I hope you have a spooky, fun, and safe Halloween!
I hope you have a spooky, fun, and safe Halloween!
Tomorrow is Halloween, so of course that means it’s a creepy/Halloween freebie this week! I really love freebie weeks because I get to see your creativity and I get to stalk your lists for future TTT ideas! I’m a huge chicken, so I’m sharing books that I’d really like to read, but I’m worried they will be too scary for me. I’ve included the keywords from the synopsis that have me thinking I might not be able to handle it. lol. Maybe you can help talk me into some of them, or save me from books you know a chicken can’t handle!
1. The Family Plot by Cherie Priest
Cemetery. Corpse. Danger. Storm shuts down the only road to the property. Power goes out. MURDEROUS PHANTOM. Raising Hell.
2. Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough
Beware. Isolated village. Evil that has lain hidden for years. Horrifying truth.
3. The Shining by Stephen King
Stephen King. Atmospheric old hotel. Remote. Sinister. Strange and terrible forces. Stephen King.
4. There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
Dark past. Mysterious outsider. Gruesome murders. Grotesque flair. Secrets.
5. Dreamfall by Amy Plum
Debilitating insomnia. Experimental new procedure. Malfunction. Dreamworld. Nightmares. Hunted by creatures from their darkest imaginations. Tormented.
6. The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle
Amish. Murderous. No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in.
(Note: I’m not afriad of Amish people. It’s the whole package.)
7. Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn
Screaming. Drenched in blood. Vanished. She doesn’t know who she is. Haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Bloody razor. Violent. She will never escape. Twisted secrets.
8. Between The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
Devil. Eerie. Grim. Liar.
9. The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Three decades. Inferno. The girl of nowhere. Disturbed mind. Sinister. Alter ego. Dark, twisted magic.
10. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Jack the Ripper is back. Brutal murders. Rory spotted the man… The only one who can see him. His next target.
What are your Halloween plans? My students will be having a very fun-filled day at school (including a costume parade and class party). Knowing how insane it will be, and how tired I’ll be when I get home, my plans include watching Arsenic & Old Lace while eating caramel apples like an old person!
I’m so happy to have Jenny Hale on the blog today to give us a small glimpse into where she writes all of her amazing books! I’m super excited to read her upcoming releases, Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses (out tomorrow!), as well, which you can read more about below!
When I’m working, I like to be out of my house, usually at a coffee shop—different ones all the time. While I’m there, I’m eyes-on-the-screen, fingers moving at a clip, downing a latte. To any onlooker, I might seem like a caffeine-laden vagabond who avoids housework to spend long hours on my computer in isolation. But that would be far from the truth.
New surroundings supercharge my senses; they affect me more than any amount of caffeine could. While I won’t deny my love of lattes, (I’m one of those who rattles off eye-rolling requests like “skinny almond milk sugar-free caramel latte with no whip”) the lattes are but an added bonus, a ticket to get me a seat in this new location.
The swirl of cold air as the old oak door opens and shuts, the smell of roasting coffee beans tickling my nose, the gurgle of the espresso machines, the embrace as two people meet up and settle happily at a table nearby—while my fingers move, my brain is taking all that in.
Traveling is my way of reviving my mind, of filling it with little bits of new information that I store away and draw upon when the stories start to take shape. Each place is like a gift, and I unwrap it slowly, taking in every fold, every angle, every line of it. I might unwrap the gift and find someone’s laugh, or the way they inhale just before they speak. I might see a shadow on a table and note how it moves whenever someone passes by.
And then I write.
Sometimes the locations themselves find their way into my stories. The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia is one of them. I used to live in Richmond, and I have spent a few Christmases sipping drinks among the incredibly festive holiday decorations there. You can catch a glimpse of it in my novel Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses. I hope you get a chance to visit with my characters Abbey and Nick!
Single mother Abbey Fuller loves her family more than anything, and she doesn’t regret for a moment having had to put her dreams of being an interior designer on hold. But with her son, Max, growing up, she jumps at the chance when a friend recommends her for a small design job. How hard can it be?
Nick Sinclair needs his house decorated in time for his family’s festive visit-and money is no object. What he doesn’t need is to be distracted from his multimillion-dollar business-even if it is Christmas.
When Abbey pulls up to the huge Sinclair mansion, she has a feeling she might be out of her depth. And when she meets the gorgeous, brooding Nicholas Sinclair, she knows that she’s in real trouble . . .
With the snow falling all around them, can Abbey make her dreams of being a designer come true? And can she help Nick to finally enjoy the magic of Christmas?
About Jenny Hale
When I graduated college, one of my friends said, “Look out for this one; she’s going to be an author one day.” Despite being an avid reader and a natural storyteller, it wasn’t until that very moment that the idea of writing novels occurred to me.
Sometimes our friends can see the things that we can’t.
While I didn’t start straight away, that comment sowed a seed and several years, two children, and hundreds of thousands of words later, I completed a novel that I felt was worthy of publication. The result was Coming Home for Christmas, a heart-warming story about friends, family, and the magic of love at Christmas.
The rest is history.
When I’m not writing, I’m a mother of two boys and a wife to a very supportive husband.
Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour of Teri Bailey Black’s The Girl At the Grave! As one of the co-owners of The Fantastic Flying Book Club, I had the exciting privilege of organizing this blog tour and am delighted to be hosting Teri’s guest post on her experiences as a debut author here on my blog as well!
Two days after my book was released, I received a message from a stranger through social media: “It is 2 am, so I’m not even going to attempt writing my review until tomorrow, but your book is everything! Thank you for writing it and sharing it.”
Messages like that make my heart sing because getting published is a bumpy road with as many twists and turns as a murder mystery.
I’ve been writing stories since I learned to read, but stopped for about ten years after I got married and had four children. My first child was born with severe disabilities, which brought a few extra challenges. Plus, I started a home business that took off and kept me creatively happy. Life was busy! But as my kids hit the teen years, I yearned to write again and started carving out that time.
It took me a while to figure out WHAT I wanted to write. I started out with middle grade fantasy because that’s what I enjoyed reading with my kids. I went to a big SCBWI conference in Los Angeles and submitted my first chapter for a critique with an editor. I sat down with much fear and trembling, and her first words were, “This is amaaazing! How fast can you finish it?” Wow, that was quick and easy. I spent four months finishing the manuscript, sent it to her with confidence—and a month later received a 2-sentence form rejection letter, not personalized at all.
Okay, not so quick and easy.
By then, I’d realized that my writing voice isn’t middle grade action, it’s more atmospheric and young adult. I wrote a young adult fantasy with magic, but by the time it was done, I knew it wasn’t that special—just a practice novel. I sent queries to agents anyway and did receive some personal notes that encouraged me. They liked my writing, but not the story.
Hm. Start again—with what? By then, the market was flooded with some truly amazing YA fantasy and dystopian, so I wanted to try something different. I’ve always loved murder mysteries, so quickly landed on that idea. (At the time, I wasn’t aware of any YA mysteries, but they’ve since become a trend, which makes me happy because I love them!)
GIRL AT THE GRAVE started as an image in my mind of a little girl in the 1800’s with wild curls and dirty feet—an outcast because her mother was hanged for murder. The story started in her childhood, then wandered into her teen years. I added murder and romance. I wrote without much of a plan (typical seat-of-the-pants writing, before I’d figured out good plotting techniques.) That first draft took a year, writing occasionally.
I sent out queries and received several requests for the full, followed by rejections with praise for my writing voice but problems with the plot. One agent asked me to revise and resubmit, with a suggestion to make it either a full children’s story or a full YA story. Seemed so obvious, suddenly.
I set the story aside for six months while I read some books on plotting—wishing I’d done that earlier. Who knew there was so much to writing? (Everyone except me, apparently.) I carefully restructured the whole story, then rewrote it. This time, I saw clearly what the story needed to be.
That third version was the ticket to publication. Quite a few agents requested the full. Barbara Poelle read it and called quickly (no surprise if you know Barbara), which led to a stressful weekend as I emailed the other agents and they all scrambled for a chance. But I knew I wanted Barbara. A month or so later, she sold it to Tor Teen in a 2-book deal. Exciting!
Until . . . three months later, I received my revision notes from my editor. Her sharp, professional eyes had spotted a problem at the core of the story that would require changing almost every thought, word, and action from the main character. I completely agreed with her; that wasn’t the sticking point. But UGH! I couldn’t imagine rewriting it yet AGAIN. I flailed around for a few days, then took a deep breath and said YES I CAN DO THIS. She wanted the revision in 3 weeks. I said impossible. She then gave me six weeks, and I ended up taking 8 weeks. As the deadline loomed, there were some all-night writing sessions. I pushed the send button and collapsed.
Now, when I read reviews praising the book’s plot, it makes me giggle a little. It wasn’t easy, but I did get there in the end.
Thank goodness those first few books didn’t sell. Yes, really. I needed that practice to learn the craft, because once you hit the book deal, strong writing skills are required to revise quickly and meet deadlines. (Well, I didn’t revise QUICKLY, but more quickly than I could have a year earlier.)
I’m happy to say that my next book is coming together in a much easier fashion. Another murder mystery with dead bodies, romance, and a setting that makes me clap my hands with excitement. Can’t wait to share it with the world!
Valentine has spent years trying to outrun her mother’s legacy. But small towns have long memories, and when a new string of murders occurs, all signs point to the daughter of a murderer.
Only one person believes Valentine is innocent—Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man her mother killed all those years ago. Valentine vows to find the real killer, but when she finally uncovers the horrifying truth, she must choose to face her own dark secrets, even if it means losing Rowan in the end.
About Teri Bailey Black
Teri Bailey Black grew up near the beach in southern California in a large, quirky family with no television or junk food, but an abundance of books and art supplies. She’s happiest when she’s creating things, whether it’s with words, fabric, or digging in the garden. She makes an amazing chocolate cherry cake—frequently. She and her husband have four children and live in Orange County, California.
If you could learn the identity of your one true love—even though you will never meet— would you?
Years have passed since refugees from a ruined earth took to space, eventually settling a new system of planets. Science has not only made the leaps necessary to allow time travel, but the process engineered a strange side effect—predicting your one true love.
If you could save your one true love from an untimely death, would you be able to resist?
Sixteen-year-old Kaia Vespasian is an apprentice to the Historians—a group charged with using time travel to document the triumphs and failures of the past—and she can’t resist a peek at her long-dead soul mate in Ancient Egypt. Before she knows it, she’s broken every rule in the book, and the consequences of getting caught could destroy more than just her new romance.
Or would you have the strength to watch him die?
But when Kaia notices a fellow classmate snooping around in a time where he doesn’t belong, she suspects he has a secret of his own—and the conspiracy she uncovers could threaten the entire universe. If her experience has taught her anything, to changing history means facing the consequences. The Historians trained her to observe and record the past, but Kaia never guessed she might have to protect it— in a race across time to save her only chance at a future.
You’d think a book about a girl who travels back in time to learn what mankind did to make earth uninhabitable, and ends up meeting the love of her life in ancient Egypt would be right up my alley, but it SO wasn’t. I love history and learning about ancient times. I love time travel. I love the scientific explanations as to why time travel is possible. I love the excitement and mystery of time travel. So… what was my problem? Well, hold my drink.
1. Ok, so we’ve got these Historians who go back in time to analyze the great tragedies and mess-ups of humankind to ensure that these events do not repeat themselves. That sounds kind of cool, but ultimately we, as readers, only get to hear about the crap the world has gone through. One scene in particular about a fire in a factory really depressed me.
2. Something sciency has happened, and now people can find out who their ideal mate is. The problem is, their ideal mate could have been anyone since the beginning of human existence. This means that when these kids become of age they can get the name of their one true love who statistically isn’t even alive anymore. How demotivating is that?! If I found out that my one true love died in 15 B.C., then what’s the point of even trying to find love now? lol. This is what happens to Kaia. She finds out that her ideal match died during the time of Caesar. So… “Ok, here’s the name of the man of your dreams. He died thousands of years ago. You have the power to easily travel back in time to be with him, but DON’T because it could altar everything.” This is just so stupid! Of COURSE she’s going to go meet him. Of COURSE they’re going o fall in love. Of COURSE they are going to endanger practically everyone who has ever lived. Why would a society even do this to its people when it could easily destroy humanity!? Everything rests on lovestruck teenagers and whether or not they have the willpower to resist pushing a button that will take them to their greatest love story ever. *facepalm*
3. These Historians really aren’t supposed to change anything about the past because it could have detrimental effects on the future. But that doesn’t mean they don’t change EVERYTHING. They just secretly change things and go home, hoping the world and the people and the life they’ve always known still exist. Again, too much rests on a very flimsy system.
4. So… we know that too-stupid-to-live Kaia goes to visit her man, Oz, in Egypt. And of course she forces the instalove because science told her he’s The One. Oz is awkward and weird, and I don’t think that people in ancient Egypt talked like he talks in this book. They immediately fall in love because of some unseen reason, and he immediately understands and accepts that she’s a time traveler even though he’s never even heard of electricity, much less a time machine. It all just felt so wrong and forced.
5. I didn’t even care about the other characters. I just remember a lot of judging and moral grey areas.
6. You’ve got characters trying to play God, and I hate that. He’s doing fine on His own, thank you.
7. There is so much more that I hated about this book, but I’m getting tired of writing about it. You know how you hate something more the more you think about it? That’s me right now.
So… bottom line: don’t read this. lol. I just looked at Goodreads and saw how highly rated this book is and made that emoji face that has the big eyes and no mouth. I don’t feel like we read the same book. lol. There’s better options out there for time travel romance. This one was just depressing.
This week’s topic is getting us ready for Halloween next week! We’re highlighting bookish villains this week. Which villains do you absolutely hate? Which ones do you love? Which are the creepiest, the sweetest, the most evil, the most misunderstood, etc.? I can’t wait to see your lists!
1. The Darkling from The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
He’s dark and sexy and charming and dangerous, and people are just drawn to him for some mysterious reason.
2. Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
He was the villain in the beginning, but he captured al of our hearts.
3. Valek from Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Valek is a master assassin and trains Yelena in the art of poison. He makes her pretty miserable until…
4. Akiva from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.
It did not end well.”
It didn’t start so well, considering Akiva attacked Karou at their first meeting. lol.
5. Bastien Toussaint from Black Ice by Anne Stuart
Bastien is a ruthless assassin, hired to take out Chloe for knowing too much about his illegal arms dealer employers, but he eventually decides to protect her instead.
6. Ty from Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher
I have no idea how Lucy Christopher got me to sympathize with the kidnapper, but she did!
7. Alexander Moncrieffe from What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long
Alex initially wanted to seduce his rival’s little sister as revenge. Making her fall in love and then breaking her heart is the perfect way to get back at Ian Eversea. He falls for her, though. Of course. So many swoons in this book!
8. Luke from Lament: The Faery Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater
Luke is an assassin who has been assigned to kill Deirdre. He shows up mysteriously and Dee is totally drawn to him. He’s in love with her, but do we trust him?
9. Beast from Hunted by Meagan Spooner
I love this guy for pretty much the same reason I love The Beast in Beauty and the Beast. He’s tortured, brooding and… beastly. He’s holding Yeva prisoner in his castle. But… then the swoons happen.
10. Joshua Templeman from The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Josh is the enemy. He’s Lucy’s nemesis. They hate each other, and are fighting for their place in the company they both work for. But there’s a very fine line between love and hate, and they don’t seem to know where it is.
Which villains did you highlight this week?
Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour of Emily Suvada’s This Cruel Design! As one of the co-owners of The Fantastic Flying Book Club, I had the exciting privilege of organizing this blog tour and am delighted to be hosting Emily’s welcome interview here on my blog as well!
1. Your bio says you’re very passionate about STEM subjects. How have your books allowed you to share that passion with your readers?
I’m definitely passionate about STEM subjects. I studied math and science at university and while I don’t work in those fields today, I still read about science constantly and work hard to keep up-to-date with new advancements in those fields. Personally, I think science is exciting, fast-moving, creative, and holds a lot of ways to express yourself. That’s something I wanted to incorporate into my books by using science as a foundation for my world-building as well as a core interest for many of my characters. A lot of books showcase fairly recognizable scientific characters—the cold, clinical and logical person in a lab coat. I definitely have a character like that in my book, but I’ve also got the ambitious, headstrong and reckless scientist in there, as well as the curious, contemplative, idealistic scientist, and even the ground-breaking, unrestrained, and wildly creative scientist, too. There’s so much more to STEM subjects than charts and lab coats – there’s philosophy, ethics, and adventure, and I wanted to showcase all these sides of science through the plot, characters, and world of the Mortal Coil series.
2. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. I remember crafting complicated stories about pirates and lush tropical islands in grade school, and being proud when the teacher read one aloud to the class. I’ve always been a voracious reader – I lived right near my town’s library and went there almost every day – and I think that love of books naturally translated into a desire to write them myself. I tried writing short stories and had a few failed starts at tackling a novel while I was at university, but I didn’t really know what genre I wanted to write in. I was trying to craft literary stories but my heart had always been in scifi. It wasn’t until I read Twilight that I truly fell in love with the YA genre and realized it was where I wanted to be. From there, I found my way back to science fiction and discovered a love of thrillers, and This Mortal Coil was the result of merging those three interests – YA, scifi, and thrillers.
3. What have you learned about writing/yourself since your debut?
What a great question! I think the biggest thing I’ve learned since publishing my debut is that I love being an author. Before you’re published, it’s easy to think of being an author as just someone who writes books which magically appear on shelves, and who spends their days inside crafting sentences and characters. That’s definitely part of the job, and it’s a part that I love, but I also really like interacting with readers, I like promoting my books, and I like strategizing about the business aspects of publishing. I love every facet of the role of being an author – and I’ve learned that this truly is what I want to do for the rest of my life!
4. What are some of the best books you’ve read so far this year?
This year has been a great one for books! I read Laini Taylor’s STRANGE THE DREAMER early in the year and was absolutely spellbound and awestruck by it. I’ve got MUSE OF NIGHTMARES and am dying to get into it, too. I also tore my way through the SHADES OF MAGIC series by V.E. Schwab this year, having come to it a little late. I absolutely loved it, and wish desperately there was more of them to read! I’ve also loved a couple of debuts that are coming out next year – WILDER GIRLS by Rory Power and THE LUMINOUS DEAD by Caitlin Starling. Both books totally gripped me – they’re beautifully written and I can’t wait to see them out in the world.
5. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
I really like gardening, cooking, and crafts – anything I can do with my hands and create something I can look at and enjoy. I’m fairly active, and try to go for a run or a bike ride a few of times a week, though sometimes I just want to snuggle on the couch with a good book. My husband and I play video games together, too. Right now we’re playing one of the Divinity RPGs and I’m obsessed with crafting :D
1. Describe your book in five words or less.
Fast, twisty, scientific, bold, and exciting. (I’m not counting ‘and’. You can’t make me!)
2. Pitch this series to those who haven’t read This Mortal Coil yet!
If you liked the science and action in Jurassic Park, or the pace and apocalyptic imagery of Mad Max, or if you like the sound of a story about a gene-hacker trying to saving the world from a virus that detonates its victims into plumes of infectious mist, then you should check out This Mortal Coil!
3. The heroine, Cat, is a gene-hacker. What inspired you to write about a character with this unique skill?
I’m so interested in genetics, and genetic engineering. I keep up-to-date with advancements in these fields, and some of the emerging technology is truly groundbreaking. While I think we’re a long way from hacking our DNA on-the-fly, we’re definitely not far from hacking our own genes – in fact people are already trying it in their own homes. As with any emerging tech, I think researchers and corporations are going to do most of the groundbreaking work, but people have a vested interest in their own health and many people are happy to try a supplement or strange treatment if it’s going to give them a shot at being healthier. If you take this adventurous spirit with regards to medicine and combine it with easy access to genetic engineering, I don’t think it’s too outlandish to imagine a world where people are pursuing genetic alterations like we see in This Mortal Coil. Since I expect that we’re going to end up relying on algorithms to edit our DNA, it seemed sensible to combine coding and genetics, and then I created a character with a love of both fields, and Cat was born.
4. What’s your favorite quote from This Cruel Design?
I have two. One quote comes from a point in the story where Cat has been pushed to a limit inside herself and finds a strength there she’s been searching for:
There is not one of me—I am no single voice in the darkness. I am a chorus. A symphony of code and violence, driving a knife into each of their hearts.
The other of my favorite quotes is the last line from Chapter 26, just because I think it’s badass :D
5. Is there a message you hope readers pull from the story?
With the entire series, what I’m hoping for is that readers will be faced with difficult questions that there is no easy answer to. That’s because I don’t think there really are any easy answers when it comes to scientific ethics and development. What’s more important than the answers is the eagerness to consider multiple viewpoints, and to try to keep learning and thinking, and contemplating. Today’s young readers are tomorrow’s scientists, and I hope they come away from these books a little more excited about science, about coding and STEM topics, but also with an understanding that these subjects are likely to radically change the world in the next hundred years, and they will be the ones who determine if it changes for the better, or for the worse.
This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada
Series: This Mortal Coil #2
Published by Simon Pulse on October 30, 2018
Genres: Young Adult — Science Fiction, Dystopia
Add to Goodreads • Amazon • B&N • Book Depository
Cat thought the Hydra epidemic was over, but when new cases pop up, Cat must team up with an enemy to fix the vaccine before the virus spirals out of control in this thrilling sequel to This Mortal Coil, which New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman says “redefines ‘unputdownable.’”
The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.
Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.
When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.
But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind.
About Emily Suvada
Emily Suvada was born and raised in Australia, where she went on to study mathematics and astrophysics. She previously worked as a data scientist, and still spends hours writing algorithms to perform tasks which would only take minutes to complete on her own. When not writing, she can be found hiking, cycling, and conducting chemistry experiments in her kitchen. She currently lives in Portland, OR, with her husband.
King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.
Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.
Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?
I’ve always been fascinated by mythology, but I’ve read very few retellings of mythological stories. When I learned of this retelling of the story of King Midas from his daughter’s perspective I was immediately intrigued. In the original story of King Midas, the king is granted one wish from the god of wine, Dionysus. The king wished that everything he touched turned to gold, making him the wealthiest man in the world. Everything is fine at first, but then he tries to eat and can’t because his food turns to gold. His daughter, seeing his dismay, throws her arms around him to console him and turns to gold herself. Obviously the moral of the story is to not be greedy and to value family more than wealth.
A Touch of Gold picks up where the story of King Midas ends, so it’s not exactly a retelling. It’s close, though. In A Touch of Gold, King Midas’s daughter, Kora, survived the touch and is alive and human once again. However, she has suffered permanent side effects. Her skin has a gold sheen to it, and anything she touches turns to gold. She can also sense gold, and it calls to her constantly. This side effect in particular is kept a secret. The King has also suffered long-lasting side effects. He cannot be too far away from the remaining items that he turned to gold himself. They are stored in a room in his palace, but someone breaks in and steals them one night. The king begins to get very sick and slowly deteriorates. In an effort to save his life, Kora goes on a journey by ship to find and return the gold to her father before it gets so far away that he dies. A handsome duke offers to take her on his ship, and the adventure begins.
A Touch of Gold is filled with action, adventure, betrayal, and a bit of romance. I flew through it pretty quickly because it was such an entertaining story. Some other mythological stories and woven into the story of King Midas, and it was very interesting to see how the author chose to do that. I liked the characters, and the twists and turns that they were involved in.
I can definitely see room for a sequel or a companion novel, and I hope that Annie Sullivan writes more mythological stories to expand this world that she has created in A Touch of Gold. Her writing is lovely and flowing, and I really enjoyed my reading experience. I wholeheartedly recommend this story to those interested in mythology and adventures on the high seas. There’s strong characters and just a hint of romance, so I think there’s something in it for everyone.
The king's scholar, the magus, believes he knows the site of an ancient treasure. To attain it for his king, he needs a skillful thief, and he selects Gen from the king's prison. The magus is interested only in the thief's abilities.
What Gen is interested in is anyone's guess. Their journey toward the treasure is both dangerous and difficult, lightened only imperceptibly by the tales they tell of the old gods and goddesses.
I’ve been hearing great things about Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series for years, but wasn’t ever really interested in The Thief because there’s no romance in it. I must have at least a little romance in my books or I start to go a little nuts! However, I quickly changed my mind when I found out that Steve West narrates these books because I’m basically in love with him. Honestly, his narration was pretty much the only reason I even finished it. I mean, it was ok. I was intrigued enough that I wanted to see how things ended. And I’d heard of an awesome twist that happens in The Thief, so I was curious about that as well. A word to the lovers of this series: don’t make it sound THAT amazing and filled with twists and action because I built it all up so much in my head that I’m not sure anything would have lived up to my anticipation. As always, my main points are bolded.
1. The bulk of this story takes place during a journey toward a mythical treasure. There’s a lot of walking. A LOT of walking and traveling and horseback riding and stopping for camp at night. Things were very uneventful for a long time.
2. Gen complains a lot. Like, I wanted to slap him upside the head all the time but didn’t because he’s STEVE WEST so I refrained from getting too mad. I mean yes, his life is not so good. He’s been held prisoner and now he’s been let out to go steal a treasure for the magus so the magus can give it to the king and have all the credit and notoriety. That sucks. Gen is a prisoner during the entire journey. That’s not fun at all. But oh my gosh, does he have to be such a whiney baby!?
3. I found the mythology of this world to be rather interesting. While the characters walk and walk, they tell the stories of their belief system. We get to hear about the creation and their system of gods and goddesses. It was interesting for a while, but then I started to grow bored and wanted something else to happen.
4. The twist. As I mentioned before, when people build something up to be so unbelievably amazing and exciting I almost always end up being disappointed. I wish I hadn’t known a twist was coming. Maybe my imagination is just way too big, but I thought up a ton of possible twists that would have been more exciting to me. Yes, it’s a twist. Yes, it did kind of make me double-take and start analyzing everything up to that point to see why I hadn’t thought it up myself. But it was still not as grand as I had hoped. It did make me glad I finished the book, though, so I guess it still worked a little.
All in all, I enjoyed The Thief enough to immediately start The Queen of Attolia. I wanted to know where things would go next, and I wanted to listen to more of Steve West’s swoony voice!! But I ultimately DNFed it after about an hour into the audiobook, so I guess I reached the point where even Steve couldn’t keep me going anymore. And that makes me sad. I can see why people like these books, but I can also tell that they came out before YA fantasy really took off. I’ve just read much better.
This week I’m sharing my bookstore and library bucket list. There are SO many beautiful buildings that serve as havens for bookworms, and there are so many unique, quaint, and special places that house books. I had so much fun looking for pictures to feature this week. When I start falling down he rabbit hole on something like this, it’s very hard for me to stop. I had a hard time narrowing my list down to only ten places! I’d love to visit these and so many other bookstores and libraries in this world. I wish the USA had more book places that were pretty like these ones are.
Libreria Acqua Alta in Venice, Italy
I wish I’d known about this bookstore when I went to Venice a few years ago, because it sounds wonderful! The name translates to “bookstore of high water”, and it floods each year. To combat the water, which is a book’s worst enemy, the owner stores the books in waterproof bins, buckets, bathtubs, canoes, and gondolas. There are many books and maps of Venice, used and new books, and even some stray cats that have made the store their home. They seem to love people, and I’ve seen pictures of visitors petting them. There’s an outdoor courtyard with a stairway made of old encyclopedias that leads you to beautiful canal views.
Livraria Lello in Porto, Portugal
The neo-gothic and art nouveau design elements make this bookstore a must-see for me. It’s so opulent and grand! I love the stained glass ceiling and that huge, sweeping red staircase. Apparently J.K. Rowling did some of her early Harry Potter brainstorming here, and is rumored to have inspired some of her designs of Hogwarts. Very cool!
Libreria El Pendulo in Mexico City, Mexico
This beautiful bookstore is known for looking like the city of Paris, France inside. It’s crammed full of shelves of books and trees and cozy places to sit. It looks like such a fun place to be.
Cook & Book in Brussels, Belgium
The Cook & Book is a bookstore and restaurant! It’s divided up into nine different rooms that each house different kinds of books, and you can choose to eat your meal at a table in any of them. The English books room is decorated like an old British library. There’s also a terrace and a playground for children. I particularly love the ceiling of flying books.
Book Now in Bendigo, Australia
This rare and out of print bookstore looks like a log cabin inside! I love this old nineteenth century building that was once owned by a wine and spirits merchant.
Boekhandel Dominicanen (Polare Maastricht) in Maastricht, The Netherlands
This bookstore is located in an old Medieval Dominican church. I don’t even care what kind of books this store houses, I want to visit this beautiful church!
Klementinum Baroque Library Hall in Prague, Czech Republic
This place is beautiful… “The baroque library was first opened in 1722 as a part of the Jesuit university based in Klementinum. It houses over 20,000 volumes of mostly foreign theological literature, coming into Klementinum from the beginning of the 17th century until recent times. Books with white painted spines and red marks have been in the library since the time of the Jesuits… The interior of the baroque library has remained intact since the 18th century. The hall is decorated with ceiling frescoes by Jan Hiebl depicting allegorical motifs of education, and portraits of Jesuit saints, patrons of the university and prominent representatives of this order.”
The Abbey Bookshop in Paris, France
I’ve been to Shakespeare & Company, which was so much fun, but I didn’t know about this cute little bookstore in the Latin Quarter until I was already home. Just another excuse to go back to Paris someday!
The Bookworm Bookshop in Beijing, China
This is a bookstore, library, bar, and restaurant, but I was sold when I saw these magical ceilings with lights and lanterns. It looks like such a cozy place to go to browse, buy, and borrow books; eat a yummy meal or dessert; and meet authors!
Leakey’s Secondhand Bookshop in Iverness, Scotland
Pictures of this bookstore make me smile. It’s positively charming! Look at the colorful panels walls, that spiral staircase, and the rich wood and cute little railings. I love the upper floor that runs around the perimeter of the store, and that you can find cozy places to sit anywhere. They even have an open log fireplace. Sounds perfect!
Have you been to any of these bookstores and libraries?
Do we have any of the same ones on our lists?