah, here we go! Enjoy!



Number Of Books You Read: 31
Number of Re-Reads: 1
Genre You Read The Most From: My usual science fiction/fantasy, thriller, retellings, etc.

1. Best Book You Read In 2019? These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling. I’m SUPER HYPED for the sequel, coming out in June.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? Tarot by Marissa Kennerson

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read? Again, but Better by Christine Riccio. I haven’t formally reviewed it (I meant to, but 2019 was meh and I forgot), but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and really related to it.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)? As a bookseller, I pushed too many books to count, haha

5. Best series you started in 2019? These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

Best Sequel of 2019? A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney. LOVED LOVED LOVED. CANNOT WAIT FOR BOOK THREE!!! I haven’t reviewed it yet (man, I suck. I REALLY need to catch up on reviews…), BUT I did participate in the blog tour and shared my favorite quotes from the book. You can check that out here!

Best Series Ender of 2019? Song of the Dead by Sarah Glenn Marsh. This duology was INCREDIBLE and I highly recommend it!

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2019? Isabel Sterling and Sandhya Menon tie on this one

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? Lost Roses (Lilac Girls #2) by Martha Hall Kelly. This was a Barnes & Noble Book Club pick, and I host the event at my store. This was, by far, my favorite book club book of 2019.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney (which I WILL review this month!)!!!!

9. Book You Read In 2019 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year? Probably none, but you never know. I might re-read a few of the ones that have sequels coming out in 2020 to refresh my memory.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2019?

11. Most memorable character of 2019? All of the characters from Song of the Dead by Sarah Glenn Marsh. I miss them and this world so much. I need more books!!!

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2019? A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney. Her descriptions of Wonderland are so vivid and breath-taking, it just completely sucks you in to the story.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing Book of 2019? I actually read several that were thought-provoking, but Parkland Speaks gave me the most chills.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2019 to finally read? When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. I didn’t read a ton of backlist in 2019, but this was still an easy question. Sandhya’s books are so damn adorable and fun. Highly recommend!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2019? “Begin at the beginning.” (from A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney)

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2019? Shortest was Parkland Speaks and longest was Serpent & Dove

17. Book That Shocked You The Most Err… I have.. no idea. Let me get back to you on this one.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!): I mean, honestly, I shipped a lot of couples in a lot of the books I read. But none really stand-out as being my OTP, sadly. But there was definitely LOTS of shipping.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year I… Have no idea. Ugh. Sorry, guys. I’m just drawing a blank right now. I’ll update this if I think of one.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2019 From An Author You’ve Read Previously Song of the Dead by Sarah Glenn Marsh

21. Best Book You Read In 2019 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.: I mean.. I was in such a reading slump, I really just read within my comfort zone and based on my TBR and review pile, so… I didn’t really read anything based solely on a recommendation this time.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2019? None… Kind of like with the question about my OTP, I definitely had some book boyfriend crushes, but none really stand out as being my favorite or being new. I have a few from the books that were sequels I read, but no one new.

23. Best 2019 debut you read? These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year? A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read? When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon and the sequel, There’s Something About Sweetie

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2019? Parkland Speaks

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year? The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner, a middle grade graphic novel that’s Sabrina the Teenage Witch meets Roller Girl, and so so so GOOD!

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul? The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It was just so depressing…

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2019? Scythe by Neal Shusterman. The plot was super unique and thought-provoking. I’ll be reviewing this soon, as well – I’m SO behind on reviews, sigh.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)? There were a few, honestly.. Not gonna name them all for various reasons, but yeah.

1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2019? Ehhh….. I don’t think I have any. Only because I was, once again, really disconnected from blogging and reading in 2019, so I didn’t do a lot of exploring. This is something I want to do more of this year, though.

2. Favorite post you wrote in 2019? I didn’t do a lot of unique posts this year, so I guess just my Blogoversary post, since I’m still shocked that I celebrated 6 years of blogging. I never imagined I’d still be blogging after 6 (now almost 7) years!

3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2019:? I didn’t take many.

4. Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, etc.)? BEA. Always fun getting to see/meet everyone!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2019? I don’t think I really had one. Like I said, I just was very disconnected from blogging in 2019. Hoping to change that in 2020.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year? Everything. My reading and blogging slump (which I’ve now dubbed my Life Slump) have haunted me since February 2016 and it’s been a struggle to get through the little bit of reading and blogging I HAVE managed to get done. My mental health took a huge punch in 2019, too. But I’m REALLY hoping to fix that this year.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)? I honestly don’t think I have any really popular posts.. I did a lot of spotlight posts and reviews, so… Also, it’s 2:30am and I have to work tomorrow morning, so I’m just too lazy to look the stats up, haha.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love? None. Again, really didn’t have a lot of unique posts, so there isn’t a single one that got too much or too little love. Hoping to do more discussion posts, etc, this year to make up for this. I have some fun features I want to start, and others I want to get back into doing (like Television Tuesday, On Meredith’s Mind, Once Upon a Time, etc).

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? None :(

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? Just Goodreads.

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2019 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2020? *Laugh cries*

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2020 (non-debut)? House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J. Maas!!!!

3. 2020 Debut You Are Most Anticipating? Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer!!!

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2020? Hmm…. TBH, I’m not sure. I’ll update this once I think of one.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2020? EVERYTHING. I want to get back into blogging. I want to get back into reading. I want this Life Slump to end and I want 2020 to be the best year ever.

6. A 2020 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable): Haven’t read any yet :(


So there you have it! Hope you guys enjoyed the survey, despite how sad and pathetic my answers were *sobs.* Feel free to leave a comment with a link to your best of 2019 survey so I can check it out, or just answer a few of the questions in the comments!

Happy New Year, and may 2020 be better than 2019!!

Bookish Delight #21: The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

Bookish Delight of the Month (Bookish Delight for short) is a monthly feature in which I’ll spotlight the number one book I’m most anticipating at the beginning of the month it releases. This could be a book I don’t have yet, or have an ARC of already – even a book I’m already reading (which is the case this month!) because it doesn’t matter whether I have it or not, or have read it or not – this is just all about me spotlighting the book I’m most excited for in a given month.

So, without further adieu, let’s get started!


The book I’m most highly anticipating in November is… The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White! I’ve been a HUGE Kiersten White fan, ever since I read Paranormalcy. And The Guinevere Deception just sounds INSANELY good! It has already released, and I’ve already purchased it (because, as usual, I’m behind on posting this!), and I CANNOT wait to read it!

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes a new fantasy series reimagining the Arthurian legend, set in the magical world of Camelot.

There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?



So, what is your most anticipated book of November? Share it in the comments!

Spotlight Post: Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance by Jennieke Cohen

Hey everyone! Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance by Jennieke Cohen (December 3, 2019 – HarperTeen) releases in ONE MONTH!!!!! Have you checked it out/pre-ordered it yet???

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Jane Austen in this witty, winking historical romance with a dash of mystery!

Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home.

But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season.

Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility.

Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.

Goodreads | The Book Depository | IndieBound

Spotlight Post: The Rubicus Prophecy by Alane Adams (Excerpt)

Hey everyone! Today, I have an awesome excerpt to share with you from The Rubicus Prophecy (The Witches of Orkney #2) by Alane Adams (October 15, 2019 – SparkPress). First, here’s more about the book:

Abigail has just started her second year at the Tarkana Witch Academy and is already up to her ears studying for Horrid Hexes and Awful Alchemy! Worse, Endera’s malevolent spellbook has its hooks in her, whispering in her ear to use its dark magic. Meanwhile, the entire school is talking about the Rubicus Prophecy; a sign has arrived that the chosen witchling is among them, the one who will one day break Odin’s curse over them. When an Orkadian warship arrives carrying troubling news, Abigail and her friend Hugo are swept into a new mystery after a young boy from the ship, Robert Barconian, asks for their help retrieving a missing item.

Along with the former glitch-witch, Calla, the four friends end up deep in the catacombs beneath the Tarkana Fortress—a place where the draugar, the living dead, wander about. Abigail discovers there is more to the Rubicus Prophecy than anyone ever imagined. Can she stop it in time before she and her friends are destroyed?

Filled with magical spells, spine-tingling ghosts, and visits from the Norse gods, The Rubicus Prophecy pits Abigail against a sinister power greater than anything she has ever imagined.

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound


And now for the excerpt! Enjoy!!

Excerpted with permission from The Rubicus Prophecy: Witches of Orkney, Book Two by Alane Adams. © 2019 Alane Adams. Published by SparkPress, a BookSparks imprint, a division of SparkPoint Studio, LLC.


“What do you think, Abigail? Does my braid look too tight?”

Abigail adjusted the long pleat that hung down Safina’s back. “No, it looks perfect. You’ll be the prettiest firstling ever.”

“Do you really think so?” Safina looked up at Abigail with wide green eyes.

Abigail smiled. “Think so? I know so. Now, did you pack all your things?”

They ran through the list of simple items the girl had. Like Abigail, Safina was an orphan, although there was no mystery about what had happened to her mother. Heralda had been caught in a lightning storm in the middle of using a divining spell, and the result had been disastrous.

“Now, what do you do when Madame Vex greets you?” Abigail prompted.

“Say, ‘Good day, Madame Vex, pleased to meet you.’” Safina dipped into a curtsy.

“Perfect. And when it’s time to choose a roommate?” “Find the closest girl and lock arms.” She thrust her elbow around Abigail’s and grinned up at her. She had a gap between her front teeth and a sprinkle of freckles on her nose. “I wish you and I could be roommates. Then you wouldn’t be all alone.”

“I like my attic room just fine.” Abigail tapped the girl on the nose. It was the truth; she’d grown used to the attic’s dusty corners and cozy rafters. And being alone wasn’t so bad.

“Will I see you much?” Safina’s lower lip wobbled a bit.

Abigail gave her a swift hug. “When I can. I’ll be busy with classes, and so will you—too busy to miss me.”

Safina gazed at her earnestly. “I know being stuck here at the Creche all summer looking after us wasn’t much fun for you, but I’m glad I got to know you better. Will you walk with me? All the way to the gates?”

The other firstlings had already stormed out like a herd of sneevils, fussed over by fawning witch mothers who had found time to see them off. Abigail and Safina were the last to go.

“I suppose I can walk you to the gate,” Abigail said, “but you’ll have to go in by yourself. Witchlings mustn’t show weakness.”

“My witch’s heart is made of stone,” Safina piped up, reciting their code.

“That’s right,” Abigail said, but she flinched at the words. She hated the Witches’ Code, hated reciting it. It always made her feel . . . less. As if it was chipping away at her, shaping her into something else. “Come now, I think Old Nan’s baked some fresh jookberry scones. Let’s see if there are any left.”

The firstling chattered away as they made the long walk to the gates of the Tarkana Fortress, nibbling on the fresh scones. Safina was a sweet witchling, but soon enough she would learn the ways of witchery, and she would be like all the rest. Cold. Ruthless. Ready to cast a spell on any who crossed her.

Before long, the iron gates loomed in front of them. Safina gazed up, her eyes wide.

“Don’t pinch me if I’m dreaming,” she whispered. “I don’t ever want to wake up. I can’t believe I’m really here. I’m going to be a witch.”

“Not if you don’t go inside.” Abigail gave her a little nudge, and the girl took a step forward before turning to flash a grin.

“I’m going to be the greatest witch ever,” she said, then ducked inside the gates.

Abigail sighed. She’d thought the same thing on her first day. Now she wasn’t so sure what she wanted. Find- ing out her father was a real live star had made Abigail question who she really was. It didn’t help that a murky mystery surrounded her mother. She wished she could just talk to her, find out why she had run away.

As Abigail headed for the ivy-covered dormitory tower, she noticed the firstlings were crowding around something, talking excitedly. Curious, she elbowed her way into the center and gasped.

Growing out of the cracks of the cobblestones was a flower on a thick green stalk, nearly as tall as she was. It looked like an ordinary sunflower, but its petals were blood red. Its thick round center pulsed slightly, as though something living were inside. Abigail looked around and then backed away, filled with a sudden dread.

The flower was growing in the exact spot where the viken had attacked her and nearly ended her life.

Spotlight Post: The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

Hey everyone! The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith (October 1, 2019 – 47North) has been out in the world for nearly a month!!! Have you checked it out yet???

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Book Depository | IndieBound

Spotlight Post: The Other, Better Me by Antony John (Excerpt)

Hey everyone! Today, I have an awesome excerpt to share with you from Antony John’s The Other, Better Me (October 1, 2019 – HarperCollins). First, here’s more about the book:

From the critically acclaimed author of Mascot comes this heartfelt novel, perfect for fans of John David Anderson and Cammie McGovern, about a girl searching for the meaning of family.

Lola and Momma have always been a team of two. It hasn’t always been easy for Lola, being one of the only kids she knows with just one parent around. And lately she’s been feeling incomplete, like there’s a part of herself that she can’t know until she knows her dad.

But what will happen—to Lola, to Momma, to their team of two—if she finds him?

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound


And now for the excerpt! Enjoy!!

THE OTHER, BETTER ME by Antony John – Chapter 1 Excerpt

It’s Friday the thirteenth, and I don’t think Momma will be getting up soon.

She was working late at the restaurant last night because Frankie, the boss’s son, got sick. It’s why she’ll be in bed until ten minutes before the school bus comes to pick me up.

I don’t like it when Momma works late. I always lock our door, so it’s not like I’m scared. And the house is small and cozy – two bedrooms, kitchen, living room, and bathroom. But there’s a space under our house, and when the wind blows hard, it makes this weird howling noise like a ticked-off dog. Last night, I called our neighbor Ms. Archambault so she could hear it over the phone. She’s like my grandmother, only she’s not family. Her house faces ours, so I can see her when she stands in her kitchen window and waves at me. Because Ms. Archambault owns our house, she promised to get her friend Ned, who’s a handyman, to stop the howling noise. That sounded like a good idea to me. We don’t need any ticked-off imaginary dogs living under us.

On the bright side, whenever Momma works late, I get to watch YoutTuber videos on her laptop. She thinks her laptop is password-protected, but my best friend, Kiana, told me to try typing in “pa$$word.” When I told Kiana that it worked, she gave this long, deep nod, like she knew all along. Kiana wants to be a detective, like her dad. I think she’s off to a good start.

Anyhow, today I let Momma sleep until precisely fifteen minutes before I need to leave the house. I eat Cheerios, wash my bowl in the sink, and keep the water running so all the detergent bubbles disappear down the drain. I put my backpack by the door, wet my bobbed hair so it won’t stick up in the back, and make sure my armpits don’t smell. Momma says I have lax standards of personal hygiene. I don’t know what that means, but I think it has something to do with needing to sniff my armpits more often. Finally, I pour a cup of really strong coffee and take it to her.

“I’ve got to go,” I say.

She rolls towards me. “Toilet’s over there,” she mumbles.

I let out a long sigh. This is isn’t the first time Momma has used that joke.

“Are you coming?” I ask.

She catches the smell of coffee but doesn’t reach for the mug. “Oh, Lola, honey. How about you put yourself on the bus today? You can do that, right?”

I’m not sure how to answer. Sure, I can put myself on the school bus. The stop is only half a block away. But Momma has put me on the bus almost every day since I started kindergarten. Even when she was real sick a couple years ago, she hardly missed a day. Plus, she isn’t looking at her coffee anymore. She calls it her “wake-up juice,” but it’s like she has forgotten the mug is there.

Just this once,” she murmurs, eyes closed. “I could really use a little extra sleep.”

“Okay, Momma. I’ll see you after your shift tonight, ‘kay?”

“Same time, same place.”

I lean forward and kiss her. She smiles. But she doesn’t kiss me back. And she still won’t open her eyes.

Spotlight Post: The Obsidian Compass by Liesl Shurtliff (Guest Post)

Hey everyone! Today, I’m incredibly excited to share with you a guest post from Liesl Shurtliff, author of The Obsidian Compass, book two in the Time Castaways series (October 15, 2019 from Katherine Tegen Books)!! I really enjoyed Liesl’s book, Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood, so I’m excited for her new series! First, here’s more about the book:

Liesl Shurtliff, New York Times bestselling author of Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin, continues the action-packed Time Castaways trilogy with book two, in which the Hudsons sail across time and history as they embark on a daring rescue mission.

With magic, mystery, and adventure, this is perfect for fans of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and Percy Jackson.

Mateo, Ruby, and Corey Hudson have lost their friend Jia to the villainous Captain Vincent’s clutches, and now they’re determined to bring her back to safety. But the Hudson kids don’t have a way to time-travel without the Obsidian Compass, until Mateo figures out the secret component to get his own homemade compass working.

Soon the whole family—plus their wacky neighbor, Chuck, and his rusty orange bus, Blossom—are swept up in another epic journey.

With their own time-traveling vehicle and some help from history’s most famous young markswoman, Annie Oakley, the Hudsons think they’re prepared to sneak onto the Vermillion. Unbeknownst to them, Captain Vincent already knows they’re coming. In fact, he’s counting on it…



And now here’s the guest post from Liesl! Enjoy!

The Joys and Struggles of Writing Time Travel

By Liesl Shurtliff

This is going to be so fun! That’s what I said to myself when I signed a contract to write a time-travel trilogy. And it has been fun. Fun and thrilling and deeply satisfying. Time Castaways is a rollicking family time-travel series full of adventure and history and family drama. Book 1, The Mona Lisa Key, starts with three city kids, Mateo, Corey, and Ruby Hudson, who board a Subway train in present-day Manhattan and end up in Paris on August 21, 1911, on the very day the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre. (True historical event!) The adventure continues in Book 2, The Obsidian Compass (Available October 15th) sending the Hudsons to the Siberian Ice Age, The 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, and Yellowstone National Park. I’m neck deep into writing Book 3, The Forbidden Lock.

With nearly three time-travel books under my belt, I have a slightly more sober perspective on writing time travel. Any time someone even mentions time-travel in my presence I immediately shiver and metaphorically curl up into fetal position. Time travel, I have learned, is not something to take lightly. Writers beware!

I’ve been vocal about my pains. I complain to anyone who will listen, much like those women who have dramatic birthing stories. We want the world to know what we’ve been through! If people ask me which of my books has been the hardest to write I don’t even hesitate. “Time travel is a beast,” I say. Some will ask what makes it so difficult. There are a million reasons, I think, but two stick out in my mind. For one, when writing in a universe where time travel is possible, the possibilities are endless. Wait a second, you say, isn’t that a good thing? Sometimes. It’s good to have lots of possibilities, but eventually you need to create boundaries and parameters. Rules are very important when building a fantasy world, otherwise your story can get out of control. Sure, you could go wild and have no rules, let anything happen without logic or reason. Some writers might be able to pull it off, but you run the risk of your story not making much sense and being rather weak and dissatisfying to your reader. (Or it could be incredible! Go ahead and try it!)

Time itself exists to create certain constraints within our world. As Einstein once said, “The only reason for time is so everything doesn’t happen at once.” Time creates order. Remove time and you have chaos. I had to work really hard to create certain rules and logic with a concept that felt limitless and illogical. What happens when you time travel? What are the physical effects? What can you do outside your own timeline? What can you not do? Do you age when you travel outside your own timeline? Can you live for an extended period of time outside your own timeline? Can you see yourself? What happens if you do? Is it different if you see yourself twenty years in the past versus twenty seconds? There was a lot to consider, and each answered question birthed twenty more questions. I tried to avoid falling back on old tropes and clichés or things that have been done in recent popular entertainment. I wanted it all to feel unique and fresh. That is the burden of all writers.

The second reason time travel can feel so overwhelming is simply keeping track of everything. Timelines, character ages, places, dates, events… I have several Google sheets where I keep track of all of these things. I’ve given access to my editors, copy editors, and beta readers, and it’s still difficult to keep it all straight. We have to double, triple, and quadruple check. How old is that character again? How long did they hang out in the wrong decade? How much older are they than their mother now? It takes a village to keep everything straight and in the end we’re all dizzy!

Once, when things got particularly difficult with this story, I posed a hypothetical. If I could travel back in time, would I tell myself not to write these books? Nope. These books have been massively difficult to write, but also incredibly fulfilling. I’ve learned so much, both about writing and myself. I would never take that away. Plus, I’ve received so many thoughtful letters from readers telling me how much they loved Book 1 and can’t wait for Book 2. Just the other night I caught my own 10-year-old son reading in bed far past his bedtime. He was reading my early copy of Time Castaways #2. The joy of even one reader washes away all pains.

That said, I would travel back to myself in the beginning of writing these books, when I was full of so much hope and inspiration, give myself a hug and say, “I’m here for you whenever you need to talk. Any time.” Because in my time-travel world, we should be allowed to help ourselves through the tough stuff. But if that were the case, would the tough stuff really be all that tough? Gah!


About the Author:
Liesl Shurtliff is the New York Times bestselling author of Rump: The True Tale of Rumpelstiltskin, other books in the (Fairly) True Tales series, and the Time Castaways series, She was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, the fifth of eight kids. She now lives in Chicago with her husband and four kids, where she writes full-time.



Blog Tour: Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon (Author Interview)

Hey everyone! I’m incredibly excited to be a part of the blog tour for Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon (October 29, 2019 – Delacorte Press)! Today, I have an awesome interview with Kelly to share with you! First, here’s more about the book:

The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Book Depository | IndieBound


And now for the interview! Enjoy!

Describe your book in ten words or fewer. Go!
Kammani has to heal the king so Nanaea doesn’t die.

What inspired you to write Gravemaidens?
I’m one of those weirdos who likes to check out graveyards. I’m always wondering who is lying beneath the headstones and what they were like when they were alive. What did they see? Who still remembers them?
Before I wrote Gravemaidens, I wondered what it would be like to be told that it was an honor to end up in a cold tomb. To lie with a king to be his bride in the afterlife. I wondered how an older sister might feel if her little sister had been chosen for the “honor” and what she might do to save her.
Craziest thing you’ve had to Google for a work in progress?
I once googled how to make flash bangs and fire retardants from nature, and ended up on a website about mussels and their anti-inflammatory properties and probably an FBI watchlist.
What books would you recommend to a reader who loved yours, and wants to read something similar?
Oooh, good question. I’d highly recommend Three Dark Crowns (the whole series) by Kendare Blake, Ash Princess (the series) by Laura Sebastian, and Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves.
What are three must-have items when you sit down to write?
1). I’m pretty sure I’m about 76% Diet Coke at this point, so I need a caffeine fix, and yes I realize this is terrible for me.
2). I also like to have a notepad near by for jotting commands for Future Kell in case I’m in a writing groove and want a reminder to edit something later.
3). White noise on my headphones. For whatever reason, I associate white noise with writing (and sleeping, which…weird? But that’s kinda how it is.)

Are you working on anything new?
I’m always writing something. Right now, I’m writing a contemporary with speculative elements that has one POV in verse and another POV in prose. It’s the most daunting thing I’ve ever written.

Spotlight Post: Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

Hey everyone! Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon (October 29, 2019 – Delacorte Press) releases in THREE WEEKS!!!!! Have you checked it out/pre-ordered it yet???

The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Book Depository | IndieBound

Spotlight Post: Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Hey everyone! Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw (November 5, 2019 – Simon Pulse) releases in ONE MONTH!!!!! Have you checked it out/pre-ordered it yet???

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep comes a haunting romance set deep in the magical snow-covered forest, where the appearance of a mysterious boy unearths secrets that awakens the enchanted, but angry, woods.

Be careful of the dark, dark wood . . .

Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.

Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.

But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Book Depository | IndieBound