The Top 10 Virtues of The Virtue of Sin by Shannon Schuren

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Today’s post is part of the blog tour for the recently released young adult novel The Virtue of Sin by Shannon Schuren. Huge thanks to Penguin Teen for giving me the opportunity to participate and to help promote this fantastic book. This is the story of two teenagers who have spent their entire lives in a cult and how they deal with their newfound clarity about their situation as thrown into adulthood in the community. It is a novel that portrays the importance of not always taking what people in power say at face value, fighting for equality, and learning to accept others—and oneself—for who they are.

There are so many aspects of this story that appealed to both the book nerd and psychology nerd in me and I was completely absorbed from the start. So, while thinking about a topic for this post, I decided I would like to share what I found to be the strongest aspects (the virtues) of The Virtue of Sin!

Book Info:

thevirtueofsinThe Virtue of Sin by Shannon Schuren

Date Published: June 25th, 2019

Publisher: Philomel Books

Pages: 432 pages

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

A compelling novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Tara Westover’s Educated.

Miriam lives in New Jerusalem, a haven in the desert far away from the sins and depravity of the outside world. Within the gates of New Jerusalem, and under the eye of its founder and leader, Daniel, Miriam knows she is safe. Cared for. Even if she’s forced, as a girl, to quiet her tongue when she has thoughts she wants to share, Miriam knows that New Jerusalem is a far better life than any alternative. So when God calls for a Matrimony, she’s thrilled; she knows that Caleb, the boy she loves, will choose her to be his wife and they can finally start their life together. 

But when the ceremony goes wrong and Miriam winds up with someone else, she can no longer keep quiet. For the first time, Miriam begins to question not only the rules that Daniel has set in place, but also what it is she believes in, and where she truly belongs.

Alongside unexpected allies, Miriam fights to learn–and challenge–the truth behind the only way of life she’s ever known, even if it means straying from the path of Righteousness.

A compelling debut novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free.

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Strong female lead

Miriam is an incredibly strong female lead right from the very beginning of the novel. She does not want to put up with the suppression and ill treatment of women that the men of the cult have turned into an accepted way of life. She gradually finds her voice and stands up for not just herself and the other women, but for everyone who is under the control of the Prophet. Headstrong and intelligent, Miriam makes a wonderful protagonist.

Distinct dual perspectives

This story is not just told from Miriam’s perspective but also from Caleb’s, the boy she’s sure she is meant to marry. Alternating between these characters and seeing every situation through two different sets of eyes made this an even more intriguing plot. Schuren writes these narrators well, making their voices distinct from the other, which can be a challenge when working with more than one point of view.

Beautiful writing

Schuren’s writing style is definitely one of the strongest aspects of this novel. I found it very easy to get into and it had a very captivating quality to it. It was not just the story but the way she told it and worded it that held me in the narrative. The writing and the message it sends are both beautiful.

Detailed and realistic worldbuilding

I found Schuren’s worldbuilding to be absolutely fantastic. She creates this extremely detailed and frighteningly realistic picture of what living in a cult is like. She forms both the physical world and the psychological world of these characters through her words. It feels like you are there in the desert—in the supposed safety of the community. You experience the raw emotions and the sinister atmosphere. She really brings this story to life.

Vivid and multi-dimensional characters

Both main characters and side characters alike are multi-dimensional in this story. They are clearly carefully crafted and they evolve and respond realistically to their environment and the events of the novel. They don’t feel flat—they are the driving force of the plot. I felt that I got to know many of the characters well, no matter what size part they play in the grand scheme of things. Just like the worldbuilding, the characters are equally as detailed and fully fleshed out.

Accurate portrayal of psychological aspects

I absolutely love anything to do with psychology—I am actually a forensic psychology major—and the psychology of cults is particularly interesting to study. Seeing the mindsets of both the members and the leaders is both fascinating and chilling. This novel primarily demonstrates how the beliefs and laws a leader comes up with are drilled into members. We see how this warps a person’s thoughts and view of the world and how incredibly challenging it is to break free of these beliefs. Schuren’s depictions of these elements of a cult are very accurate, enraging, and heartbreaking.

Plenty of diversity and a huge focus on equality

The primary subject dealt with in this novel is the unequal and extremely poor treatment of women within the cult. We see how the men silence them and do not allow them to make their own decisions. There are also other elements of unfair treatment of minorities in the plot. The importance of standing up for these types of injustices, whether you are part of that minority or not, and of treating others with respect are shown through this story.

Keeps you on your toes

I was surprised at how many twists there were in this novel that I did not see coming. And I liked every single one. Schuren takes the narrative in a number of unexpected directions. There are so many secrets spilled and revelations that propelled me through every chapter. This is a true page-turner.

Good character development

Tying in with what I said before about the characters being multi-dimensional, Schuren does a good job of clearly indicating how they develop over the course of the story. They learn and grow and evolve. The events that take place and the upheaval they experience consistently affect each character, their actions, and their views of life and the world around them.

An overall captivating story

This was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it absolutely did not disappoint. It was so easy to become engrossed in this novel and I found it extremely hard to put down. Schuren brings so many interesting elements together to create a story that will quickly draw in readers and open their eyes to topics that are very important and timely. I highly recommend picking this up.

Author Bio:

5190994Shannon Schuren (shannon.schuren.org) works as a children’s librarian at a public library and writes from a cozy she-shed in her backyard. Her short stories have appeared in various journals such as Toasted Cheese Literary JournalBig Pulp, and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Shannon lives in Sheboygan Falls, WI, with her husband and three children. Follow her on Twitter @shannonschuren.

Blog Tour Schedule

Week One: The Virtue of Sin

June 24 – Cozybooknook – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

June 25 – The Book Shire – Playlist

June 26 – JeanBookNerd – Author Guest Post: What fiction most influenced your childhood, and what effect did those stories have on THE VIRTUE OF SIN?   

June 27 – The Quirky Booknerd – Listicle: The Top 10 Virtues of The Virtues of Sin

June 28 – YA Books Central – Author Guest Post: Ten Random Facts about The Virtue of Sins (or yourself)

Week Two: The Downstairs Girl

July 1 – Nerdy By Nature – Review

July 2 – YA Wednesdays – Creative Instagram Picture

July 3 – Awkwordly Emma – Author Guest Post: Her Research Process

July 4 – It Starts at Midnight – Moodboard

July 5 – The Reading Corner for All – Book Aesthetic

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Top 10 Most Anticipated Releases of Summer 2019

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Hey everyone!

I can’t believe it’s almost summer already and we’ll be going into the second half of 2019! Just like with my last seasonal post, I have changed from “top five” to “top ten” because there are way too many amazing releases coming out this summer. This was difficult to narrow down, but I have finally picked out the ten books that I am most excited to get my hands on over the next few months!

Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo (July 2nd, 2019)

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When a tragic accident takes the life of seventeen-year-old Raven Roth’s foster mom–and Raven’s memory–she moves to New Orleans to live with her foster mother’s family and finish her senior year of high school.
Starting over isn’t easy. Raven remembers how to solve math equations and make pasta, but she can’t remember her favorite song or who she was before the accident. When strange things start happening–impossible things–Raven starts to think it might be better not to know who she was in her previous life.
But as she grows closer to her foster sister, Max, her new friends, and Tommy Torres, a guy who accepts her for who she is now, Raven has to decide if she’s ready to face what’s buried in the past…and the darkness building inside her.
From the #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of Beautiful Creatures Kami Garcia, and artist Gabriel Picolo, comes this first graphic novel in the Teen Titans series for DC Ink, Teen Titans: Raven.

The Lightest Object in the Universe by Kimi Eisele (July 9th, 2019)

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If the grid went down, how would you find someone on the other side of the country? How would you find hope?
After a global economic collapse and failure of the electrical grid, amid escalating chaos, Carson, a high school teacher of history who sees history bearing out its lessons all around him, heads west on foot toward Beatrix, a woman he met and fell hard for during a chance visit to his school. Working his way along a cross-country railroad line, he encounters lost souls, clever opportunists, and those who believe they’ll be delivered from hardship if they can find their way to the evangelical preacher Jonathan Blue, who is broadcasting on all the airwaves countrywide. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Beatrix and her neighbors turn to one another for food, water, and solace, and begin to construct the kind of cooperative community that suggests the end could, in fact, be a promising beginning.
But between Beatrix and Carson lie 3,000 miles. With no internet or phone or postal service, can they find their way back to each other, and what will be left of their world when they do? The answers may lie with fifteen-year-old Rosie Santos, who travels reluctantly with her grandmother to Jonathan Blue, finding her voice and making choices that could ultimately decide the fate of the cross-country lovers.
The Lightest Object in the Universe is a story about reliance and adaptation, a testament to the power of community and a chronicle of moving on after catastrophic loss, illustrating that even in the worst of times, our best traits, borne of necessity, can begin to emerge.

Changeling by William Ritter (July 16th, 2019)

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Magic is fading from the Wild Wood. To renew it, goblins must perform an ancient ritual involving the rarest of their kind—a newborn changeling. But when the fateful night arrives to trade a human baby for a goblin one, something goes terribly wrong. After laying the changeling in a human infant’s crib, the goblin Kull is briefly distracted from his task. By the time he turns back, the changeling has already perfectly mimicked the human child. Too perfectly: Kull cannot tell them apart. Not knowing which to bring back, he leaves both babies behind.
Tinn and Cole are raised as human twins, neither knowing what secrets may be buried deep inside one of them. Then when they are twelve years old, a mysterious message arrives, calling the brothers to be heroes and protectors of magic. The boys must leave behind their sleepy town of Endsborough and risk their lives in the Wild Wood, crossing the perilous Oddmire swamp and journeying through the Deep Dark to reach the goblin horde and discover who they truly are.

The Doctor by Lisa Stone (July 25th, 2019)

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How much do you know about the couple next door? 
When Emily and Ben move in next door to Dr Burman and his wife Anita, they are keen to get to know their new neighbours. Outgoing and sociable, Emily tries to befriend the doctor’s wife, but Anita is strangely subdued, barely leaving the house, and terrified of answering the phone. 
When Emily goes missing a few weeks later, Ben is plunged into a panic. His wife has left him a note, but can she really have abandoned him for another man? Or has Emily’s curiosity about the couple next door led her straight into danger? 
A gripping, sinister thriller with a twist you won’t see coming from the international bestseller Lisa Stone.

Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells (July 30th, 2019)

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Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold.
If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she uncovers: rumors of a lost prince, a brewing rebellion, and a prophecy that threatens to shatter the empire itself. Not to mention the strange dreams she’s been having about a beast deep underground…
With time running out, can Maren survive long enough to rescue Kaia from impending death? Or could it be that Maren is destined for something greater than she could have ever imagined?

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig (August 6th, 2019)

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In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.
Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.
Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?
When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

The Whisper Man by Alex North (August 20th, 2019)

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In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of suspense, as a father and son are caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.
After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.
But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed “The Whisper Man,” for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.
Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter’s crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man.
And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window…

There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool (September 3rd, 2019)

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The Age of Darkness approaches.
Five lives stand in its way.
Who will stop it… or unleash it? 
For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared.
All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:
A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart.
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.
One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer? Perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Children of Blood and Bone, and An Ember in the Ashes.

All the Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey (September 3rd, 2019)

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Red’s inexplicable power over the wind comes from her mother. Whenever Ruby “Red” Byrd is scared or angry, the wind picks up. And being placed in foster care, moving from family to family, tends to keep the skies stormy. Red knows she has to learn how to control it, but can’t figure out how.
This time, the wind blows Red into the home of the Grooves, a quirky couple who run a petting zoo, complete with a dancing donkey and a giant tortoise. With their own curious gifts, Celine and Jackson Groove seem to fit like a puzzle piece into Red’s heart.
But just when Red starts to settle into her new life, a fresh storm rolls in, one she knows all too well: her mother. For so long, Red has longed to have her mom back in her life, and she’s quickly swept up in the vortex of her mother’s chaos. Now Red must decide the possible from the impossible if she wants to overcome her own tornadoes and find the family she needs.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware (September 5th, 2019)

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When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.
What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.
Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.
It was everything.
She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

What upcoming releases are you guys looking forward to? Are we excited about any of the same books? Let me know in the comments!

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Recent TBR Additions #1

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Hi Everyone!

First off, I want to apologize for the lack of posts over the last few weeks. I’ve been having a major flare up with my fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue and needed to take some time to focus on resting and recovering. But I’ve missed you guys and posting so much! I’m hoping I can start getting some writing done over the next few days and get some new reviews up for you guys. For today though, I hope you don’t mind a bit of a shorter post. I’ve discovered and added a lot of really interesting books to my TBR lately and I thought I would share the ones I’m most excited to read!

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Across a Broken Shore by Amy Trueblood

All the Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell

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Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland

Shadowscent by P.M. Freestone

Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre

The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

Dragon Speaker by Elana A. Mugdan

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

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The Perfect Son by Lauren North

The Shadow Writer by Eliza Maxwell

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen

Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

What have you guys been reading lately? Have you made any recent TBR additions that you are particularly excited for? Let me know in the comments!

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This is Not a Love Scene by S.C. Megale Blog Tour

Hey everyone! Today’s post is part of the blog tour for an upcoming young adult novel, This Is Not a Love Scene by S.C. Megale. Below, you can find some basic information on the book and the author as well as an exclusive early excerpt from the book itself. And if you like what you see, make sure to check out the novel when it releases on May 7th!

Book Info:

41150303This Is Not a Love Scene by S.C. Megale

Date Published: May 7th, 2019

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 320 pages

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

This Is Not A Love Scene rings brilliantly true from the first page to the last.” —David Baldacci, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Funny, emotional, and refreshingly honest, S.C. Megale’s This is Not a Love Scene is for anyone who can relate to feeling different while navigating the terrifying and thrilling waters of first love.

Lights, camera—all Maeve needs is action. But at eighteen, a rare form of muscular dystrophy usually stands in the way of romance. She’s got her friends, her humor, and a passion for filmmaking to keep her focus off consistent rejection…and the hot older guy starring in her senior film project.

Tall, bearded, and always swaying, Cole Stone is everything Maeve can’t be. And she likes it. Between takes, their chemistry is shockingly electric. 

Suddenly, Maeve gets a taste of typical teenage dating life, but girls in wheelchairs don’t get the hot guy—right? Cole’s attention challenges everything she once believed about her self-image and hopes for love. But figuring this out, both emotionally and physically, won’t be easy for either of them. Maeve must choose between what she needs and what she wants, while Cole has a tendency to avoid decisions altogether. And the future might not wait for either.

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Book Excerpt

I liked being ridden, and offered the chance to pretty much every guy in Video II. I guess it made me feel as if I had something to contribute to the group.

So when Elliot jumped on the back of me and I felt his weight pull me down, I smiled. Pushed the wheelchair joystick. Increased acceleration. The smooth terrain of Jackson Memorial Mall was perfect for showing off.

“Kim Possible, I mean, I thought she was attractive— that doesn’t mean I needed to start jacking.” Elliot laughed behind me, full of life. He was eighteen, like me. Tall, black, he wore skinny jeans and the hoodie of a band I’d never heard of. We were debating which animated characters of our youth were worthy of sexual awakenings.

“Robin Hood could get it from Little Maeve,” I said. “The Disney one, the fox.” I don’t know. He had a mischievous smile.

“Disney?” said Elliot. He shook the handlebar of my wheelchair near my ear.

“Kim Possible is Disney,” I retorted.

“Disney Channel, completely different ball game.” “No way! Disney jack sesh!” I said.

“Maeve,” Mags, my best friend, reprimanded me from my right.

Air conditioners wafted along the scent of free-sample lotion and buttery pretzels. One of those pretzels was folded in a paper bag resting on my footplate. KC had dove in front of the register to buy it for me. I couldn’t lift my arm high enough to swat away his credit card.

“Abuse of the disabled,” I’d accused.

We cruised our way back towards the food court now, after a few loops of circling.
About halfway through Video II an hour ago, my classmates and I—Elliot, Mags, KC, and Nate—had decided to dip for the mall. Not that we’d been doing anything in class. Mags had been sitting on the floor at my wheels, reading Bridge to Terabithia, and I was swiping through last night’s fun with Hot Tinder Guy. “Mags, look.” I’d shoved my screen in her face. She looked up from her book and then away real fast. All she must have caught were the words swallow and babe.

“Oh my God, Maeve.”

I grinned and returned to the screen. I knew it was messed up, but I was proud I’d successfully sexted a guy from Tinder. I mean . . . after eighteen years of experience trying otherwise, it seemed like it could only happen on Tinder. With the photos I’d chosen, the guy couldn’t see the whole me.

“He’s so hot,” I’d said.

“He’s not, though.” Mags hadn’t looked up from her book.

She was petite with long, dyed red hair, and I was mad jealous of her in Video I until I realized having to reject a guy every day, like she did, sucked almost as much as never getting that chance, like I didn’t.

Despite my handicap, I looked all right, I guessed. Brown hair and eyes, almost acceptable weight at just under a hundred pounds. I sat a little crooked, but whenever someone held a camera up, I made sure to lean against my scoliosis so you could barely tell. My skin was nice. I always wore the same blue, low-top Converse shoes. And I had other things going for me—humor and dreams and an attempt at positivity. My life’s ambition was to be a famous director, and I had twelve scripts completed by the age of sixteen.

Mr. Billings, Seefeldt High School’s premier film teacher, had to combine Video I and II this semester in order for the school not to cancel both electives due to low enrollment. There was this really valiant entreaty at the beginning of the year in which Billings convinced the principal we were worth holding the class on block days, and the principal conceded with the requisite that Billings film the football games for the coaches every Friday. Then maybe he’d consider having Billings film baseball in the spring so we could have Video III. Billings literally took one for the team. But we were usually left to our own devices while he taught the newbies to render shit onto their Mac desktops. This was the first time things got bad enough for us to ditch.

The mall crowd’s chatter rose near the food court. We picked a table for three since KC and Nate had left for physics; it was just Elliot, Mags, and me. Elliot hopped off my wheelchair and took a seat to my right. I bulldozed aside a chair and it screeched on the tile as Mags sat on my left.

Flapping ears and a jingle of dog chains ripped through the air next to Mags, and I looked down. Technically, I wasn’t supposed to let Mags hold the leash of my service dog. His nonprofit company had strict rules. But the way she’d walked through the mall with her leash hand dangling down, blasé as shit (not to mention totally able-bodied) to match François’ blasé-as-shit expression amused me. Only two years old, François wore a blue-and- gold vest and silver choke collar. His half retriever, half Labrador fur was almost white, and everyone pretty much had to resist the urge to scrunch all that extra skin over his large brown eyes. I mean, that and the fact that his name was François.

Normally those eyes were dull and disinterested. Now, he looked up at me and gently swayed. Food.

I mouthed no warmly, and he kept wagging.

“Fam, I don’t know what we’re doing,” said Mags, gazing absently around the food court and twirling François’ leash on her wrist.

Elliot draped across the sticky linoleum table. “I know.” He covered his face. “We need these damn shirts.”

“I mean, we’re filming next week; that’s still enough time for eBay.” I lowered my left arm for François to slap with his tongue. My right was too stiff and weak to hang down that far.

“Do they have to be identical?” said Mags. “Can some of the actors just have, like, different uniforms?”

“Nah . . .” Elliot and I answered simultaneously. We were codirecting the group’s final project for Video II. I was glad we were on the same page. Most times.

“Imma get a wrap.” Elliot drew out his wallet and plucked a few bills. “You guys want anything?”

“No, thanks,” said Mags. He pointed at me. “Maeve?”

I smiled. “I’m good, thanks.” “Aight.”

Elliot left me with just Mags, his cologne pushing the air. They were comfortable with me—my classmates. I had that weird bubbling happiness in my chest that reminded me it’s not normal for me to feel normal. Being born with a neuromuscular disease that cripples your strength and locks up your joints and confines you to a wheelchair made normal an unrealistic standard. I had a form of muscular dystrophy, which is a pretty big sucky umbrella of genetic diseases that erode muscles and get worse as time goes on until you basically shrivel up like plastic sheets in the microwave.

As a baby, I’d begun to lose milestones rather than gain them. Only weeks after my first steps, I started to fall over and eventually never get back up. A shake developed. Making sure I could breathe whenever I came down with something became critical. But the severity of the condition varies for no explicable reason—there are those with my disability who use standers and others who are already dead. What’s really messed up is when I drag through Google images of others with my disease that’re frailer and more twisted just so I can think: Screw that, I’m not like you.

Yet.

Sometimes I’m an asshole, but only in my head.

“How are you doing?” said Mags. Her pretty eyes watched me with a mix of sympathy and refreshing nonchalance. Pain wriggled in my stomach. We’d been texting, and she knew I was depressed.

You’d think my reason for depression was, like, hospital visits and wheelchair parts on back order, right? I don’t grieve my disability; I grieve the shitty side effects of it. Sure, you make the best of being different. I’ve shaken a lot of hands and looked into a lot of tear-filled eyes of really rich people I somehow inspired to make a donation that won’t solve any of my problems. But for the most part? The pain of having a condition is about rejection and desires to feel human in ways that can never possibly be filled.

“Maeve?”

“Yeah, sorry.”

“You’re fine. Have you heard from R?”

Ugh. I don’t let my friends use his name anymore. “No.” I shifted.

“I’m sorry.”

I cringed. It sounded so final when Mags apologized. “I’m used to it,” I said. “I wouldn’t want me either.”

“That’s stupid,” said Mags. “Don’t say that.”

“It’s true.”

“Nah, fam, it’s stupid.” She never let me get away with bullshit and I smiled.

François sniffed the air gingerly with pushed-back ears and mollified eyes. He sort of looked stoned all the time.

“François,” I said. He looked at me. I’d meant to chastise him, but I actually chuckled instead.

“Oh my Gawd!” a middle-aged woman with long dark hair and Chanel sunglasses (in the mall?) squealed at our table and made us jump. She held a vegan wrap in her manicured nails—I could tell from the VEGAN! VEGAN! VEGAN! print spiraling the wrap paper.

“What a precious dog!” she said, and flipped that o pretty hard in her New York accent.

“Yeah, you can pet him,” said Mags, without asking my permission. “She’s not one of those crazy strict handlers.” She let go of the leash.

“Oh my Gawd.” The woman crouched and kneaded François’ ears in her hands.
With my previous service dog, Martin, now was the time when he’d look at me like: Why? Who is this? How is this supposed to help you?

But François was my European second love and we have an open relationship, so he started smacking his tongue out for her face.

I’d typically use this time to hardcore flirt with whatever guy knelt in front of me, but in general, I was a little less invested in François’ female catches.

“Yes,” the woman cooed. “Yes.” She made kissy noises at François, and Mags and I watched. Our boredom grew into furrowed brows as it started to get a little weird.

“Mwah!” The woman ended strong and rose, facing me. “So cute!”

IF SHE WERE A GUY: “You’re not bad either. Can you pet me now?”

BECAUSE SHE’S NOT: “Thanks.”

“Listen,” the woman said. Uh-oh.

“Have you heard of . . .” Insert charity organization for physical handicap I’ve never heard of.

“Nope.”

“Oh my Gawd, you’re kidding. They’re right here in Fredericksburg!”

“That’s wonderful,” I said.

“We’ve been trying to get a service dog team in to speak to our donors for months. The top investor is a huge dog lover.”
“Aww. Well, I could give you his company info,” I said. “Maybe they can hook you up with a trainer to come in and—”

“Oh, honey, no. The event is next week.”

“Ah,” I said. “What do you do for them?”

“I’m their CFO. Isn’t that right, sweetie?” She cooed down at François. No, I thought, François doesn’t know your career life choices. But François wagged.

“Anyway,” the woman said. “I’m Patricia. I think you would be perfect for inspiring these donors to help out the kids at the special needs camp.”

“Oh . . .”

Mags looked away and suppressed a grin. She knew she couldn’t save me. Anxiety already built in my throat.

“I’m flattered, but I don’t know . . .” I said. But gee, I always had a hard time saying no to special camp kids. “When is it?”

“It’s on the twenty-first; they’ll love you. Oh my Gawd, you’ll be a hit.”

Thank God—an out.

“Damn. I’m filming with my class all day that day.” I motioned to include Mags.

An anvil fell down the woman’s face. The tiny muscles in her expression stiffened. “Sigh.” She actually said sigh. Awkward silence stretched. “If you change your mind, let me know.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “How about I come this summer and read to the kids? Teach them about service dogs?” Blergh. “Do you have a card or anything?”

The corner of her mouth flicked up a little at my offer. “That’d be sweet. I’m out of cards. Just Google the camp. I’m at the bottom of their web page.”

“I will.”

When she left, I only had time to draw in breath at Mags’ comical look before Elliot plopped back down in his seat, wrap and fries on a pink tray.

“Who was that?”

“Some wheelchair charity person,” said Mags. She stole a fry and Elliot unfolded his wrap.

“So what else do we need still for the shoot?” I said as Elliot took a huge bite. “I handled the props. Location is locked. Do the actors know their call times?”

“Mmm!” Elliot hummed around his mouthful. He swallowed. “Bad news. Cole can’t make it.”

“What?”
“I know,” said Elliot.

“No,” I said. “Give me his number. Right now. He’s making it. Dammit.” I rolled my eyes. Actors.

Elliot laughed. “Okay, I will.” “Who is this?” said Mags. “Cole Stone,” said Elliot. “Like the creamery?”

“No,” I said, “like the actor.” Elliot huffed with humor.

“Yo, what did you and Nate 2.0 talk about last night?” Mags asked Elliot. Elliot and Nate went to the new Marvel film together. We call him Nate 2.0 because there was a really creepy Nate in Video I that we don’t talk about anymore.

“I don’t know.” Elliot laughed. “He’s wild.” “Sometimes,” I said. Nate’s humor was hit or miss with me.

“Why sometimes?” said Mags. I noticed she was starting to get defensive and inquisitive and highly interested in Nate.

“I dunno,” I said. “I think he’s really funny, but sometimes I think he doesn’t like me.” I wasn’t sure I really believed that. I wanted to see what they’d say.

“That’s stupid,” said Mags.

“Mmm . . .” said Elliot. We looked at him as he wiped a napkin over his mouth. “He can be insensitive.”

“How?” said Mags.

“He just says things to be funny sometimes and it’s not funny.”

“Like what?” said Mags.

Elliot rolled his shoulders uncomfortably.

“He said something about me, didn’t he?” I said. “What’d he say?”

“I dunno.”

“Come on.”

Elliot sighed. “He said something like . . . Maeve will be a virgin forever.”

Mags fell silent. I did too.

Elliot made a sad, shrugging face. “He’s just immature.” No. He was kind of right, though.
“Don’t listen to him.”

The humor and ease and acceptance I basked in extinguished. My teeth ground together and I nodded, staring across from them at the Chinese buffet. One thing I’ve learned from getting endless feedback on my scripts is that criticism doesn’t hurt unless you kind of agree with it.

“Well . . . that sucks,” said Mags, genuinely.

Elliot rubbed my hand and some of that love flowed back into my blood. “Love you, co-director,” he said.

“Love you, co-director,” I mumbled back. Elliot smiled. I ticked alight my phone on the table.

“My dad’s probably waiting outside,” I said. “I better head out.”

“I’ll walk you out,” said Elliot. “I’ll walk you out,” I said. “Eyyyy . . .” Elliot grinned.
I tapped my joystick and my wheelchair gave its mechanical clicking sound before moving. I froze. François always leapt up from the floor at that sound. I looked down beneath the table and choked.

François was gone.

Author Bio:

SC MegaleS.C. Megale is an author and filmmaker. She’s been profiled in USA Today, The Washington Post, and New York Newsday, and has appeared on NBC’s “Today Show” and the CBS Evening News for her philanthropic and literary work. As a humanitarian, she’s spoken on the USS Intrepid, at the NASDAQ opening bell, and to universities and doctors nationwide. She enjoys making connections all over the world. 

Megale was raised in the long grass of the Civil War, hunting for relics and catching fireflies along the banks of Bull Run. A shark tooth, flutes, and a flask are some of the items that hang from her wheelchair, and she had a fear of elevators until realizing this was extremely inconvenient. She lives with her family which includes her parents, sister and brother, service dog, and definitely-not-service dog.

Reviews:

Megale is a terrific new voice in the world of YAThis Is Not a Love Scene rings brilliantly true from the first page to the last. Megale’s prose is refreshingly original, her pacing already at a master level, and her storytelling abilities will pull hard on every emotion you have…Look out for this writer.” —David Baldacci, #1 New York Times bestselling author

A humorous, hearty novel about the realities (and fantasies) of being a teenager with a disability….Readers will want to zoom in on this [#ownvoices] story featuring a strong, sexually confident, disabled female character.” —Kirkus Reviews 

Informative and inspiring. It makes for an altogether thought-provoking and empathetic reading experience.” —Booklist

This Is Not a Love Scene is so good. S.C. Megale is remarkable… This book is the result of her unswerving determination and undoubted talent.” —John Flanagan, New York Times bestselling author of the Ranger’s Apprentice series

My ride-along with Maeve was a joy from first sentence to last. She’s authentic, unabashedly honest, fun to be with, and I still catch myself wondering what she’s been up to lately.” —Eric Lindstrom, author of Not If I See You First   

Megale’s pacing and style are absolutely wonderful. I feel deeply attached to her characters, and I can’t believe how perceptive many of her descriptions/observations are, especially disability related ones.”  —Shane Burcaw, author of Laughing at My Nightmare

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Top 10 Most Anticipated Releases of Spring 2019

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Happy April, everyone, and happy spring as well!

I hope you’ve all been having a great start to the season! There are so many novels coming out over the next few months that sound absolutely fantastic. So many, in fact, that I had to break from my usual tradition of picking my top five most anticipated releases and raise it to a top 10! So here is a list of all the books I am incredibly eager to get my hands on this spring!

The Dream Peddler by Martine Fournier Watson (April 9th, 2019)

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A page-turning debut novel about a traveling salesman who arrives to sell dreams to a town rocked by a child’s disappearance—both a thoughtful mediation on grief and a magical exploration of our innermost desires
The dream peddler came to town at the white end of winter, before the thaw . . .
Traveling salesmen like Robert Owens have passed through Evie Dawson’s town before, but none of them offered anything like what he has to sell: dreams, made to order, with satisfaction guaranteed.
Soon after he arrives, the community is shocked by the disappearance of Evie’s young son. The townspeople, shaken by the Dawson family’s tragedy and captivated by Robert’s subversive magic, begin to experiment with his dreams. And Evie, devastated by grief, turns to Robert for a comfort only he can sell her. But the dream peddler’s wares awaken in his customers their most carefully buried desires, and despite all his good intentions, some of them will lead to disaster.
Gorgeously told through the eyes of Evie, Robert, and a broad cast of fully realized characters, The Dream Peddler is an imaginative, moving novel of overcoming loss and reckoning with the longings we keep secret.

The Hummingbird Dagger by Cindy Anstey (April 16th, 2019)

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1833. After young Lord James Ellerby witnesses a near-fatal carriage accident on the outskirts of his estate, he doesn’t think twice about bringing the young woman injured in the wreck to his family’s manor to recuperate. But then she finally regains consciousness only to find that she has no memory of who she is or where she belongs.
Beth, as she takes to calling herself, is an enigma even to herself. She has the rough hands of a servant, but the bearing and apparent education of a lady. Her only clue to her identity is a gruesome recurring nightmare about a hummingbird dripping blood from its steel beak.
With the help of James and his sister, Caroline, Beth slowly begins to unravel the mystery behind her identity and the sinister circumstances that brought her to their door. But the dangerous secrets they discover in doing so could have deadly ramifications reaching the highest tiers of London society.

Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst and Paula Garner (April 16th, 2019)

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Sam Jones and Zoe Miller have one thing in common: they both want an escape from reality. Loner Sam flies under the radar at school and walks on eggshells at home to manage her mom’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, wondering how she can ever leave to pursue her dream of studying aerospace engineering.
Popular, people-pleasing Zoe puts up walls so no one can see her true self: the girl who was abandoned as an infant, whose adoptive mother has cancer, and whose disabled brother is being sent away to live in a facility. 
When an unexpected encounter results in the girls’ exchanging phone numbers, they forge a connection through text messages that expands into a private universe they call Starworld. In Starworld, they find hilarious adventures, kindness and understanding, and the magic of being seen for who they really are. But when Sam’s feelings for Zoe turn into something more, will the universe they’ve built survive the inevitable explosion?

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire (May 7th, 2019)

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Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.
Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.
Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.
Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.
Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

Time Sight by Lynne Jonell (May 14th, 2019)

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Castles, battles, the ancient Scottish Highlands, and a boy who is determined to bring everyone safely home combine in this absorbing middle grade time-travel adventure.
Will’s mother is in danger overseas, and his father must find her, so Will and his little brother are packed off to relatives in Scotland. Will feels useless. He can’t save his mother. He can’t help his father. And when he tries to amuse his brother on the plane ride, he can’t even locate the images in Jamie’s book–the hidden pictures that everyone else can see. Once at the family’s ancestral castle, though, Will tries again. And as he delicately adjusts his focus, suddenly his eyes tune in to a different visual frequency—the past.
Looking back five hundred years is interesting . . . at first. But when Jamie impulsively leaps through the opening in time, Will and his cousin Nan must follow, into a past so dangerous that Will isn’t sure how he will get everyone safely home.

The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad (May 14th, 2019)

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Azad’s debut YA fantasy is set in a city along the Silk Road that is a refuge for those of all faiths, where a young woman is threatened by the war between two clans of powerful djinn.
Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population—except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar. 
But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield.
Nafiza Azad weaves an immersive tale of magic and the importance of names; fiercely independent women; and, perhaps most importantly, the work for harmony within a city of a thousand cultures and cadences.

Last Bus to Everland by Sophie Cameron (May 16th, 2019)

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Brody Fair feels like nobody gets him: not his overworked parents, not his genius older brother, and definitely not the girls in the projects set on making his life miserable. Then he meets Nico, an art student who takes Brody to Everland, a “knock-off Narnia” that opens its door at 11:21pm each Thursday for Nico and his band of present-day misfits and miscreants.
Here Brody finds his tribe and a weekly respite from a world where he feels out of place. But when the doors to Everland begin to disappear, Brody is forced to make a decision: He can say goodbye to Everland and to Nico, or stay there and risk never seeing his family again.

An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass (May 21st, 2019)

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In Cantagna, being a sorcerer is a death sentence.
Romy escapes her hardscrabble upbringing when she becomes courtesan to the Shadow Lord, a revolutionary noble who brings laws and comforts once reserved for the wealthy to all. When her brother, Neri, is caught thieving with the aid of magic, Romy’s aristocratic influence is the only thing that can spare his life—and the price is her banishment.
Now back in Beggar’s Ring, she has just her wits and her own long-hidden sorcery to help her and Neri survive. But when a plot to overthrow the Shadow Lord and incite civil war is uncovered, only Romy knows how to stop it. To do so, she’ll have to rely on newfound allies—a swordmaster, a silversmith, and her own thieving brother. And they’ll need the very thing that could condemn them all: magic.

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson (June 4th, 2019)

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All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.
Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.
As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

The Girl in Red by Christina Henry (June 18th, 2019)

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From the national bestselling author of Alice comes a postapocalyptic take on the perennial classic “Little Red Riding Hood”…about a woman who isn’t as defenseless as she seems.
It’s not safe for anyone alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn’t look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago.
There are worse threats in the woods than the things that stalk their prey at night. Sometimes, there are men. Men with dark desires, weak wills, and evil intents. Men in uniform with classified information, deadly secrets, and unforgiving orders. And sometimes, just sometimes, there’s something worse than all of the horrible people and vicious beasts combined.
Red doesn’t like to think of herself as a killer, but she isn’t about to let herself get eaten up just because she is a woman alone in the woods…

Are you looking forward to any of these books? What are your most anticipated releases this spring? Let me know in the comments!

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Blog Tour: The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras – Part One

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Today’s post is the first part in the blogger reread campaign for The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras. This is the second novel in a wonderful middle grade fantasy series about a young Scottish girl’s brave adventure to rescue her family and protect her friends from a corrupt ruler. For the first half of this blog tour, I am sharing my favorite quotes from the first novel, The Mad Wolf’s Daughter. The second part, which will be up on March 7th, will be a review of The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter.

If you want to check out my full review of The Mad Wolf’s Daughter, click here!

Book Info:

themadwolfsdaughterThe Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras

Date Published: March 6th, 2018

Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books

Pages: 288 pages

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

A Scottish medieval adventure about the youngest in a war-band who must free her family from a castle prison after knights attack her home–with all the excitement of Ranger’s Apprentice and perfect for fans of heroines like Alanna from The Song of the Lioness series.

One dark night, Drest’s sheltered life on a remote Scottish headland is shattered when invading knights capture her family, but leave Drest behind. Her father, the Mad Wolf of the North, and her beloved brothers are a fearsome war-band, but now Drest is the only one who can save them. So she starts off on a wild rescue attempt, taking a wounded invader along as a hostage.

Hunted by a bandit with a dark link to her family’s past, aided by a witch whom she rescues from the stake, Drest travels through unwelcoming villages, desolate forests, and haunted towns. Every time she faces a challenge, her five brothers speak to her in her mind about courage and her role in the war-band. But on her journey, Drest learns that the war-band is legendary for terrorizing the land. If she frees them, they’ll not hesitate to hurt the gentle knight who’s become her friend.

Drest thought that all she wanted was her family back; now she has to wonder what their freedom would really mean. Is she her father’s daughter or is it time to become her own legend?

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My Favorite Quotes

Be wary as the beasts-in-flesh loom tall, but be wary of the youngest most of all.”

‘So even a wee wolf like you has teeth.’”

‘You’re far kinder than most bloodthirsty villains I’ve met.’ He glanced at her face, and started. “God’s bones, you’re a lass.’

‘You say that as if I’m a three-headed goose. Have you never seen a lass before?’”

The sea hit Drest like a blow, freezing her mind, her breath, her movement—but only for an instant. In the next, the cold had seeped throughout her body and she felt one with the ocean.”

Drest pretended to look out at the water. ‘I don’t see anyone. Wait, there’s a duck. I think it’s coming to save you.’”

‘First rule of battle: Prepare yourself with weapons. Second: Control your anger as its own fine blade. Third: Get your rest and stay warm, for the field will be cold and you will often need to draw on the memory of that warmth.’”

‘That’s not the sound to make, lass. Cry out like a wolf instead.’ Wulfric’s deep voice. ‘A battle cry to send their blood running. Reach deep down inside yourself and roar.’ 

Drest closed her eyes and drew all her breath into her chest, then into her stomach, and then, with Wulfric’s voice still in her ears, let out in a deep, wordless roar, a voice that hardly sounded like her own.”

The figure was as tall and thin as a heron with long white hair like folded wings. A sharp nose, high cheeks, and glittering eyes made the face seem wild. The animal-skin cloak—of gray wolf, red fox, and speckled boar—added to that effect, and the skin’s rank odors filled the room.”

‘Resentment is not a plant we should wish to cultivate.’”

‘I’ve never been this sure of anything. And as I said before, Mordag and I will be of great service to you both. Now please, accept my help, or I’ll just trail behind you the whole way.’”

“As Drest slipped under Emerick’s other arm, she wondered: Was she truly strong? Strong enough to rescue her family from Faintree Castle without their help? Compared to them, she was but a wee lass, and a wee lass could never do such a thing. But Tig had called her a legend. And a legend could do anything.”

‘I’ve not been slain and I saved her, Emerick. Just me, against a whole village. Tell that to anyone who doesn’t think that a lass can fight and win.’”

‘What’s the difference between a witch and a warrior? Or a knight, for that matter. None. We’re all the same, if you take away our trappings.’”

‘Have you ever known in your heart who you are—not what people tell you, but who you really are—and tried to be that? If I could have any power in the world, I’d want it to be the ability to tear away the past.’”

‘The last part’s for the trade, lad, and the rest are all things my brothers would have done.’

‘You do more: Not slaying your bandit, going after your family like this—Drest, you’re the kindest person I’ve met.’

‘Nay, I’m not. It’s just my da’s code.’

‘Does it tell you to be a warrior with a good heart? No, that’s your own doing. That’s what makes you a legend.’”

‘You’re a good lass to come after us, but it’s been a hard journey, and the hardest part yet is to come. Steel yourself, Drest, and never forget who you are.’”

‘Lads on quests don’t need to be careful; we always escape true danger, thanks to our friends.’”

‘Your father, child, is mortal. He is as vulnerable to a sword as anyone. And so are you. Think carefully. Do you wish to go on? You will die if you do.’

‘I don’t plan on dying. I’ve come this far, and I’m not about to turn back.’”

‘You should cherish your own last moment,’ Drest told the red-faced knight. ‘And you’ve the brain of a minnow if you can’t see that I’m a lass. I’m Grimbol’s youngest, his only daughter, and I’m his most powerful weapon. I’m a legend, see.’”

‘You’re my own dear girl,’ he said, his voice harsh against her ear, ‘and I wish to the stars that I could keep you safe. But it’s time for you to be one of the war-band and take your place among your brothers. You’re braver than all of them put together, you know.’”

‘The lass has traveled for days with her wounded battle-mate, got a sound beating, freed us, then had to escape. Do you think she might be tired? Do you think she might need a rest—not just to close her eyes, but a rest from talk of fighting? We’ll be in the middle of it again soon enough. Let her find her peace tonight.’”

The old warrior kissed his daughter, and let her go. Drest sat back and watched him walk ponderously to his sons. He had listened to her—as his daughter, brave and strong in her own right, and as a member of his war-band. And he loved her—of that she had no doubt.”

Drest squeezed his hand. ‘I’m not leaving you, Emerick. When I said I was your guard, I meant it. Don’t even think of doubting me.’

The young lord turned his hand up to grasp hers. ‘Of course. There is not a knight truer or more chivalrous in Faintree Castle than you, Drest. I could not ask for a better guard.’

‘And friend. I’m your friend too, am I not?’

‘I could not ask for a better friend.’”

Sometimes words alone can save your life.”

Author Bio:

15572575Diane Magras is author of The New York Times Editors’ Choice, The Mad Wolf’s Daughter, as well as its companion novel, The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter. She’s addicted to tea, castles, legends, and most things medieval. She lives in Maine with her husband and son and thinks often of Scotland, where her books are set.

Blog Tour Schedule

Week One: The Mad Wolf’s Daughter

February 25 – Teachers Who Read – Interactive Classroom Activity

February 26 – Little Reader – Moodboard

February 27 – RhythmicBooktrovert – Listicle: Top Five Favorite

February 28 – The Quirky Book Nerd – Listicle: Top Favorite Quotes

March 1 – Some the Wiser – Character Recommendations

Week Two: The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter

March 4 – Teachers Who Read – Review

March 5 – Little Reader – Review + Creative Instagram Picture

March 6 – RhythmicBooktrovert – Review

March 7 – The Quirky Booknerd – Review

March 8 – Some the Wiser – Review + Favorite Quotes

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Blog Tour: To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer

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I’ve done a number of blog tours before but this one has been particularly special. To go with the theme of this novel—pen pals building a friendship that stretches all the way from the East to the West Coast—we were paired up with a fellow book blogger from the opposite side of the country to create our posts.

I was lucky enough to be paired up with the lovely Marília from Happy Reading Co.! She is a wonderful blogger and such a sweet person—I am so glad that we got to meet and work on this together. This has been a truly fun and unique experience, and the two of us are definitely planning to keep in touch and hopefully collaborate again sometime soon!

For our posts, Marília (West Coast) and I (East Coast) talked about and picked out our favorite quotes from the novel. We also split our final list between each other’s posts, so make sure to head over to her blog to see the other half of our collab!

Book Info:

tonightowlfromdogfishTo Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer

Date Published: February 12th, 2019

Publisher: Dial Books

Pages: 304 pages

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

From two extraordinary authors comes a moving, exuberant, laugh-out-loud novel about friendship and family, told entirely in emails and letters.

Avery Bloom, who’s bookish, intense, and afraid of many things, particularly deep water, lives in New York City. Bett Devlin, who’s fearless, outgoing, and loves all animals as well as the ocean, lives in California. What they have in common is that they are both twelve years old, and are both being raised by single, gay dads.

When their dads fall in love, Bett and Avery are sent, against their will, to the same sleepaway camp. Their dads hope that they will find common ground and become friends–and possibly, one day, even sisters. 

But things soon go off the rails for the girls (and for their dads too), and they find themselves on a summer adventure that neither of them could have predicted. Now that they can’t imagine life without each other, will the two girls (who sometimes call themselves Night Owl and Dogfish) figure out a way to be a family?

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My Favorite Quotes

A moon appears. We make wishes on shooting stars. Words beyond words are spoken.”

The reason I chose this quote is very simple—it is absolutely beautiful. This is describing one of the key moments in the novel that sets in motion the events that truly bring together this patchwork family. Wording this moment in the way the authors have here emphasizes the beauty of the relationships that are formed between not only the two girls but their loved ones as well.

I did have another dad (named Phillip), but he died super long ago so we’ve adjusted to his being gone, but we will always miss him. Every year on his birthday we light a candle and then we look at the stars because he told my dad that his soul was going to stretch out across the sky.”

This quote is honestly one of the most touching quotes in the novel. It is a wonderful sentiment and, having just gone through a number of huge losses in the past year or so myself, it really spoke to me on so many levels. It demonstrates the pain of loss but also how love transcends everything. Though we may experience the loss of loved ones, they never leave us. They will always be woven into our lives and absolutely nothing can break that link.

No one’s supposed to tell anyone, “You two shouldn’t love each other.” But maybe, also, no one’s supposed to tell anyone, “You two should love each other.”

I love the message that this quote is conveying and it also perfectly sums up the deeper meaning of the story. This book is all about bridging gaps, accepting people for who they are, and what it truly means to be a family. Love is love without question—it doesn’t need to abide by a set of rules or conform to one single definition. Families are not just people related by blood or marriage. They are formed by the profound connections we have with those we care about that will always stand the test of time.

Marília’s Favorite Quotes

Maybe when it’s your own story, you’re always going to be an unreliable narrator.”

Some people are a lot more interested in raising kids than other people. From what I can see, the person most interest usually does the best job.”

Dancing is a way of setting your spirit free.”

Make sure to go check out Marília’s post to see the rest of our favorite quotes!

Author Bios:

Holly GoldbergHolly Goldberg Sloan was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and spent her childhood living in Holland; Istanbul, Turkey; Washington, D.C.; Berkeley, California; and Eugene, Oregon. After graduating from Wellesley College and spending some time as an advertising copywriter, she began writing family feature films, including Angels in the Outfield and Made in America. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Counting by 7s and Short, among other novels. 

Meg WolitzerMeg Wolitzer was born in Brooklyn, New York, grew up in the town of Syosset, on Long Island, and sold her first novel, Sleepwalking, while a senior in college. She is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous novels for adults, including The InterestingsThe Ten-Year NapThe Wife, and The Female Persuasion; the young adult novel Belzhar; and the middle-grade novel The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman.

Blog Tour Schedule

Week One

February 4 – Books4yourkids – Author Guest Post: What are the constraints – and freedoms – of writing an epistolary novel? Is it similar to writing a first person narrative?

February 4 – Two Points of Interest – Author Guest Post – what inspires you to write? 

February 5 – Pages and Pugs – Favorite Quotes 

February 5 – Amber After Glows – Favorite Quotes

February 6 – Read. Eat. Love. – Inspired by the Book: Food 

February 6 –  The Hermit Librarian – Inspired by the Book: Food 

February 7 – Book Loaner Blog – Listicle: Camp Activities Inspired by the Book 

February 7 – Books. Libraries. Also, cats – Listicle: Camp Activities Inspired by the Book 

February 8 – Happy Reading Co.  – Favorite Quotes

February 8 – The Quirky Book Nerd – Favorite Quotes 

Week Two

February 11 – That Reader Girl – Listicle: Camp Songs 

February 11 – We Live and Breathe Books – Listicle: Camp Songs 

February 12 –  Sam Maybe Reading – Review 

February 12 –  Randomly Reading – Review 

February 13 – The Reading Corner for All – Creative Instagram Picture 

February 13 – Dos Lit Worms – Creative Instagram Picture

February 14 – Laceydoeslit – Review + Playlist 

February 14 – The Bookworm Banter – Review + Playlist 

February 15 – YA Books Central – Author Q&A 

February 15 – Because reading is better than real life – Author Q&A

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