REMEMBERING ETHAN is a beautifully illustrated, touching children’s book written by celebrated and Award Winning Author Lesléa Newman and Illustrated by Tracy Bishop. This book helps children cope with the death of a loved one

Title: REMEMBERING ETHAN

Author: LESLÉA NEWMAN

Illustrator: TRACY NISHIMURA BISHOP

Genre: CHILDREN’S FICTION, GRIEF, SOCIAL THEMES

Ages: 4 to 8

Length: 40 PAGES

Publisher: MAGINATION PRESS – A Division of the AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: APRIL 7, 2020

ISBN: 9781433831133 (Hardcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

This is a tender book to read alongside some useful books about death, such as The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst, The Memory Box: A Book About Grief by Joanna Rowland, and The Invisible String by Patrice Karst, beloved and bestselling author Lesléa Newman offers a tender tribute to a lost family member in this touching story that can help families start to heal.

Ethan. Sarah misses her adored big brother with all her heart. She wants to celebrate all the fun times she and her parents spent with him. But ever since Ethan died, Mommy and Daddy won’t mention him.

Sarah can’t even say his name without upsetting them.

Why don’t they want to remember Ethan?

Sarah and her big brother Ethan

MY REVIEW:

In REMEMBERING ETHAN, a young girl named Sarah misses her deceased big brother and wants to talk about him to the people she loves.

Sarah doesn’t understand why her parents don’t talk about Ethan, and in fact, won’t even mention his name. She believes that because they won’t talk about him, that they do not miss him as much as Sarah and her cat Buttons miss Ethan.

When I was a child I do not remember reading any books with grief as a theme. In fact, I do not remember my parents ever talking about death and grief. This denial of unpleasant truths did absolutely nothing to prepare me for dealing with death.

I vividly remember being taken to a darkened funeral home by my Great Aunt and being forced to view the body of one of her friends. I ran from the room and was spanked for being disrespectful. Thankfully, things have changed dramatically since then.

Books, such as REMEMBERING ETHAN are extremely necessary. They let kids know that their feelings are valid and that they are not the only kids to have ever experienced grief.

The fact that this book is published by MAGINATION PRESS which is part of the APA (American Psychological Association) gives purchasers the assurance that this book has been vetted by professionals.

REMEMBERING ETHAN should be in every children’s library. Preparing children for dealing with their emotions when bad things happen can only be beneficial to that child.

To read an interview with the Author click HERE.

REMEMBERING ETHAN is a touching and tender story with beautiful illustrations. I rate both the story and the illustrations as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lesléa Newman (born 1955, Brooklyn, NY) is the author of over 50 books including Heather Has Two MommiesA Letter To Harvey MilkWriting From The HeartIn Every Laugh a TearThe Femme MystiqueStill Life with BuddyFat Chance and Out of the Closet and Nothing to Wear.

She has received many literary awards including Poetry Fellowships from the Massachusetts Artists Fellowship Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Highlights for Children Fiction Writing Award, the James Baldwin Award for Cultural Achievement, and two Pushcart Prize Nominations.
Nine of her books have been Lambda Literary Award finalists. 

Ms. Newman wrote Heather Has Two Mommies, the first children’s book to portray lesbian families in a positive way, and has followed up this pioneering work with several more children’s books on lesbian and gay families: Gloria Goes To Gay PrideBelinda’s BouquetToo Far Away to Touch, and Saturday Is Pattyday.
She is also the author of many books for adults that deal with lesbian identity, Jewish identity and the intersection and collision between the two.

Other topics Ms. Newman explores include AIDS, eating disorders, butch/femme relationships and sexual abuse. Her award-winning short story, A Letter To Harvey Milk has been made into a film and adapted for the stage.

In addition to being an author, Ms. Newman is a popular guest lecturer, and has spoken on college campuses across the country including Harvard University, Yale University, the University of Oregon, Bryn Mawr College, Smith College and the University of Judaism.

From 2005-2009, Lesléa was a faculty member of the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine.

Currently, she is the Poet Laureate of Northampton, MA.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

Tracy Bishop has a degree from San Jose University in graphic design, with a focus on illustration and animation, and is the illustrator of more than 20 children’s books.

She lives in San  Jose, California. 

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

The American Psychological Association (APA) is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychologists in the United States and the largest association of psychologists worldwide. APA is committed to publishing the highest quality titles in all areas of psychology and in the behavioral and social sciences more broadly.

APA also publishes the trade imprint APA LifeTools, as well as the children’s book imprint Magination Press.

Magination Press publishes beautifully written and accessible picture books, middle school readers, teen guides, and workbooks written by psychologists and experts to help children deal with a wide variety of psychological concerns and challenges.

To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:

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BECAUSE THEY WERE WOMEN – The Montreal Massacre by journalist Josée Boileau is being released TODAY in advance of the Anniversary of the massacre – December 6th. This is the only book ever written to detail what happened on that horrific day in Montreal in 1989

Title: BECAUSE THEY WERE WOMEN

Subtitle: THE MONTREAL MASSACRE

Author: JOSÉE BOILEAU

Genre: NON-FICTION, HISTORY, TRUE CRIME, CANADIAN NON-FICTION, FEMINIST NON-FICTION, WOMEN’S ISSUES

Length: 308 PAGES

Publisher: SECOND STORY PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: NOVEMBER 10, 2020

ISBN: 9781772601428

Price: $24.95 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


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Exterior of École Polytechnique de Montréal.
The third floor classroom in the École Polytechnique in which the attack ended.

DESCRIPTION:

Fourteen young university students, murdered because they were women, are memorialized in this definitive account of a tragic day that forced a reckoning with violence against women in our culture.

Each of the victims of what became known as the Montreal Massacre are remembered, their lives cut short on December 6, 1989 when a man entered their school and systematically shot every young woman he encountered, motivated by a misogyny who’s roots go far beyond one man and one day.


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MY REVIEW:

Canada’s first mass femicide took place on December 6th, 1989 when an Anti-Feminist gunman named Marc Lépine rampaged through the halls and classrooms of École Polytechnique de Montréal.

This cowardly “man” separated the men from the women and opened fire, killing fourteen and wounding several others. He was not “man enough” nor “woman enough” to face up to the consequences of his actions and took his own life.

Journalist and author, JOSÉE BOILEAU has written the only book to ever examine this crime and it’s aftermath.

Not only does this book discuss the day of the Massacre, it also details the political and societal norms of the times and the specific challenges facing women in 1989.

By outlining the massacre and the changes that came about as a result, the author gives this important event the respect it is due.

The murdered women, many of whom did not specifically self-identify as “feminists,” have been honored with a Day of Remembrance that is still celebrated today – over three decades later.

In my opinion, it is about time that an accurate historical accounting of this hate crime has been written. This book needs to be incorporated into every high-school History and Civics curriculum Canada-wide. This MUST be required reading.

It is fitting that BECAUSE THEY WERE WOMEN is being released the day before November 11th, which is Remembrance Day here in Canada. Even though Remembrance Day is a day to honor the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice during their military service, the fourteen mass murder victims were unwitting pawns in a war they were unaware they were involved in. WE MUST REMEMBER THESE WOMEN.

In 1905, George Santayana, a philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

We CANNOT allow these women to be forgotten. With the writing of this book, Josée Boileau has ensured that their memories will live on.

I rate BECAUSE THEY WERE WOMEN as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I highly recommend this book to every single Canadian, male and female. I will be recommending this book to everyone I know.

With the 31st Anniversary of the shooting rapidly approaching, I will definitely be giving copies of this book to all of my local women’s shelters for their libraries.

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

THE VICTIMS:

Lépine killed fourteen women (twelve engineering students, one nursing student, and one employee of the university) and injured fourteen others, ten women and four men.

Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student

Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student

Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student

Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student

Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department

Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student

Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student

Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student

Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student

Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student

Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student

The Quebec and Montreal governments declared three days of mourning. A joint funeral for nine of the women was held at Notre-Dame Basilica on December 11, 1989, and was attended by Governor General Jeanne Sauvé, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Quebec premier Robert Bourassa, and Montreal mayor Jean Doré, along with thousands of other mourners.

THE SURVIVORS:

Brought together by tragedy: From left, Jocelyne Dallaire Légaré, Heidi Rathjen, Nathalie Provost and Michèle Thibodeau-DeGuire have developed a close bond since the 1989 massacre. The four of them are shown above at the École Polytechnique in 2014. 
PHOTO BY DARIO AYALA /Montreal Gazette CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO LEARN MORE ABOUT EACH OF THESE OUTSTANDING WOMEN AND HOW SURVIVING THE MONTREAL MASSACRE CHANGED THE TRAJECTORY OF THEIR LIVES.

Who was that gutsy young woman who stood up to a cold-eyed killer?

Twenty-five years after surviving the Polytechnique massacre, Nathalie Provost mused about her younger self.

On Dec. 6, 1989, moments before Marc Lépine began a shooting rampage that killed 14 women at Quebec’s largest engineering school, Provost, then a 23-year-old mechanical engineering student, tried to reason with the gunman.

Lépine’s response was a hail of bullets that killed six of her classmates and wounded Provost in the head and leg.

“There’s a lot of tenderness for the young woman I was then, for her naïveté,” said Provost, now a 48-year-old mother of four who works as a senior manager for the provincial government.

“The wounds to your body, you see right away. For the wounds to your soul, it takes longer. You don’t understand them right away. It took me years to grasp what I had lived through.”Nathalie Provost

Marker of Change, memorial consisting of 14 coffin-like benches in Vancouver by artist Beth Alber.
On the 25th anniversary, fourteen light beams representing the 14 victims shine from Mount Royal.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Josée Boileau has been a journalist for more than thirty years, many of those for Quebec’s Le Devoir newspaper, where she became Editor in Chief.

Today, she is a current affairs commentator for CBC/Radio Canada and Chatelaine, and a book columnist for Journal de Montréal.

She has received a number of honors, including the Hélène-Pednault prize in recognition of her feminist activism.

She lives in Montreal.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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THE MURDERER:

Marc Lépine – the Mass Murderer in a 1989 photograph.


CBC Archives of the Massacre
https://www.cbc.ca/archives/categories/society/crime-justice/the-montreal-massacre/topic-the-montreal-massacre.html
…………………


A play about the shootings by Adam Kelly called “The Anorak” was named as one of the best plays of 2004 by the Montreal Gazette.

Colleen Murphy’s play “December Man” was first staged in Calgary in 2007.

The movie Polytechnique, directed by Denis Villeneuve was released in 2009, and sparked controversy over the desirability of reliving the tragedy in a commercial film.

Several songs have been written about the events, including “This Memory” by the folk duo the Wyrd Sisters, and “6 December 1989” by the Australian singer Judy Small.

VIDEOS ABOUT THE MONTREAL MASSACRE:

THE MOURNING REPORT by Caitlin Garvey is the most raw and honest book I have ever read about grieving the loss of someone you love to the ravages of cancer. 5 Stars and every one of them earned through tears – both the author’s and my own. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: THE MOURNING REPORT

Author: CAITLIN GARVEY

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, MENTAL HEALTH, GRIEF

Length: 168 PAGES

Publisher: HOMEBOUND PUBLICATIONS 

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 6, 2020

ISBN: 9781947003835

Price: $15.95 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Two years after her mother’s death from breast cancer, Caitlin, then 20 years old, was admitted to a psychiatric facility after a suicide attempt. In the wake of this enormous loss, Caitlin questions her religion, comes to terms with her sexuality, and searches for a way to live with severe depression and anxiety.

Years later, unable to come to terms with her mother’s death, Caitlin decides to embark on a “grief journey,” interviewing the people involved in her mother’s dying process: a hospice nurse, a priest, an estate planner, a hairstylist, and a funeral director. If she figures out how they can function after being so close to her mother’s death, then maybe she can learn how to navigate her own life. Each chapter of The Mourning Report is centered on each interview and the memories, anxieties, and reflections that is stimulated. It asks what it means to “move on.”

MY REVIEW:

*** TRIGGER WARNING ***

This book contains talk of depression, grief, a suicide attempt and suicidal ideation. If any of these topics are triggers for you, I suggest you either skip this book, or proceed with caution.

***************************

“I’m scared to live, and I envy those who aren’t…”

Caitlin Garvey lost her mother to Breast Cancer when Caitlin was only twenty years old. Unable to find her way through her grief, she attempted suicide and ended up in a locked psychiatric facility.

Caitlin was depressed and her anxiety levels were off the chart. Her time in the hospital was helpful, but even after she was released, she was still suicidal.

“[She] began this book out of desperation to feel unbound, to feel a comfort that could allow [her] to move forward in [her] life. [She] wanted to revisit [her] memories of the few days before and after [her] Momma died, the moments when [Caitlin] felt the smallest and the most detached from the world. [She] hoped that [she] could pick up the pieces of [herself] that [she] left behind. [Caitlin] hoped to feel whole, not fragmented, and that [she] could remember more of [her] Momma and get a fuller version of her story.”

“[Caitlin] interviewed five people, all of whom were a part of [her] Momma’s dying process:”


Those five people were:

1. Her mother’s hairstylist who was also her close friend. In fact, it was this woman who styled her mother’s hair for the wake.

2. The family priest

3. A nurse/administrator at Heartland Hospice Care

4. The author’s parent’s estate planner AND

5. An embalmer/funeral director

“[She] thought that if [she] could figure out how these five people functioned after being so close to death, [she] could better navigate [her] own life. [She] hoped they could give [her] some guidance.”

Each chapter focuses on the interviews between Caitlin and the person she was interviewing. Each time, she discovered more, not only about her mother, but about herself as well. Personally, I found these conversations both fascinating and insightful.

THE MOURNING REPORT is probably the most raw and honest grief/depression memoir I have ever read. Caitlin does not shy away from the truth and admits that “[She was] mad at myself for wanting to die when all [her] Momma wanted to do was live.”

Caitlin’s honesty and integrity left me with a feeling of having peeked inside her psyche and having gone along on her journey of healing.

There is just no rating other than 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ that would be truthful. In fact, I plan to go back and read THE MOURNING REPORT again in a few weeks.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever lost someone close to them. As well, anyone who has an interest in mental health, depression and suicide prevention should be sure to read The Mourning Report.

Thank you to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this #memoir

QUOTES:

“I wished to trade bodies with her so that I could swallow her sickness, and she could be healthy and take care of me.”

“Since 2010, I’ve tried 13 different medications, a mix of anti-depressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxieties, and ADHD medications. I’ve had five different therapists. Still I feel trapped in my body and trapped by a brain that constantly tells me I’m not good enough, or significant enough.”

“I feel dead, but I can still hear my heartbeat.”

“I stare at the people in the cars next to me, and I wonder how it feels to be them, and I wonder how freeing it must feel to be able to drive to work without considering crashing the car.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Caitlin Garvey is a writer and English professor in Chicago.

She has an MFA in creative writing from Northwestern University.

Her work has been published in Post Road Magazine, JuxtaProse Magazine, Apeiron Review, The Baltimore Review, The Tishman Review, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and others.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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END OF THE ROPE: Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood by Acclaimed Canadian Mountain Climber and Author JAN REDFORD is available now. This memoir will make you laugh out loud, as well as cry your heart out. This is one Canadian book that shouldn’t be missed. 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ END OF THE ROPE is the story of her struggle to make her own way in the mountains and in life; to lead, not follow.

The blue book cover is the Canadian cover. The other cover is the United States book cover.

Title: END OF THE ROPE

Subtitle: MOUNTAINS, MARRIAGE AND MOTHERHOOD

Author:  JAN REDFORD

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, CANADA, CANADIAN NON-FICTION, MOUNTAIN CLIMBING, FAMILY DYSFUNCTION 

Length: 400 PAGES

Publisher: PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

Release Date: APRIL 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-345-8231-5

Price: $32.00 CDN (Hardcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

In the tradition of Cheryl Strayed’s “WILD“, the gritty, funny, achingly honest story of a young climber’s struggle to become whole by testing herself on mountains and life.

As a young teenager, Jan Redford runs away from a cottage where her father has just put her down for the zillionth time and throws herself against a 100-foot cliff face.  Somewhere in that shaky, outraged kid is a bedrock belief in her right to exist, which carries her to the top. In that brief flash of victory, she sets her sights on becoming a climber.

Falling in love with climbing eventually leads to falling in love with the climbers in her tight-knit western Canadian climbing community. It also means that the people she loves regularly vanish in an instant, caught in an avalanche or by a split second of inattention. It almost crushes Jan when her boyfriend, the gifted climber Dan Guthrie, is killed. Instead of marrying Dan, she marries one of his best friends, a driven climber who was there for her when she was grieving and becomes the father of her two children. Not what either of them planned.

End of the Rope is raw and real. Mountains challenge Jan, marriage almost annihilates her, and motherhood could have been the last straw…but it isn’t.

How she climbs out of the hole she digs for herself is as thrilling and inspiring as any of her climbs–and just as much an act of bravery.

MY REVIEW:

Upon initial perusal of END OF THE ROPE, potential readers may think the same as I originally thought: with a subtitle like Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood, I expected this to be one of those annoying books about a woman whose life is perfect; one who has it all, and who is now going to “teach” readers how they too can have it all and become the perfect “Super-Mom.” YUCK!!! (Plus, I call Bullshit on those people – I think they are full of crap.)

On the surface, potential readers might think that if END OF THE ROPE  isn’t about being a “Super Mom” then it must be about mountain climbing, and only mountain climbing. Wrong again, this is definitely not the case.

Yes. It does contain quite a few mountain and mountain climbing stories, as well as some of the multitude of accomplishments of the author – female Canadian climber, Jan Redford.

This surprising and engaging memoir is so much more than just a story of mountain climbing, and so much more interesting.

Jan Redford tells the story of her life so far; a life that has been anything but normal, and anything but easy. 

Jan Redford learned to climb after high school, in Wyoming at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). She writes about her time at NOLS at the age of eighteen that: “I felt like I’d been sleepwalking through my life, and climbing propped open my eyes. Made me fully alive.” She knew from then on that Climbing would be a large part of her existence for the rest of her life.

While Jan Redford’s life did revolve for many years around her climbing and the climbing “lifestyle,” Jan is much more than just a climber.

In reality, this is a memoir about growing up in a highly dysfunctional family – one that presented the image of perfection to those around them. That outer, superficial image of the perfect family was a sham. Jan’s father was an alcoholic and her mother, although physically present, was emotionally absent. The entire family lived in an atmosphere which required everyone to ‘walk on eggshells’ lest they pull the pin on the ticking time bomb that was the family patriarch. Who could blame Jan for wanting to run away as far, and as fast as possible?

Climbing was the escape that offered Jan not only a way out, but also a way forward. The West Coast of Canada offers amazingly scenic mountain ranges and a large, insular community of like-minded individuals. It was in this climbing community Jan found her home and her people.

Tales of the antics of her youthful indescretions will have the reader fondly remembering their own youth capers. 

END OF THE ROPE is a story of running away and finding yourself. Falling in lust. Challenging yourself. Finding your soulmate and losing him to the mountains you both lived.

It is a tale of being hurt down to the core of your soul, digging deep and doing what is right for you; no matter what other people think or say.

As it states in the subtitle, this book is about Mountains, Motherhood and Marriage. Each of these three M’s will bring Jan joy and happiness as well as unspeakable pain and sorrow.

END OF THE ROPE is a memoir not to be missed.

Any book that can cause me to laugh out loud, snort in disbelief and/or  exasperation, as well as have me in tears is a book that I will not soon forget. END OF THE ROPE did all of these things to me, and more. Because of this, I would be doing a disservice to potential readers to rate this book as anything lower than 5 OUT OF 5 STARS. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jan Redford may be an awesome mountain climber, but she is an even better writer.

In August 2020, the Paperback version of this book is being released. It can be pre-ordered now at your favorite bookstore.

I would love to hear back from any of you that go on to read END OF THE ROPE. After you finish reading it, come back here to let me know what you thought.

To read an excerpt from this book click HERE.

Thank you to the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book.

And be sure to also follow me on Social media where I sometimes offer chances to win books. ** I might just be offering a chance to win books sometime over the next few weeks.** 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photo by Jannicke Kitchen

JAN REDFORD is a graduate of The Writer’s Studio at SFU and holds a master’s in creative writing from UBC.

Her stories, articles, and personal essays have been published in the Globe and Mail, National Post, Mountain Life, Explore, Catapult, LitHub, and anthologies and have won or been shortlisted in several writing contests.

She lives with her family in Squamish, BC, where she mountain bikes, trail runs, climbs, and skis.

Her memoir, End of the Rope: Mountains, Marriage, and Motherhood is her first book.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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http://www.janredford.com

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THE QUEST by Lara Kellett-Smith is Young Adult Fantasy Fiction at it’s Very Best

Title: THE QUEST

Series: FIRST SNOW – BOOK ONE

Author: LARA KELLETT-SMITH

Genre: FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, FANTASY FICTION, SOCIAL THEMES

Length: 392 PAGES

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: DECEMBER 30, 2018

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

*

DESCRIPTION:

Hashtag tricked.

Hashtag coerced.

Hashtag there are no hashtags here…wherever here is.

Seventeen-year-old Jemma Alder is easy prey for her classmate. Tricked into crossing to another world and coerced into going on a dangerous Quest, Jemma must quickly learn how to survive in an 18th-century-like land against an unknown enemy. By her side is Aaron Norling…but tribal laws, ancient prejudices, and family secrets soon threaten their fragile love.

Suitable for ages 13+

.

MY REVIEW:

THE QUEST is a FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC young adult novel and the beginning of what promises to be an awesome new series.

The official description of this book just does not do it justice. Although the beginning takes place in the real world, it is a small part of the overall tale.

With exquisite prose, an epic journey, adventure, a battle between good and evil, a budding romance, magic, shapeshifters, and a beautifully described new world, this book is not to be missed.

What reader hasn’t dreamed of being swept up, away from their everyday lives and into the adventure of a lifetime? One of the reasons the fantasy genre is so popular is our desire to live vicariously through the characters in a book. THE QUEST embodies this desire perfectly.

QUEST begins in present day Yorkshire, England, but soon moves to a parallel world with almost nothing in common with the modern world. At Jemma’s “home” in England, it is winter, however, when she arrives in the strange, new land of Terran, she realizes the seasons have changed in an instant. It is now spring (or maybe summer – at first she is unsure.) The landscape is completely different as well. Gone are the fields of Yorkshire. In their place, is a lush valley with mountains in the distance.

Jemma is a character that most teens (as well as most adults) can relate to.

Jemma somehow fits in beautifully with Aaron Norling’s family, and they take her into their home, and eventually, into their hearts. The clan of which Aaron and his family are part of are the Loukyn Clan – shapeshifters who turn into wolves. Jemma does not discover their magic for some time, but once she is finally able to wrap her mind around the fact that shapeshifters are real, and that they are a reality in Terran, she learns more and more about her adoptive land and it’s inhabitants.

She discovers that there are many different clans and that each clan shapeshifts into a unique animal. There is a Bear clan, an Eagle clan, a horse clan, etc. Jemma soon learns that racism and classism are rampant in Terran and that exile is the punishment for falling in love and mating with a member of a different clan. This bothers her immensely and rightly so.

However, trying to change their culture is secondary to the fact that she is to take part in a dangerous quest to retrieve a special plant from high up on a glacier.

THE QUEST is the story of their travels and all the obstacles that the six Questers must overcome. To make their journey even more difficult, it seems that someone, or something, is doing its best to ensure the failure of their task even if that means they all must die.

The story moves at a pulse-pounding rate and readers cannot stop themselves from becoming engrossed in the story. In fact, this book is UN-PUT-DOWNABLE!!!

Add in the fact that Jemma and Aaron are drawn to each other by an inescapable attraction and a mutual respect that causes their feelings of friendship and admiration to turn into so much more. But, this budding romance faces challenges at every turn, some of which might be impossible to overcome.

I hope I have intrigued potential readers to pick up a copy of this Indie authored Young Adult Fantasy novel. It will not disappoint you. This author has a true gift for characterization, world building as well as an intuitive sense for pacing.

I rate THE QUEST as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I am eagerly awaiting the second and third books in this series and I now a dedicated Lara Kellett-Smith fan.
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****Thank you very much to Author Lara Kellett-Smith for providing me with a free copy of this amazing, new, Young Adult Fiction novel.****

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hi, I’m Lara…teacher, avid reader, and author of books for children and young adults. My stories have an adventurous element, and I’m a huge romantic so you’ll find plenty of this in my YA work.

I’m from the island of Guernsey, Channel Islands (Uh, huh…as in ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society’ by Shaffer and Barrows), but also spent my childhood on the tiny Scottish island of Tanera Mhor (no roads or shops, and we had to go to school by boat), and the Scottish Highlands of Glencoe (the region where they filmed Harry Potter…and Braveheart, Rob Roy, The Highlander, and The Loch series, to name a few. Popular scenery!).

It was an adventurous upbringing with lots of freedom, spent at the beach, on boats, and in the forests and mountains (with my dog, Heidi). My love of outdoor swimming and skiing were developed from an early age; I learned to swim in a rockpool, and to ski on the rugged slopes of White Corries, Glencoe. I confess, though, that having lived in a Swiss ski resort for twenty years, I’m a bit spoilt now for long, wide pristine slopes and lots of cafes!

I spent three months of my gap year in remote parts of northern Australia, with Operation Raleigh and continued my travels with a year’s university exchange to SUNY Plattsburgh, USA – then taught in primary/elementary school in Aviemore, Scotland, and Prague, Czech Republic. I’ve been settled, as a teacher, in Switzerland for twenty years.

Fun fact: My home base for twenty-five years was Glencoe and I now live in the Swiss canton of Vaud. The father of Ian Fleming’s character, James Bond, was from Glencoe, and Bond’s mother was from the Swiss Canton of Vaud!

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.larakellettsmith.com

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

PICTOSEE

AMAZON

HYPEHUB

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HOW IT ALL BEGAN:

This entire series stemmed from a single quote by J.B. Priestley, that I spotted in a magazine…however, I’m still awaiting updated permission to use it, so you’ll have to try and figure it out for yourself!

But here’s a clue: I’m a huge fan of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and always wanted to write a two-world fantasy story. This quote sparked an idea, then another, then another, until I had characters and countries, and worlds.

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CAST OF CHARACTERS:

THE EARTHENS:

Jemma Alder-Norling: (17) Orphaned at thirteen and raised by her stepfather.

Lord Robert Clayworth: Jemma’s stepfather.

Captain James Cook: An earthen, who sailed as a cabin boy with Captain James Cook.

Grace: Jemma’s feisty best friend, currently dating Ben. Her mum is a paramedic.

Ben: Jemma’s friend and recently Grace’s boyfriend.

Yash: Jemma, Grace and Ben’s friend.

Octavia: Part of Veronika’s ‘Elite’ clique.

Miranda: Part of Veronika’s ‘Elite’ clique.

Florence: Part of Veronika’s ‘Elite’ clique.

Charles: Captain of the football (soccer) team. Veronika’s boyfriend.

Henry: Friend of Charles.

THE LOST VALLEY LOUKYN CLAN:

Isaac Norling (father): Missing, presumed captured by slavers.

Amos Isaac Norling: (21) betrothed to childhood sweetheart, Bronwen Allan.

Aaron Finlay Norling: (17) First met Jemma on Earth at Gunnar High. Leader of the questers.

Olaf Reistad (father): Missing, presumed captured by slavers.

Mary Reistad (mother): Known for her gentle demeanour and homemaking skills.

Yari Reistad: (17) Twin brother to Rose. One of the six questers.

Rose Reistad: (17) Twin sister to Yari. Whereabouts unknown.

Poppy Reistad: (13) Feisty, adventurous identical twin sister to Daisy.

Daisy Reistad: (13) Creative, thoughtful identical twin sister to Poppy.

Bryn Allan (father): Missing, presumed captured by slavers.

Clara Killin-Allan (mother): A ‘tough cookie’ responsible for the farm animals.

Bronwen Allan: (20) Betrothed to Amos Norling.

Bree Allan: (17) One of the six questers. Skilled with a bow and arrow.

Bess Allan: (10) Adores dressing in frilly, girly clothes.

Shaun Allan: (2 ½ )

Edwyn Killin: Clara Allan’s father.

Nora Killin: Clara Allan’s mother.

Elgan Killin: Edwyn’s brother. Shared his cabin with James Cook.

Anders Killin: Cousin to Edwyn and Elgan. Married to Dena.

Dena Killin: Wife to Anders.

(The Killins are guardians of the warning beacon at Killin’s Post)

Hendrik Karloff (father): Loukyn Clan Chief and voted as next Righnar of Alligand.

Gwyn Karloff (mother)

Landon Karloff: (19)

Veronika Karloff: (17) Studying on Earth, she tricked Jemma into using the ring and crossing to Terran in her stead.

Felix Jensen: (father) Missing, presumed captured by slavers.

Oskar Jensen: (17) One of the six questers. Engaged to Wanda. Has younger triplet brothers.

Doctor Falk: Local doctor.

Wanda Falk: (17) One of the six questers. Engaged to Oskar.

Aldora Judd: Like a grandmother to Aaron and true mate/girlfriend of Captain James Cook.

Konselor Enid: Clan elder / member of the Loukyn Konsul.

Konselor Kaisa: Clan elder / member of the Loukyn Konsul.

Konselor Jonah: Clan elder / member of the Loukyn Konsul.

Joseph: Farmer and neighbour to the Reistads/Allans.

Carrig: (18) Landon’s friend. Demi-kyn whose wolf is dominant. Mother is Merkyn.

Garth: (19) Landon’s friend.

Rhys Evans (father): An excomunicated loukyn from the Fern Valley Clan. Lives in the Ukyent.

Alice Evans (mother / wife): A domaren from Novitalia

Reanna Evans: (16)

Deri Evans: (15) Demi-kyn, wolf shifter.

Idelle Evans: (14)

THE AIKYN TRIBE:

Kirill Orel: (father) Elder in the Aikyn Tribe.

Darina Orel: (mother)

Yerik Orel: (18) Befriended Aaron when he lived up north during his ‘Finding’.

Kristina Alexeev: (18)

THE WHYTIE TRIBE

THE EQUOSKYN TRIBE

Nikolas Duke: A horse shifter, lawyer and friend to the Yenti chieftains.

THE YENTI:

Prifar Vandar : Ourskyn – Chieftain of the Yenti Tribe. Twin brother to Bard, chief of an Ourskyn clan. Exiled from his clan when he married Emmeline.

Primor Emmeline: (Omnishifter) Chieftain of the Yenti Tribe.

Liv: (24) ourskyn – daughter of the chieftains.

Fergal: (19) omnishifter – son of the chieftains. Bonded to Aaron.

Valda: (18) lynxkyn – daughter of the chieftains.

Halvard: ourskyn – Chief of the Yenti guard.

Hadwin (Serpentine): Member of the guard. Penelope’s father.

Helga (Demi-kyn, wolf/skallert parents): Penelope’s mother.

Penelope (Demi-kyn, skallert): Daughter of Helga and Hadwin

THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON by Debut Middle-Grade Author Quinn Sosna-Spear is FANTABULOUS AND IS GOING TO BE A BEST-SELLER 5+ Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON

Author: Quinn Sosna-Spear

Genre: CHILDREN’S FICTION, MIDDLE GRADE FICTION

Ages: 8 to 12

Length: 336 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER CANADA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: APRIL 2, 2019

ISBN: 9781534420809 (Hardcover)

Price: $17.99 USD (Hardcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

In the humdrum town of Moormouth, Walter Mortinson’s unusual inventions cause nothing but trouble. After one of his contraptions throws the town into chaos, Walter’s mother demands he cut the nonsense and join the family mortuary business.

Far off on Flaster Isle, famed inventor Horace Flasterborn plans to take Walter under his wing, just as he did Walter’s genius father decades ago. When a letter arrives by unusual means offering Walter an apprenticeship, it isn’t long before Walter decides to flee Moormouth to meet his destiny.

Walter runs away in the family hearse along with Cordelia, the moody girl next door with one eye and plenty of secrets. Together they journey through a strange landscape of fish-people, giantess miners, and hypnotized honeybees in an adventure that will not only reveal the truth about Walter’s past, but direct his future.

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MY REVIEW:

Debut author Quinn Sosna-Spear has a hit on her hands with THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON.

Debut author Quinn Sosna-Spear has a hit on her hands with THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON.

With an imagination equalling that of iconic children’s author Roald Dahl, and emotional intelligence commensurate to that of BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA author, Katherine Paterson, this exceptional middle-grade book is destined to be at the top of multiple BestSeller lists.

Firstly, I have to mention the awe-inspiring cover art. There is no way that any reader will be able to walk past that cover in a bookstore without pausing to pick it up to read the back. And, as most of us know, if you can get people to hold a book in their hands, they are much more likely to purchase it.

However, a great cover can only do so much. The story inside must be equally fascinating, and debut author Quinn Sosna-Spear has mastered the art of storytelling to make this happen.

Kids will quickly be able to relate to one of the main characters, either Walter or Cordelia.

Walter Mortinson is a young tween who invents all kinds of fabulous contraptions and who lives with his mother in the most boring town on the planet – Moormouth. The problem is that Walter’s inventions often get him into trouble, but he can’t stop inventing, he loves it too much.

Walter does not have many friends, in fact, he doesn’t have any friends at all. He hates going to school because of being bullied.

Walter used to play with the girl who lives next door, but Cordelia doesn’t come around anymore. She only has one eye and is very self-conscious, but Walter doesn’t care about her “disability,” he just wants her friendship.

Nothing ever seemed to happen in the small town of Moormouth – until the day that one of Walter’s inventions go awry and causes big problems.

Because of what happened, his mother tells him that he is no longer allowed to invent things, and that it is time for him to become a mortician, just like her.

At the same time, he receives an invitation to apprentice with the most famous, and the richest, inventor alive. His name is Horace Flasterborn and he lives far, far away in a place called Flaster Isle. Walter decides that he isn’t cut out to be a mortician and runs away with Cordelia to accept Horace Flasterborn’s offer of apprenticeship.

Walter may be a few years too young to have a driver’s license, but he doesn’t let that stop him, he drives away in the only vehicle available to him – the family hearse.

The two runaways experience a road trip they will never forget, and neither will the readers of this book.

There are sinister forces that want to exploit Walter’s gift for inventing and the people and creatures they meet along the way will either help them, or possibly harm them and what fantastical creatures they are.

To find out what and who the bad guys are, and to explore the fantastic world of Walter and Cordelia, you need to buy a copy of this book.

Fans of Eoin Colfer and Madeline L’Engle will adore this marvelous story filled with amazing adventures and interesting ‘people.’

As fun and interesting as their adventures are, there are also some serious issues that are explored in this book, such as the fact that Walter’s father is dead, and someone else in the story might just be seriously ill. Kids struggling with grief will find that they are not alone and will gravitate towards Walter’s character.

It is hard to believe that this is author Quinn Sosna-Spear’s debut novel. She writes with depth and an immense talent. If this is her first book, I cannot wait to read the next one.

If I could rate this book higher than 5 out of 5 Stars I would, as it is I am giving it my highest rating of 5+ Stars.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

***Thank you to #NetGalley and the Publisher for providing me with a free ARC of this book.***

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QUOTE:

“But Walter, as many boys and girls are, was much cleverer than a man.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Quinn Sosna-Spear was named a California Young Playwright at seventeen and went on to study at the University of Southern California.

She has since written books, films, and virtual reality projects.

The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson, her debut novel, was inspired by the untimely death of her own mother.

Quinn hopes to share with all readers—particularly those struggling with loss—the humor, poignancy, and adventure in such things…as dreary and impossible as they may seem.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

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COMING IN 2020I can’t wait…

This post is my first entry into the A to Z Reading Challenge

LOVE LIKE SKY by Middle-grade author Leslie C. Youngblood is a 5+Star Read. This book will win awards and become a Best Seller. Release Date is November 6th – Mark your calendars now!!!

Title: LOVE LIKE SKY

Author: LESLIE C. YOUNGBLOOD

Genre: MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION

Ages: 8 to 12 YEARS

Length: 304 PAGES

Publisher: DISNEY BOOK GROUP

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: NOVEMBER 6, 2018

ISBN: 9781368016506

Price: $16.99 USD

Rating: 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

G-baby and her younger sister, Peaches, are still getting used to their “blended-up” family. They live with Mama and Frank out in the suburbs, and they haven’t seen their real daddy much since he married Millicent. G-baby misses her best friend back in Atlanta, and is crushed that her glamorous new stepsister, Tangie, wants nothing to do with her.

G-baby is so preoccupied with earning Tangie’s approval that she isn’t there for her own little sister when she needs her most. Peaches gets sick-really sick. Suddenly, Mama and Daddy are arguing like they did before the divorce, and even the doctors at the hospital don’t know how to help Peaches get better.

It’s up to G-baby to put things right. She knows Peaches can be strong again if she can only see that their family’s love for her really is like sky.

MY REVIEW:

In the opening scene of LOVE LIKE SKY, G-baby is entertaining her younger sister Peaches by repeatedly dancing the “Nae Nae” and the “Dougie.” I defy anyone to read this and not smile. I believe that would be impossible.

LOVE LIKE SKY is set in the town of Snellville, Georgia, where eleven-year-old G-baby, her younger sister Peaches (real names – Georgiana And Patrice) and their mother have moved to a new town after their mother’s marriage to their new stepdaddy, Frank. G-baby had initially been excited about the marriage because it meant she would be gaining a big sister. However, she has since discovered that her new stepsister wants nothing to do with her or Peaches. On top of all the other changes, G-baby misses her best friend Nikki, whom she left behind in Atlanta.

G-baby becomes obsessed with trying to get her new stepsister to pay attention to her. This leaves baby sister, Peaches at loose ends and feeling left out.

When Peaches gets really sick, neither her parents nor her doctors know how to make her better.

G-baby is convinced that she knows how to make Peaches better. She just has to figure out how to convince her that her family loves her as much as the sky is wide.

Blended families are often more common than “traditional families” which means that many readers will be able to relate to the struggles that G-baby and Peaches face. The topic of blended families is only one of the many themes explored in this amazing debut novel. Other themes include:

– Divorce
– Parents fighting
– Death of a sibling (not Peaches, so don’t think I am giving away any plot points)
– Moving to a new town
– Leaving friends behind and trying to make new ones
– Hospitalization and siblings with a serious illness
– Growing up and a girl’s changing body and feelings
– Racial inequality
– Peaceful protests
– Trayvon Martin and the shooting of unarmed young, black men
– Parents getting remarried and jealousy of the new spouse
– and many more.

The author does an incredible job of making the characters feel real. For instance, G-baby’s father has remarried and his new wife’s name is Millicent. Instead of thinking of her by her given name, G-baby has nicknamed her “Millipede.” This is a very typical tween way to rebel against the new spouse. She is too young to conjure up any truly mean-spirited nickname, yet still needs a way to express her jealousy at what she sees as the reason her beloved Daddy doesn’t spend as much time with them as he used to.

The author’s gift for creating believable and unique characters is displayed in one of my favorite scenes – which captures the fierce loyalty six year old Peaches has for her mother. This scene takes place when G-baby comments about Tangie’s cooking and says it is better than their mother’s. “Peaches eyes widened. ‘Nobody cooks better than Mama.'” I loved this scene. In the grand scheme of the book, this scene is minor, but it is so believable that I found it memorable for it’s simple, yet powerful portrayal of familial loyalty.

If I had to choose a single theme to describe this book, it would be EMOTION.

“Why we gotta jump when he’s ready? What about the times we waited on him and he didn’t come? I bet he doesn’t keep Ms. Millicent Parker waiting for nothing. She’s his ‘best girl’ now.”

Kids with divorced parents will easily relate to the characters in this excellent middle-grade novel. Author Leslie Youngblood understands just how perceptive kids can be. This is clearly demonstrated in the following scene:

“Just like Mama, he didn’t know that I could tell a fake smile from a real one. Mama and Daddy’s separation made me an expert, especially when we’d have family dinner and they’d wear their mannequin smiles.”

I apologize for the length of this review, but I felt compelled to explain why I am giving this book the highest rating possible which is 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐. I realize that it is technically impossible to give a rating higher than 5 out of 5, but this book deserves to be in a category above all others.

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

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FAVORITE QUOTES:

“Mama said I got the name G-baby because I’d run to Daddy for every little thing. He’d swoop me up and say, ‘What’s wrong with George’s baby?’ Peaches real name is Patrice, but Mama loved Libby’s sliced peaches when she was pregnant with her, so that’s how she got her nickname.”

“Being a big sister was hard work.”

“Even though Mama says I can always talk to her, she means Mama stuff, like if someone is bullying me, or if a teacher is mean. Not like how to kiss a boy, or when it’s time to sneak a few cotton balls in my bra…”

“I’m supposed to have all the answers. That’s what it means to be a big sister, and why I want one of my very own.”

“When Mama and Daddy first tried to explain {why they were getting divorced}, Mama Said sometimes grown-ups ‘fall out of love.’ The best I can figure it: love is just a big old bed. When you’re not happy, you fall out of it.”

“There’s no reason on God’s green earth a boy should walk down the street with his boxers hanging out.”

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EXCERPT

“Love ain’t like that.”

How is it then?” Peaches asked, turning on her stomach to face me.

“It’s like sky. If you keep driving and driving, gas will run out, right?”

“That’s why we gotta go to the gas station.”

“Yep. But have you ever seen the sky run out? No matter how far we go?”

“No, when we look up, there it is.”

“Well that’s the kind of love Daddy and Mama got for us, Peaches—love like sky.”

“It never ends?”

Never.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Leslie C. Youngblood received an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. A former assistant professor of creative writing at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, she has lectured at Mississippi State University, UNC-Greensboro, and the University of Ghana at Legon.

She began her undergraduate degree at Morris Brown College and completed her bachelor’s at Georgia State University. After graduation, she served as a columnist and assistant editor for Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine.

She’s been awarded a host of writing honors including a 2014 Yaddo’s Elizabeth Ames Residency, the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Prize, a Hurston Wright Fellowship, and the Room of Her Own Foundation’s 2009 Orlando Short Story Prize. She received funding to attend the Norman Mailer Writers’ Colony in 2011. Her short story, “Poor Girls’ Palace,” was published in the winter 2009 edition of the Indiana Review, as well as Kwelijournal, 2014.

In 2010 she won the Go On Girl! Book Club Aspiring Writer Award. In 2016 she landed a two-book publishing deal with Disney-Hyperion for her Middle-Grade novel, LOVE LIKE SKY (Nov.6). She often teaches creative writing classes at Rochester, New York’s literary center, Writers & Books.

Born in Bogalusa, Louisiana, and raised in Rochester, New York, she’s fortunate to have a family of natural storytellers and a circle of supportive and family and friends.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
www.lesliecyoungblood.com

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

LINKEDIN

GOOGLE+

AMAZON

BARNES AND NOBLE

BOOKS-A-MILLION

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE