Archive | March 2017

But Then I Came Back: Author Interview + Giveaway


About the Book:



Author: Estelle Laure

Pub. Date: April 4, 2017

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers

Pages: 512

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksGoodreads


Eden Jones, a 17-year-old girl, feels lost after surviving a near fatal accident. Unable to connect with her family and friends, Eden forms an unlikely relationship with Joe, a boy who comes to the hospital to visit Jasmine, a friend who may soon be gone forever. Eden is the only person who can get through to Jasmine, but is she brave enough to face a world that’s bigger and more magical than she ever would have allowed?


Author Interview:

What gave you the idea for But Then I Came Back?

Well, I was working on a whole other book about love and romanticism and one of my best friends committed suicide. I continued trying to write the other book, but I was plagued by questions of life and death and why it is we persist in living when it’s so hard sometimes. I was constantly pondering my own passion for life and arguing both sides with myself. The other book just wasn’t coming together and I was destroyed so I wasn’t producing the way I wanted to be. I finally gave in and poured all my grief and confusion into this book. Yeah, you’re welcome.

What is Eden’s greatest strength and weakness?

I think her greatest strength is her openness to wisdom. She likes books and information and thinking about existential concepts. That makes her interesting to me and strong as a person because she can take things in and grow. Her weakness has to do with ignorance. She hasn’t lived much of a life. She hasn’t traveled or experienced much diversity or economic strife. She’s been mollycoddled by adoring parents. Except for a single experience of rejection, until her accident she’s been unchallenged which makes her unable to understand things in a real way which is why the whole thing is such a shock.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?

When I was six I used to write stories while we drove around in a VW bus. Over time I was around people who I thought were better and more creative than me and I dropped it, only picking it up again after I had my son. I don’t know what clicked, but I have written in some form or another every day since and I’m totally serious when I say if I never published again in my life I would write every day anyway.

What is your favorite book so far that you have read this year?

Like 2017? I really loved UNDERWATER by Marisa Reichart. Totally devastating and beautiful. I also read Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance and think pretty much anyone living in America should read it.

Can you tell us a little more about Joe from But Then I Came Back?

Joe is quiet, thoughtful, great with his hands. He doesn’t get sucked into normal guy games. He doesn’t like sports or video games and is used to hard work. He likes flowers and plants and cars. He is loyal, so loyal that the thought of falling in love while his friend is struggling between life and death feels like a betrayal. He takes things seriously but can be playful. He comes from a mixed background. He has seen strife and doesn’t trust the system. He doesn’t know if he believes in God. He can’t figure out how the world could be so cruel. He’s thin and cut from hard work and when he has kids he will make sure they’re cut and thin from hard work, too. He’s not going to be following any YouTubers any time soon.

Do any of the characters from But Then I Came Back have characteristics from people you know in real life?

Sure. Things always leak in there, but if I try to make them exactly like a real person it becomes limiting because I feel I need to protect them or do them justice and I always fail. Gigi is probably the most based on a real person. George was my grandmother’s best friend was from Martinique, a woman who read cards and talked to ghosts. Her apartment was full of owls and she seemed more in the spirit world than on earth. She was extremely feisty and I was totally fascinated as a little kid. When my father read this book he wrote back and said, “It was nice to see George again…I mean Gigi.”



About Estelle:

Estelle Laure is a Vonnegut worshipper who believes in love and magic and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theater Arts from New Mexico State University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and thinks everyone should have to wait tables or work in a kitchen at least once in their lives. She lives in Taos, New Mexico with her children.

Website | Twitter |Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram


Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a hardcover of BUT THEN I CAME BACK, US Only.


Rafflecopter Code: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Schedule: 

Week One:

3/27/2017- Literary Dust– Interview

3/28/2017- The Best Books Ever – Review

3/29/2017- Novel Novice– Guest Post

3/30/2017- Portrait of a Book– Review

3/31/2017- Literary Meanderings– Excerpt

Week Two:

4/3/2017- YA Book Madness– Review

4/4/2017- Don’t Judge, Read– Review

4/5/2017- Tales of the Ravenous Reader– Interview

4/6/2017- Just Commonly– Review

4/7/2017- Wandering Bark Books– Excerpt



How does this book sound to you?

“Carve The Mark” by Veronica Roth



The cover, especially once you learn what this phrase refers to, is stunning.


I’d found in my NPR feed a story about a book based on chronic pain from a female perspective. A science fiction book based on it. There was no way I wasn’t going to read this.

It is what it says it is, and if you aren’t a big science fiction fan, this isn’t for you. It doesn’t get lost in too many details, but because this is almost an anthropological science fiction book, there is a learning curve on trying to get people acclimated to the new world rules. And it is a long read.

Everyone gets a magic power. It’s part of a “current” running through the worlds. All of them are unique.

The story follows two teens from two very different, and now warring cultures: Cyra Noavek (who appears as first-person) and Akos Kereseth (his p.o.v. is always second person). Cyra is from the nomadic and often displaced and abused Shotet. The Shotet are currently on the cold home planet of the less war-like more farm-oriented Thuve. Akos is Thuvesit, and being the oracle’s son, is captured and put into service for Cyra.

Cyra’s gift inflicts horrible pain on anyone touching her. And, as a result, she herself is in dire pain every second. Akos was given the power of interrupting everyone’s current gift-his touch can stop her misery. That is an interesting dynamic to read about. The way Cyra is dismissed and expected just to keep up while suffering is pretty realistic in terms of how women are called upon with withstand agony we probably couldn’t even explain.

If you haven’t heard already, this book came with some controversy. Roth is accused of being racist because Cyra, our warrior in the story, is dark-skinned and Akos and his people appear to generally be less so-although it is stated in the book there is no one look for either the Shotet or the Thuve. To think that, you have to be able to say you read the book and thought Cyra’s character was undesirable or flat or that the Shotet were. Cyra Noavek is the most powerful figure in the book. While used as a weapon by her abusive ruling family, she rebels against that purpose. Even when it costs her nearly everything.

The Shotet themselves are not this mess of hot-headed warriors but are under a dictator-like regime by a horrible figure. They have rebels fighting against the regime, too. It’s explained that they lost their homeland, their children, their everything and vowed to be able to defend themselves. As a result, they are overall very tough. You can see similar things in Riddick for example and even Dune. I am all for team kick-ass culture. I don’t think these things are inherently bad or evil and so having a hero born into one can’t be that way, either.

On the other hand, I can get why this might be a problem in our cultural climate. And, in some places in the book, I honestly had moments of “why would she write that??!”.

The worst for me was when Cyra’s mother was dressing her for an important meeting, and pulled her hair back, saying that she didn’t want the first thing these people noticed to be her wild hair.

Ouch. As a disclaimer, I grew up in a dysfunctional family where nobody looked like me. And I have insane hair. It was the first thing they always attacked, the first thing everyone tried to change or silence about me.

There is a possibility I read into it wrong, and maybe it’s a statement about Cyra’s mother’s undesirable character. She did, after all, allow her son to be tormented by his father until he was a monster.

But I darn sure didn’t want to read that in this book.

If you can get past some of that, which I’ll admit should have been cut in editing, you have a decent story about two youngsters from different cultures crossing a divide of danger and understanding in order to help and love each other. That is a good message. Overall, I still recommend it. It’s not perfect, though. And maybe future installments can be dealt with better.


March Library Finds

Happy Spring. It already feels like Summer here in Texas. So, we’ve spent a good portion of it at the air-conditioned book field we call the local library.

First, I wanted to share a couple of cute adult level books, because really I think I grab one book for us for every ten I grab my kids (most of that is they have more time to read, with it being a daily requirement at their school…That almost makes me want to go back to school). But I did manage to get two good ones this time.

The first I reserved, it’s comedian Jim Gaffigan’s “Dad is Fat”.


My husband and I love Jim. He’s relatable and centered in a large family. Few people understand the love and the flipping chaos of that these days: and trust me, those of us living it need some laughs. It was Gaffigan who said large families are like waterbed stores, they used to be everywhere, and now they’re just weird…Anyway, if you love his stand-up, you need this in your life.

The second book I happened upon by accident as I was leaving the library and went back around in line to check it out. “Murder in the House of Rooster Happiness” by David Casarett has a striking cover and it’s about a Thai nurse named Ladarat who has to act like a detective. It’s exotic, it’s thoughtful, it’s a wonderful little escape I recommend for people who love things in the vein of Agatha Christie, and it has such a wonderful viewpoint.


For my older children, we found “Arthur and the Golden Rope” by Joe Todd-Stanton, and “Futhermore” by Tahereh Mafi. Both high magical and adventurous, and dealing with the bravery it takes a young person to prove themselves. My son was very happy with Nordic based tale and lovely illustrations of “Arthur and the Golden Rope”, and for any child interested in that mythology this is a great pick.


“Furthermore” was more the speed of my eldest daughter, who was instantly in love with the cover art and opening pages. It’s a nice story for upper-elementary students, that is for sure.


And, finally, for our littlest reader, we chose a traditionally illustrated Easter board book. It’s longer than most, but the pictures kept my toddler still. Other than Beatrix Potter, we don’t have a lot of stories and art like this. The style is still around, but not as popular as in the past, so we liked the idea of introducing it to babies and toddlers. Jan Brett’s “The Easter Egg” is so lovely and intricate to look at that I could see an adult getting lost in the illustrations of this board book. Great find for the holiday that will be upon us soon.


Happy book hunting!







Review: Open When


About Open When

Happiness expert Karen Salmansohn presents a unique interactive book that invites readers to literally open letters of encouragement, wit, and wisdom whenever they need a boost.

Inspired by the trend of “open when” letters sweeping the nation, Instant Happy author Karen Salmansohn has created a bound collection of 12 notes for readers to flip open whenever they need a pep talk. With categories like “Open when you need a laugh,” “Open when you’re feeling stressed out,” and “Open when you need courage,” these little happiness-boosters are based on Salmansohn’s viral posters that combine witty sayings with colorful graphics.

My Review:

The book itself is a cute book, but I feel like I would’t want to spend money buying it, when I could just make something like it myself. I did like the envelope open when someone is being mean that one summed it up pretty good.

Some of the drawings inside were cute, but others looked dated. A better artist would have helped out the book a lot. Overall it is a short and cute read. I am not sure the envelopes would really help me get past how I am feeling, but they may help others.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic

Author: V.E. Schwab

Date of Publication: February 24th, 2015

a darker

Goodreads Summary:

Kell is one of the last travelers–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes connected by one magical city.

There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, and with one mad King–George III. Red London, where life and magic are revered–and where Kell was raised alongside Rhy Maresh, the roguish heir to a flourishing empire. White London–a place where people fight to control magic and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London. But no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red traveler, ambassador of the Maresh empire, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

My Review:

I actually did not finish the book the first time I tried to read it a long time ago, but to be fair, I didn’t make it that far to begin with. I was confused, and my mind may have not been in the right place. I read This Savage Song not long ago and loved it, so I thought I would give this book one more shot, and I’m glad I took the chance!

After I got through the part about understanding that there are four different London’s, which are Black, Grey, White, and Red, I could focus on the characters. I loved Kell, and I loved Lila. Occasionally, there were other point of views sprinkled into the mix along with the two main characters.


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MAGIC! There was a lot of magic going on, and it was awesome! Lila was probably my favorite character because even with the choices she makes, she still has a heart hidden inside her chest. Her personality rocked!

This book was just all kinds of awesome, and while it didn’t end on a cliffhanger, it left me with enough where I can’t wait to read the next book. Loved it!


Have you read this series?

Review: The Dead List

Title: The Dead List

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Date of Publication: April 25th, 2017


Goodreads Summary:

It’s Ella’s senior year of high school and she and her best friend Linds plan to make it the best year ever. At Brock Cochran’s end of summer pool party, the girls vow to have as much fun as possible before they head off to different colleges next fall. But when Ella is mysteriously attacked on her way home from the party, everything changes. Ella’s carefree senior year plans disintegrate as she finds herself at the center of an attempted murder investigation.

Ella tries to move on, but her attacker isn’t done yet. He shows himself in the form of horrifying signs and symbols: a clown mask strewn on her bed, a dead bird in her backpack, a shadow moving past her window in the night. And as the weeks pass, it turns out that Ella isn’t the only one being tormented.

With the help of an old flame, Jensen Carver, and her friends and family, Ella tries to attain some sense of normalcy, but she can’t seem to shake the feeling that there’s a dark pattern hidden in the killer’s every move. Suddenly, even those in her innermost circle seem suspicious. In her seemingly safe West Virginia town, Ella starts to wonder who she can trust.

My Review:

I actually read this when it was free on Wattpad a couple of years ago, and I loved it! I won an early copy of this book, so I thought I would go ahead and give my review properly.


Photo Credit

This book was pure awesome, and it reminded me of the awesome slasher movies of the nineties that we don’t seem to have today. There was plenty of creepy factors, but then there were loads of heartfelt moments, especially when it came to Penn. I loved my little Penn!

Ella was an awesome MC, and Jensen was the perfect swoony love interest. My favorite kind of romance is one that has a past together, and these two had grown up together until something pulled them apart.

The killer wears a creepy mask, and that is my favorite type of fictional murder because you can’t see what type of emotion is expressed on the face beneath the mask. I am pretty good at guessing who is the killer in books, and I did guess it here, but it didn’t take away from this being one of my favorite YA horror books that I have read.


How does this book sound to you?

Help Me Reveal My Book Cover

So, I am having my first book cover reveal through Lola’s Book Tours and was hoping you guys would consider helping me and sign up to help reveal it! I don’t really know what I am doing in general, but I do need help spreading the word!

If you choose to help me, you can sign up here…

And if you have anything you would like me to share, I don’t mind helping!

Just thought I would throw in some Bollywood dancing, because it is awesome!

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Photo Credit



Thanks for the support!