Author Interview: Sofie Darling

Last month, I was lucky enough to receive an ARC from Hidden Gems of Sofie Darling’s latest romance novel Tempted By The Viscount. Read my rave review here!

Recently, Sofie Darling and I had the chance to chat about her writing process, her opinions on self-publishing, and whether her real-life romance with Mr. Darling is as steamy as the ones in her novels!

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Elizabeth May Jahns: What kind of writing did you do before you started writing your first published novel? Was it indeed your first, or are there other finished manuscripts that will never see the light of day?

Sofie Darling: Well, I had the audacity to think, as a lifelong reader, I could simply write a novel. So I wrote a “literary” novel. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was dreadful, but it wasn’t great. (Actually, it might be dreadful. I haven’t looked at it in a decade. I don’t have the courage.) I realized two things: First, I needed to go back to university and focus on creative writing. Second, I didn’t want to write literary fiction. I ended up writing several short stories in writing classes, which I might do something with someday.

What is your editing and revision process like?

In terms of process, I’m a plotter. I plot and outline the entire novel before I start writing. Which sounds neat and tidy. But there’s one catch: in order to create, I have to write by hand. My creative mind cannot function at a computer. This really slows down my process and is the reason it takes me nine months to write a novel. I have found ways to “trick” my mind at the keyboard by handwriting very detailed outlines that I can transcribe onto the computer. Then I’ll print these pages and fill in from there over a few rounds with my handy #2 pencil.

Tempted By The Viscount kept me guessing the whole way through. I never once knew what was going to happen next! How do you craft a story that’s able to do that so well? Where do your ideas come from?

That’s really great to hear. Thank you! Well, several factors come into play. On the craft side, I think about story beats and turning points to keep the story moving. Another factor is that these days I’m mostly reading outside the genre I write. I love to get caught up in a good story, well-told. When that happens, I’ll break it down to see how the author did it structurally. But maybe most importantly, I have my creative writing professor’s voice in the back of my head. With one of my stories, after the class had critiqued and said how much they liked it, she nodded her head and quietly agreed. I was feeling pretty good about then. Then she said, “After I finished reading, I sat back in my chair and asked myself, ‘But was it interesting?’” My gut instantly sank to my feet. When I’m writing, I always have her voice in my head, asking, “But is it interesting?” Keeping it interesting is my number one storytelling goal.

In Tempted By The Viscount, Jakob and Olivia have such amazing chemistry! Do you and Mr. Darling have that kind of relationship?

We do have great chemistry, but more, too. We really likeeach other. He has a quick, and deliciously naughty, wit that tickles my funny bone every time. We love to travel together. We can get stranded in a blizzard together and be just fine. (This happened in April when we visited Iceland for our 20thanniversary.) I think there are multiple types of chemistry, and for a relationship to be long-term, there has to be more than the initial one that sets the body aflame at a glance. (Although, I like that kind, too. A lot.)

Can you tell me about the process from when you decided to write your first novel to seeing it in print?

It’s a bit of a convoluted story, so bear with me. Even though Tempted By The Viscount is the second book in this series, I actually wrote it first. After I’d finished it, I went to RWA’s national convention and pitched it to a Big 5 editor. She asked for the first three chapters and a synopsis. Months went by, and I didn’t hear from her. So I figured she’d passed. (This is fairly par for the course in the publishing game.) I’d completely moved on and had started writing the next book, when I received an email from her, asking for the entire manuscript. Elated, I sent it to her. A few months later, she sent it back revision notes. She wanted me to cut at least 15,000 words and focus the story more tightly on Jake and Olivia. In other words, she wanted most of Mina’s storyline, including her point of view scenes, cut. Because this was an editor with a major publishing house, I gave it a shot. After a few rounds, the end product wasn’t satisfactory to either of us, and we decided to part ways. I was tied up in this process for an entire year. It was a huge learning lesson.

Meanwhile, I was also writing Three Lessons In Seduction, the book that I thought would be the second in the series. Then a critique partner suggested I switch the books around. Her biggest reason for doing so was sound: if Three Lessons came second, I would be denying Olivia her happy ending, due to a bigtwist that happens in Three Lessons. Although I’d already thought of a workaround for that, her solution was simpler and made the most sense. So I switched the order. Three Lessons In Seductionwas now book one.

The following spring, I submitted Three Lessonsto a few unpublished writing contests. To my delight, I won one and finaled in two others, a double-finalist in one of them. This was my signal to start submitting to publishers again. I did and caught the interest of five, one of which was another “big” publisher. But, like with Tempted, they wanted major changes to Three Lessons. These changes would have completely changed not only the dynamic of the book, but of the series as well. It simply wouldn’t have been the story I was interested in telling. I passed.

Not too long after, I found an editor who was excited about my work as-is. And we’ve enjoyed a great working relationship since. Book three is in her hands as I type.

How does your non-writing life fit in with your writing life? How was Mr. Darling supportive of your decision to return to school and become a romance writer? How do you make the time to write?

I’m lucky enough to have a partner in Mr. Darling who is supportive of everything I do. My romance-writing career is the complete opposite of his career, which is something he enjoys.

In terms of non-writing life vs. writing life, they usually don’t interfere with each other. I’m a morning person, so my creative time typically happens before 2 pm. Mr. Darling and the boys are night owls, so we usually have a few good hours in the evening before I call it a night and they begin theirs.

Did you ever consider self-publishing? Might you ever consider that in the future? 

Have I considered self-publishing? Yes and no. When I was just starting to get my feet under me and understand what publishing was about, there were so many self-publishing success stories making the rounds. But, now, the market has become really saturated and those numbers are being questioned. I’m not sure how much traction a debut, self-published author can get in today’s environment. But—there’s always a but—that might depend on genre and sub-genre. Paranormal romance, for example, seems really open to self-published.

Might I consider it in the future? I’m happy with my current publishing situation, but if anything changed, it’s a path I might consider. It would come down to my ability to tell the stories I want to tell.

After reading Tempted By The Viscount, I was nervous to read another romance novel, because I was actually afraid that it wouldn’t be nearly as good as yours! I just knew that the characters and the plot wouldn’t strike me and stay with me in the same ways. So, which romance novels would you recommend that you think might measure up? Who are your favorite romance writers?

My all-time favorite historical romance author is Judith Ivory. I love her stories. Her characters are never straight-forward, and can even be unlikeable, but always interesting. I reread Black Silk every year.

What are you working on now? What can we expect to see next?

Book three of my series, Her Midnight Sin, is now in the hands of my editor, so I’m starting work on book four, as-yet untitled. Her Midnight Sin will release in April, 2019 and features the world-weary Captain John Nylander and feisty Lady Calpurnia Radclyffe, Dowager Viscountess St. Alban, as they vie against each other for the same Devon country estate. There will be pirates and apple brandy. 🙂

Elizabeth, I’ve so enjoyed our interview. Thank you for inviting me over to your lovely blog today.

P.S. This post contains affiliate links.

Purchase Tempted By The Viscount (ebook) for just $3.99, or get the paperback for just $14.99!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Image courtesy of SofieDarling.com

Sofie Darling is an award-winning author of historical romance. Her debut novel, Three Lessons in Seduction, won the Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest in the Romance Category of 2016. She spent much of her twenties raising two boys and reading every book she could get her hands on. Once she realized she simply had to write the books she loved, she finished her English degree and embarked on her writing career. Mr. Darling and their boys gave her their wholehearted blessing. When she’s not writing heroes who make her swoon, she runs a marathon in a different state every year, visits crumbling medieval castles whenever she gets a chance, and enjoys a slightly codependent relationship with her beagle, Bosco. Visit her website, and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Have you had a chance yet to read Tempted By the Viscount? Reading anything else right now? Let me know in the comments!

For more book reviews, publishing news, ebook deals, and giveaways, CLICK HERE!

 

 

Friday Favorites

Welcome to my very first Friday Favorites post! Every Friday, I will be posting my favorite bookish links from the previous week. These are in no particular order, and they are all fabulous.

This week, they happen to be almost all from BOOK RIOT, which (I will admit) is definitely one of my favorite sources of bookish news!

 

How to Make Money Blogging About Books

By Danika Ellis at BOOK RIOT

 

 

 

5 Tips For When You’re Drowning in Library Holds

By Laura Sackton at BOOK RIOT

5 tips for when you're drowning in library holds

Image courtesy of BOOK RIOT

 

Breaking My Library Habit and Reading My Own Books

By Danika Ellis at BOOK RIOT

breaking my library habit

Screenshot courtesy of BOOK RIOT

 

Win The Best Books of 2018… So Far!

Giveaway from BookRiot ending August 31, 2018

win the best books of 2018 so far

Screenshot courtesy of BOOK RIOT

 

Related Post: GIVEAWAY – BEST YA OF THE YEAR (SO FAR) (ends July 31, 2018)

 

Articles By Librarians Should Replace Opinion Pieces By The Uninformed

By Yaika Sabat at BOOK RIOT

articles by librarians should replace

Screenshot courtesy of BOOK RIOT

 

ARC Review: Smothered by Autumn Chiklis

By Vanessa at The Bookish Deer

 

smothered the bookish deer

Image courtesy of The Bookish Deer

 

Related Post: BOOK REVIEW – TEMPTED BY THE VISCOUNT BY SOFIE DARLING

 

Any other fun (or serious) bookish links you think should be added? Please comment and let me know what they are!

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Author Interview: Sophie McAloon

I recently reviewed Sophie McAloon‘s debut romance/science fiction novel Top Choice, giving it an enthusiastic 4 out of 5 tiaras! (Read my review here!) I also got the chance to chat with McAloon afterward. Read the interview below, in which McAloon‘s intelligence and humility shine through in her insightful responses. We discuss the #MeToo movement, why revenge isn’t always the best answer, and why we can’t just focus on setting girls up for future success (while leaving out the boys)!

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Elizabeth May Jahns: Tell me about your background. What led up to you deciding to write a novel? How did you then go about getting it published? Tell me about your journey.  

Sophie McAloon: I’ve always loved to write but didn’t ever take the time (or have the guts!) to write a full-length novel until a few years ago. I wrote Top Choice in 2013, pitched it to agents in 2014, and signed with an agent that same year. Although the manuscript received mostly positive feedback from publishers, they were not picking up many new dystopian stories at the time, apparently having over-purchased following the “Hunger Games” and “Divergent” craze. A couple of editors requested samples of my contemporary YA writing, since this genre was just starting to gain popularity. So although I drafted a few concepts, my heart just wasn’t in it and to be honest, the drafts were pretty terrible… So I decided it was a sign that I needed to take a break from writing and parted ways with my agent later that year (on amicable terms, I should add – she is an amazing woman and we’ve stayed in touch).

Last year, with the political climate in the U.S. and the surge of the #MeToo movement, it seemed like a good time to re-visit Top Choice. However, after doing weeks of research, I decided that I wanted to go the self-publishing route this time around – and I have not regretted the decision since! It’s certainly tough and lonely at times, but I love the freedom that it gives me. Publishing Top Choice has been such a positive experience that I’m already eager to self-publish my next book as soon as possible!

I mention in my review that many romances I’ve read switch back and forth between the hero’s and heroine’s respective points of view. However, you made the decision with Top Choice to tell the story only from Ali’s point of view. What was behind you making that decision? Was that how you planned to tell the story from the beginning? 

I definitely considered writing from both Ali and Tag’s perspectives. But I was worried that interspersing Tag’s point of view might act as a sort of “flashlight” shining a beam on all of Ali’s flawed beliefs and actions (during the first part of the book at least), to a point where it would become difficult for the reader to root for her as the ultimate hero of the story. So, my hope was that by seeing the world only through her eyes, we would get a better understanding of why Ali is the way she is – and would therefore be more likely to cheer her on and want to see her change and grow throughout the story… and eventually come out on top.

In my review, I also mention how a small part of me feels a sense of triumph, like, “Now the men in Top Choice finally have to pay for their thousands of years of oppression of women. Haha!” Is there any part of you that felt like that while writing this book? 

Ha! Great question! Hmm… no, I don’t think I ever did. Having so many incredible men in my life – and having raised two boys (in addition to my daughter), I am firmly rooted in the belief that the male gender is not innately oppressive or barbaric or power-hungry. They are rough and clueless and competitive at times, for sure – but at their core, I believe men have an innate desire to be loved and to please. If they grow up to become aggressive and entitled, then that is not a result of their genetic makeup, but rather because of a species-wide aversion to challenging the status quo (in this case: gender roles and norms).

In fact, I think there is a false assumption out there that the expectation and pressure on girls to be weak and chaste and selfless is somehow more damaging than the pressure placed on boys to be fearless and perpetually confident – to be “protectors” immune to physical and emotional weakness. Men actually have up to 80% higher suicide rates than women – so clearly there is an emotional toll that comes from male gender-role pressures, as well. And the percentages are even higher when we look at deaths in the workplace. Dangerous and more life-threatening jobs are still filled mainly by men. So despite how it appears on the surface, if we dig deeper, I think we’ll find that women are not the only ones suffering under our society’s skewed gender regime.

What are your thoughts on the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements and the new wave of hyper political correctness that seems to have taken hold?

I think it is fantastic and mind-blowing to see the wave of change and credibility and justice that the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements are creating. And I believe we’re going to see permanent and concrete changes as a result of this – which is so, so powerful. We are lucky to be alive at a time when this is happening.

Obviously, there is also the potential for people to abuse the type of influence that comes with any movement with this kind of powerful momentum – from politicians using it as an easy way to falsely de-base opponents to clothing companies cashing in on the marketing potential of the movements’ tag-lines. But I’d like to think that this will balance out over the next few years, once more positive changes come about and gender equality becomes the norm – as opposed to a massive wave that some people are unfortunately just trying to ride for commercial or political gain. Better for there to be a movement that opportunists can abuse than for there to be no movement at all.

My other hope is that this next generation of young women will have the maturity to continue fighting for true equality and not simply for ‘their turn” at being in power. I already see a tendency for some women to use the momentum of the #MeToo movement as a catalyst towards bitterness and power – which is a scary thing.

Do you think that a society like the one in Top Choice could ever really happen? 

Yes. Absolutely. Not in all the same ways, obviously, but certainly I could see the tables turning at some point. I think it is human instinct to want to exact revenge any time we have been wronged or oppressed. In fact, it takes exceptional strength not to come back from oppression fueled with anger and the desire to hold some sort of power over our oppressors. Nelson Mandela had that kind of strength, for example. He had resolve and was an amazing leader. That is a rare, incredibly admirable combination of traits – the kinds of traits we should be instilling in our daughters, actually. Not this constant push towards asserting power; to “take” instead of “give” and to be entitled simply because they are girls in the twenty-first century. If we raise our children – regardless of gender – to be driven and confident, but also empathetic, open-minded, and un-entitled, then we might actually have a shot at true equality.

Conversely, do you think that we will ever achieve a truly equal society? 

I want to be optimistic and respond with a resounding “YES!!!” But I’m not sure that that would be an honest answer. Just the other day, I saw a Facebook post with a photo of a beautiful young girl with bright streaks painted on her cheeks and the caption “Raise your daughter to be a warrior!” And this is just one example of the widespread misunderstanding out there today of what equality means – that it means instilling in our daughters all the same traits we instilled for years in our sons. As if it is the fact that women were not raised to have these traits that is the issue – not the fact that these traits were abhorrent to begin with. In any gender.

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Also, we humans have a consistent tendency towards discrimination – whether it’s based on gender or race or religion or whatever. I don’t see that basic flaw changing any time soon. Especially since I think discrimination is a flaw that stems from fear… which is one of the most powerful human emotions. The fear of being viewed as “less than” or “weaker than” someone else, for example, is a trait we’ve been instilling in boys for centuries and is the root cause of so many instances of male chauvinism and aggression. That’s something we all need to take responsibility for if we want to instill even the desire for equality in both genders.

What does the world outside of Ali’s country look like? Have other nations within your novel shifted to more matriarchal structures, as well?

Funnily enough, the world that I created in Top Choice did not stem from some idea of an evolution of our current society and the resulting future world, but rather from a re-imagination of our past society – in say, the late 1800s or early 1900s. Therefore, there was no real backstory in my mind as to how the world came to be the way it is or how other nations might have similarly evolved. And I made a conscious decision not to get into too much large-scale world building or backstory since this might have altered that original concept (and also lead me down distracting idea tunnels that would cause me to take even longer to finish the book!).

However, now that I’ve started fleshing out more details for a sequel, I have been forced to do a little more brainstorming about these bigger picture questions, and have decided that while many other nations would have also shifted towards matriarchal regimes, a few would not… and would in fact be strongly resisting by swinging the pendulum back to the even more male chauvinist days of the past. This scenario creates the best potential for conflict for the storyline, I think. And I’m all about conflict in YA!!!

What are you working on now and when can we expect to see it on the shelves? 

Since publishing Top Choice, I’ve received a surprising number of requests from readers asking about a sequel – which is awesome! I’m actually working on another book right now called The Player, but since I already have a pretty sturdy outline already drafted for a Top Choice sequel, I will probably turn back to that as soon as I publish The Player. 

The Player is a YA dystopian about a future world where creativity has become a commodity. Kids who show creative potential early in life are sent to The Creative Institute, where they are essentially left to run wild in an environment most likely to encourage pure, unfiltered creativity – and result in outlandish and awe-inspiring masterpieces that can then be sold for millions of dollars.

The story is about a teen girl who wanted desperately to go to the Institute but never made it in, and a boy who was raised within its walls from an early age – but has recently been banished as a “Fallen Artist” for not living up to his full potential. She is cynical, cautious, and intent on keeping to herself. He is reckless, playful, and not afraid to stand out. But, she soon realizes, he is also very damaged. And when she stumbles across the world he’s been living in since his banishment from the Institute, her initial wonder turns to concern… because there is so much darkness lurking behind his world’s colorful façade, and there are no straight lines anywhere – especially between imagination and deceit, and freedom and corruption. So when he becomes the main suspect in a gruesome murder, she is not sure what is crazier: the inner workings of this boy’s mind, the fact that she believes he is innocent, or the notion that she may be falling in love with him.

I’m hoping to publish The Player sometime in the fall and a sequel for Top Choice sometime later in 2019. So keep your eyes peeled! Better yet, sign up for my newsletter at sophiemcaloon@yahoo.com to receive updates about specific release dates and promos!

What question do you wish that I had asked you, and how would you answer it?

I loved all your questions! They were so thought-provoking, in fact, that I’m worried I may have rambled on too long at points or come across as overly philosophical. Please know that I wrote Top Choice mainly as a fun, easy read and do not presume to have the intellect or skill level required to impart any sort of real deep commentary on gender or society. I’m just happy that the book seems to be sparking conversations – since that’s one of the most important steps towards change, I think: healthy debate, the sharing of different perspectives, and open dialogue. So thank you for providing an outlet for just that sort of thing!

PURCHASE TOP CHOICE AS AN EBOOK FOR JUST 99 CENTS, OR GET THE PAPERBACK FOR $14.99!

ALERT! GET TOP CHOICE FOR FREE JULY 11TH THROUGH JULY 13TH!!!

About the author:

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Image courtesy of SophieMcAloon.com

Sophie McAloon was born and raised in small rural towns across the East Coast of Canada, and now lives in historic Saint John, NB (quite possibly the friendliest, most awesome city in Canada) with her husband, three amazing kids, and Waldo the dog. She has explored Antarctica and Africa and a bunch of places in between, moved more times than she can count on both hands, and worked at a handful of jobs – many of which she hated, but none of which she regrets. She has always loved to write, and she is grateful that she gets to fill so much of her free time now playing on paper (okay – so it’s a laptop, but paper sounds so much more poetic). She is an introvert by nature, so what better way to experience the thrill of being the boldest guest at the party or the toughest leader during a wild revolt – without even having to raise her voice! Visit her website, and follow her on Goodreads, Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram! Sign up for her newsletter here!

Have you had a chance to read Top Choice? Let me know what you think in the comments!

For more book reviews, publishing news, ebook deals, and giveaways, CLICK HERE!

 

Book Review: Tempted By The Viscount by Sofie Darling

 

Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing

Release date: June 27, 2018

Genre(s): Historical romance

Pages: 283

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Image courtesy of Amazon.com

 

AMAZON SUMMARY:

London, April 1825

Lord Jakob Radclyffe left his past behind in the Far East. Or so he thinks until a ruthless thief surfaces in London, threatening to ruin his daughter’s reputation. With the clock ticking, Jake needs the scandalous Lady Olivia Montfort’s connections in the art world to protect his daughter’s future.

Olivia, too, has a past she’d like to escape. By purchasing her very own Mayfair townhouse, she’ll be able to start a new life independent from all men. There’s one problem: she needs a powerful man’s name to do so. The Viscount St. Alban is the perfect name.

A bargain is struck.

What Olivia doesn’t anticipate is the temptation of the viscount. The undeniable spark of awareness that races between them undermines her vow to leave love behind. Soon, she has no choice but to rid her system of Jake by surrendering to her craving for a single scorching encounter.

But is once enough? Sometimes once only stokes the flame of desire higher and hotter. And sometimes once is all the heart needs to risk all and follow a mad passion wherever it may lead.

 

MY REVIEW:

Tempted By The Viscount is by far one of the best romance novels I’ve read! And I can’t believe it’s only Sofie Darling’s second book! The chemistry and heat between our hero and heroine were palpable throughout. There were plenty of sexy, steamy scenes! Lord Jakob Radclyffe is definitely a man I could fall for, and I did.

I also adored our heroine, Lady Olivia Montfort. She is a thoroughly modern and intelligent woman who certainly knows what she wants: independence. Being divorced, she is something of a social outcast, but she doesn’t let that stop her. What she wants more than anything is the freedom to make her own choices on her own terms. You could set her down in a 2018 discussion on feminism and she’d have no problem holding her own.

Overall, the novel kept me guessing the whole way through. The characters and plot have stayed with me. I think of it and still get shivers!

I will offer a word of warning, though… Read at your own risk. You won’t be able to put it down. I was up until 5:30 in the morning reading this book, even though I had to be up at 6:45 to get ready for work. The only reason I went to sleep was because I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. The next day at work was rough, but worth it!

Note: Tempted By The Viscount is book two in Sofie Darling’s Shadows and Silk series, but it is a standalone novel. I can’t wait to go back and read the first book in the series, Three Lessons in Seduction!

P.S. I received this book for free from HiddenGemsBooks.com in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links.

My rating: an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 tiaras

Purchase Tempted By The Viscount (ebook) for just $3.99, or get the paperback for just $14.99!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Image courtesy of SofieDarling.com

Sofie Darling is an award-winning author of historical romance. Her debut novel, Three Lessons in Seduction, won the Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest in the Romance Category of 2016. She spent much of her twenties raising two boys and reading every book she could get her hands on. Once she realized she simply had to write the books she loved, she finished her English degree and embarked on her writing career. Mr. Darling and their boys gave her their wholehearted blessing. When she’s not writing heroes who make her swoon, she runs a marathon in a different state every year, visits crumbling medieval castles whenever she gets a chance, and enjoys a slightly codependent relationship with her beagle, Bosco. Visit her website, and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Have you had a chance yet to read Tempted By the Viscount? Reading anything else right now? Let me know in the comments!

For more book reviews, publishing news, ebook deals, and giveaways, CLICK HERE!

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Should You Count Audiobooks Toward Your Reading Goals?

“Should I count audiobooks toward my reading goals?”

Want to start an argument? Enter a book-related space and ask this question.

Let’s start with the yea-sayers.

“I have a long commute to and from work. Instead of that time being wasted, now I can use it to read.”

“I’m so busy with my kids and my job. Listening to audiobooks while doing chores is a simple joy of mine.”

Yasss. We are all busy, myself included. Any time that I can fit in a story is a win in my book (pun intended). Listening to audiobooks while doing otherwise mundane activities makes said activities so much more exciting and worthwhile. That’s why I love those Audible ads so much. #StoriesThatSurroundYou

This guy isn’t sitting at his kitchen table eating breakfast; he’s a guest in Marie Antoinette’s court. This woman isn’t on her couch, folding laundry; she’s a fair heroine standing in a forest, wrapped in the hero’s strong embrace.

If I know that I can listen to a great story while doing chores, I’m gonna look forward to those chores that much more. (Bonus: since discovering audiobooks, my house is cleaner!) I’ll be honest: sometimes, I get so caught up in the story, I have to stop what I’m doing and just stand there and listen. Alternatively, my mind does sometimes get away from me, and I have to press the rewind button. Still, it’s worth it to be able to get sucked into an amazing story while I’m doing dishes, or during my commute.

Note: The only time that this can be a problem is if a book is so powerful that it makes you cry. This happened several times with Glennon Doyle Melton’s Love Warrior. I was listening to it on my way to and from work everyday (a fifty-minute round-trip). One day, I actually had to pull into a gas station, turn off the book, wipe my eyes, and gather myself together before I could continue driving.

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Now. The naysayers.

“I can’t concentrate on audiobooks. My mind wanders.”

This is valid. Just the other day, I was listening to The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir on audiobook while driving to an appointment. Sure enough, I got drawn into the book and ended up missing the turn, thus arriving a few minutes late.

I love listening to audiobooks while driving, but usually only when the drive is familiar and/or monotonous. Like when I’m on my way to and from work, a route that I drive everyday and can pretty much do in my sleep. Or on long road trips, when the highway is stretched out before me and I don’t have to worry about taking an exit for many miles. But I have definitely been known to place my book on pause when I’m driving through heavy traffic or trying to navigate an unfamiliar area. (Except for that one time, as mentioned above.)

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“I would rather imagine the voices in my head.”

Also valid. It’s the same reason that movies are rarely better than the books, because what you can imagine in your head is almost always better than whatever Hollywood can create on a screen (or in a recording studio).

But, in audiobooks’ defense, the authors often do different voices for their characters. It was a joy to listen to Trevor Noah imitating his great-grandmother in his memoir Born A Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood, his voice high-pitched and raspy. Alternatively, in The Book of Essie, the story is told by three different characters. As such, the audiobook utilizes three different narrators, which lent another kind of intimacy to the experience.

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Of course, it can go the other way, and the narrator can be terrible. Unfortunately, I have found that this often happens when the author reads his or her own book. (Not always. There are lots of authors who are great readers, such as Glennon Doyle Melton and Neil Gaiman!) An example of this is the original audiobook version of Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Hours, narrated by the author. (Note: a new version is being released on August 2, 2018 from BBC, with a full cast dramatization, which you can pre-order now for just $7.63!) It wasn’t absolutely horrible, but his voice didn’t draw me in. I would have much preferred a livelier reader, perhaps someone who actually does this for a living.

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“I don’t consider that reading.”

Um. What?! So what if all that someone can do is listen to a book? What if someone is blind? Or a quadriplegic? Just because they cannot hold a book in front of them and use their eyes to read from it, doesn’t mean that what they are doing is not reading. To not consider audiobooks a form of reading comes from a place of ableism and privilege. You may be privileged enough to have time to sit down and read from a book, but not everyone has that luxury. What about the single mother who loves literature but works two jobs, and the only time she can fit in any reading time is while doing dishes and laundry? What about the elderly man who used to devour paperbacks voraciously, but whose eyesight has deteriorated so much that he can barely see to read anymore, and for whom audiobooks have been a godsend?

I proudly count audiobooks toward my reading goals, and I count myself lucky to live in an age in which audiobooks are available to those who would otherwise not have the opportunity to read a book at all.

Do YOU count audiobooks toward your reading goals? Why or why not? Share your opinions in the comments!

For more book reviews, publishing news, ebook deals, and giveaways, click here!

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Spectacular Ebook Deals for 7/3/18!

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver @ $1.99

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The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks @1.99

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Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden @ $1.20

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The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu @ $2.99

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Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick @ $2.99

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The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory @ $2.99

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Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland @ $2.99

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Meditation Secrets For Women by Camille Maurine @ $1.99

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A Rogue By Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean @ $1.99

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I’ve only listed Amazon Kindle links here, but these ebooks are often also on sale with other retailers, such as Barnes and Noble and Kobo!

Have you read any of these books? Reading anything else right now? Let me know in the comments!

For more book reviews, publishing news, ebook deals, and giveaways, click here!

P.S. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Giveaway: The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

“When someone asks you to spend your life with him, it shouldn’t come as a surprise – or happen in front of 45,000 people.

Unfortunately, this happened to freelance writer Nikole Paterson while at a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend. And if a scoreboard proposal after only five months of dating isn’t enough, saying no and facing a stadium full of disappointed fans is just icing on the cake.

Handsome doctor Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue when the proposal video goes viral and she receives hate in the media. Nik knows that Carlos can’t be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes.”

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Image courtesy of Read It Forward

 

Click here to enter to win a copy of The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory! Deadline is July 4th, so hurry!

The Proposal will be released September 4th! Preorder the paperback for $13.50, or preorder the ebook for just $11.99!

 

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Image courtesy of JasmineGuillory.com

Jasmine Guillory is a graduate of Wellesley College and Stanford Law School. She is a Bay Area native who has towering stacks of books in her living room, a cake recipe for every occasion, and upwards of 50 lipsticks. As well as writing books, Jasmine sometimes writes about books, pop-culture, and food, some of her favorite things. Visit her website, and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram! Subscribe to her updates here!

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Spectacular eBook Deals for 7/1/2018!

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay @ $1.99

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The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith @ $0.99

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Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout @ $2.99

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Slade House by David Mitchell @ $1.99

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The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson @ $1.99

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People I Want to Punch In The Throat by Jen Mann @ $1.99

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Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman @ $2.99

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Post Office by Charles Bukowski @ $1.99

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The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin @ $1.99

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Selected Short Stories by William Faulkner @ $1.99

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The Last King of Scotland by Giles Foden @ $1.99

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Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice @ $2.99

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If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This by Robin Black @ $1.99

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The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton @ $1.99

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Love, Ellen by Betty DeGeneres @ $1.99

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For more daily spectacular ebook deals, click here to sign up with BookBub!

Have you read any of these books? Reading anything else right now? Let me know in the comments!

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Book Review: Witch Hearts by Angharad Thompson Rees

Publisher: Little Whimsey Press

Release date: June 21, 2018

Genre(s): Medieval Fantasy

Pages: 67

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Image courtesy of Amazon.com

AMAZON SUMMARY:

The mysterious Cheval triplets live a peaceful life in a secluded cottage on the edge of the Mystic Wood. Yet when their mother’s illness creeps her closer to death, the three sisters, Morganne, Amara, and Fae must leave their quiet sanctuary in search of a rare cure within the darkened forest.

But they are not the only ones lurking in the midnight shadows, so when fiendish witch hunters capture the sisters, their search for a cure turns into a desperate escape attempt. Their only hope rests with the exhausted, worn out horses pulling the cart to the witch trial, and the secrets the sisters keep locked in the deepest chambers of their hearts.

When they unleash the truth will it set them free, or send them closer to the burning witch pyres?

 

MY REVIEW:

As a fan of both witches and horses, I was disappointed by this novella. At just 67 pages, it didn’t exactly drag on, which was nice. Within just a few pages, we are thrust into the center of the action—the sisters being captured by witch hunters.

“Got’cha!” growled a gruff voice.

A net whipped through the air, bundling the three sisters together and catapulting them high into the trees.

“We’ve gor’em, Boris! We’ve captured them witches!” cried a hunchbacked man. He giggled and dribbled beneath the trap filled with the struggling sisters, rubbing his hands together with greed and mirth.

Okay. Let’s dissect that, shall we? The scene is cartoonish in its artlessness. The sisters are all three entangled in a net that, in all likelihood, was only meant to capture one witch at a time. There they are, swaying from the limb of a tree, the way we have seen many animated unfortunates do so many times. The Russian name Boris—because no one in the English-speaking world has ever encountered a Russian villain. Also, of course the lowly lackey is hunchbacked. And there he stands—er, hunches—rubbing his hands together “with greed and mirth,” just like the stereotype that he is.

As for writing style, it seems that Rees’s favorite method of description is to use similes and metaphors. Fae’s voice, for example, is described in numerous ways. First, it is “a threatening summer storm,” her eyes “wide as the low full moon.” Later, she whispers “as sadly as a late autumn breeze stripping the last leaf from a tree.” Finally, her voice is “as soft as wind from a butterfly wing.”

Rees’s writing is often less than subtle. At one point, Amara thinks “of the witch trials and all the innocent women and children who came before her, just to line the pockets of the infamous Witch Hunter General. The witch trial had nothing to do with magic and everything to do with power; the power of gold coins.”

Later, one of the witches is asked, “Should you be judged just because you are different? Should our differences not be celebrated?”

Not exactly any hidden meanings there…

As I said, Rees does a great job of dropping us right into a sense of urgency with the sisters. Their mother is deathly ill, and they venture into the woods near their home in order to find a cure to save her life. The story quickly builds to the climax, after which we are granted a few pages of falling action.

Warning: the end of this novella is a cliffhanger! This was another reason that this book just wasn’t for me. I’m not generally a fan of any series in which the individual novels cannot stand alone.

For many fans of witches and horses, this would probably be a great read. In fact, that statement is proven true based on all the four- and five-star reviews that Witch Hearts has received on Amazon. It just wasn’t for me.

P.S. I received a free copy of this book from Hidden Gems in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links.

My rating: 3 out of 4 tiaras

PURCHASE WITCH HEARTS: A NOVELLA (EBOOK) FOR JUST 99 CENTS, OR GET THE PAPERBACK FOR JUST $4.99!

About the author:

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Image courtesy of AngharadThompsonRees.com

Angharad Thompson Rees is a comic scriptwriter, author, and emerging scriptwriter of all things magical. When Angharad is not lost in enchanted forests searching for tree fairies or unicorns, you’ll find her on the sunny shores of Sydney, Australia with a notepad, a coffee, and a curious expression on her face as she images unseen worlds for her next story. Visit her website, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Goodreads!

Have you had a chance to read Witch Hearts? Reading anything else right now? Let me know what you thought in the comments!

For more book reviews, publishing news, ebook deals, and giveaways, CLICK HERE!