Adult Fiction, Anthologies, Blog Tours, Book Review, Fantasy, Fiction

Blog Tour [Review]: Dead of Winter

Title: Dead of Winter
Edited by: Lindy Ryan
Publisher: Blackspot Books
Publication Date: January 26, 2021


Rating: 4 Stars

Thank you Jean BookNerd, Blackspot Books and for an opportunity to be a part of this blog tour.


Eight chilling tales to read under the Cold Moon.

A tinker’s son acquires a cursed soul.

A dying woman is haunted by her own reflection.

An uninvited presence haunts a Christmas seance.

A festive holiday turns macabre.

Despite the twinkling lights and steaming cocoa, the end of the year is the darkest time of the year—a season of short days, long nights, and cold skies. In this special anniversary anthology, the authors of Black Spot Books mix Ye Olde Yuletide hauntings with modern-day holiday horrors to weave a chilling new collection of dark winter tales. From frozen forests stalked by eerie Christmas ghosts to rotting gifts of winter malice, the spirits of Christmas come home for the holidays in the Dead of Winter.  


“Readers looking for a wintry fright will appreciate a few gems [among] eight winter-themed tales of terror.” —Publishers Weekly

“Diverse, unexpected, and solid in characterization, plots, and evolution…horror fans will relish the creative results in [Dead of Winter] that delights with its original, thought-provoking creations and twists on holiday themes.” —D. Donavan, Midwest Book Review

“Editor Ryan’s selections perfectly fit the dark, gray, wintry mood that hits when cold weather has dragged on for too long. This anthology features eight short stories, each gripping, mind-bending, and truly creepy. Dead of Winter has something for every horror reader.” —Carrie Rasak, Booklist

Foreword by 2018 Bram Stoker Nominated Author Monique Snyman.
Edited by Lindy Ryan


I have to say, anthologies are becoming a personal favorite of mine. Dead of Winter did not disappoint. You have an variety of different stories that take some winter favorites like Santa Claus and add a little bit of spice to it. Winter is no longer a quaint and quiet, but mysterious, dark and eerie. Dead of Winter brings a collection of stories together of nightmarish visions, scary winter nights and overall a pleasurable reading experience. We are brought back to the winter winter before electricity was invested, a winter that more feared than embraced. The anthology is edited perfectly, each story seamlessly intertwining in the next thrilling read.

One story that stood out the most to me was A Face Behind the Christmas Ball. This story took Santa Claus, a beloved magical being, and creates him into a scary nightmare to think. I enjoyed how that perspective was changed and written so well. Children are no longer jumping for joy at an encounter but are holding their blankets closer ta night. It is unique, thrilling and so enjoyable to read.

Overall, Dead of Night is a book I would highly recommend for folks who like to live on the edge and stray away from a more cozy winter read.

About the Authors

Lindy Ryan is an entrepreneur, award-winning professor, and publishing professional. In 2011, Ryan was part of the executive leadership team that founded Radiant Advisors, a business intelligence research and advisory firm, where Miller developed and launched the company’s editorial and research divisions, and later its data visualization practice, for clients that included 21st Century Fox Films, Fox Networks, Warner Bros., and Disney. She is the author of numerous papers and two textbooks – The Visual Imperative: Creating a Culture of Visual Discovery (Elsevier) and Visual Data Storytelling with Tableau (Pearson). She went on to teach at Rutgers University and Montclair State University, and remains a respected academic researcher. Now an accomplished publishing professional, Ryan currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA).

Ryan is an award-winning editor and author. Currently, she is collaborating as the lead author on a horror franchise project with a top veteran Hollywood director and an award-winning screenwriter. When she’s not immersed in books, Ryan is an avid historical researcher, with specific interest in nautical and maritime history, cryptozoology, and ancient civilizations. She is represented by Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary Management. She also writes clean, seasonal romance under the name Lindy Miller. Ryan currently resides in Juneau, Alaska where she enjoys hiking, crafting, and photography. She is a member of the Horror Writers Association.

Monique Snyman‘s mind is a confusing bedlam of glitter and death, where candy-coated gore is found in abundance and homicidal unicorns thrive. Sorting out the mess in her head is particularly irksome before she’s ingested a specific amount of coffee, which is equal to half the recommended intake of water for humans per day. When she’s not playing referee to her imaginary friends or trying to overdose on caffeine, she’s doing something with words—be it writing, reading, or fixing all the words.

Monique Snyman lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with her husband and an adorable Chihuahua. She’s the author of MUTI NATION, a horror novel set in South Africa, and Bram Stoker Award® nominated novel, THE NIGHT WEAVER, which is the first installment in a dark fantasy series for young adults.

Daniel Buell is working as a content creator and blogger. He is an author from New Jersey. His first debut short story is being published in DEAD OF WINTER anthology by Black Spot Books.

Laura Morrison lives in the Metro Detroit area. She has a B.S. in applied ecology and environmental science from Michigan Technological University. Before she was a writer and stay-at-home mom, she battled invasive species and researched turtles.

Sam Hooker writes darkly humorous fantasy novels about thing like tyrannical despots and the masked scoundrels who tickle them without mercy. He knows all the best swear words, though he refuses to repeat them because he doesn’t want to attract goblins.

Alcy Leyva is a Bronx-born writer, teacher, and pizza enthusiast. He graduated from Hunter College with a B.A. in English (Creative Writing) and an MFA in Fiction from The New School. He has been published in Popmatters, The Rumpus, Entropy Mag, and Quiet Lunch Magazine.

Cassondra Windwalker is a poet and novelist writing full time from the coast of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. She is supported by a tolerant husband, three wandering offspring, a useless dog, and a zombie cat. Her hobbies include hiking, photography, and having other people’s demons over for tea.

Dalena Storm has lived in India, Japan, Germany, and on both coasts of the United States. She currently resides in a converted general store in the woods of Western Massachusetts with a rare Burmese temple cat, a purring black fluff-beast, a professor of magic, and an infant with an astonishing ability to resist sleep.

N.J. Ember is a paranormal fiction author who loves to write stories about survival and triumph over adversity. Whether her characters are dealing with the paranormal or everyday life, she seeks to show that strength is not always about being superhuman or invulnerable. She enjoys anything with mystery, suspense and horror, so when she’s not writing you can find her watching shows like Orphan Black, Penny Dreadful and Sherlock.

She currently lives in Michigan with her grandpa and a forever growing collection of books and Funko Pop! figures.

Tiffany Meuret is a writer of monsters and twisted fairy tales. Her publications include Shoreline of Infinity, Luna Station Quarterly, Ellipsis Zine, and others. When not reading or writing, she is usually binge watching comfortable sitcoms from her childhood or telling her kids to put on their shoes for the tenth time. She lives in sunny Arizona with her husband, two kids, two chihuahuas, gecko, and tortoise.FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | WEBSITE | GOODREADS

…and now for a Giveaway!!

Click the pic to enter the giveaway

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

–  1 Winner will receive an Exclusive DEAD OF WINTER Storytellers BOX
– 1 Winner will receive a $20 Amazon Gift Card

Anthologies, Blog Tours, Young Adult Fiction

Blog Tour [Review]: Rural Voices

Author: Rural Voices
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: October 13th, 2020
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

*Thank you Candlewick Press and Jean BookNerd Blog tours for providing a review copy and for the opportunity to be on this tour. *


Rating 4/5 stars


Think you know what rural America is like? Discover a plurality of perspectives in this enlightening anthology of stories that turns preconceptions on their head.

Gracie sees a chance of fitting in at her South Carolina private school, until a “white trash”-themed Halloween party has her steering clear of the rich kids. Samuel’s Tejano family has both stood up to oppression and been a source of it, but now he’s ready to own his true sexual identity. A Puerto Rican teen in Utah discovers that being a rodeo queen means embracing her heritage, not shedding it. . . .

For most of America’s history, rural people and culture have been casually mocked, stereotyped, and, in general, deeply misunderstood. Now an array of short stories, poetry, graphic short stories, and personal essays, along with anecdotes from the authors’ real lives, dives deep into the complexity and diversity of rural America and the people who call it home. Fifteen extraordinary authors – diverse in ethnic background, sexual orientation, geographic location, and socioeconomic status – explore the challenges, beauty, and nuances of growing up in rural America. From a mountain town in New Mexico to the gorges of New York to the arctic tundra of Alaska, you’ll find yourself visiting parts of this country you might not know existed – and meet characters whose lives might be surprisingly similar to your own.  

Nora Shalaway Carpenter, David Bowles, Joseph Bruchac, Veeda Bybee, Shae Carys, S.A. Cosby, Rob Costello, Randy DuBurke, David Macinnis Gill, Nasugraq Rainey Hopson, Estelle Laure, Yamile Saied Méndez, Ashley Hope Pérez, Tirzah Price and Monica Roe


The writers bring authentic voices to their work in addition to their biographies, shared at the back of the book. This collection will be a high-interest read for middle and high school students…This book is a must-purchase for libraries serving middle and high school readers. —School Library Connection

The compilation successfully meets the challenge of serving as a cohesive whole while providing readers with enough variety of tone, pace, and voice to keep the reading experience interesting. A fresh and highly accessible contribution. —Kirkus Reviews

From laughing out loud to holding back tears, readers who enjoy emotionally resonant books will not be disappointed. Those from similar geographic areas will be nodding their heads while every reader, regardless of location, will connect to the universal triumphs and tribulations of teen life. Fans of Rainbow Rowell will dive headfirst into this collection. A great addition that explores an often misrepresented portion of readers. —School Library Journal  


Rural Voices was a read that definitely surprised me in a good way. It is an anthology that challenges what many non-rural growing folks know and think about small towns of America. It gives us delightful reads of aspiring rodeo queens, while also tackling tougher topics like child & sexual abuse. Rural Voices gave us a diverse set of authors writing about the small town life and how it had shaped how the are today in some ways.

I enjoyed this anthology mostly for the variety in stories being told. Each story challenged what I personally saw as rural small town life. This anthology also challenged many stereotypes often about small town folks. It was a page turning experience because each story provided a new face, a new town and a new intriguing read. You get spooky encounters, farming life, unique family dynamics and so much more. Rural voices knew how to me chuckle and pull at my heart strings at the same time. It was nothing like I’ve read before in anthologies and I appreciated that.

As a born and bred city girl who has probably never been to a small rural town, this anthology honestly persuaded me to get out some of these places. Somethings it’s good to read about a simple, yet fulfilling lifestyle when you come from the city of the Bronx Bombers [Yankees]. One critique I did have was in terms of pacing. As with many other short stories I have read, pacing in some of the stories started pretty slow and had to play catch up to quickly since there was a limitation in how much one can write. In regards to the individual stories themselves, I really enjoyed reading Island Rodeo Queen by Yamile Saied Méndez and What Home Is by Ashley Hope Pérez. Island Rodeo Queen is about a young girl who dreams to be a rodeo star one day. It was definitely the feel good kind of story you’ll want to read on a fall day on your porch with a side of coffee. What Home Is about the meaning of home written in poem form. This story was strong and emotional and pulled so hard at my heartstrings. I welcomed the different writing style because it made the story much more powerful.

If you are looking for an anthology that will give you a diverse set of voices while challenging what you know about small towns in America, than this is a book you’ll want to pick up.

Guest Post

Finding Inspiration by Ashley Hope Pérez

I’m the sort of writer who grows every story, poem, and novel through a slow accumulation of writing rooted in tiny bits of feeling or observation. It’s not the most efficient practice, but it’s the only way that feels true for me.

Even when I know what scene I’m working on, I still like to begin by spending time playing so that I feel lively and fresh in language. What does that look like? Read on for five of the strategies I have used to get going when it’s time to write.

Oh, and I like to think of these as invitations, not exercises, because the point is to sneakily invite myself to keep writing beyond the prompt. I hope you enjoy!


Ashley Hope Pérez

 List 20 things you’ve seen in the day so far. They can be objects, scenes, or interactions. then pick one that feels evocative or “alive” and free write with it.

I do this one over and over, and use dozens of variations, such as inserting one of the “live” objects into a scene, imagining my character in a place where I’ve been, or, in the case of physical items, thinking about what the character would think about them. Would they treasure an object? View it as trash? What is their relationship to the things around them?

Flex your muscles as a stylist. Find a paragraph of prose you admire. Write it out longhand just to get the feel of those amazing words coming out of your own pen (on loan). Notice the joints within and between sentences, how they fit together and flow.

Now write your own paragraph (on whatever subject you choose), modeling each sentence exactly on the paragraph you admire. Try to stick to your model; the idea is to pay attention to how writing moves at the sentence level—and to get infected by gorgeous prose. Here’s an example:

Gil Adamson’s opening sentence in her novel The Outlander: “It was night, and dogs came through the trees, unleashed and howling.”

Ashley’s sentence: It was noon, and salmon arced up out of the stream, rainbowed and gleaming.

What’s awesome about this prompt? You can use it over and over, so it’s a perfect building block for a writing ritual. Best of all, you can surprise yourself into a twist in your narrative.

Take a break from structure and write blind (literally, if you can touch type). Set a timer for 10 minutes and write without stopping, not worrying about punctuation or even making sense. Repeat words if you get stuck; there’s no wrong way to do this.

Your goal is to get to a state where your internal editor can’t block anything (some people call this “automatic writing”). Just write—riding emotions, not worrying if anything is “okay” or not. When the timer goes off, look at what you’ve written. Most of it will be gibberish, but you may well have tricked yourself into writing a gem of an image or revealing a raw emotion that you can graft onto a character.

This may work best first thing in the morning when your brain is closest to that crazy underworld of dreams.

Get to know one of your characters better—or invent one out of the blue—by forcing him or her to play two truths and a lie. If you’ve never played this party game, it goes like this. You offer three statements about yourself, two of which are true and one of which is false. The object (for others) is to identify the lie. For example:

(1) At 7, I chose the bedroom farthest away from the street because I was afraid of being tempted to sneak out of the house when I was older.

(2) At 15, I entered a photography competition with an image entitled, “Hangin’ like a Hose.”

(3) At 18, I got my first ticket in Austin, TX, for a curfew violation at Mt. Bonnell Park.

 (If you’re nosy my deception is revealed here:

This exercise can teach you a lot about your character. There are the truths themselves, which can force you to think about out-of-the-ordinary qualities of your character. But there’s also the particularity of how your character plays. What’s her strategy? Does she hope to shock and share titillating revelations, or is she trying to get through the game while sharing as little information as possible?

These are different ways of discovering more about your character(s) by taking something away from them.

INDIRECTION: Put two of your characters together somewhere that’s not a kitchen, car, or living room. Give one (or both) something they want to say, but write the scene without them explicitly saying it.

TAKE IT AWAY: Think of something your character has (a quality, a skill, an asset) that is important to your story. Take it away. What now?

NEVER WOULD I…: What’s something your character would *never* do, and what circumstances might undo that prohibition? Then what?

What I love about this is that it forces me to make my character more resourceful (in the case of the first two) and allows me to explore what would make them “act out of character”—which is essential for knowing them on a deeper level. Capturing inconsistency or deviation is part of crafting an authentic character.

Ashley Hope Pérez grew up in the Piney Woods of East Texas and is the author of three novels. Her most recent, Out of Darkness, was described by the New York Times as a “layered tale of color lines, love and struggle” and was named one of Booklist’s 50 Best YA Books of All Time. It also won a 2016 Tomás Rivera Book Award, a 2016 Américas Award, and a 2016 Michael L. Printz Honor from the American Library Association. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her two beautiful sons, Liam Miguel and Ethan Andrés, she works as an assistant professor of world literature at The Ohio State University.

About the Author/Editor

Photo Credit: Chip Bryan

Nora Shalaway Carpenter grew up on a mountain ridge deep in the West Virginia wilderness. A graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program, she is the author of the YA novel The Edge of Anything and the picture book Yoga Frog. Before she wrote books, she worked as associate editor of Wonderful West Virginia magazine, and she has been a certified yoga teacher since 2012. She currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband, three young children, and world’s most patient dog and cat.  

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram

And now for a Giveaway!

Click the Rafflecopter pic to enter the giveaway!

5 Winners will receive a Copy of RURAL VOICES Edited by Nora Shalaway Carpenter.

Anthologies, Blog Tours, YA Paranormal, Young Adult Fiction

Blog Tour [Review]: Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite edited by Zoraida Cordova and Natalie Parker

Click on the Banner to follow this awesome blog tour!!
Title: Vampires Never Get Old
Author: Edited by Zoraida Cordova & Natalie C. Parker
Publisher: Imprint
Publication Date: September 22, 2020
Genres: Young Adult Paranormal Anthology

*Thank you Imprint and Hear Our Voices Blog Company for providing me this awesome opportunity. *

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble |

Rating: 4/5 Stars


Eleven fresh vampire stories from young adult fiction’s leading voices!

In this delicious new collection, you’ll find stories about lurking vampires of social media, rebellious vampires hungry for more than just blood, eager vampires coming out―and going out for their first kill―and other bold, breathtaking, dangerous, dreamy, eerie, iconic, powerful creatures of the night.

Welcome to the evolution of the vampire―and a revolution on the page.

Vampires Never Get Old includes stories by authors both bestselling and acclaimed, including Samira Ahmed, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker, Tessa Gratton, Heidi Heilig, Julie Murphy, Mark Oshiro, Rebecca Roanhorse, Laura Ruby, Victoria “V. E.” Schwab, and Kayla Whaley.


Eleven riveting tales of the creature many of us have swooned about – the vampire. Vampires Never Get Old [edited] by Zoraida Cordova& Natalie C. Parker is an anthology of vampires stories full of modern and magical twists, vampires of all shapes, sizes and identities and just overall a fresh bite of vampire stories. Many folks like myself grew up with vampires created by Anne rice, L.J. Smith and the mother daughter duo, P.C. & Kristin Cast. Personally, this anthology was definitely a fresh start to the revival of the vampire we are seeing in Young Adult fiction. To be clear, I am here for all of it!

Was this anthology perfect? No, and that’s what I enjoyed most about it. There are so many cliffhangers, questions need to be answered and a yearning to read both the books I grew up with and the books that are yet to be published. Did this anthology continuously pique my interest? Of course! Each story has a different vampire and if you came here to get your average pale, dark and handsome – well sorry to delightfully disappoint you because these vampires are flourishing with so much awesomeness. While I enjoyed each story, there were three that I want to put some shine on.

The three stories that made me want a full novel of were Mirrors, Windows, Selfies by Mark Oshiro, First Killby V.E. Schwab, and Vampires Never Die by Zoraida Cordova and Natalie C. Parker.

Mirrors, Windows, Selfies by Mark Oshiro  was such a good read! I need more of this. It had a great modern twist to the superstitions of mirrors and vampires. As a Latina, I grew up hearing so many superstitions about mirrors, so this was a story I was automatically intrigued by. For the main character the importance of the mirror becomes pivotal is discovering who and what they truly are. It opens doors to the main character realizing everything they have been hidden from. Mark Oshiro knows how to write a story in a different form; in the case of this story in the form of a blog and still manages to get me screaming that the story has ended.

First Kill by V.E Schwab is actually the second piece of writing I have read from the author. Let’s just say, I might be a fan of her writing. Straight form the title, I know this was going to be a good one. Whenever you hear first kill in vampires stories, it’s either the vampires first kill or a vampire hunter’s first vampire kill. The story is told in two points of view, each view a main character in the story. Juliette and Calliope are girls pining for each other and trying to be just normal teens. Juliette is also a born and bred vampire, while Calliope comes form a family of fierce Vampire hunters. Sounds interesting, right? Juliette and calliope throughout the story have to figure out whether they want to pursue the crush or honor their family. With a cliffhanger that could have you flinging the book across the room [I promise no book was harmed], V.E. Schwab sucks you into this unique vampire story and leave you wanting to know what happens next for Juliette and Calliope.

Vampires Never Die by Zoraida Cordova and Natalie C. Parker is a vampire story with a modern feel to it. Brittany, a vampire, crates an Instagram account to escape her reality and be a whatever she wants to be. Along this social media journey she befriends Tony and they become a little closer. But this little budding friendship/relationship is just the tip of the story iceberg. Brittany is a  vampire who turns other women in Vampires. Now, before you go – oh no! Brittany turns women who have been told by men and society that they are not worthy. Turning them into vampires gives them a power that make them fierce forces of nature.  Overall, Zoraida and Natalie were able to create a short story with the right amount of social media escapism, pizazz and a nostalgic feeling to go and read that vampire novel where the female characters are fierce, powerful and making sure the world is at peace.

Want a book full of stories that take a fresh look into the vampire, vivid & magical backdrops and characters that have complicated lives because they are vampires? Then pick this anthology up today!

About The Authors

Zoraida Córdova

Zoraida Córdova is the author of many fantasy novels, including the award-winning Brooklyn Brujas series, IncendiaryStar Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate, and The Way to Rio Luna. Her short fiction has appeared in the New York Times bestselling anthology Star Wars: From a Certain Point of ViewStar Wars: Clone Wars Stories of Light and Dark, and Come On In. She is the co-editor of Vampires Never Get Old. She is the co-host of the writing podcast, Deadline City, with Dhonielle Clayton. Zoraida was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. When she’s not working on her next novel, she’s finding a new adventure.

Natalie C. Parker

Natalie C. Parker grew up in a Navy family finding home in coastal cities from Virginia to Japan. Now, she lives surprisingly far from any ocean on the Kansas prairie with her wife where she writes and edits books for teens including the acclaimed Seafire trilogy.

Samira Ahmed

Samira is the New York Times bestselling author of Love, Hate, & Other Filters and the forthcoming, Internment (March 2019) and Mad, Bad, & Dangerous to Know (April 2020).

These days, Samira lives in Chicago, Illinois. When she’s not writing or reading, she can be found on her lifelong quest for the perfect pastry.

Her writing is represented by Jo Volpe at New Leaf Literary.

Dhonielle Clayton

Dhonielle Clayton was born in the suburbs of Washington, DC and spent her childhood Saturdays at the comic book store with her father and most evenings hiding beneath her grandmother’s dining room table with a stack of books. She earned a BA in English at Wake Forest University. She was an English teacher for three years and worked with educational curriculum. Being surrounded by children, Dhonielle re-discovered her love of children’s literature and earned a masters in children’s and young adult literature from Hollins University. Currently, she is working on both middle grade and young adult novel projects. She moved to NYC where she earned her MFA at the New School’s MFA Program. She is co-founder of CAKE Literary, a literary development studio committed to bringing diversity to high concept content.

Tessa Gratton

Tessa Gratton is the author of adult SFF The Queens of Innis Lear and Lady Hotspur from Tor Books, as well as the YA series The Blood Journals and The United States of Asgard. Her most recent YA is the original fairy tale Strange Grace from McElderry Books and the upcoming Night Shine. Tessa’s novels and short stories have been translated into twenty-two languages, nominated twice for the Tiptree Award, and several have been Junior Library Guild Selections. Though she has lived all over the world, she currently resides at the edge of the Kansas prairie with her wife.

Heidi Heilig

Heidi grew up in Hawaii where she rode horses and raised peacocks, and then she moved to New York City and grew up even more, as one tends to do. Her favorite thing, outside of writing, is travel, and she has haggled for rugs in Morocco, hiked the trails of the Ko’olau Valley, and huddled in a tent in Africa while lions roared in the dark.
She holds an MFA from New York University in Musical Theatre Writing, of all things, and she’s written books and lyrics for shows including The Time Travelers Convention, Under Construction, and The Hole. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son and their pet snake, whose wings will likely grow in any day now.
In her debut, The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance.

Julie Murphy

Julie Murphy lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cats who tolerate her. After several wonderful years in the library world, Julie now writes full-time.

When she’s not writing or reliving her reference desk glory days, she can be found watching made-for-TV movies, hunting for the perfect slice of cheese pizza, and planning her next great travel adventure.

She is also the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the young adult novels Dumplin (now a film on Netflix), PuddinRamona Blue, and Side Effects May VaryDear Sweet Pea is her debut middle grade novel.

Mark Oshiro

Mark Oshiro is the author of Anger is a Gift (Tor Teen), winner of the 2019 Schneider Family Book Award and nominated for a 2019 Lammy Award (in the LGBTQ Children’s/Young Adult category). Upcoming novels include Each of Us a Desert (Tor Teen), a YA Fantasy novel out September 15, 2020, and The Insiders (Harper Collins), a MG Contemporary with magical elements out Fall 2021. When they are not writing, crying on camera about fictional characters for their online Mark Does Stuff universe, or traveling, Mark is busy trying to fulfill their lifelong goal: to pet every dog in the world.

Rebecca Roanhorse

Rebecca Roanhorse is a NYTimes bestselling and Nebula, Hugo and Locus Award-winning speculative fiction writer and the recipient of the 2018 Astounding (Campbell) Award for Best New Writer.

Her novel Trail of Lightning (Book 1 in the Sixth World Series) won the Locus Award for Best First Novel and is a Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy finalist. It was also selected as an Amazon, B&N, Library Journal, and NPR Best Books of 2018, among others. Book 2 in the Sixth World Series, Storm of Locusts, has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist, is a Locus Award Finalist, and has been named an Amazon, Powell’s, and Audible Best of 2019. Her novel, Resistance Reborn, is part of Star Wars: Journey to The Rise of Skywalker and a USA Today and NYTimes bestseller. Her middle grade novel Race to the Sun for the Rick Riordan Present’s imprint was a New York Times Bestseller and received a starred review from Kirkus. Her next novel is an epic Fantasy set in a secondary world inspired by the Pre-Columbian Americas called Black Sun, out Oct 13, 2020.

She lives in Northern New Mexico with her husband, daughter, and pups. She drinks a lot of black coffee.

Laura Ruby

A two-time National Book Award Finalist, Laura Ruby writes fiction for adults, teens and children. She is the author of the Printz Medal Winning novel Bone Gap, as well as Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All. Other works include the Edgar®-nominated children’s mystery Lily’s Ghosts, the ALA Quick Pick for teens Good Girls (2006), a collection of interconnected short stories about blended families for adults, I’m not Julia Roberts (2007), and the York trilogy. She is on the faculty of Hamline University’s Masters in Writing for Children Program. She makes her home in the Chicago area.

V.E. Schwab

Victoria “V.E.” Schwab is the #1 NYT, USA, and Indie bestselling author of more than a dozen books, including Vicious, the Shades of Magic series, and This Savage Song. Her work has received critical acclaim, been featured by EW and The New York Times, been translated into more than a dozen languages, and been optioned for TV and Film. The Independent calls her the “natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones” and touts her “enviable, almost Gaimanesque ability to switch between styles, genres, and tones.”

Kayla Whaley

Kayla Whaley lives outside Atlanta, Georgia where she buys too many books and drinks too many lattes. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Tampa and is a graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. She was named one of Bustle‘s inaugural “Rule Breakers” in 2018.

Whether writing fiction, nonfiction, or the extremely occasional poem, she is fascinated by disability, sexuality, and the body. Among other venues, her work has appeared at CatapultBustleMichigan Quarterly ReviewUncanny MagazineBook Riot, and in the anthologies Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World (Algonquin) and Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux).

She has also appeared on the first season of Reese Witherspoon’s podcast How It Is and Slate’s popular Dear Prudence podcast.

Whaley spent four years as senior editor at Disability in Kidlit, an award-winning site dedicated to examining portrayals of disability in middle grade and young adult fiction, and she is currently on the Advisory Board for Research on Diversity in Youth Literature, a peer-reviewed journal published by St. Catherine University. She also holds a Master’s in Public Administration, which is languishing somewhere in her closet, so the less said about that, the better.

Anthologies, Blog Tours, Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Blog Tour [Review]: Come on In: 15 Stories about Immigration and Finding Home

Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: October 13th 2020
Genre: YA Anthology

Rating: 4/5 Stars

*Thank you Hear Our Voices Blog Tour Company and Inkyard Press for the opportunity to be a part of this tour!*

This review is my own thoughts and have not been influenced by anyone.


This exceptional and powerful anthology explores the joys, heartbreaks and triumphs of immigration, with stories by bestselling and beloved YA authors who are themselves immigrants and the children of immigrants.


From some of the most exciting bestselling and up-and-coming YA authors writing today…journey from Ecuador to New York City and Argentina to Utah, from Australia to Harlem and India to New Jersey, from Fiji, America, Mexico and more… Come On In.

With characters who face random traffic stops, TSA detention, customs anxiety, and the daunting and inspiring journey to new lands, who camp with their extended families, dance at weddings, keep diaries, teach ESL, give up their rooms for displaced family, decide their own answer to the question “where are you from?” and so much more, Come On In illuminates fifteen of the myriad facets of the immigrant experience.

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Come on In is an anthology full of immigrant story experiences. You go through each story of pain, happiness and unique journeys. From saying goodbye not knowing it will be your last in your country to a joy ride that causes a stressful emotional roller coaster. Come on In is a book everyone should pick up and read.

While each story has such a powerful plot and message, the story that resonated most with me was Salvation of the Sea by Lilliam Rivera. The story follows two friends and is told through the narrative of Leticia’s friend. Leticia, a proud Guatemalan and a child of immigrant parents, is always worried about her parents. As the raids get closer to home, Leticia mentioned her increased worry in regard to the raids. The narrator, who is Puerto Rican, had moved to California. Although born in the United States, she was still a proud Puerto Rican. After watching Thelma and Louise for the unknown time, the two set eyes towards day trip to Salvation Mountain. The two girls have it all planned out – a 2-hour drive filled with snacks and music. Nothing could make them worry, right?

As the presence of ICE becomes more present in their neighborhood, it becomes increasingly obvious that the police officers will pull over anyone who is brown and who they assume to a ‘person of interest’ in their books. After a saving conversation about being cousins and Puerto Rico being their home, the girls set off home, but not without coming out of that situation as to very different people.

This story was hard to read because it is so present in our lives. As a Puerto Rican, I constantly am reminded that although I am Latina, I am able to walk through the United States without fear of being deported. I acknowledge that everyday and this story reminded me that I should always remember that and do what I can to make sure those who live in fear get to a point of living just as freely as myself. As mentioned before, I resonated most with this story because of how I can relate to being the narrator and understanding that while it may be sometimes a hard pill to swallow, there are people I know who are living each day as fully as possible not knowing if it will be their last in this country [US].  Leticia’s story is important because it reminds us that everyday there are people out there think about this, whose identity is to hide while trying to live a semi-normal life.

I enjoyed the narration of this story because it gave Leticia a platform to show us all the emotions she faces on a daily basis. She expressed her worry towards her parents, her anger towards knowing her friend could easily walk through a street, get stopped and go on about her day because of what she was, who she was. It is a raw and powerful story and one we hear but often forget the impact of each painful tale.

In regard to the characters, I absolutely loved the friendship between Leticia and the narrator. They were not only friends, they were sisters bound by their rich differing cultures, their opposite personalities and their mostly shared lived experiences. The friendship was real and honest – something you don’t see often when addressing important topics like the one the story tells.

Overall, each story is a masterpiece on its own and together a force to be reckoned with. Each story will bring you joy, will cause your tear ducts to malfunction [in a good way] and will make you appreciate each and every person you have met who was comfortable enough to finally share their story. Each story is important and should be respected and cherished in that regard.

Get ready to jump in, you are in for an experience!

About the Author(s)

Adi Alsaid is the author of several young adult novels, including Let’s Get Lost, Never Always Sometimes, and North of Happy. He was born and raised in Mexico City, where he now lives and spills hot sauce on things.

Learn more about all of the great authors in this amazing anthology here.