Summer of CanLit: Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley

Red Cream Canada Day Greeting Card

Summer of CanLit is a blog series where I spotlight KidLit books by diverse Canadian authors.

When I was planning this blog series, I knew FATE OF FLAMES by Sarah Raughley would be the first book featured. It’s the start to the YA fantasy EFFIGIES series and one of my favourite Canadian reads! Here are five reasons why you should pick up this book.

Book-Cover-Fate-of-Flames-1357x2048Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley

Simon & Schuster | November 22, 2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository |  Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Four girls with the power to control the elements and save the world from a terrible evil must come together in the first epic novel in a brand-new series.

When Phantoms—massive beasts made from nightmares and darkness—suddenly appeared and began terrorizing the world, four girls, the Effigies, each gained a unique power to control one of the classical elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Since then, four girls across the world have continually fought against the Phantoms, fulfilling their cosmic duty. And when one Effigy dies, another girl gains her power as a replacement.

But now, with technologies in place to protect the world’s major cities from Phantom attacks, the Effigies have stopped defending humanity and, instead, have become international celebrities, with their heroic feats ranked, televised, and talked about in online fandoms.

Until the day that New York City’s protection against the Phantoms fails, a man seems to be able to control them by sheer force of will, and Maia, a high school student, unexpectedly becomes the Fire Effigy.

Now Maia has been thrown into battle with three girls who want nothing to do with one another. But with the first human villain that the girls have ever faced, and an army of Phantoms preparing for attack, there isn’t much time for the Effigies to learn how to work together.

Can the girls take control of their destinies before the world is destroyed forever?

top5

  1. The comp titles – PACIFIC RIM meets the AVENGERS with a SAILOR MOON cast. As a fan of all those things I can definitely confirm FATE OF FLAMES lived up to my expectations re: that pitch and more.
  2. The world building – this world is one of my favourites! It’s set in the near future and has strong dystopia vibes but it’s not so far off from our own present world. I could see myself living in this world, in cities with advanced technologies meant to drive away Phantoms – massive beasts of darkness and terror. This point is somewhat related to my genre mixing one but THE EFFIGIES world embodies elements from both fantasy and sci-fi, without being completely alien to our own.
  3. The characters – this book has such a diverse cast; while I related the most to Maia, I could see parts of myself in all four girls. I’m sure other readers will feel the same.
  4. Genre mixing – this is published as YA fantasy but I could recognize elements from both fantasy and sci-fi, which I loved. The fusion of genres felt seamless to me and made me love the series even more.
  5. Elemental powers – I always love reading/watching series with elemental-based worlds. That’s one of the reasons I love THE WITCHLANDS series by Susan Dennard and AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER so much. FATE OF FLAMES has the added bonus of these elemental powers being tied to death and reincarnation – when one Effigy dies, another girl takes her place with those same elemental powers.

aboutauthor

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Sarah Raughley grew up in Southern Ontario writing stories about freakish little girls with powers because she secretly wanted to be one. She is a huge fangirl of anything from manga to scifi/fantasy TV to Japanese role-playing games, but she will swear up and down at book signings that she was inspired by Jane Austen.

Sarah has been nominated for the Aurora Award for Best Young Adult novel and works in the community doing writing workshops for youths and adults. On top of being a YA writer, Sarah has a PhD in English, which makes her doctor, so it turns out she didn’t have to go to medical school after all.

As an academic, Sarah has taught at McMaster University and acted as a postdoctoral fellow at The University of Ottawa. Her research concerns representations of race and gender in popular media culture, youth culture and postcolonialism. She has edited special issues in academic journals such SafundiPopular Music and Society, and Atlantis: Critical Studies in Gender, Culture and Social Justice. She’s also written freelance pieces for The Conversation, Quill & Quire and Zora Magazine.

She is represented by the Bradford Literary Agency.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Pinterest

When you’re done reading FATE OF FLAMES, you can check out book #2 SIEGE OF SHADOWS and book #3 LEGACY OF LIGHT.

Summer of CanLit

Red Cream Canada Day Greeting CardHello everyone! I’m very excited to announce my new blog series called Summer of CanLit. From now until the end of summer, I’ll be spotlighting some incredible KidLit books by diverse Canadian authors. There is a definite disparity when it comes to the promotion of CanLit by diverse Canadian creators. A lot of the times, Canadian book lists and Canadian-based awards feature books that appear diverse but are written by straight, cis, white authors. When it comes to Canadian children’s literature, we need to be aware of the authors we’re placing on our child’s bookshelf. Just because the story and characters are diverse does not mean the author is.

This will serve as an introduction to my blog series and every time a post goes live I’ll list it below. I can’t wait for you to check out these incredible, diverse Canadian authors!

Book Birthdays: June 2020

City Buildings Facebook Cover

Book Birthdays is a monthly feature where I list my Top 5 book releases of the month.

A lot of incredible books came out this month, with some still to release. Here are a few of my most-anticipated! Be sure to add these to your to-be-read shelf and request them at your local library.


y648All the Things We Never Knew by Liara Tamani

Greenwillow Books | June 9, 2020

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository |  Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

“Tamani masterfully bounces and slams two hearts up and down a shrouded court of first love and revelations. A hard-to-put-down backboard-breaker.”—Rita Williams-Garcia, National Book Award Finalist and New York Times–bestselling author

From the moment Carli and Rex first locked eyes on a Texas high school basketball court, they both knew it was destiny. But can you truly love someone else if you don’t love yourself? Acclaimed author Liara Tamani’s luminous second novel explores love, family, heartbreak, betrayal, and the power of healing, in gorgeous prose that will appeal to readers of Nicola Yoon and Jacqueline Woodson.

A glance was all it took. That kind of connection, the immediate and raw understanding of another person, just doesn’t come along very often. And as rising stars on their Texas high schools’ respective basketball teams, destined for bright futures in college and beyond, it seems like a match made in heaven. But Carli and Rex have secrets. As do their families.

Liara Tamani, the author of the acclaimed Calling My Name, follows two Black teenagers as they discover how first love, heartbreak, betrayal, and family can shape you—for better or for worse. A novel full of pain, joy, healing, and hope for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo, Jacqueline Woodson, and Jenny Han.


y648-2A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

Balzer + Bray | June 2, 2020

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository |  Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

The first in an fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.

For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.

But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.

When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?


HBTS_CVR_FINAL_ARTHunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena

Penguin Teen | June 23, 2020

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository |  Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

A riveting story of discovery, forbidden romance and idealism against all odds, set in a fantasy world inspired in part by Indian history and myth. For fans of Sabaa Tahir and Tomi Adeyemi.

Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul’s mark is what caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge.

Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets a mysterious girl–Gul–in the capital’s bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance–and discovers a magic he never expected to find.

Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king’s domain in Ambar Fort . . . a world with secrets deadlier than their own. Exploring identity, class struggles, and high-stakes romance, Hunted by the Sky is a gripping adventure set in a world inspired by medieval India.


forestofsoulscover-jlgForest of Souls by Lori M. Lee

Page Street Kids | June 23, 2020

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository |  Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N

Synopsis:

Danger lurks within the roots of Forest of Souls, an epic, unrelenting tale of destiny and sisterhood, perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Susan Dennard.

Sirscha Ashwyn comes from nothing, but she’s intent on becoming something. After years of training to become the queen’s next royal spy, her plans are derailed when shamans attack and kill her best friend Saengo.

And then Sirscha, somehow, restores Saengo to life.

Unveiled as the first soulguide in living memory, Sirscha is summoned to the domain of the Spider King. For centuries, he has used his influence over the Dead Wood—an ancient forest possessed by souls—to enforce peace between the kingdoms. Now, with the trees growing wild and untamed, only a soulguide can restrain them. As war looms, Sirscha must master her newly awakened abilities before the trees shatter the brittle peace, or worse, claim Saengo, the friend she would die for.


50160619._SX0_SY0_You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Scholastic Press | June 2, 2020

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository |  Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

Book Review: Wings of Olympus by Kallie George

39855066._SY475_Wings of Olympus

Kallie George

4/5 stars

Release Date: March 5, 2019

Publisher: HarperCollins

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Take flight with Pippa and her winged horse in this heartfelt two-book series about a young girl who must win the hardest race in ancient Greece in order to stay with her closest friend.

This new series from acclaimed author Kallie George is perfect for horse lovers and fans of Greek myths alike!

High on the slopes of mighty Mount Olympus, among the sun-splashed meadows and sparkling waters, glide the winged horses of the ancient gods. Here up high is normally no place for a lost, parentless girl like Pippa. But once every hundred years, the gods and goddesses descend to the mortal realm to choose jockeys for their winged horse race—and Pippa is one of the lucky children chosen to ride.

With her undersized, impetuous winged steed, Zephyr, by her side, Pippa has to confront the greatest challenge of her life: achieving victory in a race across the sky.

No one expects Pippa and Zephyr to win, or even finish, this death-defying race. A poor orphan who’s spent her life working in stables, Pippa doesn’t seem to belong in the world of the gods. And while she loves Zephyr with all her heart, he’s smaller than the other winged horses racing. But if Pippa and Zephyr don’t find a way to win, the gods will separate them—forever.

To stay with Zephyr, Pippa will have to work harder, train longer, and dare more bravely than her competition. In a race filled with petty, jealous gods and goddesses and a host of ruthless riders, Pippa must prove that love is greater than might.

This stirring adventure series by beloved author Kallie George is perfect for fans of the Percy Jackson books and The War That Saved My Life.

Review:

WINGS OF OLYMPUS by Kallie George is a charming, middle grade novel that readers will immediately connect with. I saw parts of myself in the protagonist, Pippa, and her winged steed, Zephyr. I fell in love with this novel very quickly and it’s exactly the kind of thing I loved to read as a child. It combined two of my favourite things – horses and Greek myths. I am avidly awaiting the next instalment of this series!

This novel is set in Ancient Greece, on Mount Olympus. Once every hundred years, twelve children are chosen as riders, to participate in a winged horse race. A race of the gods and goddesses. The winner gets to stay on Mount Olympus as a demigod, and their winged horse becomes Zeus’ new steed.

“Aloft wings beat and feathers fly, hark the horses of the sky!”.

Pippa is an orphan, a foundling with no knowledge of her parents and family, and forced to rely on the pity and generosity of others. I immediately connected with Pippa. Her surprise and self doubt at being chosen, at perhaps even winning such a grand race, was something I’ve felt before. She soon works to overcome those doubts, to win so that she can stay with Zephyr forever. Pippa’s love for Zeph, and his for her, was incredibly strong!

I did have a few problems with the novel. Secondary and minor characters turned out to be flat and cliche. Many would immediately hate or distrust Pippa, way too easily and without any solid reasoning behind it. I assumed it was because she’s a foundling and I guess that’s bad for Ancient Greek society? But it was never explained why foundlings are bad or useless, not even by the very characters who held these opinions. I could assume why because I already have some knowledge of Ancient Greece. However, the reader should not have to draw on their own knowledge, the author needs to provide that on the page. This mostly happened at the beginning, so I think the author might’ve been trying to get the reader to quickly like and connect with Pippa. I liked Pippa but not because minor characters hated or ignored her.

The novel also could’ve had more female characters. The gods and goddesses served as patrons for their riders and horses. Half of these patrons were goddesses but only two riders were female. I think we need to be critical of things like this, especially when it comes to children’s literature.

Overall, it was an incredibly, entertaining novel and I’m excited to read the sequel! I loved most of the riders and horses, and I hope I get to read about them again. There were a couple plot twists near the end that I never saw coming and it made me love the book even more. I did not see that ending coming but it was absolutely perfect. I recommend WINGS OF OLYMPUS for MG readers who love animals and Greek myths!

Blog Tour: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

I’m so excited to be part of the Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky blog tour! I had the incredible honour of interviewing the author, Kwame Mbalia. The moment I heard about this book, it was an instant add for me. Check out my interview below and then preorder or request TRISTAN STRONG at your local library. Every one of the books from the Rick Riordan Presents imprint have been standout so far; you won’t be disappointed.


imageTristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

Kwame Mbalia

Release Date: October 15, 2019

Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository

Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N |  Kobo

Synopsis:

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Kwame Mbalia’s epic fantasy, a middle grade American Gods set in a richly-imagined world populated with African American folk heroes and West African gods.

Seventh grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he’s going to spend on his grandparents’ farm in Alabama, where he’s being sent to heal from the tragedy. But on his first night there, a sticky creature shows up in his bedroom and steals Eddie’s notebook. Tristan chases after it–is that a doll?–and a tug-of-war ensues between them underneath a Bottle Tree. In a last attempt to wrestle the journal out of the creature’s hands, Tristan punches the tree, accidentally ripping open a chasm into the MidPass, a volatile place with a burning sea, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters that are hunting the inhabitants of this world.

Tristan finds himself in the middle of a battle that has left black American folk heroes John Henry and Brer Rabbit exhausted. In order to get back home, Tristan and these new allies will need to entice the god Anansi, the Weaver, to come out of hiding and seal the hole in the sky. But bartering with the trickster Anansi always comes at a price. Can Tristan save this world before he loses more of the things he loves?

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Q: What inspired TRISTAN STRONG? What made you go ‘This is it. This is the story I’m writing now’?

A: Tristan Strong was written a few months after my father died, and my daughters were really struggling with this idea of grief. Along with that, I’ve always wanted to write a story retelling the folklore I grew up reading and listening to, so when the opportunity presented itself, I had to jump on it.

Q: Tristan is struggling with the grief of losing his best friend and the disappointment of losing his first fighting match. What do you hope readers will gain from the battles Tristan goes through – both internet and external?

A: Above all, I want to convey the idea that it is okay to grieve, to express grief, and that process can take anywhere from a month to forever. It’s natural. Tristan gradually learns what it means to lose something, whether it’s a match or a person you loved, and to continue through life.

Q: What has writing TRISTAN STRONG taught you? What’s your favourite part of the book?

  1. It’s my debut book so it taught me how to write, lmaoooo. A lesson I’m still learning and will continue to learn into the future. 
  2. My favorite part of the book is probably the ending scene when everyone’s on the page at the same time. I really got to put folktales and gods on the page. That makes me happy. 

Q: Your book is based on Western African gods and African-American legends. What kind of research did you do? Was there anything you wanted to include in the book but couldn’t?

A: Have you seen how large the book is? 496 pages. What didn’t I put in the book. No, but seriously, there are plenty more folktales and stories I couldn’t incorporate, but that’s what sequels are for, right? As for research, Zora Neale Hurston, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and other historians who collected folklore in their travels were of immense help.

Q: What were the challenges of creating a magical world with a modern setting?

A: Everything. Worldbuilding is hard, yo.

Q: If Tristan existed in our world, what would he be reading and watching right now?

A: He’d be reading everything from Read Riordan Presents… and watching replays of the Spence/Porter boxing match, YouTube compilations of old Vine clips, and Steven Universe. 

aboutauthor

DSC_1811Kwame is a husband, father, writer, and pharmaceutical metrologist in that order.  His debut middle-grade novel, TRISTAN STRONG PUNCHES A HOLE IN THE SKY (October 15, 2019) is published by Rick Riordan Presents/Disney-Hyperion.  A Howard University graduate and a Midwesterner now in North Carolina, he enjoys impromptu dance sessions and Cheezits.

 

 

 

 


TRISTAN STRONG PUNCHES A HOLE IN THE SKY_Blog Tour (1)

Be sure to check out the other blog tour stops as well as the host, Cake Literary.

Mini Review: The Red Pyramid – The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan

13101785The Red Pyramid: The Graphic Novel

Written by Rick Riordan, adapted by Orpheus Collar

5/5 stars

Release Date: October 2, 2012

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Since their mother’s death, Sadie and Carter have become near-strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, Carter has traveled the world with their father, the famed Egyptologist Dr. Julius Kane.
One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings to the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that all the gods of Egypt are waking, and that Set now has his sights on them. To stop him, the duo embarks on a dangerous journey across the globe, one that brings Carter and Sadie ever closer to the truth about their family and its connection to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.

The heart-stopping action and magic explode off the page in The Red Pyramid, The Graphic Novel, based on the worldwise best-selling novel by Rick Riordan.

Review:

I loved this! Although I haven’t read the novel, I felt it was a very well-done adaption. The artwork was gorgeous and made me want to read the full-length novel. I connected with the characters of this book much faster than PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF but I have always loved Egyptian mythology more than Greek. The more I read, the harder it was to put down.

The beginning, however, felt a bit rushed, as if I’d skipped important scenes. Like with all graphic novel adaptions, things had to be cut from the original so I tried not to let that influence my rating and enjoyment of the book. This is one of the reasons I want to read the full-length novel – I feel as if I’ve missed certain things by reading the graphic novel.

I will definitely be reading the two sequels: THE THRONE OF FIRE and THE SERPENT’S SHADOW. This graphic novel is a must-read, especially if you’ve read and loved THE RED PYRAMID. I hope you check it out!

Spotlight: Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine

42504812._SY475_Sword and Pen (The Great Library #5) by Rachel Caine

Berkley Books | September 3, 2019

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository |  Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

With the future of the Great Library in doubt, the unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone must decide if it’s worth saving in this thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

The corrupt leadership of the Great Library has fallen. But with the Archivist plotting his return to power, and the Library under siege from outside empires and kingdoms, its future is uncertain. Jess Brightwell and his friends must come together as never before, to forge a new future for the Great Library . . . or see everything it stood for crumble.

The Great Library is one of those series I’ve been meaning to read for years. Every time I see or hear about this series, I’m like “why haven’t I read this yet?!”. It sounds like the perfect book for a booknerd. I recently checked out the first book in the series, Ink and Bone, from the library and I’m so excited to read it! Be sure to pick up the latest instalment from Rachel Caine!

Blog Tour: The Trouble with Shooting Stars by Meg Cannistra

The Trouble With Shooting Stars_Blog Tour Banner

Hello everyone! I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour for The Trouble with Shooting Stars by Meg Cannistra. Today I’m sharing a guest post from the author, which I loved reading. Be sure to check out her absolutely incredible middle-grade novel, out today!

37245432._SY475_The Trouble with Shooting Stars

Meg Cannistra

Release Date: August 20, 2019

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository

Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N |  Kobo

Synopsis:

Wonder meets Mary Poppins in this heartfelt debut novel about magic, healing, and the importance of family. Twelve-year-old Luna loves the nighttime more than anything else. It’s when no one gives her “that look” about the half mask she has to wear while healing from a disfiguring car accident. It’s also the perfect time to sit outside and draw what she sees. Like the boy and girl from the new family next door…zipping out of the window in a zeppelin and up to the stars.

At first she thinks she’s dreaming. But one night they catch her watching. Now Luna spends her nights on adventures with them, as they clean full moons, arrange constellations, and catch jars of stardust. She even gets to make a wish on a shooting star they catch.

But Luna learns that no wish is strong enough to erase the past—as much as she may hope to.

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Making Magic in the Real World

The Trouble with Shooting Stars is set in present-day Staten Island (a place that on the surface doesn’t feel very whimsical) and has a quiet magic humming under the surface. Balancing the magical world with that of the real one was tricky at times. There were many sleepless nights where I’d be lying in bed, furiously tapping world rules into my notes app. These nights were often followed by an overwhelming desire to break those rules and magic Luna’s troubles away because, hey, magic exists and that’s an easier solution than making Luna work for her happy ending.

But there’s zero fun for the reader if the author breaks into the story and makes everything better by breaking her own rules. That’s the biggest challenge – creating sensical rules that work in both a magical and realistic setting. Rules that get these two opposing forces singing in perfect harmony.

Creating magical rules for a realistic setting is like telling a convincing lie. Some details need to be accurate and there should be some ugly bits thrown in so it’s not too slick. But you also can’t give away everything or else it’ll feel fake. 

The fireflies in The Trouble with Shooting Stars, for example, are attracted to magic – even on blustery winter nights. Luna and the Sapienti kids have seen fireflies before. And that detail is accurate. Both Staten Island and Italy have fireflies so they would realistically know what fireflies are and how unusual it is for them to be out and about in cold weather. Now, fireflies being fantastical creatures who swarm even if it’s too chilly for them is the rule. It’s grounded by a realistic detail, but then evolves from that into a magical rule that makes sense in a real-world setting.

Another hard and fast world rule was having the constellations the kids visit be those only seen in the northern hemisphere in winter months. It wouldn’t make sense for the Spazzatrici’s to work out of Staten Island only to to fly up to space and tend to constellations on the other side of the world. Grounding their nightly trips with the fact that they only interact with specific constellations helps keep the magic from consuming the entire story and opening a Pandora’s box of questions.

Ultimately, as with any story, accurate worldbuilding and a solid set of rules are the best way to combat the challenge of blending magic with a realistic setting. With a strong foundation, braiding magic into your world will come as naturally as wishing on a shooting star.

aboutauthor

MegCannistraHi! My name is Meg and thanks for visiting my website. I write middle grade and young adult books that are mostly magical and sometimes spooky. I grew up in Sarasota, Florida — a circus town that overlooks the Gulf of Mexico. Ever since I was a child, the best books included three things: Lush worlds, enthralling mysteries, and kickass female protagonists. Some of my favorites growing up were Harriet the Spy, The Gemma Doyle Trilogy, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. These books were my anchors and could often be found messed up in the blankets on my bed.

After graduating with a BA in English Literature from Flagler College, I moved to New York City where I worked full time while pursuing an MFA in writing for children and young adult’s from Hamline University. In 2017, I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, with my fiancé and two cats — Gloom and Doom.

In addition to writing books and working in digital marketing, I’m the co-chair of We Need Diverse Books’ mentorship program. When I’m not reading fantastical stories or writing my own, I like cooking highly involved meals, playing with my cats, collecting taxidermy, and watching bad reality TV shows. Check out my blog for more stories, writing tips, and weird pictures from my life.


THE TROUBLE WITH SHOOTING STARS_Blog Tour

Don’t forget to check out the blog tour posts by Austine and Cody, and the host, Cake Literary.

Top 5 August Sequels

Today I’m sharing my most anticipated sequels, all coming out this month! I hope you add these to your TBR and buy or request them at your local library. You can learn more about this feature here.


36639688._SY475_Of Ice and Shadows by Audrey Coulthurst

Balzer + Bray | August 13, 2019

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository |  Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

The long-awaited sequel to Of Fire and Stars—in which Mare and Denna travel to a new and dangerous kingdom where Denna must be trained to tame her magic by a mysterious queen who is not all she seems. Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and Tamora Pierce.

Princesses Denna and Mare are in love and together at last—only to face a new set of dangers.

Mare just wants to settle down with the girl she loves, which would be easier if Denna weren’t gifted with forbidden and volatile fire magic. Denna must learn to control her powers, which means traveling in secret to the kingdom of Zumorda, where she can seek training without fear of persecution. Determined to help, Mare has agreed to serve as an ambassador as a cover for their journey.

But just after Mare and Denna arrive in Zumorda, an attack on a border town changes everything. Mare’s diplomatic mission is now urgent: She must quickly broker an alliance with the Zumordan queen to protect her homeland. However, the queen has no interest in allying with other kingdoms—it’s Denna’s untamed but powerful magic that catches her eye. The queen offers to teach Denna herself, and both girls know it would be dangerous to refuse.

As Denna’s powers grow stronger, Mare does her best to be the ambassador her kingdom needs. Her knowledge of Zumorda and its people grows, and so too do her suspicions about the queen’s intentions. With rising tensions and unexpected betrayals putting Mare and Denna in jeopardy and dangerous enemies emerging on all sides, can they protect their love and save their kingdoms?


40942588These Divided Shores by Sara Raasch

Balzer + Bray | August 27, 2019

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Synopsis:

The thrilling sequel to These Rebel Waves—full of deadly magic, double crosses, and a revolution—from Sara Raasch, the bestselling author of the Snow Like Ashes series.

As a child, she committed unforgivable acts to free Grace Loray from King Elazar of Argrid. Now Elazar’s plan to retake the island has surpassed Lu’s darkest fears: he’s holding her and his son, Ben, captive in an endlessly shifting prison, forcing them to make a weapon that will guarantee Elazar’s success. Escape is impossible—unless Lu becomes the ruthless soldier she hoped never to be again.

Vex failed to save Lu and Ben—and that torments him as much as his Shaking Sickness. With the disease worsening, Vex throws himself into the rebellion against Argrid. The remaining free armies are allied with the stream raider syndicates—and getting them to cooperate will take a strength Vex thought burned on a pyre six years ago.

Imprisoned, betrayed, and heartbroken, Ben is determined to end his father’s rampage. Watching Elazar sway the minds of Grace Loray as he did those of Argrid, Ben knows he has to play his father’s game of devotion to win this war. But how can a heretic prince defeat the Pious God?

As armies clash and magic rises, Lu, Vex, and Ben will confront their pasts . . . or lose their futures forever.


36254449._SY475_Song of the Abyss by Makiia Lucier

HMH Books for Young Readers | August 27, 2019

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Synopsis:

Ancient grievances, long-held grudges, and dangerous magic combine in this sweeping standalone fantasy perfect for fans of Tamora Pierce and Rachel Hartman.

They came in the night as she dreamt, in her berth, on a ship sailing home to del Mar. After, they would be all Reyna thought about: two carracks painted scorpion black. No emblem on either forecastle, no pennants flying above the mainmasts to hint at a kingdom of origin.

Never a good sign.

As the granddaughter of a famed navigator, seventeen-year-old Reyna has always lived life on her own terms, despite those who say a girl could never be an explorer for the royal house of St. John del Mar. She is determined to prove them wrong, and as she returns home after a year-long expedition, she knows her dream is within reach. No longer an apprentice, instead: Reyna, Master Explorer.

But when menacing raiders attack her ship, those dreams are pushed aside. Reyna’s escape is both desperate and dangerous, and when next she sees her ship, a mystery rises from the deep. The sailors–her captain, her countrymen–have vanished. To find them, Reyna must use every resource at her disposal . . . including placing her trust in a handsome prince from a rival kingdom.

Together they uncover a disturbing truth. The attack was no isolated incident. Troubling signs point to a shadowy kingdom in the north, and for once, the rulers of the Sea of Magdalen agree: something must be done. But can Reyna be brave enough to find a way?


40096288._SY475_Wild Savage Stars by Kristina Pérez

Imprint | August 27, 2019

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Synopsis:

Inspired by the legend of Tristan and Iseult, Wild Savage Starsis the spellbinding sequel to Sweet Black Waves.

Branwen has a secret powerful enough to destroy two kingdoms.

Her ancient magic led to a terrible betrayal by both her best friend, the princess Essy, and her first love, Tristan. Now this same magic is changing Branwen. Adrift in a rival court, Branwen must hide the truth from the enemy king by protecting the lovers who broke her heart―and finds herself considering a darker path.

Not everyone wants the alliance with Branwen’s kingdom to succeed―peace is balanced on a knife’s edge, and her only chance may be to embrace the darkness within…


42800505._SY475_Sea Witch Rising by Sarah Henning

Katherine Tegen Books | August 6, 2019

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Synopsis:

“The Little Mermaid” takes a twisted turn in this thrilling sequel to villainess origin story Sea Witch, as the forces of land and sea clash in an epic battle for freedom, redemption, and true love.

Runa will not let her twin sister die. Alia traded her voice to the Sea Witch for a shot at happiness with a prince who doesn’t love her. And his rejection will literally kill her—unless Runa intervenes.

Under the sea, Evie craves her own freedom—but liberation from her role as Sea Witch will require an exchange she may not be willing to make. With their hearts’ desires at odds, what will Runa and Evie be willing to sacrifice to save their worlds?

Told from alternating perspectives, this epic fairy tale retelling is a romantic and heart-wrenching story about the complications of sisterhood, the uncompromising nature of magic, and the cost of redemption.

Spotlight: Shadow & Flame by Mindee Arnett

40042001Shadow & Flame (Rime Chronicles #2) by Mindee Arnett

Balzer + Bray | June 4, 2019

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From acclaimed author Mindee Arnett comes the thrilling conclusion of the stunningly epic, action-packed, and romantic fantasy adventure about a powerful girl possessed of strange magic, the outcast prince she loves, and the kingdom that has torn them apart.

Kate and Corwin are on the run, desperate for allies in a new world of war among the kingdoms of Rime. As the book opens, Kate suffers a massive loss, one that will shape the struggle for freedom of all wilders and magic folk—that is, if Kate can learn to control her own power.

Mindee Arnett’s latest book was released just over two months ago so I decided to do a spotlight post! SHADOW & FLAME is the sequel to ONYX & IVORY, a young adult fantasy duology with dragons and forbidden magic. Need I say more?! I’m a huge fan of Arnett’s writing and you will definitely not be disappointed. If you decide to read it, please also consider requesting it at your local library and posting a review on book retailer sites. These help authors so much!