Set in 1914, against the harsh backdrop of a remote Alaskan
community, How Quickly She Disappears is the story of Elisabeth, a wife
and mother living a very quiet life in the far northern reaches of Alaska. Elisabeth
is at a point in her life where she is isolated, geographically and
emotionally, from her husband, her community, and family. In addition to her isolation,
Elisabeth is still coping with the disappearance of her twin sister Jacqueline.
Twenty years ago, when the girls were young, Jacqueline disappeared without a
trace. Now, a strange man named Alfred has flown into town and manipulates his
way into Elisabeth’s house, her life, and her past. Elisabeth’s life is turned
upside down when Alfred commits a heinous crime in her small town, and then
offers clues to her sister’s disappearance, clues that are entirely too
detailed to be wrong. Before long, Elisabeth is pulled into a deranged cat and
mouse game in the hopes of finally discovering what happened to Jacqueline all
those years ago—and maybe even directly to the sister she’s always believed is
How Quickly She Disappears is a stark, haunting novel.
I found myself wanting to disbelieve everything Alfred was telling Elisabeth
but being drawn into this madness right alongside her.
My one complaint is that it wasn’t wrapped up in this novel,
it left an opening for a sequel and it felt as forced and manipulative as
Alfred was. This really felt like a standalone novel the entire time I read it
and to be left like this at the end kind of ruined a lot of the experience for
How Quickly She Disappears will be available January
*I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of How Quickly She
Disappears from Berkley Publishing Group and Netgalley in exchange for an
We’re thrilled to share the official cover reveal for a brand new young adult vampire series by best-selling author Susan Harris! CHAOS THEORY is the first book in THE SANGUINE CROWN series, which releases on May 20, 2020. CHAOS THEORY brings vampires back in popular form as this new series pays homage to the classics, while breathing fresh and revitalized life back into the genre.
“Finally, a new series for fans of Vampire Academy to sink their teeth into.” —Melanie’s Muses
CHAOS THEORY by Susan Harris
Available in retailers everywhere on May 20, 2020!
Everything you thought you knew about vampires is wrong…
The vampire race is on the brink of extinction, and their fate now rests on the shoulders of an unlikely pair. Ryan Callan might be a badass seventeen-year-old with a mouth as sharp as her sai, but surviving the loss of her parents has come at the cost of isolating herself from everyone—even her best friend, Crowned Prince Nickolai.
When Nickolai is sent to integrate with the humans, Ryan is tasked with watching over him and ensuring his safety. But when a rogue vampire threatens to reveal the existence of vampires to the world, Ryan and Nickolai must put aside their differences to keep their world a secret.
Now, thousands of human lives are at stake… and so is the entirety of vampire kind.
Perfect for fans of Vampire Academy by Richelle Meade and Slayer by Kiersten White, Susan Harris’s young adult vampire romance is here to prove that vampires are back, and they’re more enticing than ever.
Future installments in The Sanguine Crown series by Susan Harris include:
Chaos Theory (Book One—May 20, 2020)
Butterfly Effect (Book Two—Fall 2020)
Additional novels in the series to be announced soon.
What do you think?
Leave us a comment or two to tell us what you think about the new cover for Chaos Theory, and the series premise. We’re excited about bring vampires back in 2020!
MORE ABOUT SUSAN HARRIS:
Susan Harris is a writer from Cork in Ireland.
An avid reader, she quickly grew to love books in the supernatural/fantasy and Dystopian genre. She writes books for young adults and adults alike.
When she is not writing or reading, she loves music, oriental cultures, tattoos, creepy snow globes, DC shoes, stationary, anything Disney, Marvel movies, psychology and far too many TV shows. If she wasn’t a writer, she would love to be a FBI profiler or a PA for Dave Grohl or Jared Leto.
Clean Teen Publishing has not one, but two new print releases from Emily Shore today! THE TEMPLE, and THE TEMPLE TWINS, Books 3 and 4 in the UNCAGED SERIES by Emily Shore are finally available in print. Grab your copies today!
Readers are calling THE UNCAGED SERIES—“A breath of fresh air;” “Beautiful and Frightening;” and “Captivating, haunting, and unapologetically honest.”
READ THE WHOLE SERIES IN DIGITAL:
ABOUT EMILY SHORE:
Emily Shore is a MN author with a B.A. in Creative Writing from Metro State University and was a grand prize winner of #PitchtoPublication, which led her to working with professionals in the publishing industry. She is signed with Clean Teen Publishing for her anti-trafficking dystopian The Aviary, first in the Uncaged Series. For every sale, proceeds return to trafficking rescue and to Emily and her husband’s international adoption fund.
Throughout the years, Emily has connected with rescue organizations and survivors of sex-trafficking and injects the truths she’s learned into her books for youth. She loves motivational speaking on the issue of sex-trafficking and always hopes for more speaking events in schools, churches, and libraries. Please contact her on her website if you are interested in hearing her speak.
Emily lives in Saint Paul with her husband and two daughters. They are currently in the process of adopting a little girl from India.
Think of all the darkest vengefests you’ve enjoyed in
literature and film and you have the experience that is Foul is Fair, the
latest novel by Hannah Capin.
MacBeth, Heathers, Mean Girls, Kill Bill, and AHS: Coven have
all been used to describe elements and the tone of this new book, and they are
all appropriately used.
Jade and her friends have fabled teen lives, they’re the “it”
girls and the world is at their feet—until a group of boys from a wealthy prep school
make the mistake of assaulting Jade. Now, Jade has sworn to get vengeance, and
nobody will stand in her way.
Foul is Fair is a dark, unflinching journey into
manipulation and vengeance. Capin’s writing is raw and intense, drawing you
along and daring you to turn away while taunting you to turn another page. This
is one of those books that is both horrifying and fantastic at the same time,
and destined to create quite a buzz.
*I received a copy of Foul is Fair from St. Martin’s
Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Yesterday I had an extra day off from work. I took my youngest to the doctor then to breakfast, we hit the Halloween store and did some other errands. My afternoon was pretty well planned out, I was in the middle of writing a blog post for newer writers about finding your writing community and then was planning to spend a chunk of time on an editing project. But then, my entire world shifted off its axis.
This is Rebel, he’s been with us for eleven years. He’s an old dude with some significant arthritis, digestion issues, and an intolerance to hot weather that leads to stroke-like symptoms. He loves gardening and food prep, and obviously he’s highly tolerant of my shenanigans.
What we didn’t know until yesterday is that Rebel also had a softball-sized tumor. Suddenly our buddy was not doing well at all. After a discussion with the vet and as a family we made the choice to ensure he wasn’t in any more distress and we said goodbye.
Two of my boys chose to be with him when he passed, and that was truly one of the hardest things to consider, but I’m comforted in knowing that it was a peaceful transition for everyone in that room.
So, our family is a little smaller today, and a lot sadder as we try to focus on happy memories and the spirit of Rebel Alliance Gallegos that lingers in our hearts.
I’ve been so bad about keeping up my blog this summer–okay, for always is a truer statement. The one thing I thought I could reliably do is a post about all the books and audiobooks I’ve loved. Well, I have no excuses. I’m reliably unreliable and you should know that about me.
So here is a really, really, long list of my summer reading. As you can see, I did do some series binge reading (or listening), so there are a number of book series listed. I even managed a couple of nonfiction books.
Next Girl to Die (The Calderwood Cases #1) by Dea Poirier
Solving the case will avenge her sister—unless the killer finds her first.
It’s been fifteen years since Claire Calderwood’s sister, Rachel, was brutally murdered in their small hometown in Maine. Claire has finally carved out a life for herself as a homicide detective in Detroit, but the past comes calling when the local police back home ask for her help with a murder eerily similar to Rachel’s.
Still haunted by Rachel’s cold case, Claire returns home, hoping to solve the crime and finally put her grief to rest. As she starts investigating, the last thing she needs is tenacious journalist Noah Washington asking questions she’s not ready to answer. But like her, Noah won’t give up until he finds the truth—and Claire reluctantly finds herself relying on him more and more when disturbing new details about Rachel’s death come to light.
When the killer strikes once again, Claire knows he’s not done. Now he’s set his sights on Claire, who will have to find the courage she needs to survive a deadly confrontation years in the making.
Beneath the Ashes (The Calderwood Cases #2) by Dea Poirier
A troubled detective learns that the fires of the past are still burning in this haunting, emotional thriller.
When detective Claire Calderwood is called to a grisly murder scene, she’s haunted by memories of her murdered sister. The victim is tied to a motel bed, her head covered in plastic and her body sprinkled with ashes. Claire’s dealt with vile crime scenes before, but this one strikes close to home.
Claire’s boyfriend, reporter Noah Washington, once helped find her sister’s killer, but now he’s a distraction to this new investigation. She wants to help him resolve the mysteries of his past, but Noah has been distant, and Claire knows he’s keeping something from her.
When another girl is murdered like the first, Claire suspects the work of a serial killer. As the case heats up and evidence mounts, she finds herself in profound danger. Claire’s been burned before; now she must decide if she can trust Noah to help her solve the case and uncover the truth that lies beneath the ashes.
by Kim Chance
When a 200-year-old witch attacks her, sixteen-year-old bookworm Lainey Styles is determined to find a logical explanation. Even with the impossible staring her in the face, Lainey refuses to believe it—until she finds a photograph linking the witch to her dead mother.
After consulting a psychic, Lainey discovers that she, like her mother, is a Keeper: a witch with the exclusive ability to unlock and wield the Grimoire, a dangerous but powerful spell book. But there’s a problem. The Grimoire has been stolen by a malevolent warlock who is desperate for a spell locked inside it—a spell that would allow him to siphon away the world’s magic.
With the help of her comic-book-loving best friend and an enigmatic but admittedly handsome street fighter, Lainey must leave her life of college prep and studying behind to prepare for the biggest test of all: stealing back the book.
Seeker (Keeper #2) by Kim Chance
Lainey’s normal, bookworm life no longer exists. With her family murdered by the Master, she joins forces with a group of Supernatural rebels. But as she struggles to cope with her new role as Keeper and the uncontrollable power it gives her, Lainey realizes that magic does indeed leave a mark—but it’s not always physical.
Ty isn’t one of the good guys. He’s done terrible things, and he won’t stop until he gets what he wants. Even if it hurts. Even if it means betraying the girl he loves . . . again. For Maggie, all her comic book dreams have come true, and her new life as a Shifter is just beginning. But with war closing in, is it truly a dream or a death sentence?
In the ultimate battle for power, Lainey, Ty, and Maggie must face-off against the Master, and work together to discover the greatest weapon of all.
Seek and you will find.
A Life Without Living (The Strega Series #1) by SC Alban
How long would you wait for true love?
Kate Martins appears to have it all; a good career, a beautiful home, and an amazing husband. What more could anyone ask for? But when Kate’s recurring nightmares begin to cross over into her waking hours, she discovers her perfect life is not at all what it seems. It isn’t until she meets a mysterious stranger that Kate begins to question who truly she is and where she comes from.
For the past four centuries, Giovanni Rossi has faced the dark powers of the Strega Negri in search of the one woman who can lift his curse of immortality. The problem? His enemy always seems to be one step ahead. Desperate to be free, Gio races against the clock to find his true love. Will he find what he is looking for in Kate, or fail once more and be doomed to another lifetime of loss?
All Boy by Mia Kerick
Seventeen-year-old Callie Canter knows all about screwing up—and being screwed over. After her so-called boyfriend publicly humiliated her senior year, taking a fifth year of high school at Beaufort Hills Academy is her second chance to leave behind a painful past. But her need for social acceptance follows, and going along with the in-crowd is the difference between survival and becoming a target. Staying off the radar is top priority. So, falling for an outsider is the last thing on Callie’s “to-do” list. Too bad her heart didn’t get the memo.
With his strict, religious upbringing and former identity far away in Florida, Jayden Morrissey can finally be true to himself at Beaufort Hills Academy. But life as a trans man means keeping secrets, and keeping secrets means not getting too close to anyone. If he can just get through his fifth year unnoticed, maybe a future living as the person he was born to be is possible. Yet love is love, and when you fall hard enough, intentions crumble, plans detour, and secrets are revealed.
From multi-award-winning author Mia Kerick, comes a powerful, timely, and life-changing novel, which follows two teenagers nursing broken hearts and seeking acceptance, and who together realize running away isn’t always the answer.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
MEET THE DOG
WHO WILL SHOW THE WORLD
HOW TO BE HUMAN
The New York Times bestselling novel from Garth Stein—a heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope—a captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.
Contagion by Erin Bowman
After receiving a distress call from a drill team on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is sent into deep space to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission.
When they arrive, they find the planet littered with the remains of the project—including its members’ dead bodies. As they try to piece together what could have possibly decimated an entire project, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon. . . . ” This is how Abby Whitshank always describes the day she fell in love with Red in July 1959. The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate an indefinable kind of specialness, but like all families, their stories reveal only part of the picture: Abby and Red and their four grown children have accumulated not only tender moments, laughter, and celebrations, but also jealousies, disappointments, and carefully guarded secrets. From Red’s parents, newly arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to the grandchildren carrying the Whitshank legacy boisterously into the twenty-first century, here are four generations of lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn house that has always been their anchor.
The first edition of Crucial Conversations exploded onto the scene and revolutionized the way millions of people communicate when stakes are high. This new edition gives you the tools to:
Prepare for high-stakes situations
Transform anger and hurt feelings into powerful dialogue
Make it safe to talk about almost anything
Be persuasive, not abrasive
The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.
His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
If you could steal things from dreams, what would you take?
Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself.
One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams.
And sometimes he’s not the only one who wants those things.
Ronan is one of the raven boys – a group of friends, practically brothers, searching for a dead king named Glendower, who they think is hidden somewhere in the hills by their elite private school, Aglionby Academy. The path to Glendower has long lived as an undercurrent beneath town. But now, like Ronan’s secrets, it is beginning to rise to the surface – changing everything in its wake.
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Stiefvater
Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost.Friends can betray.Mothers can disappear.Visions can mislead.Certainties can unravel.In a starred review, The Bulletin called The Dream Thieves, the previous book in The Raven Cycle, “a complex web of magical intrigue and heart-stopping action.” Now, with Blue Lily, Lily Blue, the web becomes even more complex, snaring readers at every turn.
The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater
All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love’s death. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.In a starred review for Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Kirkus Reviews declared: “Expect this truly one-of-a-kind series to come to a thundering close.”
Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Orphaned and expendable, Alina Starkov is a soldier who knows she may not survive her first trek across the Shadow Fold―a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. But when her regiment is attacked, Alina unleashes dormant magic not even she knew she possessed.
Now Alina will enter a lavish world of royalty and intrigue as she trains with the Grisha, her country’s magical military elite―and falls under the spell of their notorious leader, the Darkling. He believes Alina can summon a force capable of destroying the Shadow Fold and reuniting their war-ravaged country, but only if she can master her untamed gift.
As the threat to the kingdom mounts and Alina unlocks the secrets of her past, she will make a dangerous discovery that could threaten all she loves and the very future of a nation.
Welcome to Ravka . . . a world of science and superstition where nothing is what it seems.
Siege and Storm (Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo
Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Alina Starkov’s power has grown, but not without a price. She is the Sun Summoner―hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Shadow Fold. But she and Mal can’t outrun their enemies for long.
The Darkling is more determined than ever to claim Alina’s magic and use it to take the Ravkan throne. With nowhere else to turn, Alina enlists the help of an infamous privateer and sets out to lead the Grisha army.
But as the truth of Alina’s destiny unfolds, she slips deeper into the Darkling’s deadly game of forbidden magic, and further away from her humanity. To save her country, Alina will have to choose between her power and the love she thought would always be her shelter. No victory can come without sacrifice―and only she can face the oncoming storm.
Ruin and Rising (Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo
Soldier. Summoner. Saint.The nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.
The Darkling rules from his shadow throne while a weakened Alina Starkov recovers from their battle under the dubious protection of the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Now her hopes lie with the magic of a long-vanished ancient creature and the chance that an outlaw prince still survives.
As her allies and enemies race toward war, only Alina stands between her country and a rising tide of darkness that could destroy the world. To win this fight, she must seize a legend’s power―but claiming the firebird may be her ruin.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo returns to the breathtaking world of the Grishaverse in this unforgettable tale about the opportunity—and the adventure—of a lifetime.
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets—a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
Face your demons…or feed them. The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war―and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, Nikolai must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.
Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried―and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The wildly popular novel by Stephen Chbosky about a freshman named Charlie (Logan Lerman) who is always watching from the sidelines until a pair of charismatic seniors takes him under their wing. Beautiful, free-s pirited Sam (Emma Watson) and her fearless stepbrother Patrick (Ezra Miller) shepherd Charlie through new friendships, first love, burgeoning sexuality, bacchanalian parties, midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the quest for the perfect song.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
William Golding’s compelling story about a group of very ordinary small boys marooned on a coral island has become a modern classic. At first it seems as though it is all going to be great fun; but the fun before long becomes furious and life on the island turns into a nightmare of panic and death. As ordinary standards of behaviour collapse, the whole world the boys know collapses with them-the world of cricket and homework and adventure stories-and another world is revealed beneath, primitive and terrible.Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies has established itself as a true classic.
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
Here’s what started the phenomenon: the best seller, for over 15 years, that’s been used by screenwriters around the world! Blake Snyder tells all in this fast, funny and candid look inside the movie business. “Save the Cat” is just one of many ironclad rules for making your ideas more marketable and your script more satisfying, including: The four elements of every winning logline The seven immutable laws of screenplay physics The 10 genres that every movie ever made can be categorized by ― and why they’re important to your script Why your Hero must serve your Idea Mastering the 15 Beats Creating the “Perfect Beast” by using The Board to map 40 scenes with conflict and emotional change How to get back on track with proven rules for script repair This ultimate insider’s guide reveals the secrets that none dare admit, told by a showbiz veteran who’s proven that you can sell your script if you can save the cat.
The Hollow Queen (Stolen Empire #5) by Sherry D. Ficklin
As a princess of the Romanov Empire, Elizabeth has enjoyed a life of luxury and privilege. But the sudden deaths of her parents leaves her unprotected—awash in the dangerous tide of her family’s political rivals.
When the supreme council crowns her half-nephew Peter II in her place, Elizabeth is left with no title, no power, and no allies. Now little more than a bastard in the eyes of the world, she is sent to serve in the palatial home of Prince Menshikov—the real power behind the boy king. But Elizabeth refuses to fade quietly into the background. Determined to uncover the truth behind her mother’s murder and expose the men who mean to rule Russia in secret, she grows closer to the handsome young king and swears to protect him and his rule at any cost. But the forces that oppose them are as dark as they are far-reaching—and this time, Elizabeth could lose more than just her title…
Fresh off the investigation into her sister’s death, detective
Claire Calderwood is called to investigate a murder in a nearby community. A
girl’s body has been found tied to the bed of a hotel room, covered in ashes. Without
witnesses, and with few clues, Claire must figure out who killed this girl
while dealing with her own memories and the realization that her boyfriend,
Noah, has been keeping secrets about his own past.
And then another girl is found, and another. Now, faced with
a serial killer, Claire has to find out how the three girls, text messages from
a burner cell phone, and GPS coordinates tie them all together while under
pressure from the local police and a very irate hospital CEO to find the killer.
In her follow up to Next Girl to Die, author Dea Poirier has expertly crafted another thrilling who-done-it. The story line is fast paced and with just as much intensity as book one. Claire is someone you can just identify with, she isn’t perfect, but she’s exactly the person her past has molded her into. While characters in some books seem to act just to advance the plot line, Claire is consistent and genuine. Poirier has also done an amazing job of bringing the details of Maine to life so that the setting acts as another character, helping to bring a stark, harsh richness to an already chilling story. The crime and resolution is just as satisfying as I’d hoped (no spoilers from me!).
Beneath the Ashes will be released November 19, 2019.
While you wait for it’s release, you can get your copy of Next Girl to Die (The Calderwood Cases #1) from Amazon or Barnes & Noble
You can also read my interview with author Dea Poirier here
The Grace Year is another of those rare books that
has left me speechless. This is what I knew about this book going in…
“Survive the year.
No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.
Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their
beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a
powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of
womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release
their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage.
But not all of them will make it home alive.
Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against
friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she
quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s
not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab
one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest
threat may very well be each other.
sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes
twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the
difficult decisions they make in-between.”
I was immediately lured into this world that was at once so
bizarre and so familiar in theme. It has all the feels of The Handmaid’s Tale
(a dystopian patriarchal society). The Hunger Games (sending away teens
who may, or may not, return) and Lord of the Flies (the psychology of people
existing under duress and away from the confines of society).
Tierney has just been sent to a remote location for her grace
year, and survival against the elements isn’t the only thing she’ll have to
endure. Almost immediately the power structure among the thirty-three girls is
established and the cruelty of some of them becomes evident, with simmering
grudges boiling over into vengeance. Danger also lurks outside the compound as poachers
are waiting for the opportunity to kill the grace girls in order to sell their
body parts to people looking to capture some of their magic.
From the start to the end my heart was pounding and my mind
reeling at every turn of the storyline. Kim Liggett has done an amazing job of building
this shocking world and weaving tension and hope amid world that seems so bleak.
The Grace Year is available October 8, 2019 and I highly recommend it.
*I received a copy of The Grace Year from NetGalley and
St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review
Sherry Ficklin continues to thrust us directly into the
turbulent machinations of the life in the Romanov Court.
The Hollow Queen is the latest novel in the Stolen Empire series and it does not disappoint. We were introduced to Elizabeth in the novella Winter Queen (link to Winter Queen review) and now, we join Elizabeth as she travels deep into the perilous world of Russian royalty.
With her fiancé and mother both dead, Elizabeth—daughter of
Peter the Great—is returned to court in St. Petersburg where she’s been
stripped of her title, lands and jewels—all of which now belong to her nephew,
Peter the second. Elizabeth understands the peril she faces, her mother has
just been assassinated, there is no Romanov heir after her nephew, and there
are many—including Prince Menshikov—who would prefer to use the crown of Russia
toward their own benefit.
Elizabeth vows to support the reign of Peter, and thereby
the Romanov line. But although he’s entitled to the throne by blood, it’s
Elizabeth who truly understands how to rule. As her affections for the new Tzar
grow, so does the danger to them both. Will Elizabeth be able to overcome the
threats from both within and without her country? And will she continuously
have to sacrifice her own desires and happiness for the sake of her family’s
Once again the story is steeped so deep in political
intrigue, danger and desire that I just couldn’t set the book aside. This is
truly one of my favorite series to get lost in and can’t wait for more.
I recently jumped back into the query pool. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve actively queried a new project and I have to say, it’s as rough as I remember–maybe more so. The querying process will wear an author down on on several levels.
First, and the one we all know too well, is the emotional toll that comes from rejection. This level has sub-levels that are directly related to the differing means we have of arriving at this level.
Sub-Level 1A: Straight forward rejection as in “I’m afraid I just didn’t connect with your writing”.
Sub-level 1B: Rejection by lack of other evidence. This is when you can assume that no response is a rejection.
Sub-level 1C: The high of a partial or full request, followed by a rejection.
Second, researching agents and publishers is a time-intensive process. You research agents/publishers and their agencies/houses to find out what they represent, their manuscript wish lists, who their current clients/books are, how they interact with the writing community/world on social media, and what their submission guidelines are. It takes a lot of time.
Preparing to query is also a time-intensive process. You have to craft the best query letter possible, one that highlights your story, captures attention, and compels the agent or publisher to request more. And you have to do it in about 250 words or less. But you also need to have a synopsis ready, and any writer who’s ever tackled this knows the special room in hell that houses synopsis writing. Is there really a way to effectively condense a 100,000 word novel into a one-page synopsis? (No, really! I’d like to know. If you have the answer, please email me!)
This is the actual sending out of the query to your chosen agents/publishers. This step seems like a quick and easy one, until you get started. For each query you have to check, double-check, and even triple-check (at a minimum) that you’ve followed all of the submission guidelines, properly spelled everything (especially the name of the agent/publisher!), correctly entered the email address, included only what is requested by that agent. And then you do it again for the next agent, and the next, and the next….
You realize you’ve made a spelling error, formatting error, forgot to include your sample pages, forgot the actual query letter, accidentally pasted the letter you wrote for another agent, just re-read your sample pages and realize you should make more edits…It’s bound to happen. Everyone has experienced that horrifying moment when you realize you shouldn’t have hit Send quite so soon.
Survival Tips for the Querying Author
So what can you do to make the querying process a little more tolerable?
First, always keep in mind that even with the best manuscript it really does come down to that novel arriving in the right hands at the right moment in time. Rejection isn’t personal, it isn’t you that’s being rejected. Your manuscript really just isn’t the right fit for this person, and you don’t want someone to accept it with a “well, I don’t love it, but I could probably sell it” view. Ultimately you want someone who will love your manuscript, who will be passionate about it and pursue publication because they believe in it, and you. So keep in mind that each rejection puts you closer to the right hands.
Second, be sure you are researching agents and publishers to find the ones who you want to work with. Don’t go into querying with an anybody-will-do approach. Be sure you’re targeting submissions to people who represent the genre you write in, agents who will meet your long-term career plans (for example, if an agent only represents YA, and you plan to write in the adult market as well, you’ll need to consider that). You should be able to tell an agent or publisher why you submitted to them. Do they represent an author you admire, did you hear them speak at a conference or on a podcast, did you read an interview with them? What specific reason can you offer for thinking this agent/publisher is for you beyond the fact that they are open to submission?
Third, and this goes without saying, but will probably continue to cause all of us ongoing issues: read your submission 3-4 times before sending it! Pay attention to the spelling of the agent/editors name–as well as your own!
Fourth, learn to be patient, or come up with ways to distract yourself from the wait. On average you can expect to wait 4-8 weeks for a response (or lack of response!). I know, from the minute we hit Send on that query we begin the constant checking and refreshing of our emails. We can’t seem to get away from it, but what else can we do to busy our minds and make the wait go by faster? A common suggestion is to get busy on your next project. Writing definitely makes the time pass and keeps you occupied.
One trick I’ve adopted is to plot my submissions so that every week I should have something going out or a resolution on an outstanding submission. Part of my research involves making a note of expected response times. I then send out submissions, in part with an idea of response times (long, medium and short waits). I mix my submissions with an even number of 8-12 week responders, 4-6 week responders, and 2-4 week responders. That way every few weeks I’m either closing out submissions and sending new ones or researching more. But in my mind I’m making some sort of progress every few weeks.
When you do start feeling the sting of waiting and/or rejection reach out and talk to someone. If you don’t have a local writing community, the internet has so many opportunities for reaching out. On Twitter the #WritingCommunity threads are very supportive, and there are smaller, genre-specific groups as well. One thing you should never do though, is use social media to slam an agent/publisher who has rejected your work. Sadly, it is something that still happens, and it will not help you achieve publication–nor should it.
Well friends, that’s it, that’s all I have to offer. Above all, I encourage you to keep writing, keep submitting, and keep dreaming! (and drop me a comment when you achieve your dream–or any time)