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Once A Queen by Sarah Arthur: Q&A and GIVEAWAY!

Friday, September 29, 2023

An American teenager discovers that her estranged English grandmother was once a queen in another world in the debut novel from bestselling author and speaker Sarah Arthur.

When fourteen-year-old Eva Joyce unexpectedly finds herself spending the summer at the mysterious manor house of the English grandmother she's never met, troubling questions arise. Why the estrangement? What's with the house's employees and their guarded secrets? Why must Eva never mention trains, her father, or her favorite childhood fairy tales?

After strange things start happening in the gardens at night, Eva turns to the elderly housekeeper, gardener, and the gardener's great-grandson, Frankie, for answers. Astonishingly, they all seem to believe the fairy tales are true--that portals to other worlds still exist, though hidden and steadily disappearing. They suspect that Eva's grandmother was once a queen in one of those worlds.

But Eva's grandmother denies it all. After a horrific family tragedy when she was young, her heart is closed to the beauty and pain of her past. It's up to Eva, with Frankie's help, to discover what really happened, whether family relationships can be restored, and if the portals are closed forever. As she unravels generational secrets, Eva wrestles with the grief of a vanishing childhood--and the fear that growing up means giving up fairy tales forever.

Goodreads Summary

Author Q&A with Sarah Arthur


What’s the story behind the story of this book?

About twenty years ago, I stumbled across an obscure article about the British rail crash of October 8, 1952, which killed 112 people and wounded 340— to this day, the worst peacetime rail accident in British history. I began to think about the victims. Where were they going? Who did they leave behind? How did the survivors feel, knowing they’d lived through World War II only to suffer tremendous loss in peacetime?

As often happens with me, a story began to take shape in my head. Let’s suppose a young woman experienced a series of tragedies, including losing someone in that crash. What would it do to her as a survivor? It became clear that this kind of trauma likely would have a profound effect on her mental health, on her trust in a good and just universe, and on her relationships with family and friends— including her children and grandchildren— for the rest of her life.

I began writing. And along the way I realized that the story was partly about my own grandmother, who died of cancer when I was fourteen. Born in 1913, she had a tough childhood. She lost her father to the flu epidemic of 1918. Her stepfather wasn’t a good man (my great- grandmother divorced him, which, at the time, was un-heard of). My grandmother’s family lost everything in a fire. So they relocated to land in northern Michigan that the government promised was good for farming— but it wasn’t. Later, my grandmother’s husband died of a heart attack when my mom was seventeen.

My grandmother carried those wounds, including a refusal to believe in a good God, into my own childhood, when she went into rehab for alcohol addiction and suicidal ideation. Then, after her cancer diagnosis, she came to live with us during the last weeks of her life. Her morphine- induced psychic breaks gave us a window into even more pain, which was both scary and heartbreaking. But in the end, there was a moment when she seemed to turn back to faith in a very childlike way, which gave me hope that the trauma she’d experienced wouldn’t have the last word in her story— or ours.

In Once a Queen, the fallout of generational trauma continues into the summer of 1995, when my story begins and the survivor’s only granddaughter— American teenager Eva Joyce— travels to England to meet her grandmother for the first time. But generational trauma doesn’t get the last word in this story either. We can trust that the Author is ultimately good and just.


Tell us about the influences on your writing.

I grew up reading authors like Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden), George MacDonald (At the Back of the North Wind), C. S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia), Elizabeth Goudge (The Little White Horse), and Madeleine L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time), among others. I suppose all my fiction echoes these stories in some way. Once a Queen, in particular, echoes classic fairy tales, so I decided to invent my own fictional world with its own origin story.

The key metaphor in my tales is that of weaving: There’s a World- Weaver, who creates worlds on a cosmic loom, and the storytellers of those worlds are known as Loomkeepers, who weave the stories into tapestries with images that sometimes come to life. For the weaving imagery and terminology, I’ve relied on the incredible artistry of my sister, Abigail Deloria, who is a master weaver based in northern Michigan.


What’s your purpose in writing this book?

I once heard Newbery- winning author Katherine Paterson deliver a keynote in which she said, “I want to be a spy for hope.” That’s the purpose of all my writing: to inspire young people like my main character, Eva, to hold on to the hopes, dreams, stories, creative play, and imaginative worlds they inhabited as children, even as they turn their faces toward adulthood with all its pain. What if those childhood things actually are glimpses of the true joy, the true hope, that holds up the world?

I want to show how joy is a living thread that runs through the warp and weft of the universe. That’s the hope I’ve built into this book.

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This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Going Dark by Melissa de la Cruz

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

“An intense rollercoaster of a thriller and a searing indictment of which victims get our attention and sympathy.”
– # 1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu

In this ripped-from-the-headlines Gone Girl meets A Good Girl's Guide to Murder , #1 New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz weaves a white-knuckle YA thriller about a beautiful young influencer who vanishes after going on vacation with her boyfriend.


The Influencer
Amelia Ashley shares everything with her followers – her favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants, her best fashion tips, and her European trip-of-a-lifetime with her hot boyfriend.

The Boyfriend
Josh has no choice but to return home without Amelia after she abandons him in Rome. He has no clue where she went or how her blood got in his suitcase. Why won’t anyone believe him?

The Hacker
To Harper Delgado, Amelia Ashley is just another missing white girl whipping up a media frenzy. But with each digital knot she untangles about the influencer, Harper who is Amelia Ashley?

The Other Girl
Two years ago, another girl went missing, one who never made headlines or had a trending hashtag.

The Truth
Amelia’s disappearance has captured the world’s attention. What comes next? Watch this space…

Told through a mixture of social media posts, diary entries, and firsthand accounts,  Going Dark  is a gripping, suspenseful thriller about all the missing girls who fall off the radar, perfect for true crime fans and readers of  One of Us is Lying  by Karen M. McManus.

Goodreads Summary

The sheer creativity of the book's compilation of media utilized to tell the story was enjoyable and different. In a weird way, the book reminded me of the missing flight in the past years: there was lots of speculation from online sources, people coming up with theories, and someone close to the missing girl as the main suspect. Amelia felt more like a faraway social media figure, which I suppose made sense given her status as an influencer, than a real character. 

Even after reading the book I don't feel like I really know her well. Amelia led a secretive life and a life that could lead her into danger; when the police identified her boyfriend as a person of interest I was once again reminded of another recent event in the news regarding a woman murdered by her boyfriend. As the book wore on, I wasn't entirely convinced that the boyfriend, in this case, had anything to do with the events leading up to Amelia's disappearance. I think the author kept the disappearance just vague enough to allow for many different guesses. 

Strangely, one of my favorite parts of the book revolved around the environment. I loved reading about Rome and unique history wrapped around the city. It was fun to see Rome through someone else's eyes. I would have enjoyed it if more of the book had focused on the city and its restaurants, culture, and historical landmarks. 

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond by Amanda Glaze

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Deliciously chilling and edge-of-your-seat suspenseful.”
—Nina LaCour, Printz Award–winning author of We Are Okay
Sacramento, 1885  
Edie and Violet Bond know the truth about death. The seventeen-year-old twins are powerful mediums, just like their mother—Violet can open the veil between life and death, and Edie can cross into the spirit world. But their abilities couldn’t save them when their mother died and their father threatened to commit them to a notorious asylum.   
Now runaways, Edie and Violet are part of a traveling Spiritualist show, a tight-knit group of young women who demonstrate their real talents under the guise of communing with spirits. Each night, actresses, poets, musicians, and orators all make contact with spirits who happen to have something to say. . . notions that young ladies could never openly express. But when Violet’s act goes terribly wrong one night, Edie learns that the dark spirit responsible for their mother’s death has crossed into the land of the living. As they investigate the identity of her mysterious final client, they realize that someone is hunting mediums…and they may be next.Only by trusting in one another can the twins uncover a killer who will stop at nothing to cheat death.

Goodreads Summary

This book reminded me of the Insidious movies in the best way. These two sisters have special abilites that compliment each other's and lead to many spiritual adventures. When one of their shows goes horribly, Edie must trust potentially unreliable resources to help her sister and other mediums. I really enjoyed the relationship between the two sisters and could palpably feel them grow closer over the course of the book. They live in a society where women aren't the most valued citizens and they must act accordingly. I could tell that the author spent a good deal of time researching for this book; the scenes were easy to visualize and detailed to perfection. I thought the pacing over the book was pretty good; there were some portions that were a little slower than others. The ending was both satisfying and enjoyable; I didn't realize the authors' intimiate connection to the story until the end. Any young adult or adult readers who enjoy the paranormal, horror, or even the dark fantasy side of fiction will enjoy this book!

4 Stars

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

Bookshelf Books: Edition 2

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
Goodreads Summary:
When Cameron Post's parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they'll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.

But that relief doesn't last, and Cam is soon forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone (as her grandmother might say), and Cam becomes an expert at both.

Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship--one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to "fix" her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self--even if she's not exactly sure who that is.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a stunning and unforgettable literary debut about discovering who you are and finding the courage to live life according to your own rules.

The Girl With Borrowed Wings by Rinsai Rossetti
Goodreads Summary:
A stunningly written tale of an isolated girl and the shape-shifting boy who shows her what freedom could be--if only she has the courage to take it

Controlled by her father and bound by desert, Frenenqer Paje’s life is tediously the same, until a small act of rebellion explodes her world and she meets a boy, but not just a boy--a Free person, a winged person, a shape-shifter. He has everything Frenenqer doesn’t. No family, no attachments, no rules. At night, he flies them to the far-flung places of their childhoods to retrace their pasts. But when the delicate balance of their friendship threatens to rupture into something more, Frenenqer must confront her isolation, her father, and her very sense of identity, breaking all the rules of her life to become free.

Pure by Julianna Baggott
Goodreads Summary:
We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

Surrender by Elana Johnson
Goodreads Summary

The thrilling and seductive sequel to Possession puts love on the line in a dystopian struggle for independent thought.

Forbidden love, intoxicating power, and the terror of control…
Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father’s rules: He’s the Director. It’s because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent—a power so dangerous, no one else is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi.
     All of that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine’s got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can’t. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi’s boyfriend, Zenn.
     Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine’s father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She’s even starting to suspect Vi’s secrets might involve Freedom’s newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque…. 

Invisible World by Suzanne Weyn
Goodreads Summary
Suzanne Weyn brings her trademark mix of history, romance, and the supernatural to the Salem Witch Trials.

Elsabeth James has powers she doesn't fully understand. She is descended from midwives, mind readers, and a fortune-teller who was put to death because she foresaw the death of Mary, Queen of Scots. She can hear people's thoughts and sometimes see what they see. She has supernatural gifts, but not evil ones.
When Elsabeth sails with her sister, father, and governess to America, however, she does not foresee that their ship will be wrecked in a storm. Alone for the first time in her life, she washes up on a South Carolina plantation, where she falls in love with a boy she meets there and learns magic and healing from an unexpected source.
As her powers grow, her stay is cut short, and she is sent as a servant to Salem, Massachusetts. There she accidentally allows an evil spirit to enter the village. When a group of girls start to say they're bewitched and accuse villagers of witchcraft, Elsabeth must find some way to save herself and the boy she loves.

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Johnson
Goodreads Summary:
Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair...

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Peaches comes a magical and bewitching story of the romance between a fearless heroine and the boy who wouldn't grow up.

Shifting by Bethany Wiggins
Goodreads Summary:
After bouncing from foster home to foster home, Magdalene Mae is transferred to what should be her last foster home in the tiny town of Silver City, New Mexico. Now that she's eighteen and has only a year left in high school, she's determined to stay out of trouble and just be normal.

Agreeing to go to the prom with Bridger O'Connell is a good first step. Fitting in has never been her strong suit, but it's not for the reasons most people would expect-it all has to do with the deep secret that she is a shape shifter. But even in her new home danger lurks, waiting in the shadows to pounce. They are the Skinwalkers of Navajo legend, who have traded their souls to become the animal whose skin they wear-and Maggie is their next target.

Full of romance, mysticism, and intrigue, this dark take on Navajo legend will haunt readers to the final page.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Goodreads Summary:
I have a curse
I have a gift

I am a monster
I'm more than human

My touch is lethal
My touch is power

I am their weapon
I will fight back

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war—and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Goodreads Summary
Mara Dyer believes life can't get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong.

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Goodreads Summary
By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can't bring herself to hate him as much as she'd like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband's strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?

Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?

Do you have a favorite book from these?

This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ