Category Archives: book tour

BOOK TOUR REVIEW: The Boy at the Keyhole by Stephen Giles

The Boy at the Keyhole

by Stephen Giles

Mystery

Book Description

Nine-year-old Samuel lives alone in a once-great estate in Surrey with the family’s housekeeper, Ruth. His father is dead and his mother has been abroad for months, purportedly tending to her late husband’s faltering business. She left in a hurry one night while Samuel was sleeping and did not say goodbye.

Beyond her sporadic postcards, Samuel hears nothing from his mother. He misses her dearly and maps her journey in an atlas he finds in her study. Samuel’s life is otherwise regulated by Ruth, who runs the house with an iron fist. Only she and Samuel know how brutally she enforces order.

As rumors in town begin to swirl, Samuel wonders whether something more sinister is afoot. Perhaps his mother did not leave but was murdered—by Ruth.

Artful, haunting and hurtling toward a psychological showdown, The Boy at the Keyhole is an incandescent debut about the precarious dance between truth and perception, and the shocking acts that occur behind closed doors.

MY THOUGHTS:

3 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

The Boy at the Keyhole by Stephen Giles

Young Samuel Clay has recently lost his father. They were once a family with a great name, a grand estate, and money and status to go with it. But now, since the death of his father, Samuel’s mother has been abroad, leaving Samuel in the care of the strict housekeeper Ruth.

With a little suggestion from his friend and a lot of help from his imagination, it doesn’t take long before Samuel starts thinking that maybe his mother isn’t just away in America searching for business opportunities. He starts thinking that maybe something more sinister has happened to her–and that the person who did it is the one who’s been trusted with his care now.

The tension is very palpable in this novel, which kept me turning the pages waiting for something big to happen. There were very good moments here and there, but overall I felt there was a ton of buildup to a very unspectacular ending.

As with most Gothic type novels, the house itself plays a role in the story; the Clay manor is large and its’ rooms are full of dark secrets. As we join Samuel going in and out of these rooms trying to discover what really happened to his mother, we can see how he might have started thinking some unsavory things were going on in his home.

I’m still not sure about the ending. Ambiguity is one thing, but I felt totally confused when it was all said and done. I didn’t understand the character’s motives or what exactly happened and why. Maybe some people enjoy that type of ending, but I don’t.

View all my reviews

About the Author

Stephen Giles is the Australian author behind the lauded children’s series “Anyone But Ivy Pocket”, penned under the pseudonym Caleb Krisp. The series, published in the US by HarperCollins/Greenwillow and the UK by Bloomsbury, appeared on the New York Times Best Seller List, has been translated into 25 different languages and was optioned by Paramount Pictures.

Prior to selling his first book, Stephen worked in a variety of jobs to supplement his writing including market research, film classification and media monitoring. “The Boy at the Keyhole” is Giles’ first work for adults and the film rights for this book have been acquired by New Regency.

Purchase Links

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BOOK TOUR GUEST POST: A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti

A Heart in a Body in the World

by Deb Caletti

YA Contemporary

Book Description

When everything has been taken from you, what else is there to do but run?

So that’s what Annabelle does—she runs from Seattle to Washington, DC, through mountain passes and suburban landscapes, from long lonely roads to college towns. She’s not ready to think about the why yet, just the how—muscles burning, heart pumping, feet pounding the earth. But no matter how hard she tries, she can’t outrun the tragedy from the past year, or the person—The Taker—that haunts her.

Followed by Grandpa Ed in his RV and backed by her brother and two friends (her self-appointed publicity team), Annabelle becomes a reluctant activist as people connect her journey to the trauma from her past. Her cross-country run gains media attention and she is cheered on as she crosses state borders, and is even thrown a block party and given gifts. The support would be nice, if Annabelle could escape the guilt and the shame from what happened back home. They say it isn’t her fault, but she can’t feel the truth of that.

Through welcome and unwelcome distractions, she just keeps running, to the destination that awaits her. There, she’ll finally face what lies behind her—the miles and love and loss…and what is to come.

Five quotes from A HEART IN A BODY IN THE WORLD

1. “There are songs about the heart and poems about the heart and legends about the heart and facts about the heart. And, it’s true – the heart sings and speaks and tells its story. There are exact miles of arteries; there is the exact force of its beat. But the heart is also quiet. It is also a mystery. No one really knows how it goes on after being broken.”

2. “We go forward. Sometimes against our will, sometimes against all odds, we go forward.”

3. “She remembers the muscles in her calves and the strength in her thighs, and she remembers the heat of the farmland and the slope of the mountains and the miles and miles she’s crossed. She remembers her strength.”

4. “The trip across the glacier and through the dark land of grief is crooked and dangerous but sometimes beautiful. The voyage past the last edges of the universe is frightening and impossible but sometimes astonishing…”

5. “She is a different person than the defeated Annabelle, the giving up Annabelle. She is sort of a victorious Annabelle, lying among rose petals on the honeymoon bed of the Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel. You never know what a day will bring, which is both the good news and bad news of life.”

About the Author

Deb Caletti is an award-winning author and National Book Award finalist. Her many books for young adults include The Nature of Jade, Stay, The Last Forever, Essential Maps for the Lost, and Honey, Baby Sweetheart, winner of the Washington State Book award, the PNBA Best Book Award, and a finalist for the California Young Reader Medal and the PEN USA Award. Her books for adults include He’s Gone, The Secrets She Keeps, and her most recent release, What’s Become of Her.

Deb grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, and now lives with her family in Seattle.

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5 Winners will receive a Copy of A HEART IN A BODY IN THE WORLD by Deb Caletti. 

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BOOK TOUR SPOTLIGHT: White as Silence, Red as Song by Alessandro D’Avenia

White as Silence, Red as Song

by Alessandro D’Avenia

YA Contemporary

Book Description

Hailed as Italy’s The Fault in Our Stars, this Italian bestseller is now available for the first time in English.

“I was born on the first day of school, and I grew up and old in just two hundred days . . .”

Sixteen-year-old Leo has a way with words, but he doesn’t know it yet. He spends his time texting, polishing soccer maneuvers, and killing time with Niko and Silvia. Until a new teacher arrives and challenges him to give voice to his dreams.

And so Leo is inspired to win over the red-haired beauty, Beatrice. She doesn’t know Leo exists, but he’s convinced that his dream to win her over will come true. When Leo lands in the hospital and learns that Beatrice has been admitted too, his mission to be there for her will send him on a thrilling but heartbreaking journey. He wants to help her but doesn’t know how—and his dream of love will force him to grow up fast.

Having already sold over a million copies in Italy, Alessandro D’Avenia’s debut novel is considered the Italian The Fault in Our Stars. Now available in English for the first time, this rich, funny, and heartwarming coming-of-age tale asks us to explore the meaning—and the cost—of friendship, and shows us what happens when suffering bursts into the world of teenagers and renders the world of adults speechless.

 

About the Author

Alessandro D’Avenia holds a PhD in Classical Literature, and teaches Ancient Greek, Latin and Literature at a high school in Milan. White as Silence, Red as Song was his first novel,published in Italy in 2010. It sold a million copies in Italy, has been translated into over twenty languages and was released as a film in 2012. Alessandro has since published four more books, the latest of which, Every Story is a Love Story, was published in October 2017.

Purchase Links

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BOOK TOUR SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: A Room Away from the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma

A Room Away from the Wolves

by Nova Ren Suma

YA Contemporary

Book Description

Bina has never forgotten the time she and her mother ran away from home. Her mother promised they would hitchhike to the city to escape Bina’s cruel father and start over. But before they could even leave town, Bina had a new stepfather and two new stepsisters, and a humming sense of betrayal pulling apart the bond with her mother—a bond Bina thought was unbreakable.

Eight years later, after too many lies and with trouble on her heels, Bina finds herself on the side of the road again, the city of her dreams calling for her. She has an old suitcase, a fresh black eye, and a room waiting for her at Catherine House, a young women’s residence in Greenwich Village with a tragic history, a vow of confidentiality, and dark, magical secrets. There, Bina is drawn to her enigmatic downstairs neighbor Monet, a girl who is equal parts intriguing and dangerous. As Bina’s lease begins to run out, and nightmare and memory get tangled, she will be forced to face the terrible truth of why she’s come to Catherine House and what it will take for her to leave…

In the Dark

When the girl who lived in the room below mine disappeared into the darkness, she gave no warning, she showed no twitch of fear. She had her back to me, but I sensed her eyes were open, the city skyline bristling with attention, five stories above the street. It was how I imagined Catherine de Barra herself once stood at this edge almost a hundred years ago, when the smog was suffocating and the lights much more dim, when only one girl ever slept inside these walls of stacked red brick.
I was with my friend, if she could be called a friend, on the rooftop that night, close enough to pull her away or slip a word into her ear, close enough to push. I saw how far the gate was, how long the jump would be to reach it. I was there to witness how she flew.
It was dark, and I blamed the darkness. For those few moments, when she was midair and not even kicking, I practically became her. I grew her long legs and longer eyelashes, I lost the jumble of knots in my hair, I let the mistakes spill out of my suitcase and scatter without a care into the wind. I was falling, and falling fast. There was a hum in my ears like a song leaking through floorboards. The windows on the way down were all lit up, every one, people I didn’t know living their private lives inside as if no one could see. The skyline above sparkled the way stars used to at home, and I didn’t want to ever hit ground. I was someone here. I was someone.
Maybe that was what she saw, what she felt, what this house turned her into. She was out there beyond the ledge with nothing beneath her feet. She was high enough to clear the gate many times over. I swore she was out there. I swore the air had her, the night had her, the lights cast a ring all around her, and then the patch of darkness was empty.
I could see past where she’d been, as if I were sailing straight over buildings, beyond spires and scaffolding, past roof gardens and water towers, down through Lower Manhattan to the southern tip of the island, where the gleaming black bay took over. I saw the whole city spread out before me, sinister and strange and perfect. The air was clear, and she wasn’t in it. No girl was falling or flying. Every window was dark. And how oddly quiet it became, like a patch of forest where no person had set foot for what felt like days upon days.
When I remembered where I was, I crept closer to the edge, gripping the bricks to stay steady, and I did what I knew she wanted.
I leaned out into the vacant night—the air boundless, feathery gray, and blooming with possibility—and I looked down.

About the Author

Nova Ren Suma is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Walls Around Us, a finalist for an Edgar Award. Her new novel A Room Away from the Wolves is forthcoming September 4, 2018, from Algonquin. She also wrote Imaginary Girls and 17 & Gone and is co-creator of FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology. She has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in the Hudson Valley, spent most of her adult life in New York City, and now lives in Philadelphia.

Website   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Facebook   |   Instagram

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—Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter

 – 1 Winner will receive a Copy of A Room Away from the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma

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BOOK TOUR SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Freefall Summer by Tracy Barrett

Freefall Summer 

by Tracy Barrett

YA Contemporary

Book Description

Sixteen-year-old Clancy Edwards has always been “the good girl.” Ever since her mother died in a skydiving accident when Clancy was young, Clancy’s father has watched her like a hawk. Between her dad’s rules and her boyfriend’s protectiveness, she’s longing for an escape this summer. Then she meets Denny.

Denny is a new skydiving student and college freshman. Clancy lets Denny think they’re the same age–and that she’s old enough to make decisions for herself. But the lies snowball, relationships are damaged, and suddenly Clancy isn’t the person she wants to be. If only making choices were as simple as taking a leap out of a plane. Before Clancy can make things right, one last act of rebellion threatens her chance to do so–maybe forever.

Jumpers try to avoid reserve rides, even though every instructor reminds students, “When in doubt, whip it out.” It’s not only the expense of paying a rigger to repack the reserve. Reserves open fast, and the hard opening can give you whiplash, but it’s not the discomfort either. The main thing is that jumpers are superstitious. If you dump the reserve and it malfunctions too, you’re sunk. Nowhere to go. Reserves just about never malfunction, and the odds against both the main and the reserve malfunctioning are astronomical, but still. . . .
So my mom had tried everything to clear the main. She did exactly what you’re trained to do, exactly what I’d heard my dad and Leon and Noel and Randy and Louisa and Patsy tell their students: “If the pilot chute or the main canopy gets stuck, you have to break the burble.” So she flipped over. It didn’t work, so she flipped back to cut away, so the canopy would fly away cleanly. She had no way of knowing that the AAD would fire at precisely the wrong moment, making the two chutes—the main and the
reserve—snag each other, and that neither one would open.
I watched to the end, seeing the pink canopy and the white one wrap around each other, making a big nasty barber pole that didn’t slow my mom down enough to make a difference. Then, when Angie dropped the camera, the ground came up, up, up to the camera lens, and then—whomp. And the screen went black. Was that the last thing my mom saw? The ground coming up, and then nothing? What did she think about in those last seconds? Did she think of me? Of my dad?
After I went to sleep, I saw it over and over again, only sometimes she cut away sooner and sometimes she cut away later. But no matter what she did, it ended the same way, with the camera thumping on the ground and the sounds of screaming and crying.
I woke up when my dad got home, and I wanted to ask him to come sit by my bed until I fell asleep again. I wanted to tell him about how Theo was acting weird and how confused I was about Denny—about whether he was just a DZ friend or whether he was interested in me (and whether I was interested in him), and what I should do about it if he was. Or I was. I wanted to confess that I’d driven the car on Travis day and had done just fine.
I couldn’t. He’d ground me forever. Anyway, he wasn’t the sit-by-the-bed-until-you-fall-asleep kind of dad, and even if he were, once I got started, I’d tell him about watching the video. And seeing that we hadn’t talked about my mom’s death ever, not even once, I couldn’t do that.

Copyright © 2018 by Tracy Barrett

 

About the Author

Tracy Barrett has written more than twenty books for children and young adults. She’s much too interested in too many things to stick to one genre, and has published nonfiction as well as historical fiction, mysteries, fantasy, time travel, myth and fairy-tale retellings, and contemporary realistic novels. She knows more about ancient Greece and Rome and the European Middle Ages than anyone really needs to know, can read lots of dead languages, and used to jump out of airplanes.
A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study medieval women writers led to the writing of her first novel, the award-winning Anna of Byzantium (Delacorte). Her most recent publications are a contemporary YA novel, Freefall Summer, which draws on her own skydiving adventures; a middle-grade fantasy entitled Marabel and the Book of FateThe Song of Orpheus: The Greatest Greek Myths You Never Heard, a collection of little-known Greek myths; and the popular middle-grade series The Sherlock Files.From 1999 to 2009 Tracy Barrett was the Regional Advisor for the Midsouth (Tennessee and Kentucky) with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She is now SCBWI’s Regional Advisor Coordinator.

Tracy grew up near New York City, and went to college in New England and graduate school in California. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree with honors in Classics-Archaeology from Brown University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Medieval Italian Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. She was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study medieval women writers and won the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Work-in-Progress Grant in 2005. She taught Italian and other subjects at Vanderbilt University for almost thirty years. She has two grown children and lives in Tennessee with her husband and two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

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Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter
 

 1 Winner will receive a Copy of FREEFALL SUMMER and Swags (signed bookplate and a silver skydiving pendant) by Tracy Barrett. 

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BOOK TOUR SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: The Leading Edge of Now by Marci Lyn Curtis

The Leading Edge of Now

by Marci Lyn Curtis

YA Contemporary

Book Description

Just when Grace is beginning to get used to being an orphan, her estranged uncle suddenly comes forward to claim her. That might have been okay if he’d spoken to her even once since her father died. Or if moving in with Uncle Rusty didn’t mean returning to New Harbor.

Grace once spent the best summers of her life in New Harbor. Now the place just reminds her of all she’s lost: her best friend, her boyfriend and any memory of the night that changed her forever.

People say the truth will set you free, but Grace isn’t sure about that. Once she starts looking for it, the truth about that night is hard to find — and what happens when her healing hurts the people she cares about the most?

There’s a moment when I do not breathe, when my heart rate goes volcanic, when the distance to Rusty’s house seems so wide and so impassable that it will take me hours to scramble back.
Owen is staring at me, eyebrows crashed together like he’s trying to solve a particularly difficult crossword puzzle. It’s an expression I know well, seeing as how I’ve spent half a lifetime watching him stand in the garage, gazing at his projects as though he were unraveling the greatest mysteries of the universe.
I want to turn around and run.
I want to slap him.
I want to burst into tears.
What I do, though, is stare at him. He looks the same now, only different. While his dusty blond hair has been cut short, his eyes are the same — still clear emerald-green, big and serious, with lashes as long as palm fronds. He’s probably grown a full two inches since I last saw him, and he’s broader across the chest. On his right forearm is the small diagonal scar he got back in the third grade, when he tried to build a birdhouse for an endangered owl. I always considered that scar one of the things that made Owen Owen. But now it looks misplaced, inappropriate. I have to resist the urge to try to scratch it off. I close my eyes, like maybe I can erase his presence that easily. But he smells so familiar — like sawdust and coffee and soap — that this particular action only makes him more real.
I open my eyes again.
Owen plucks the headphones out of his ears. “Grace,” he says slowly, like he’s trying to remember how my name is pronounced.
Now would be the proper time to speak. But I’m pretty sure that my mouth has been blown apart and then reattached backwards and inside out, a couple of miles north of my vocal cords. So I just continue to look at him.
A few decades pass.
I clear my throat. It sounds like an old, brittle floorboard, creaking under bare feet. “You’re here,” I say, which is quite possibly the stupidest thing I could’ve said to him. Twenty-some-odd months of dreaming about getting even, and now all I can do is state the obvious.

 

About the Author

Marci Lyn Curtis is the author of young adult dramedies THE ONE THING and THE LEADING EDGE OF NOW. She lives near Tampa, Florida with her husband. You can find out more about Marci on her website (marcilyncurtis.com), on Twitter (@Marci_Curtis), on Instagram (@marcilyncurtis), or on Facebook (marcilyncurtis).

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

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BOOK TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: After Nightfall by AJ Banner

After Nightfall

by AJ Banner

Mystery

Book Description

Beware of friends with secrets…

Imagine your closest friend utterly betraying you. Years later, when she seeks forgiveness, you invite her to your engagement party as a gesture of reconciliation. But seething hostilities rise to the surface, ruining everyone’s evening. After an awful night, your friend’s battered, lifeless body is found at the bottom of a rocky cliff.

Newly engaged Marissa Parlette is living this nightmare. She should be celebrating her upcoming wedding, but she can’t shake the image of her friend lying dead on the beach. Did she fall? Was she pushed? Or did she take a purposeful step into darkness? Desperate for answers, Marissa digs deep into the events of the party. But what she remembers happening after nightfall now carries sinister implications: the ugly sniping, the clandestine meetings, the drunken flirtations. The more she investigates, the more she questions everything she thought she knew about her friends, the man she once trusted, and even herself.

Bestselling author A. J. Banner keeps readers on a razor-sharp edge in this intricately plotted novel of psychological suspense…in which nothing is as it seems.

MY THOUGHTS:

3.75 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

 
After Nightfall
by A.J. Banner

If you like a story where absolutely everybody is a suspect, then this is the novel for you. Even the narrator thinks she herself is to blame at some point.

The morning after Marissa and Nate’s dinner/engagement party, Marissa wakes up to find that her best frenemy and next door neighbor Lauren is dead. Did she fall or was she pushed from the cliff down to the rocks below? Marissa does her best to investigate who might have had a reason to want Lauren dead–and before ling she finds out there are plenty of potential killers.

Marissa is a likable enough main character, though she makes some decisions that left me scratching my head. There is a wide cast in this novel, and it seems all of them have something to hide, even down to Nate’s 9 year old daughter.

At times I might have felt the author was throwing in TOO many red herrings; it’s a bit tiring trying to keep up with every side character’s personal problems. Most questions do get answered by the end, but it felt more like tying up loose ends than integrating their plot lines into the story.

When the killer was revealed, I was definitely surprised, although the climax fell a little flat for me. I wish we would have gotten to see a bit more of the culprit throughout the whole of the book.

This is another good thriller offering, and you will devour it quickly just like I did.

View all my reviews

About the Author

Born in India and raised in North America, A. J. Banner received degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. Her previous novels of psychological suspense include The Good Neighbor and The Twilight Wife, a USA Today bestseller. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and six rescued cats.

Connect with A. J. Banner

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Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 

One commenter will win a copy of After Nightfall. US/CAN only.  Leave me a comment telling me your best friend’s name! Ends 9/7/18.

 

 

BOOK TOUR GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Blood Will Out by Jo Treggiari

Blood Will Out

by Jo Treggiari

YA Thriller

Book Description

Ari Sullivan is alive—for now.

She wakes at the bottom of a cistern, confused, injured and alone, with only the shadowy recollection of a low-pitched voice and a gloved hand. No one can hear her screams. And the person who put her there is coming back. The killer is planning a gruesome masterpiece, a fairytale tableau of innocence and blood, meticulously designed.

Until now, Ari was happy to spend her days pining for handsome, recent-arrival Stroud Bellows, fantasizing about their two-point-four-kids-future together. Safe in her small hometown of Dempsey Hollow. But now her community has turned very dangerous—and Ari may not be the only intended victim.

On being inside the mind of a killer

One of the major decisions I made when I started to plot this book was to write the killer’s chapters in the first person. I wanted to get inside their head as much as possible and I wanted the reader to as well. This achieves two things. One is that the reader is forced into close contact with the killer, their thoughts and motivations—a scary place to be—and the other is that the reader is therefore a step ahead of the main character, and that builds tension.

I did a lot of research into serial killers although there is much we do not know about them. I concentrated on Jeffrey Dahmer, Ed Gein, John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy. I noted some of the similarities between them- the way these killers stalked their prey, presented different faces to people, had sometimes suffered abuse as children, and were capable of kindness as well as horrific cruelty and violence. Ed Gein for instance, nursed his mother. Ted Bundy was a social activist and even authored an anti-rape pamphlet (!), John Wayne Gacy entertained children at birthday parties…as a clown! Dahmer had good friends in high school. I really tried to understand them although that was an almost impossible task. I have to say it was a nightmarish six months. I had a very hard time keeping my happy life separate from all the awful things I was discovering; the depths that people can fall to.

I absorbed that background material and then wove my own creation. I knew I couldn’t write from that character’s POV unless I found some spark of humanity, something that allowed me and the reader to latch onto them in some way; to care if at all possible. Beginning their story in childhood let me imagine a triggering event and an evolution in their life. We were all children once. It was a tightrope walk because I also did not want the reader to forget that this was a monster I was writing.

 

About the Author

Jo Treggiari was born in London, England, and raised in Canada. She spent many years in Oakland, California and New York, where she trained as a boxer, wrote for a punk magazine, and owned a gangster rap/indie rock record label. Her novel Ashes, Ashes, a YA post-apocalyptic adventure published by Scholastic Press, was a multiple award nominee and bestseller. Her acclaimed novella Love You Like Suicide, appeared in the Fierce Ink Press anthology Becoming Fierce: Teen Stories IRL and as a limited edition of the long-running zine Cometbus. Her most recent YA is Blood Will Out, a psych-thriller, published by Penguin Teen (2018). She has a second yet-to-be-named thriller coming from Penguin in the summer of 2019.

 

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Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter
 

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BOOK TOUR SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: The Girl on Camera by Morgan Dun-Campbell

The Girl on Camera

by Morgan Dun-Campbell

New Adult Mystery

Book Description

Reality TV is about to get real…

“Are you ready to win the heart of the nation? Compete with seven other contestants for the cash prize? Change your life forever?”

Twenty-six-year old Rory Stevens is thrilled to be selected as one of eight contestants for new reality show: The Retreat.

However, on the second day of filming – during a televised broadcast from the show’s host – all power shuts off with no explanation: leaving the contestants, quite literally, in the dark.

Completely stranded, it is now up to Rory and her seven companions to figure out what is happening.

And then one of them disappears…

For fans of Naomi Alderman, Dave Eggers and John Marrs.

The screen is frozen. There’s a very faint noise, a high-pitched screech, barely audible, that seems to come from the TV.
‘What the hell’s happening?’ Carl cries. Adam looks to him and instantly shhhes him, obviously he can hear the noise too.
We wait a few seconds, each of us holding our positions.
The TV switches off. Completely black screen.
The faint whining noise stops.
All the lights switch off, simultaneously.
Cabin Two, previously bright, is now lit only by the rectangular pools of daylight that come in from the four windows, angled evenly around the room. Even in the afternoon, the room is now surprisingly dark and patterned with shadows.
But it’s too quiet.
Something else has happened.
I realise that we’ve become accustomed to the gentle hum of central heating, the hum from Cabin One, Two, and Three.
But now it is eerily silent, as though The Retreat itself was just a moment ago a living thing, and now it’s died and left us. Something has left us at least, we no longer have the comfort of electricity to rely on, we’re human beings who have been spoilt by laptops and power showers and overhead lighting and central heating and now we’re soft and vulnerable and can’t exist without our twenty first century accessories, in our natural states.
If the power doesn’t come back soon, we’ll be freezing tonight.
Now, an almost suffocating silence.
‘Again,’ Carl says, his voice a whisper, as though we might miss a vital clue. ‘Just what on earth is happening?’
I lean in ever so slightly towards Adam. I clear my throat, and say softly, ‘looks like we’ll have to cancel the leaving party altogether.’

‘Don’t touch me,’ Jess spits at me. I have my hands on her upper arms, stood behind her, trying to both offer comfort and restrain her – last thing we need is her venting her anger on the TV, breaking it somehow, and cutting off our one connection to the outside world.
‘Jess, you need to calm down,’ I say, ‘otherwise you’re going to work yourself up into a state. You have to accept the fact that for the moment at least, it’s out of your hands. He’s there and you’re here. Be reasonable.’ She pulls out of my grip, darts a couple of steps forward and spins on her heels to face us all, the back of her head inches from the TV.
‘Reasonable?’ She repeats. ‘Why am I here?’ She yells at us, her tone accusatory. ‘We don’t know what this place is. We’ve never even heard of this show before. We’re idiots, that’s what. We’ve been had and now we’re stuck here in a prison.’
‘Please, Jess, calm down,’ I say. She starts crying loudly. I note that Adam is studying Jess intently, really letting the weight of her words sink in.
But – Jess is starting to question the validity of the show, and that’s ridiculous. We all went through it.
The auditions. The stay at the hotel. The forms. The limos. The cameras.
That can’t be staged – it just can’t. It’s too complicated.
We’re on national television and we just happen to be the first to try out a brand new show that no one’s ever heard of before, and now all the power has switched off.
… I wish I hadn’t mentally phrased it like that. It makes it sound like madness.
For a brief moment, my mind flickers back to that moment when I clicked on the Apply Now link on my computer screen, blindly trusting this message that had popped into my life out of the blue – no, not from the blue, but from somewhere else, somewhere hidden and secret and suddenly deeply unsettling, now I look around at this dusty cabin, no power, wooden and cold and basic. This does not look like the premise for a televised show in the slightest.
No – of course it is. What about that show Mariah mentioned, Fearless? They’re supposed to be gritty.
‘Jess, the cameras could come on again any minute now,’ Carl says, words gentle, as though she’s a patient in a psychiatric ward who could switch personalities at any moment. ‘Do you really want to be broadcast live to a nation as a crying, irrational state?’ He gestures to Jess, her hair ruffled and sticking up all over the place like she stuck her finger in a wet plug socket, her minimal mascara now running in two lines down her red puffy face.
‘Oh god,’ she says, sniffing and taking a deep gulp. She looks to me. ‘I’m a terrible mother, aren’t I?’
‘What? No,’ I insist. ‘This whole – mess is completely out of your hands. You were left in the dark about anything to do with…’
‘Tony,’ she finishes for me, her eyes glaze over. ‘No, I’m like one of those awful mothers you read about in the papers who leave their baby in the car seat on a hot summer’s day so they can try on that new pair of designer shoes –’ she covers her mouth, eyes wide. ‘What if social services are watching?’
‘Nobody’s watching,’ Mariah says.
It’s at that moment that I spot Freddie.
He’s sat hunched over, huge arms resting on his legs, the elbows propped on the knees, his hands clasped together in a prayer position under his strong chin, an index finger pressed against his bottom lip. He stares at the floor, his lips a thin white line, and his eyes are alive in a way they’ve never been before, with an intensity so strong, I’m surprised he doesn’t have Superman-like vision that’ll burn a hole in the floor.
He’s completely motionless and I’ve never seen him like this. He’s usually animated, watching whoever’s speaking with heightened curiosity like a dog, making sure he’s at the heart of the action.
It’s like he’s switched himself off. Along with the cameras.
‘So… that’s it? Show’s over? Cancelled early for low viewing ratings? What?’ Mariah snaps. ‘I packed my skimpiest, tightest, and coldest wardrobe, so I could die of pneumonia with a bunch of nobodies and get eaten by woodland animals?’ She gestures to her current outfit. White denim shorts, V-neck blue sequinned strappy top, she shivers.
‘There are slightly more pressing matters than a wardrobe malfunction,’ Adam murmurs. Jess is shaking her head, wide eyed, in a state of shock presumably.
‘Let me out,’ she cries.
Nice Guy Freddie gets up.
‘Everyone sit down,’ he says. The words are neutral, but his voice is steady and strong, and this deliverance makes me uneasy.
*
‘So. We’re all in agreement,’ Freddie says, still speaking in his new, blank voice. ‘We all heard about this show from an email.’ Everyone round the circle nods. We’re sat on the sofas.
‘I’ve heard stories like this,’ Lexxi cries, her eyes wide, her knees jiggling, restless as she previously was with excitement, but now that excitement comes from a place of fear. ‘You know. The stuff people agree to online. Meet me behind this dodgy alleyway if you want a part in the new Tom Hanks movie! Then they get thrown into the back of a van, and shipped to the Middle East.’
‘How is that relevant?’ Carl says. He also seems different now the cameras are off. No longer easy-going, he’s now wound tight and stressed. Perhaps fame is more of an addiction for him that he realises. With those cameras off, his chances of being back in the limelight are jeopardised.

 

About the Author

Morgan Dun-Campbell lives in London. She has an MA (Distinction) in Creative Writing and Publishing, has participated in two Arvon literary writing courses, and has worked as an intern for numerous publishing houses, including Penguin Random House and Bloomsbury. The Girl on Camera is her first novel.

You can find and contact Morgan Dun-Campbell here:
– Blog
– Facebook
– Twitter
– Goodreads
– Amazon

You can find The Girl on Camera on Goodreads

You can buy The Girl on Camera on Amazon

The winners will receive 5 prize bundles including a signed copy of the book The Girl on Camera, a bookmark, and a small box of Celebrations (UK and US only).

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Lola's Blog Tours tour host

BOOK TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Fresh Ink Anthology

Fresh Ink

An Anthology by Various Young Adult Authors

YA Short Stories

Book Description

In partnership with We Need Diverse Books, thirteen of the most recognizable, diverse authors come together in this remarkable YA anthology featuring ten short stories, a graphic short story, and a one-act play from Walter Dean Myers never before in-print.

All it takes to rewrite the rules is a little fresh ink in this remarkable YA anthology from thirteen of the most recognizable, diverse authors writing today including Nicola Yoon, Jason Reynolds, Melissa de la Cruz, and many more, and published in partnership with We Need Diverse Books. This collection features ten short stories, a graphic short story, and a one-act play from Walter Dean Myers never before in-print. It will give readers the opportunity to discover how the next chapter is up to them.

Careful–you are holding fresh ink. And not hot-off-the-press, still-drying-in-your-hands ink. Instead, you are holding twelve stories with endings that are still being written–whose next chapters are up to you.

Because these stories are meant to be read. And shared.

Thirteen of the most accomplished YA authors deliver a label-defying anthology that includes ten short stories, a graphic novel, and a one-act play. This collection will inspire you to break conventions, bend the rules, and color outside the lines. All you need is fresh ink.

MY THOUGHTS:

4 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Fresh Ink: An Anthology by Lamar Giles

Featuring a collection of short stories written by diverse authors and about characters that seem to be rarely featured in the majority of YA books, Fresh Ink offers something for everyone.

A couple of standout stories were: “Don’t Pass Me By” by Eric Gainsworth. In this tale, a Native American boy celebrates his background in a time where most like him seemed to be trying to hide it. It was beautiful to see him claim himself and stand up for those who couldn’t or wouldn’t say anything. “Meet Cute” by Malinda Lo–a love story, or a beginning of one. This was exactly as its’ title suggests. Two girls meet at a convention and get to know each other through unconventional means. The dialogue felt real and appropriate for the age of the characters. “Catch, Pull, Drive” is about a transgender swimmer, and how just one person standing up for what’s right can really make a difference in a life.

This anthology is perfect for this point in time, where more and more teens are feeling free to be who they really are and express it to the world. Inclusion is important, and no matter your race, gender, sexuality, or ethnicity, you will find a story you like in Fresh Ink.

View all my reviews


AUTHORS INCLUDE:

Lamar Giles, Nicola Yoon, Malinda Lo, Melissa de la Cruz, Sara Farizan, Eric Gansworth, Walter Dean Myers, Daniel José Older, Thien Pham, Jason Reynolds, Gene Luen Yang, Sharon G. Flake, Schuyler Bailar, Aminah Mae Safi

“I absolutely love this mix of established and newer talents, and I’m really intrigued and excited by the mixed formats.” –BookRiot

“A powerful and varied collection…”—Booklist, starred review

“The stories are distinct in themes, subjects, genres, and formats, creating an inclusive, authentic, and incredible collection”—School Library Journal, starred review

Purchase it: GoodreadsAmazonAudibleB&NiBooksTBD

 

3 winners will win a finished copy of FRESH INK US Only.

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