Tuesday, May 31, 2016

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Share 10 random facts about yourself.
3. Nominate 5 bloggers
4. Let the bloggers know that you've nominated them
Thanks to Kristi at the Boston Book Reader for tagging me. I don't really do these, so I thought I would give it a whirl.

1. I grew up in the midwest and am glad for that. 
2.We have now lived on the East Coast for 8 years!
3. I’m a proud 'fur mom.'
4. I have two bengal cats.
5. I also have a retired racing greyhound.
6. Even after a year, I am still trying to figure out this whole book blogging thing.
7. I don't really like talking about myself-- so this is hard.
8. My husband is my best friend and I wouldn't trade that for anything.
9. I love to travel and see the world!
10. I have been to 44 of 50 states!

I would like to nominate:
Whomever may be interested!


Top Ten Tuesday: Beach Reads Week

Hi Everyone! 

Just stopping by with another Top Ten Tuesday!  This week's topic is Top Ten Tuesday: Beach Reads Week. This is a fun topic because I feel like there are so many books out there that could be on this list! I am not currently planning any beach trips this summer, but it is okay because these books should bring me there or at least give me happy thoughts!

Here are few I own:
1) Sunshine Beach by Wendy Wax
2) A Walk in the Sun by Michelle Zink
3) Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermen
4) Falling by Jane Green
5) The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder
6) The Memory Book by Lara Avery

Here are few in route to me: 

7) Here's to Us by Elin Hilderbrand
8) The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Here are a few I hope to borrow soon:
9) The Island House by Nancy Thayer
10) The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews

What's on your list? Have you read any of these? Are you planning any trips to the beach?

Happy Reading!

#TBYSReadathon Wrap Up

Monday, May 30, 2016

Hi Everyone!

Just stopping by with a quick reading recap from this weekend. I participated in the #TBYSreadathon and was able to finish 8 books! Since you guys already got the recap of ‘The Little Paris Bookshop’ here are some quick thoughts on the other seven.

Love and Gelato
This book was sooo cute! I really enjoyed it and it absolutely made me want to go to Italy. The food, the sights, the story…it was really good. I found it was a bit predictable, but I think if it had been any other way I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. If you enjoy contemporary romance and a light summer read I would recommend this one.

The Slice Harvester
This is the story of the quest to eat pizza at all of the locations in Manhattan. 2 years and 435 stops later, we get to know a lot more about what it takes. This book opened my eyes to what it means to set standards for what you determine is good food, as well as the culture in NYC. I think the author learned a lot of life as well. A good book.

Scarlet Epstein Hates It Here
This was a book that was not written for me. I thought that the main character came across a little bit snotty and I didn’t really get into the story line. For those wondering it is about the follow up from a fan fiction on a TV show that gets canceled. It just wasn’t the book for me. That said, the writing was well done and for someone who enjoys those elements in a story, I think that they would probably love this book.

The Goddess Pose

I picked this one up for the Pop Sugar and Read Harder challenges. In this book we are reminded of the history of Yoga and the person who brought it to Western America. An informative read with lots of research about the person and the impact that it has on our daily lives. I enjoyed the story very much and found it to be a great read.

Every Exquisite Thing
The last Matthew Quick book that I read was Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. While both have a somewhat dark story line, it was interesting to see how this one played out. I can tell that the author thinks very deeply about the stories and it is fascinating to see how it all plays out. This story includes poetry that explains the feelings of the characters and adds to the narrative. The story itself was a bit hard for me to follow at times, but when you read the poems it makes sense.  An interesting read.

Fun Home
A graphic novel that I picked up because I thought it sounded interesting. It certainly was, but it was also a lot ‘darker’ then what I had first expected. In this one, we are given the insight to the family and what ‘normal’ means for them. I enjoyed the story and the illustrations. In general, it was different than what I thought it was going to be like.

Please Stop Laughing At Me
This book made me tear up several times. In this book, we learn about Jodee’s life as a child and the impact that bullying had on her. There are stories that are incredibly personal and painful to read. What courage she has to share her story with the world! I enjoyed this book very much. If you have read A Child Called It, I would recommend this book.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Happy Reading!

Book Review: The Little Paris Bookshop

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Photo Credit: Random House

Have you ever had a book that  emotionally was exactly what you needed? For most book lovers, I think we can relate to this. In The Little Paris Bookshop, we are greeted by Perdu who owns a bookshop and has that special skill. For anyone who comes in, he can pick the book that helps them the most. Problem is he is not able to do that in order to 'cure' himself.

In this book, we are greeted by a scene that is beautiful. For those of us who have been lucky to see the Seine and Paris in person, I was instantly taken back there. I love that the setting happens in Bookstore and that it is a place that means so much to Perdu.

The characters in the book are vivid and I can easily picture them. Especially those that Perdu meets along the way. They have unique personalities and are full of life. I think that it would be wonderful to see this made into a movie.

However for me the best part of this book was the quotes. I love the feeling that books are magic and that they can take you places. I love that you can find solace in a book, that you can what you need to make you feel okay about life again. This book and author reconfirmed for me that books have the power to do that.

For those of you who enjoy books that remind you of the wonder that got you into reading in the first place, I think this is the book for you.

 Disclaimer: I was awarded this book as part of the Blogging for Books program. Though I did not pay for the book, the opinions are strictly my own.


 Author: Nina George
About the Author

NINA GEORGE works as a journalist, writer, and storytelling teacher. She is the award winning author of 26 books, and also writes feature articles, short stories, and columns. The Little Paris Bookshop spent over a year on bestseller lists in Germany, and was a bestseller in Italy, Poland, and the Netherlands. George is married to the writer Jens J. Kramer and lives in Berlin and in Brittany, France.

@nina_george • @jean_perdu

Happy Reading!

Take Back Your Shelves Readathon

Friday, May 27, 2016

Hi Everyone!

Just stopping by to let you know that I am participating in the 'Take Back Your Shelves Readathon" hosted by the lovely JMillWanders!  The whole goal of this event is to catch-up read the books you have been meaning to read! Lucky for me I have a long weekend and I had hoped to do some reading anyways!

Sign up by commenting here.

More Details:
Readathon Dates: May 28-30 (Saturday-Monday). I know not everyone has Memorial Day off of work, but this is an informal readathon so read whenever you have time. Thirty minutes? Cool. Thirty hours? Rebel.

Bonus: There will be prizes! Make sure to use the hashtag #TBYSreadathon on social media throughout the weekend to qualify, and keep an eye out for random prompts from me on Twitter and Instagram.

I will update my status here as I progress:

1. The Little Paris Bookshop
2. Love & Gelato
3. Please Stop Laughing at Me
4. Fun Home
5. Scarlet Epstein Hates It Here
6. Every Exquisite Thing
7. The Goddess Pose
8. The Slice Harvester

Hope you will join us!

Happy Reading!

Reading Recap

Hi Everyone!

Just stopping by with a quick reading recap from the last little while.

Even If The Sky Falls
This is the story of Julie and Miles and an adventure that takes place in New Orleans. An exploration of the city, some romance, and self-discovery while coping with what has been going on in their own lives makes the plot for this one that keeps you wanting to know what will happen. I loved that it was set in New Orleans because I was just there in February and some of the sites were very vivid in my mind. I appreciated the authors attention to detail and would recommend this one.  Disclaimer: I was provided a free review copy on Edelweiss, but all opinions are my own.

I Almost Forgot About You
In this book, Georgia, an optometrist starts to feel a bit restless about her life. When she has a patient who shows up and reminds her of a dear friend from her past, she decides to take on tracking down other people from her past. In a variety of conversations she catches up with those people who had profound impact on her life. She is reminded by the actions of the past and how they have shaped her life today. Some blooming romance ensues. An interesting book. Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book from Shelf Awareness, but all opinions are my own.

The Blue Bath
This story is one about Kat and how she soon discovers that her past is more prominent than she ever knew.  When she was 19 years old, she had a relationship with an artist named Daniel.  Even though they parted ways, she soon discovers that Daniel has continued to create art with image included in them. Worried about how this may impact her current life, she goes on a quest to get more information. The story is one that is about understanding your past, connecting with others, and trying to understand the feelings of others. Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book from Shelf Awareness, but all opinions are my own.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism
 This is the story of Gretchen and Abby, who are best friends since elementary school. They have seen each other through some interesting times. One night when experimenting with LSD, Gretchen goes into the woods and doesn’t return until the next day. When she does, things begin to change and not for the better. Abby has to learn to deal with the evil that is going on around her and her best friend. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but the book is not for the faint of heart. I have to be honest, this is not the typical book that I read but it really was written well. It made me want to know what was going to happen. Some of the things that happen were much too graphic for my tastes, but the story itself was good and the broader themes were important. I enjoyed this book. Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book from Shelf Awareness, but all opinions are my own.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Happy Reading!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Island House

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Photo Credit: Amazon
 "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week I am excited to feature one of the authors that I look forward to each June with her new "beach read."

The Island House By Nancy Thayer

Release Date: May 31, 2016

 Details from Amazon:New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer invokes the shimmering seascape of Nantucket in a delightful novel that resonates with the heartache and hope of growing up, growing wise, and the bittersweet choices we must be brave enough to make.

Courtney Hendricks will never forget the magical summers she spent on Nantucket with her college roommate, Robin Vickerey, and Robin’s charismatic, turbulent, larger-than-life family, in their gorgeous island house. Now a college English professor in Kansas City, Courtney is determined to experience one more summer in this sun-swept paradise. Her reason for going is personal: Courtney needs to know whether Robin’s brother James shares the feelings she’s secretly had for him.

Time with the Vickerey family always involves love and laughter, and this season is no different. Vivacious matriarch Susanna Vickerey is celebrating her sixtieth birthday, but beneath the merriment, trouble is brewing. The family patriarch, Dr. Alastair Vickerey, is quiet and detached, while unspoken tension looms over oldest son Henry, a respected young surgeon. Warm and witty Robin, the most grounded of the siblings, is keeping a secret from her parents. Iris, the colorful baby of the brood, remains rudderless and in need of guidance. And the sexy, stunningly handsome, untouchable James—to Courtney’s dismay—may be in love with a beautiful and vibrant local artist. As the summer unfolds, a crisis escalates, surprising truths are revealed, and Courtney will at last find out where her heart and her future lie.

Weaving the trials and uncertainty of real life into a tapestry of passion, hope, and courage, The Island House is a beautifully told story about the ties that bind us—and how the blessings of love and family heal us in ways we never dream possible.

Happy Reading! 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Feel Different About As Time As Passed

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hi Everyone! 

Just stopping by with another Top Ten Tuesday!  This week's topic is Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Feel Different About As Time As Passed. This is a hard topic for me, because I find that my opinions of books don't change too much. The more that I think about it, if anything waivers in my opinion, I think that there are probably some 'four stars reads' (Good Reads scale) that are actually closer to 4.5 or 5 stars, so I will highlight those below: 

I feel like Jodi Picoult just keeps getting better and better. I loved this book and the twist is not quite what I expected.

This book made me incredibly emotional. It was alot to read, but an excellent read.

Not only is their adventure in this book, but alot of wit. I loved that.

This book has so much good advice that it is hard to take it all in at one time.

Another emotional book for me. There was so much information in this book, it was hard to process it all when you read it the first time.

Have you read any of these? They were all excellent reads. What books do you feel differently about now that time has passed?

Happy Reading!

BookCon 2016

Monday, May 23, 2016

Hi Everyone!

Happy Monday! I am stopping by today with a quick recap from BookCon 2016. I flew across the country to Chicago to attend this event.

Perhaps the easiest way to document my time there is through pictures. Let me share with you a few of my favorites:

Panel with Ann M. Martin (from the Babysitters Club)

Tracking down Quirk E Cat

Finding Minecraft books for my niece

Collecting Totes!

Book Haul

Sample Haul

Swag Haul

The madness that was O' Hare Airport
 Did you go to BookCon this year? Have you attended other book type events? What is your favorite?

Happy Reading! 

Waiting on Wednesday: Here's to Us

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Photo Credit: Amazon
"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week I am excited to feature a book that is one of my all time favorites!  This is also a author that will be coming to BEA. I hope that those of you going are able to go see her!  I met her at Book Con last year and she was incredibly wonderful.

Here's to Us By Elin Hilderbrand

Releases: June 14, 2016

Information from Amazon:

An emotional, heartwarming story from New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand about a grieving family that finds solace where they least expect it.
Celebrity chef Deacon Thorpe has always been a force of nature with an insatiable appetite for life. But after that appetite contributes to Deacon's shocking death in his favorite place on earth, a ramshackle Nantucket summer cottage, his (messy, complicated) family is reeling. Now Deacon's three wives, his children, and his best friend gather on the island he loved to say farewell. The three very different women have long been bitter rivals, each wanting to claim the primary place in Deacon's life and his heart. But as they slowly let go of the resentments they've held onto for years and remember the good times, secrets are revealed, confidences are shared, and improbable bonds are formed as this unlikely family says goodbye to the man who brought them all together, for better or worse--and the women he loved find new ways to love again. 

I am so excited! Get here June!!

Happy Reading!

One Year Blogaversary and 200th post!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Hi Everyone!

I am super excited to have a friend here with me today (it's puppy) to help announce that is the One Year Anniversary of He Said Books Or Me! Holy smokes! When I started this journey a year ago, I thought that I was doing something good by taking my "bookish" posts off our personal blog and moving them to a place where I could have book space. It has become so much more than that! This has become a hobby, a passion, and an excitement. I am so grateful for every single one of you for taking this journey with me.

I would like to express my thank you to each of you! To the authors who write the books I love, Thank You. To the publishers who share the books, Thank You! To those of you who host events, readathons, giveaways, Thank You! To those of you who host book content that I can access new releases, Thank you. To the library (my most favorite place in the world!) To the book community-bloggers, booktubers, friends, family, all of my supporters, Thank you! I would like to name you all by name, but I know that this post would end up being a bazillion words. So for each of you, thank you for making this year a wonderful one for me! I never thought when I started this journey that I would be able to say that I have almost 100 friends on Good Reads/Instagram and over 300 on twitter! That's amazing! And it is all because of you. Thank you.

So now that we have a year behind us, what's next?! I am glad you asked! I am hoping to expand my collaborations with others and I am also planning in putting in some new discussion posts. More to come soon on those topics!! Stay tuned.

Here's to a Year of Happy Reading and to Many More!

Thanks again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Reading Recap

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Hi Everyone!

Just stopping by with a quick reading recap from the last little while.

All Four Stars
This is actually the first book in the series. I ended up reading the second one first, but it was okay. I was happy to be reunited with Gladys and her cooking adventures. It was a cute book and I enjoyed it very much. The best news I have heard is that there is a third one coming out in July! If you have people in your life who are foodies, this is one for you.

This is a book that I own and I have been meaning to read for awhile. This was part of my #RockMyTBR challenge. I enjoyed this book. I have to say that it is different from the other Rainbow Rowell books that I have read, but I was okay with that. In this book, we met a couple who has experienced some challenges in their marriage. When a magic phone comes to be and connects them to their past, it conjures up a whole of memories and emotions. An interesting book.

The Way Back to You
I was provided this book by Harper through Edleweiss. Even though provided a copy, all opinions are my own. This book was super cute! In the book our two main characters are coping with the loss of their best friend/girlfriend. When the coping becomes an adventure, it becomes a story that keeps you wanting to know what happens. It was a cute story and I really enjoyed it.

The Grand Tour
This book is about the legendary, George Jones, country music star. In this book we get to learn more about his life from those that were closest to him. The book has some behind the scenes information about his life and legacy. I enjoyed listening to his music growing up and it was fun to know the story behind the legend.

The Wander Trail
I was provided a copy of this book from First to Read, but all opinions are my own. I enjoyed this book because it was about an adventure from North America all the way down to the tip of South America. The book was interesting because it discusses the author’s perspective about his travels. There is so much culture and interesting information in those countries! I am traveling to South America later this year and I am glad that I had a chance to read this book.

Lady Renegades
Harper is back in book 3 and this time she must save David. When she unexpectedly has to rely on Blythe for assistance, you know that an adventure will ensue. This book was witty and I enjoyed the story to find David. It kept me reading and wanting to know what would happen next. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it for those who like Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Gotham Academy
I picked this one up because I have been told that Gotham Academy is going to be teaming up with one of my faves, LumerJanes for a few issues in June. Gotham Academy follows a group of students and the adventures that have. I enjoyed the story and the illustrations were great!

I picked this one up because I wanted to have a balance of some shorter reads for Bout of Books. This was a quick read that I enjoyed very much. This one is the story of a family in a new mysterious house. When things go astray, it is their job to figure out how to save their mom and get things back to normal.  I enjoyed the book and found it to be an interesting read.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Happy Reading!

Armchair BEA Discussions!


Here are links to the Discussions for Each Day. I know it is supposed to be a daily update, but I am going to be traveling this weekend, so I am trying to get my thoughts out now! 

Day 1 Discussion: Diversity in Books

Here are few thoughts of mine:
More and more I am starting to notice that we are seeing more and more diverse voices in books. For this I am glad! I am not sure if it is because I am reading more diversely or because it is actually true or both. In any case, I believe that exposure to culture, values, thoughts that are different from your own are positive. It can help you think through topics more broadly and be more open minded. I am not saying that everyone has to agree all of the time, but just having respect for differences can go along way. As a blogger, I chose to continue to pick books that are different and unique to me. Negative and stereotypes are a hard conversation to overcome. We need to be willing to have hard conversations in a respectful way.

How do you include diversity in your book choices? 


Day 2: Aesthetic Concerns

The Books
I have to admit, I judge a book by its cover quite a bit. It has drawn me to a couple of books that I maybe wouldn't have picked up otherwise. I like pretty, colorful covers. I do prefer that if I have a group of book in a series that they are of similar style. I am not too concerned if the inside doesnt match the outside.

The BlogI am actually just coming up on my one year blogaversary! As a result, I have not spent too much time on my branding of my blog so far. I hope to do more of that in the future. The most important things are having a welcoming space, a place where people can discuss books, and having fun. :) More to come on this in the future. I will be checking out everyone's posts to see what they say here and see if I can get some new ideas or at least be inspired! 

Day 3: Beyond the Books and Beyond the Blog

I have to admit, I a bit old school when it comes to the format of the media. I have a kindle and it is great when I travel, but nothing beats a paper print book for me! I have read quite a few graphic novels and I am really enjoying those! My faves are Rat Queens and LumberJanes. I think that this format is fun because it helps me visualize the  story all the more!

I have tried to start attend more book type events in the local area. I am also pretty involved with Twitter chats and I have enjoyed getting to know and meet new people that way! 

Day 4: Surviving Fictional Worlds and Giveaways

I wish that I could land of Oz! It just looks beautiful. I would want to stay in the safe places and away from the scary forest, but it should be better now that the Wicked Witch is gone, right? That is one place I would rather stay 'behind the glass' for!

Once I got to Oz, I think I would go track down Dorthy's friends, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Lion. They seem like a fun group. I would want to check in on Glinda and munchkins as well. I would enjoy getting to see the places that she saw! 

Day 5: Wrap Up

This will be done when I get back on 5/16 along with my closing survey!

Armchair BEA Introductions

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hi Everyone!

Just stopping by to letting you know that I am participating in Armchair BEA. This is an event for all the people who are not able to attend Book Expo America in real life, to still have lots of wonderful bookish conversations! The first part is to introduce ourselves...so here is my info:

Group 1:

1.  What is the name you prefer to use? Valerie or Val, either is fine

2.  How long have you been a book blogger? It will be one year in just a couple of days!

3.  Have you participated in ABEA before? Nope, first time!

Group 2:

1.  Do you have a favorite book? If you cannot choose a favorite book of all time, pick your favorite book today - just this second. Remember that favorites are allowed to change if something affects you deeply enough. 
I do! It is The Richest Man in Town

2.  What is your favorite genre and why?  I have a bunch! Check out my 'What I Read' List

3.  How do you arrange your bookshelves? Is there a rhyme or reason? Or not at all? (#ABEAShelfie) They are sort of grouped by topic, for example all of my outdoor/hiking books are together.

4.  What book are you most excited for on your TBR?  I just got Love & Gelato from the library, so I am looking forward to that!

5.  What is the most interesting thing that you have learned through your reading this year so far?  
How wonderful the book community is! 

Are you participating in Armchair BEA?  What are you most looking forward to?

Happy Reading!  

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Websites I Visit On A (Almost) Daily Basis

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hi Everyone!

Just stopping by with another Top Ten Tuesday!  This week's topic is Top Ten Websites I Visit On a (Almost) Daily Basis. I say almost because there are a few on the end that it is more likely weekly, but you get the idea.

Without further ado...

1) Twitter. If you don't follow me on there, please feel free to do so! This is how I stay connected to my bookish friends, so if you don't like books you probably wont want to follow me.

2) Instagram. This is where I post pictures of books and mainly of puppy and our kittens. Yes, I am a little obsessed with photographing them but when they are that cute...I can't resist.

3) Fairfax County Library. My go to haven for books! I am so grateful. I love this place. I spend way too many hours looking for options on there. I love that they have a vast selection. If I can't get something from them they also have interlibrary loan that I utilize for borrowing books.

4) Amazon. I use this for a lot of different things, but than again I have a list of bookish related things that I would like to get too!  We have prime and that has come in handy!

5) In Forum. This is the website for the 'Fargo Forum' newspaper and actually is the first of this list to not be about books. I love reading about what is happening back "at home" and this helps me to feel connected.

6) Gmail. I would be remiss if I didn't mention it! It is how I get my life taken care of and done every day. I have my personal account and then book account. Both help me to stay focused!

7) Etsy. I love all of the homemade wonderfulness that exists out there. I love to look at people's creative projects. I rarely let myself get items, but its fun to explore.

8) The National Park Service page. I love looking at all of the awesome places I can go and explore. Yes, I do have a list. I would love to get them all, but for now, I am starting with the ones within the state.

9) Abc.go.com This is how I watch most of my TV shows. I don't watch a ton to begin with and since we no longer have cable, I am usually at least a week behind, but when I do it is nice that I can use this site or the app to stream them.

10) Firsttoread.com-Penguin Random House for Books. I know its not supposed to be about books, but it is pretty awesome that you can get early releases this way!

What sites do you visit?

Happy Reading!

Bout of Books Challenges

Monday, May 9, 2016


1) The challenge is simple: introduce yourself on Twitter, Instagram, or on this post using six words, no more, no less. Use the hashtags #boutofbooks and #insixwords.

Introduce Yourself #insixwords -- wife, fur mom, book lover, adventurer :)

2) Shelfie Picture-Here is my link!

3) Five Faves-Here is my link!

4) If You Like Challenge-Here is my link! 

5) I dont really have too many scary books or settings for the Freaky Friday challenge.

6) A late posting for the bout of books-my favorite part of this week was just being able to read as much as I could! I really enjoyed that.

Blog Tour: Holding Smoke Guest Post and Giveaway

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hi Everyone!

I am excited to have a Guest Post on the Blog Today! Please give a warm welcome to Elle Cosimano, who I asked about what inspired her to write "Holding Smoke."

I’ve always been fascinated by astral projection. I’d been reading a lot of books, feeling out the subject for a possible book idea, which inevitably led me to other books about near-death experiences. A lot of people who have died, or come very close to death, reported out-of-body experiences that mirrored the self-described journeys of people who reported they could leave their physical body and travel to another astral plane at will. This planted the seed of an idea inside me. What if a person experienced an NDE, and was able to then “travel” out of their body whenever they wanted… go wherever they wanted… wherever they could imagine themselves?

Then I got to thinking about who this character might be. And it struck me, how poignant a story like this could be if this character were physically unable to leave a terrible situation, but their soul was free. The juxtaposition of a physical prison and a free mind struck a chord with me.

I was immediately taken back to a night when I was about eight years old, and my father, a maximum security prison warden, brought an inmate home for Thanksgiving dinner. (You can read more about that night here… http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elle-cosimano/the-good-the-bad-and-the-_9_b_5922654.html .) I remembered how uncomfortable this man looked at our table, dining with silverware and glassware and wearing regular clothes. I remember the long, awkward silence when our extended family asked him what he did at the prison (assuming he worked there with my father) and he told them he was doing twenty to life for Murder One. I started to wonder if a character in his position – resigned to a life behind prison walls – would embrace small freedoms, or shy away from them. If he felt like he didn’t deserve them or if he longed for them. I began to wonder, if he had the chance to start over, what kind of life would he imagine for himself.

And from this soup of right and wrong, free or fated, good and bad, and alive or dead, Smoke’s story was born.

Thanks for the insightful post!
And now the details for the book...


John "Smoke" Conlan is serving time for two murders but he wasn't the one who murdered his English teacher, and he never intended to kill the only other witness to the crime. A dangerous juvenile rehabilitation center in Denver, Colorado, known as the Y, is Smoke's new home and the only one he believes he deserves.

But, unlike his fellow inmates, Smoke is not in constant imprisonment. After a near death experience leaves him with the ability to shed his physical body at will, Smoke is able to travel freely outside the concrete walls of the Y, gathering information for himself and his fellow inmates while they're asleep in their beds. Convinced his future is only as bright as the fluorescent lights in his cell, Smoke doesn't care that the "threads" that bind his soul to his body are wearing thin-that one day he may not make it back in time. That is, until he meets Pink, a tough, resourceful girl who is sees him for who he truly is and wants to help him clear his name. 

Now Smoke is on a journey to redemption he never thought possible. With Pink's help, Smoke may be able to reveal the true killer, but the closer they get to the truth, the more deadly their search becomes. The web of lies, deceit, and corruption that put Smoke behind bars is more tangled than they could have ever imagined. With both of their lives on the line, Smoke will have to decide how much he's willing to risk, and if he can envision a future worth fighting for.

Author of NEARLY GONE, NEARLY FOUND, HOLDING SMOKE, and THE SUFFERING TREE (Disney*Hyperion, 2017). Represented by Sarah Davies of The Greenhouse Literary Agency.

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