Blog Tour + Book Review & Interview with a Giveaway | What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra

Hi my lovely book friends! I’d love to welcome y’all on today’s What the Woods Keep blog tour! I’m so excited because this is the first tour I have organized. It was such an honor to have this wonderful experience, since I’ve always been looking forward to read this book. This tour will run starting today up to the 15th of September so, don’t forget to check out on everyone’s tour stops and get a chance to win a finished copy of What the Woods Keep.Tale Out Loud DividerWhat The Woods KeepWhat the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra
Published by: Imprint Macmillan
Publication date: September 18, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dark Fantasy, Thriller
Pre-order Links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Books-A-MillionIndiebound

Synopsis:
On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.

Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.

As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.

What the Woods Keep is the stunning debut of Katya de Becerra, who combines mystery, science fiction, and dark fantasy in a twisty story that will keep you mesmerized right up to the final page.

My rating:
4 and a half star

If you were like me who thought watching Supernatural, starting from its pilot episode, and reading this book was the perfect combo, please do me a favor to do it in daylight. Because the moment I picked this book, I quickly sense that eerie atmosphere within the story.

Katya de Becerra lures the readers in with the mystery behind Hayden’s character who has this weird and odd personality. Not only the way how she has different colored eyes, because that’s basically had science explained as heterochromia, but how her mom’s strange disappearing a decade ago promised a dark, creepy tale in it.

Every inch there is in this story gave a slice of horror. First, the setting of a quiet, small town with people who looked as if they’ll going to eat you alive for dinner started out predictable. But anything that has to do with the forest and a house in the woods easily creeps me out.

The cryptic messages from Hayden’s mom, blood dials, rituals and images that were vividly described and a bit too outré, I could literally visualize them on my head, didn’t escape my being extra spooked. Even the letters, patient’s appendices of Hayden, Arista Kazan’s notes, findings and Dr. Holland’s journals attached in some of the chapters were pretty spooktacular too.

As Hayden unfolds the mystery and truth about her mother, all things that she could make sense using science and physics changed because her father was right all along. This made the suspense grows steadily and the twist on the Nibelungs absolutely popped up on the pages.

The story also explores Hayden’s need to have that sense of comfort, to belong, where she found on her best friend Del. Even being completely opposite, their friendship became one of the highlights in the story—how Del didn’t leave Hayden knowing every supernatural completely freaks her out or how Hayden will do everything to save her.

And let’s not forget about Shannon, Hayden’s former childhood friend. It’s not easy for her to trust and get along with other people. But with Shannon, she felt that there’s nothing have changed, that’s if he was not using her for the Institute.

When the story nears its end, the scenes went in high gear and completely turned my head in a mind-bending spiral. Hayden, knowing that she’s completely not human and going into a wholly different universe of the Nibelungs? I could have easily heard a pin drop.

Everything became too intense and before I know it, the story ended. Honestly, I want more! I need to know what happen to Abigail, to Hayden’s father and everyone in Promise. So, I asked Katya about this in an interview, which you can read later as you went on in this post.

What the Woods Keep is a plot-driven story about learning one’s true identity while discovering the unknown, punched with a deeply chilling vibe and consistent spine-tingling narrative. From the settings, characters, plot, storytelling, and even the title and cover itself, this book captured an excellent blend of science fiction, fantasy and horror.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. It’s a great addition to your fall TBR.

I received an eARC of What the Woods Keep from the publisher via NetGalley and this in no way influence my rating nor my opinion on this book.
Behind The Pages with Katya de BecerraHi Katya! Welcome again here at Tale Out Loud for the second time and Congratulations to your debut novel, What the Woods Keep!

I’m so excited to return to Tale Out Loud once more! It was super exciting to first guest blog for you earlier this year! You hosted my first very feature dedicated to What The Woods Keep, so it only makes sense that I come back for an interview now that my debut is about hit the shelves!

I’m so thrilled to have you back! When you shared The Anthropology Behind What the Woods Keep months ago, you had mentioned how you were standing in a three-hour line, waiting for your turn to get a book signed and the idea of writing a book hit you. But when exactly was your lightbulb moment and realize that you need to write a story like What the Woods Keep?

It was a strange metamorphosis and it’s not easy to pin down the exact moment. I mean, I did write another book first. It wasn’t very good. But I had to get it out of my system, I guess. So after I wrote that first book and queried it to agents (with zero success), I knew I had to keep writing. So I tried different things. I wrote some stories, and got one published in an online magazine. That story was set in a small forest-locked town and ended with a cliffhanger, and that made me wonder: what happened next? That short story from years ago became a sort-of unofficial prequel to What The Woods Keep (at least in a thematic way), but then the story seemed to evolve naturally and I found myself writing what eventually became What The Woods Keep!

I’m sure you’re talking about Smoke and Mirrors, right? I was actually intrigue the moment you announced it in your pre-order campaign. It is set in Paris and upon reading What the Woods Keep; I realized whom it was all about. Are there any chance that you will developed it into a full manuscript?

I’m smiling deviously as I type this… Smoke and Mirrors is something I’ve written recently to give readers an in-depth insight into Hayden’s bestie Del’s life before the US. I don’t want to give away too much at this stage, but there’s a certain incident from Del’s life that involves her sister – Smoke and Mirrors is about that. On another hand, the story that inspired What The Woods Keep is called The Fetch. It got published in 2012 in Dark Edifice Literary Magazine which likely doesn’t exist anymore. (But I did reprint it on my blog, read here.)

Just to reiterate though, The Fetch is not a true prequel to What the Woods Keep but it did inspire it in a way.

Yes! I know about that particular scene! And now I’m hype to read The Fetch after this. LOL! Going back, What the Woods Keep, even from the title itself definitely has a pinch of horror vibe in it. What particular reason that drawn you to write the story which gave that sense of atmosphere?

I love spooky stories, but not full-on horror, you know. To me the menacing atmosphere and hints or horror is as far as I can comfortably go! I guess it’s just my personal comfort zone.

I agree! That’s why I don’t read or watch full-on horror like Stephen King’s. But your book is definitely not just horror but also a mixed of science fiction and fantasy. Do you consider yourself as a cross-genre writer?

I didn’t know I was a cross-genre writer until I wrote What The Woods Keep! It was when I wrote my query and was about to query agents when it hit me: I needed to define it as one genre to pitch it properly. And I really struggled to define it. I think I settled on “Urban Fantasy with elements of Science Fiction” or something, but really I could’ve chosen anything (fantasy horror, fantasy thriller, fantasy mystery, etc.). Now that I’ve written my first and my second book (Oasis is a standalone set to release in late 2019, and it’s been labelled as “horror adventure”), I can tell that yeah I love to mix different genres together! I just can’t help it!

You’ve done amazing and I love the twists you did for What the Woods Keep! And one of the obvious inspirations you have in this book is Norse mythology, specifically the Nibelung. Is it something you have always known before you decided to include it in your story’s plot?

Thank you! Actually, I didn’t have the Nibelungs in the early drafts of What The Woods Keep. Instead, I was developing the book’s supernatural element completely from scratch. However, as I revised my book I felt like it was missing something. This is where the Nibelungs made a come back from my blurry childhood memories. It was one of the major light bulb moments for this book! I combined a lot of my original world-building with the Nibelungen mythology, with hopes that those who know a little bit about the Nibelungs (even if just the name!) would be intrigued, while others would still enjoy my storytelling regardless.

I don’t know a lot about Norse myth than Thor, Odin and Loki. So, it was really refreshing to learn about the Nibelungs here in your book. Now, let’s talk about Hayden. Is she someone you write and find as a complex character?

When I was writing Hayden, my goal was for her to be realistic but also a bit of a contradiction. Her father is a scientist and she has a sort of allegiance to science. Her logical approach to the world is a bit of an armour for her, a space where she retreats when she encounters something unexplained and mysterious. I hope that readers find her worldview interesting and follow her on her journey from a wannabe sceptic to something else entirely.

Del, one of the characters, grew up moving around with her family. As an expat, did you modeled her character with your own experience?

In a way, yes! Since Hayden hasn’t traveled out of the country, her roommate being more of a cosmopolitan and well-traveled made for interesting dynamics between them. And you’re right, I definitely drew on my own experiences as an expat (and on those of my expat friends, to a degree) when writing Del, though in her case she’s moved a lot throughout her childhood because of her dad’s job. The teen-me hasn’t really traveled that much.

I’m really curious because as one of the readers, we weren’t able to know what happen to the other characters in the story like Abigail, Hayden’s father or to Promise. Can you share to us what could have been the outcome for all of them after What the Woods Keep?

As a writer I like to have a few “loose ends” in the book and leave some things up to readers’ imagination. Having said that, I understand that readers might want more closure on the characters, but also if there’s even a slightest possibility of a sequel I have to be careful not to give out too much at this stage. I’ll tell you this: all is not lost and there’s hope for everyone. Abigail and Hayden’s dad might make an appearance in What The Woods Keep themed short stories and – who knows – one day I might get to write a sequel (fingers crossed!)

I’m actually going to ask if there’s a possibility for a follow-up novella because the story has an open-ending or a cliffhanger which made it seem as if there will be a sequel. And you’re answer just gave me hope of continuity for the characters. I’ll watch out for that sequel!

Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to write one (but I do love my cliffhangers.)

You made the ending so much more interesting that I personally want more. Where can we read What the Woods Keep themed short stories by the way? I’m sure readers would love to know more about it.

I’m SO GLAD to hear that! As for short stories, Smoke and Mirrors is so far the only one I’ve written that’s set in the world of What The Woods Keep. At the moment, it’s offered as part of my pre-order campaign for What The Woods Keep alongside other cool stuff. (The details of my preorder incentives are here). For future stuff, readers could follow me on social media – I announce things as they happen, so Twitter is probably the best way to keep track.

As a debut author, what are the things you have learned while on the process of writing What the Woods Keep—from your characters and the story as a whole?

In terms of writing process itself, I learned a whole lot about the causation between a character’s motivation and their actions! I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s something I’m still learning as I work on improving my craft.

What I learned from my characters… that friendship is important and can save your life. Literally!

Lastly, what advice would you like to give to new writers, someone who is just starting out?

Read a lot. Read widely. Pay attention to books that appeal to you and ask yourself way: this is a great way to study the craft and develop your own style. Regardless of which way you go, traditional, indie, hybrid, keep in mind that there’s a lot of rejection and it’s rarely personal. Just keep trying. Keep writing. Keep going!

Thank you so much Katya! Lovely to have you here and Congratulations again with your debut!

Thank you so much for having me – again – on your awesome blog! I’m super excited for the book to be out there at last! Thank you and all the wonderful bloggers and early readers for helping me spread the word about What The Woods Keep!

About The Author:
Katya De BecerraKatya de Becerra was born in Russia, studied in California, lived in Peru, and then stayed in Australia long enough to become a local. She was going to be an Egyptologist when she grew up, but instead she earned a PhD in Anthropology. What the Woods Keep is her first novel.

Follow Katya de Becerra:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | InstagramRafflecopter GiveawayWhat The Woods Keep Tour Banner (1)

Want to know who joined the blog tour? Don’t forget to visit these amazing book bloggers to learn more about What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra.

What the Woods Keep Blog Tour ScheduleSEPTEMBER 10 (MONDAY)
Karlita — Tale Out Loud (That’s me!)
Kester — LILbooKlovers (Guest Post)

SEPTEMBER 11 (TUESDAY)
Salwa — Voguish Perusal (Review, Favorite Quotes, Guest Post)
Amanda — MetalPhantasmReads (Review)
Laura — Bucks, Books & Beyond (Review, Favorite Quotes)

SEPTEMBER 12 (WEDNESDAY)
Liv — Liv’s Wonderful Escape (Review, Creative)
Sifa — Sifa Elizabeth Reads (Review)
Katherine — Kat’s Books (Review)

SEPTEMBER 13 (THURSDAY)
Austine — NovelKnight (Review, Q&A)
Imogene — Amidst the Pages (Review, Favorite Quotes)
Mari — Andico Mari (Review)

SEPTEMBER 14 (FRIDAY)
AJ — Diary of an Avid Reader (Review, Novel Aesthetic Board)
Justine — Bookish Wisps (Review, Favorite Quotes)
Nikole — A Court of Coffee and Books (Review, Q&A)

SEPTEMBER 15 (SATURDAY)
Jamie — PrincessofPages (Extract)
Preethi — Young Adult Media Consumer (Review)
Crimson — Crimson Talks Books, Mostly (Review)

Advertisements

Author Spotlight | Behind The Pages With Marie Miranda Cruz

Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda CruzEverlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz
Published by: Starscape Books
Publication date: October 2, 2018
Genre: Middle Grade
Pre-order Links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Wordery

Synopsis:
An uplifting middle-grade debut about perseverance against all odds, Marie Miranda Cruz’s debut Everlasting Nora follows the story of a young girl living in the real-life shanty town inside the Philippines’ North Manila Cemetery.

After a family tragedy results in the loss of both father and home, 12-year-old Nora lives with her mother in Manila’s North Cemetery, which is the largest shanty town of its kind in the Philippines today.

When her mother disappears mysteriously one day, Nora is left alone.

With help from her best friend Jojo and the support of his kindhearted grandmother, Nora embarks on a journey riddled with danger in order to find her mom. Along the way she also rediscovers the compassion of the human spirit, the resilience of her community, and everlasting hope in the most unexpected places.Behind The Pages With Marie Miranda CruzHi again my awesome fellow bookworms! Today, we have another special guest here at Behind The Pages! She is a Filipino debut middle-grade author and her book Everlasting Nora will surely touch every human soul.

In this interview, she will talk about her character, Nora, who can be both a window and a mirror to each one of us.  So, let us all welcome Marie Miranda Cruz!

Hi Marie! Congratulations! Welcome here at Tale Out Loud and thank you so much for agreeing to this interview!

Thank you so much!! I’m happy to have this chance to chat with you.

Everlasting Nora is your debut middle grade novel. To start, can you tell us something about Nora, the main character of your book?

Nora is a girl with clearly defined goals. She dreams of living in a real home again and is determined to achieve that dream and thus regain the life she had before the fire that destroyed her home and her family. Nora likes to learn and isn’t afraid to work hard for what she wants. She’s also good at crafts. A trait she and I share. She’s spunky and brave, or tries to be because it’s not always easy in a place like that. When she moved to the cemetery, she believed she wouldn’t live there for long and wasn’t keen on making new friends. In a way, she almost didn’t want to adjust. She didn’t want this new life to be her normal but she soon learns it won’t be easy getting her old life back.

Initially, what was your reaction when you found out that Everlasting Nora would finally be published after a twelve-year journey of writing and perfecting this amazing piece of work?

First of all, thank you so much for your kind words! The moment I found out EVERLASTING NORA was going to be published felt surreal. I had been on the journey toward publication so long that it felt like it was happening to someone else. I guess because this was a feeling I was so used to—watching from the sidelines—and that’s exactly how I felt. It was strangely unbelievable! I felt humbled by the love my editor, Diana Pho, had for my book and her steadfast faith that this was an important story to share. I think we both felt it was high time American children’s literature included stories like this one that reflected aspects of Filipino culture Americans knew so little about.

Tale Out Loud Divider

As a window, Nora’s story will help them see what other children experience in other parts of the world; empathy begins with awareness. As a mirror, children may read about Nora, see their own experiences, and feel that they aren’t alone in their suffering.

Tale Out Loud DividerI have read that the first holiday that you had experienced in the Philippines was All Saints Day. How has this experience inspired you to write this debut? Can you share the story behind it?

One of my earliest memories of All Saints Day in the Philippines was watching my young cousins collect melted wax from candles burning around the tomb and forming the soft wax into balls. I wrote a story about a pair of brothers who had a strange adventure the night of All Saints Day. A couple of years later, when I decided to write my first children’s novel, I remembered this story and began my research about Philippine cemeteries. During my research, I came across a blog post by a Christian missionary who had written about a trip he had to the Philippines. He had worked with Manila social workers to help the orphans who lived in the north cemetery. He wrote about one girl in particular. Her name was Grace. She had been abandoned by her mother. She begged on the streets and slept wherever she could find safe shelter in the cemetery. She later died in a charity hospital, alone. This story struck me keenly. I began thinking about Grace and how she came to live in the cemetery. That’s how Nora’s story was born.

When you realized that it was time to write Nora’s story, what kind of research approach you did to her character?

I used a lot of my own memories of my time growing up in the Philippines. Nora is modeled after a few of my cousins and school friends, as were other characters in my book. For the setting, I did my research online, mostly through photo archives of photographers who had a collection of photos of the squatter communities in Philippine cemeteries. Also, since I had been living in the U.S. since the 80’s, I interviewed friends and relatives to add to my own recollections of current cultural practices, etc.

During the recent Augvocacy, you have once mentioned about the importance of empathy. How significant it is in this story for readers, especially the young once, to build an understanding to what Nora experienced?

For many readers, young and old, a story can be a window into a world they have never seen or knew about, or a mirror of their own experiences. In thinking about empathy, this story can have significant impact on young people in both ways. As a window, Nora’s story will help them see what other children experience in other parts of the world; empathy begins with awareness. As a mirror, children may read about Nora, see their own experiences, and feel that they aren’t alone in their suffering. That the strength Nora found in her friends and in her own steadfast resilience can motivate them to keep going, to keep living and hoping for a better tomorrow.

Through Nora’s story, how do you wish readers remembered us, Filipinos?

People around the world already know Filipinos for our work ethic, our love of family, and our delicious food. What I hope readers will take away from this story about Filipinos is the spirit of giving in our culture, that even the poorest among us have something to share. I remember my aunt telling me a long time ago that even the poor will have a “handa” at fiesta time.

What one bit of wisdom would you like to impart to aspiring writers out there who want to voice out their own story?

My advice is to be patient! Be patient with the industry and yourself. Take your time and hone your craft and tell the story only you can tell. Someone out there will want it someday.

Anything you want to say to everyone who have read and yet to read your book?

To all who have read EVERLASTING NORA, thank you from the bottom of my heart. To all who have yet to read, I hope Nora’s journey will touch your mind and soul.

Marie Miranda Cruz on QuickfireI also manage to ask Marie Miranda Cruz for a rapid round of questions, a segment of this author spotlight I’m calling, Quickfire. And because Filipino cuisine is one of the highlights in her book, you will know some of her favorites here!

Knitting or reading?
Not a fair question, lol! I love them both! If I REALLY had to choose, it would be reading.

A book that left a lasting impression on you. 
Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

Biko or Banana-que?
Banana-que!

Quesillo or Tamales?
Quesillo! *I miss this SO much*

What kind of work would you do for free?
Cooking!

Advice to your younger self.
Study harder, lol.
It was great chatting with you! Thank you so much for having me.

About The Author:
Marie Miranda Cruz.jpgMarie Miranda Cruz was born in the Philippines. She spent most of her formative years moving between her hometown, Cavite City, and several cities in the United States while her father served in the United States Navy. When her dad retired, she moved back to the Philippines where she completed both high school and college. The first holiday she experienced in the Philippines was All Saints Day. It was this experience that inspired her to write her first novel, Everlasting Nora.

Marie now lives in Los Angeles with her family and a tank of fighting fish. When she isn’t writing books for kids, she may be analyzing chromosomes in a genetics lab, reading a good book, or knitting ponchos and fingerless gloves.

She is represented by Paula Munier, Talcott Notch Literary Services, LLC.

Follow Marie Miranda Cruz:
Website | Twitter | InstagramEverlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz Pre-orderPre-order and you’ll get:
📖 A beautiful illustration by Abbie Cruz
📖 Everlasting Nora bookmark
📖 Everlasting daisy sticker


📖 Everlasting bookmark made from lovely, hand-dyed Peekaboo Yarns (50 lucky winners)

Grand prize winner will get:
📖 A beautiful illustration by Abbie Cruz
📖 Everlasting Nora bookmark
📖 Everlasting daisy sticker
📖 Everlasting bookmark made from lovely, hand-dyed Peekaboo Yarns
📖 A lovely daisy pendant
Details here

Author Spotlight | Behind The Pages With Hayley Chewins

The Turnaway Girls by Hayley ChewinsThe Turnaway Girls by Hayley Chewins
Published by: Candlewick Press / Walker Books
Publication date: October 9, 2018 / January 3, 2019
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Pre-order Links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Wordery

Synopsis:
Delphernia Undersea wants to sing. But everyone on Blightsend knows music belongs to the Masters — and girls with singing throats are swallowed by the sea.

On the strange, stormy island of Blightsend, twelve-year-old Delphernia Undersea has spent her whole life in the cloister of turnaway girls, hidden from sea and sky by a dome of stone and the laws of the island. Outside, the Masters play their music. Inside, the turnaway girls silently make that music into gold. Making shimmer, Mother Nine calls it. But Delphernia can’t make shimmer. She would rather sing than stay silent. When a Master who doesn’t act like a Master comes to the skydoor, it’s a chance for Delphernia to leave the cloister. Outside the stone dome, the sea breathes like a wild beast, the sky watches with stars like eyes, and even the gardens have claws. Outside, secrets fall silent in halls without sound. And outside, Delphernia is caught — between the island’s sinister Custodian and its mysterious Childer-Queen. Between a poem-speaking prince and a girl who feels like freedom. And in a debut that glimmers with hope and beauty, freedom — to sing, to change, to live — is precisely what’s at stake.Behind The Pages With Hayley ChewinsHi my lovelies! We are here for another segment of Behind The Pages. Our special guest today is a debut middle-grade author and in this interview, she will talk about her journey of writing The Turnaway Girls and how everyone who has been bullied can relate to Delphernia Undersea’s character. You can read the first few chapters of The Turnaway Girls here.

So, without further ado, I would love to welcome Hayley Chewins here on the blog!

Hi Hayley! Thank you so much for joining us today! Before we begin, can you tell us a little something about The Turnaway Girls?

THE TURNAWAY GIRLS is a dark middle grade fantasy about an island where girls are not allowed to make music—and are instead forced to turn boys’ songs into gold. It follows the story of Delphernia Undersea, a twelve-year-old girl who—despite knowing that girls who make music are doomed to be swallowed by the sea—sings. And discovers that her voice opens her up to a whole new kind of magic.

This is your debut novel. How does it feel?

Nerve-wracking, exciting, emotional, stressful.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I always wanted to be a writer. I mainly wrote songs and poems until my early twenties, though, because writing a novel was too daunting. And then, when I was twenty-three, I decided that something being daunting was not a good enough reason not to do it.

How did you start writing The Turnaway Girls? Can you tell us a little bit about your journey getting to this point?

I wrote THE TURNAWAY GIRLS after a particularly difficult rejection. I had queried a middle grade magical realist novel in verse about a girl whose voice is stolen from her by an ailing violinist who lives in an old age home near her house. I received a request to revise and resubmit from a very insightful agent, and I was so excited to revise. And then that revised manuscript was rejected (for totally understandable reasons, I might add!) and I felt completely deflated and exhausted. I wanted to write something different but my mind always seems to gravitate towards music when I want to write about magic. (Because music, to me, is magic.) I was thinking about muses a lot—about how they would feel, always making art come to life for others and never making their own art, especially since muses are usually depicted as female. That was the starting point. The book went through many drafts but I never looked back.

Tale Out Loud Divider

I hope that readers will relate to her because everyone has been bullied or felt small in some way…It’s about her learning to reject the identity that she has been given by others—and learning to make a new one for herself.

Tale Out Loud DividerI have read that your book was somehow inspired by The Handmaid’s Tale. In what way did it influence your writing for The Turnaway Girls?

It’s strange, because in some ways, THE TURNAWAY GIRLS couldn’t be more different from THE HANDMAID’S TALE. It’s not set in a future version of our world. It’s not about reproductive rights, either. But there are subtle thematic and tonal similarities. For instance, the way that the turnaway girls turn music into gold is by letting music run through their bones. They have to become empty, to forget selfhood, to become so silent that the music slips through them—and that is very reminiscent of THE HANDMAID’S TALE, in the sense that their bodies are used for the power of the state and they don’t have a choice in the matter.

You had mentioned that your book was also inspired by music. Which song you think that truly resonates Delphernia’s story? Why?

There were two songs I listened to on repeat while drafting and revising THE TURNAWAY GIRLS. (I like listening to one or two songs over and over so that I don’t get too distracted by the music.) The songs were DORIAN by Agnes Obel and THE BROTHEL by Susanne Sundfør. I can’t really say why—the mood of these songs just felt like a home for the book. Lonely, mournful and beautiful.

Do you have a character you feel most connected to in the story or a character you found the most fun to write besides Delphernia?

I loved spending time with Linna, a trans girl who becomes Delphernia’s best friend when she leaves the cloister. She is such a happy, optimistic, clever character. I just adore her.

Tale Out Loud Divider

Don’t write something because it’s trendy / important / impressive—write it because you desperately want to write it.

Tale Out Loud DividerDelphernia Undersea is such a unique and distinct name. Is there a story behind the naming of her character?

Getting to name characters is one of my favourite things about writing books. Because Delphernia constantly lives with the threat of being swallowed by the sea, I wanted to give her a name that meant “swimming.” (Delphi means “dolphin” in Latin.) But I didn’t want her name to sound as though she lived in Ancient Greece—only because Blightsend doesn’t bear much resemblance to Ancient Greece—so I played around with sounds until I came up with Delphernia. For me, names are part planning, part intuition. They need to have a good rhythm to them.

What can readers expect from Delphernia? How can they relate to her character and the experience she had gone through?

I hope that readers will relate to her because everyone has been bullied or felt small in some way. Delphernia is a character who has been taught to think of herself in very negative terms basically since birth. THE TURNAWAY GIRLS is about her journey out of that. It’s about her learning to reject the identity that she has been given by others—and learning to make a new one for herself.

How important hope is to you as a writer and to your characters in The Turnaway Girls?

Hope is incredibly important to me personally and I strive, always, to suffuse my books with it. Yes, the world is bleak. And yes, we should always have hope that things can get better and work towards that.

After The Turnaway Girls, what is next for Hayley Chewins? Are you currently working on something new right now?

I am! I’m writing a book about sisters and magical creatures. I can’t say much more about it than that, but I’m hoping it’ll be a real book that I can talk about one day!

If you could offer a piece of advice to an aspiring author looking to get published, what would it be?

Try to find out early on what you really want to write about and focus on that. Don’t write something because it’s trendy/important/impressive—write it because you desperately want to write it. And keep going!

About The Author:
Hayley Chewins Author PhotoHayley Chewins grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, in a house so full of books that she learnt to read by accident. Hayley studied classical voice for a year before switching to a degree in English Literature and Italian.

She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, in a house full of art and music and colour, with her husband and a very small poodle. She believes in two things above all else: the magic of love, and the heroism of sisters.

Her debut novel, The Turnaway Girls, will release from Candlewick Press and Walker Books on 9 October 2018 (US) and 3 January 2019 (UK). Hayley’s work is represented by Patricia Nelson at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

Follow Hayley Chewins:
Website | Twitter | Instagram

My Love Letter to 90’s Romantic Comedies by Aimee Brown

The Lucky Dress by Aimee BrownThe Lucky Dress by Aimee Brown
Published by: Aria Fiction
Publication date: August 7, 2018
Genre: RomCom, Chick-Lit
Pre-order Links:
Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | Google Books

Synopsis:
We all have our lucky dress… an irresistibly hilarious rom-com: perfect for fans of Anna Bell, Jo Watson and Sophie Kinsella.

Emi Harrison hasn’t been feeling particularly lucky lately. Ever since her ex-fiancée, Jack Cabot, successfully shattered her heart into a million pieces. She’s managed to avoid him for a whole year, but all that’s about to change at her brother Evan’s wedding…

She will have to face Jack, Jack’s sister, Jack’s parents, and Jack’s new girlfriend: a mean girl that just won’t quit. What could possibly go wrong?

But with her lucky dress on, she might just find new love, life, and maybe even happiness at last!Behind The Pages with Aimee BrownHi awesome fellow bookworms! It’s my stop on today’s The Lucky Dress blog tour and Aimee Brown is our special guest for the author spotlight, a segment I’m calling Behind The Pages.

I met Aimee last year while she was promoting her then debut Little Gray Dress. But even before that, I’ve been reading her blog and reviews (because she was a book blogger too, friends!). So, when I heard the news that her book will be rebranded into its second edition with a new brand title, and will be published by Aria, I got really excited for her!

I read that she’s a huge fan of 90’s romantic comedies where she thinks they’re not the same anymore. And today she’s sharing a love letter dedicated to all Hollywood to see!

MY LOVE LETTER TO 90’s ROMANTIC COMEDIES

Dear Hollywood,

I’m a woman, middle-aged, with older teens who are no longer interested in Disney films. I don’t love action, mafia, superhero, or horror movies. Because of this I haven’t been to the movie theater to see a film besides a children’s movie for years. Decades. In fact, the last movie I went to see in the theater because I couldn’t wait to see it was Sweet Home Alabama with Reese Witherspoon. You know when that movie came out? 2002. That was the last of the 90’s style romantic comedy movies in the theaters.

Why? You do know there is an entire generation of women, even men, who grew up watching 90’s classic romantic comedies that would spend good money to see them again? We want to escape through laughter and romance. We want to see the ridiculousness that is a Katherine Heigl romcom and we want to fall in love with Josh Duhamel, Paul Rudd, and Tom Hanks. I want that moment where my breath catches in my throat and my hand is over my heart in anticipation that this couple will indeed get together even though I knew they would before the previews even started.

Where have the romantic comedies gone? Netflix, so I’m told. I’ve seen a few I love but they are so far and few in-between. There is a whole demographic of romantic comedy lovers waiting for the comeback of the 90’s style romcom. Take my money, I say but apparently nobody wants it. I don’t need the crude humor, violence, or the sex scenes that now seem to over run every film made. I just want light-hearted comedy, the perfect casting, and a romance to fall for in an hour and a half. I want to walk to my car feeling like I’m on a cliched cloud nine.

There are SO many amazing romantic comedy books that could be made into film to fill this gap but it just isn’t happening. What happened to movies marketed towards the soft hearted? The romantics? We’re still out here, and we’re not so patiently waiting.

Aimee Brown,
hopelessly romantic in a hate filled world.

About The Author:
Aimee BrownAimee Brown is a writer of romantic comedies set in Portland, Oregon, and an avid reader. She spends much of her time writing, raising three teenagers, binge-watching shows on Netflix and obsessively cleaning and redecorating her house. She’s fluent in sarcasm and has been known to utter profanities like she’s competing for a medal.

She grew up in Oregon but is now a transplant living in cold Montana with her husband of twenty years, three teenage children, and far too many pets. She is a lot older than she looks and yes, that is a tattoo across her chest. Aimee is very active on social media and would love to see you stop by and say hello.

Follow Aimee Brown:
WebsiteFacebook | Twitter | Instagram | Newsletter

The Lucky Dress Blog Tour BannerWant to know who joined the blog tour? Don’t forget to visit these amazing book bloggers to learn more about The Lucky Dress by Aimee Brown.

Author Spotlight | Behind The Pages With Maggie Ann Martin

To Be HonestTo Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: August 21, 2018
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pre-order Links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Wordery

Synopsis:
The author of The Big F is back with another snappy, utterly relatable contemporary novel about loving yourself and forging your own path, perfect for fans of Julie Murphy and Rainbow Rowell.

Savannah is dreading being home alone with her overbearing mother after her sister goes off to college. But if she can just get through senior year, she’ll be able to escape to college, too. What she doesn’t count on is that her mother’s obsession with weight has only grown deeper since her appearance on an extreme weight-loss show, and now Savvy’s mom is pressuring her even harder to be constantly mindful of what she eats.Behind The Pages With Maggie Ann MartinHi again awesome fellow bookworms! Today’s special guest for the author spotlight, a segment I’m calling Behind The Pages, is Maggie Ann Martin!

In this interview, she will talk about her latest novel, To Be Honest, which will be release this month. Maggie will also share how Savannah’s story hit too close to home for her. So, if you haven’t pre-order her book yet, check the details after this interview for a chance to get amazing bookish swags or win cool prizes!

Hi Maggie! Welcome here at Tale Out Loud and congratulations to your latest novel, To Be Honest!

Thank you so much for having me!

How different it is to have your second book than when you had your debut, The Big F?

It’s a whole new experience, which has been so great. With my debut, I agonized while I counted down the days for the book to come out where now with TO BE HONEST I feel like the time has just flown by!

Talk us through the joys and difficulties of creating Savannah’s story. What made you write this book?

I always knew that I wanted to write a story about a plus-sized character, and the moment that Savannah walked onto my page, I knew that she deserved a full story. While it’s been amazing, incredible, and actually quite cathartic writing about her journey, it’s had its tough moments. A lot of her emotions and what she has gone through in the novel hit very close to home for me.

What are the three things you love most about Savannah?

  1. She calls it like it is. She’s never going to beat around the bush. I sometimes (usually) wish that I could be more like that.
  2. She is fearlessly herself.
  3. She values friendship. Her love that she has for her best friend, Grace, her sister, Ashley, and George is so pure and real and I always respect that in characters.

In To Be Honest, Kim (Savannah’s mom) was so caught up in social media after she joined a weight-loss reality show. How do you think it affects the way we see ourselves especially those who struggle with body image?

I honestly think it’s ridiculous and toxic how much emphasis television puts on fat people and characters losing weight. This is not the only storyline for fat people, and that narrative can only change when we recognize this pattern and stop it. In the book, social media is just another avenue that supported this toxic idea for Kim. But, you’ll see throughout the novel that Kim is very lonely in real life. Sure, she has support from people online who watched her on the show, but her real life friends are not present.

Tale Out Loud Divider

For anyone who had even had that word used against them that wanted to reclaim it. For me, who needed to hear that when I was a teenager who only saw fat characters being the butt of the joke in movies and TV.

Tale Out Loud DividerDo you agree that this pressure of being perfect or sexy can start at a very young age?

One thousand percent. As a society we are conditioned to want to change our bodies and teach young children that you should strive for slender. That being slender is sexy. That in order to earn attention from men (ie. be sexy) we need to be skinny. That mindset is changing, but it’s going to take a long time to be completely erased from our collective conscious.

If you could change the way contemporary female bodies are represented in the media like magazines, television, movies and advertising, how would you do it?

I think the push to continue showing real bodies that aren’t retouched in ads is a huge step in the right direction. I think there is still a ways to go in how fat people are represented in television and movies, but there are some shows making the right strides (Dietland, My Mad Fat Diary, etc.)

Later in the story, Kim and Savannah had a confrontation about being fat. How powerful do you think parental involvement is in influencing body ideals and standards, especially for girls?

There is definitely a disconnect between kids who are growing up in a culture that is finally starting to tell them to embrace their bodies versus their parents who grew up in a culture that told them to change. I think this is a real tension in the modern parent-child dynamic that should be explored even more. Kids emulate their parents, so if they’ve grown up seeing their parents fuss about their weight their whole lives, they will inherently fuss about their weight, too. Breaking away from the ideas that your parents have about their your body image is hard, but it can be done. I wanted to show kids that.

Tale Out Loud Divider

Write the story you’re afraid to write! There is someone out there that is dying to read it and see themselves reflected in your words. I know it can be scary, but you can do it!

Tale Out Loud DividerOne of my most favorite parts in the story is when Savannah said, “News flash: fat isn’t a bad word, Mom.” When you wrote that line during that time, who did you specifically write it for?

For anyone who had even had that word used against them that wanted to reclaim it. For me, who needed to hear that when I was a teenager who only saw fat characters being the butt of the joke in movies and TV. For everyone who is fed up with having to explain their fatness to other people because they are “concerned for their health.” For so, so many people.

In what way do you think readers, especially young adults, connect to this story and Savannah’s character?

I’ve heard that the relationship between Savvy and her mom has hit close to home for readers. The insecurities that Savvy feels on her journey to self-acceptance have also really resonated with readers. I wanted her to be a real person who wasn’t always completely confident in themselves. Because no one ever is all the time.

To Be Honest is just one of many books that promote body positivity. Are there any other titles you would like to recommend that give the same message?

Yes! Here are my favorites that I’ve read.
1. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
2. Puddin’ by Julie Murphy
3. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
4. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
5. The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy SpaldingBooks about Body Positivity

What one piece of advice do you wish to leave for those who have the same story to write but were not able to find their own voices?

Write the story you’re afraid to write! There is someone out there that is dying to read it and see themselves reflected in your words. I know it can be scary, but you can do it!

About The Author:
Maggie Ann MartinMaggie Ann Martin hails from Des Moines, Iowa but moonlights as a New Yorker. She has a shiny new BA in English and Journalism from the University of Iowa, the most welcoming literary community in the world. When she is not writing, you can find her binge watching TV shows or passionately fangirling over fictional characters on the Internet. The Big F is her debut novel.

Follow Maggie Ann Martin:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | InstagramTo Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin Pre-orderPre-order and you’ll get:
📖  A signed and personalized book plate
📖  A signed bookmark
📖  A “Newsflash: Fat isn’t a bad word” sticker

Grand prize winner will get:
📖 To Be Honest pre-order swag
📖 A “You’re gold, baby, solid gold” tumblr
📖 A “Your Future is Bright” notebook
📖 Floral pencil case
📖 Pencil with an encouraging message

**This giveaway is open Internationally. Anyone can enter before TO BE HONEST’s release date on August 21, 2018.
Details here

Author Spotlight | Behind The Pages With Lygia Day Peñaflor

All of This is TrueAll of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor
Published by: HarperTeen
Publication date: May 15, 2018
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Buy links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Wordery

Synopsis:
Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.

Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.

Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined…
Behind The Pages With Lygia Day PeñaflorHi awesome fellow bookworms! Today’s special guest for the author spotlight, a segment I’m calling Behind The Pages, is Lygia Day Peñaflor!

She’s one of those Filipino authors I’ve recently talk about during the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, along with the other authors whom you might have heard by now. After two months her latest book was released, you will know more about All of This Is True in this interview and I’m delighted to welcome Lygia here on the blog!

Hi Lygia! Congratulations to your latest novel, All of This is True! How does it feel to release yet another amazing book?

Thank you! I’m getting feedback from readers this time around, so that’s exciting. It’s great to see that people are reading and enjoying this book. All of This Is True is also being published in several countries, which is unbelievable.

Tell us some more about this book, and what makes it stand out from other YA Contemporary releases this year?

That bright red cover, right? Who could miss it! Also, the story unfolds through video interviews, journal entries that appear in a magazine, and novel excerpts. The multiple perspectives reveal a complicated relationship between a group of teens and their favorite author. The “truth” depends on who’s speaking.

How did publishing Unscripted Joss Byrd, your first book, inspired by the students you worked with and taught one-on-one on-set, change your writing approach for All of This is True?

Each book required a completely different writing process, so when I was working on All of This Is True, it felt as if I’d never written a novel before in my life. I wish there was more carryover from one manuscript to the next, but you start from scratch every time.

Working in the film industry for years and meeting different people on-set, how much of your experience was reveal in All of This is True? Could there be any possibility that the title holds much more meaning than we thought?

My work with young actors definitely influenced this book. I’ve witnessed some pretty bad fan behavior, so I know how far people will go to get close to their idols. When I worked on the set of Gossip Girl, someone stole the wardrobe out of an actor’s trailer one day. There was also a grown man who brought boxed lunches to the studio on a regular basis. He’d wait on the sidewalk and offer the food to the cast. So creepy.

What were your ultimate goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?

I wanted to present a situation and give readers an opportunity to make their own judgments. So far, people have been expressing all types of opinions. Some think the novel is hilarious. Others have sobbed. Some feel conflicted, angry, or heartbroken. Others have found peace. This book is a different experience for each reader, which is what I’d hoped for, so I do think I achieved my goals.

Many readers confused All of This is True as a mystery. To set the record straight, how should everyone label this book?

All of This Is True is contemporary with some elements of a thriller. It’s not a mystery novel! It’s not a whodunit. It’s not about crime solving and doesn’t follow a mystery formula. Instead, readers know more than the characters so that they can analyze the characters from a psychological standpoint. Books get grouped together for marketing purposes, but sometimes readers get the wrong impression and are confused when books don’t match their expectations.

Did you intend to hide secrets or answers in this book for readers to figure out what was happening in the story?

I didn’t hide any events or details about what happened. But as far as what it all means or what is “true”? Readers will form their own opinions, and I don’t have the answers they’re looking for. Only Fatima and Jonah have those answers!

Whose character do you think had the most complex personality? Why?

I think they’re all complex. Miri and Penny might appear shallow and distant, but they’re being interviewed on camera, so they’re measuring how they present themselves, and that makes them unreliable. Soleil has an interesting journey because she goes through many highs and lows with her relationships. But readers wonder the most about Fatima and Jonah because they never meet these characters on the page. They have to fill in the blanks as far as their personalities and intentions.

I have read that you are co-writing the screenplay for Unscripted Joss Byrd with director Joseph Greco. Are we expecting book-to-screen adaptation anytime soon?

That’s true–Joe and I have a screenplay, and he has signed on to direct! I’m so excited about this project. As soon as I have any other news, I’ll let you know.

If you could pass on advice to new young writers, what would it be?

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: Don’t trim your own bangs the night before your first book event.

Anything you want to say to every Filipino readers/bloggers out there who have read your book?

The support I’ve received from Filipino bloggers has been incredibly surprising and heartwarming. Thank you all! I hope to visit the Philippines soon.

Behind The Pages With Lygia Day Peñaflor (1)I also manage to ask Lygia Day Peñaflor for a rapid round of questions, a segment of this author spotlight I’m calling, Quickfire. Most of the questions were practically Filipino cuisine and desserts. So, I hope you will enjoy reading this part!

Adobo or Kare-kare?
I haven’t eaten meat in many years, but I do remember my mom’s adobo.

Halo-halo or Leche Flan?
Halo-halo for sure!

Arroz Caldo or Champorado?
Champorado

Being organized or attention to details?
Being organized so that I can pay attention to details.

What was your favorite book growing up?
Sweet Valley High—those Wakefield twins lived the life!

About The Author:
Lygia Day PeñaflorLygia Day Peñaflor became a writer by writing letters to a friend she met on a cruise ship when she was 14. She is the author of Unscripted Joss Byrd (Macmillan) and All of This is True (Bloomsbury UK), translated in several countries in summer 2018.

She also teaches child stars on television and movie sets. Her students have included cast members of Gossip Girl, Boardwalk Empire, Law & Order SVU, I Am Legend, and others. She lives with her husband on Long Island where she rides horses and watches reruns of everything.

Follow Lygia Day Peñaflor:
Website | Twitter