All the latest book giveaway news on YABC.

YABC: Festival of Lights GIVEAWAY DAY 2 ~US ONLY

December 2nd, 2022 by

Welcome to YABC’s 8th Annual Holiday Giveaway! We’re featuring books perfect for the book lover on your holiday list!–with exciting prize packs every day for the first five days of December.  Giveaways are US only due to publishers’ rights restrictions in other territories. 

Today’s Theme for our Second Day of The Festival of Lights Giveaway is Christmas brought to you by Candlewick, Publisher’s Spotlight, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Blue Slip Media, and MMpublicity!

Thank you for following YABC throughout 2022! It’s been a great year!

Good luck to everyone that enters the giveaways!



Title: Santa’s Secret Society 

Author: Amber Stewart 

Illustrator: Sònia Albert 

Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment 

Release Date: 12/6/2022 

Less than a week before Christmas, Herbert Henry’s father has lost his job, and worse, his Christmas cheer. Herbert needs the kind of help only Santa can provide. But as he journeys north to hand-deliver his letter to Santa, Herbert discovers that his power to help others―from busy Elves to a stranded Snow Bear―could be the key to everyone’s merry Christmas.

The delight and drama of the journey is nothing compared to the surprise awaiting Herbert Henry upon reaching the House of Claus. Chaos abounds, Christmas is in jeopardy, and it is down
to one industrious little boy, and only slightly helpful dog and the cast of characters Herbert has helped and befriended on the way to save Christmas . . . but can Herbert also save his father and
his home?

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Title: Evie’s Christmas Wishes 

Author: Siobhán Parkinson 

Illustrator: Shannon Bergin 

Publisher: Little Island Books 

Release Date: 10/11/2022 

Christmas is coming and Evie is wishing, wishing …

Evie can hardly wait for Christmas to arrive. There is lots of festive fun to be had, from rehearsing for the school play, to decorating the tree, to wrapping presents. As she prepares for the big day with her parents and classmates, she is wishing, wishing, wishing. Suddenly, her wishes begin to come true! Just not in the way she expects. A wish for a reindeer results in a reindeer decoration being found in the attic, a wish for a singing part in her school play sees the whole class (Evie included) all singing along together, and her wish for a white Christmas sees a brief sprinkle of snowfall on Christmas Eve. Her biggest wish of all is fora baby siste, which also partially comes true, in a very surprising way.

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Author: Megan Alexander

Publisher: Aladdin

Release Date:10/18/22

From Inside Edition’s national correspondent Megan Alexander comes a sweet picture book celebrating the joys, wonders, and traditions of a small-town Christmas in the spirit of her show, Small Town Christmas.

In the town of Heartbeat Falls, where skies are crystal clear, the magic of Christmas is celebrated in many different ways: from picking the perfect tree to decorating it with glittering ornaments; from ice skating to eating yummy gingerbread cookies; from hanging handmade stockings to sharing a homecooked meal. Here, the residents know the beauty of a small town doesn’t come from its size, but from the love shared by its people, shining brightly in their eyes.

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Author Billy Sharff

Illustrator: Eda Kaban

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers

Release Date: October 18. 2022

The Grinch meets Snowmen at Christmas in this rollicking, rhyming picture book that answers the question, Why can’t Christmas last all year?

What happens when your Christmas cookies are too good? Santa comes . . . to stay! At first, it’s fantastic: treats and toys and reindeer flights every day. Then Mrs. Claus arrives. And Baby Claus. And before long, the Easter Bunny and her babies Chuck and Puck and Luck and Duck and . . . you get the picture. By the time the Fourth of July rolls around, everyone’s had a bit too much eggnog in their cereal and confetti in their hair. As one family discovers, maybe the true meaning of Christmas is about more than presents and sweets. And maybe there’s a reason it comes but once a year.

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 Twitter * Author Instagram * Illustrator Instagram 




Author: Ashley Belote

Release Date: October 11, 2022

Publisher: Penguin Workshop


From author-illustrator Ashley Belote comes a hilarious and holiday-themed companion to The Me Tree, the tale of a bear who learned to happily share his space. In this festive follow-up, Christmas visitors quickly put Bear’s patience and hospitality to the test.
Designed to engage early readers, this story combines charming characters with simple text, lively illustrations, and laugh-out-loud humor to help boost kids’ confidence and create lifelong readers!

Bear is back and this time his home, “The We Tree,” is full of holiday cheer… for everyone but Bear. With guests like four flocking birds, three French squirrels, two spruced-up cats, and a partridge in the We Tree, will Bear finally find the holiday spirit?
With full-color illustrations on every page, this humorous story is perfect for kids just beginning to read on their own. The early vocabulary and amusing illustrations make reading easy and fun! Exciting, easy-to-read books are the stepping stone a young reader needs to bridge the gap between being a beginner and being fluent.

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Title: Dasher

Author: Matt Tavares

Illustrator: Matt Tavares

Publisher: Candlewick

Publication Date: 9/10/2019

From the celebrated creator of Red and Lulu comes the story of a brave little doe who meets Santa and changes Christmas forever.

Dasher is an adventurous young reindeer with a wish in her heart. She spends her days with her family under the hot sun in a traveling circus, but she longs for a different life — one where there is snow beneath her hooves and the North Star above her head. One day, when the opportunity arises, Dasher seizes her destiny and takes off in pursuit of the life she wants to live. It’s not long before she meets a nice man in a red suit with a horse-drawn sleigh — a man named Santa. And soon, with the help of a powerful Christmas wish, nothing will be the same.

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Title: A Very Mercy Christmas

Author: Kate DiCamillo

Illustrator: Chris Van Dusen

Publisher: Candlewick

Publication Date: 9/27/2022

For fans of Mercy Watson, old and new, comes a joyful crescendo of favorite characters in a picture-book celebration of the quiet miracles the holidays bring. Mercy ornament included!

Stella Endicott felt joyful. She felt like something miraculous might happen. She wanted to sing.

When Stella gets the sudden idea to go caroling, she has a little trouble getting someone to join her. Her brother, Frank, is not good at spontaneity. The Watsons are very involved in a precarious fruitcake attempt (but happy to send their pig, Mercy, out for the occasion). Eugenia Lincoln declines, a bit rudely, to accompany on her accordion, and Horace Broom is too busy studying planetary movement. Will Stella need to sing by herself–with enthusiastic contributions from the pig, the cat, and the horse she picks up on the way? Or does the evening hold a miracle Stella hadn’t expected? With tender affection for Mercy Watson and all her Deckawoo Drive friends, Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen offer a picture-book homage to the season that is perfectly suited for family sharing–perhaps with some cups of hot cocoa and a stack of well-buttered toast.

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Title: Christmas is Joy

Author: Emma Dodd

Illustrator: Emma Dodd

Publisher: Templar

Publication Date: 9/6/2022

An enchanting celebration of the true meaning of Christmas, featuring two adorable reindeer

Christmas is love that lasts all year.
It’s all of us, together, here.

Christmas is peace, stars twinkling above,
a night of sweet dreams and a heart full of love.

Emma Dodd’s joyful celebration of this wonderful time of year, as seen through the eyes of two reindeer, is a pure delight.

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Title: Best Gift For Bear

Author: Jennifer A. Bell

Publisher: Two Lions

Publication Date: September 27, 2022

Just right for the holidays, this charming story about finding a perfect present introduces an endearing hedgehog and bear―and includes a gingerbread-cookie recipe.

Hedgehog has been busy making gifts for all of her friends. But what could possibly be grand enough for her dear friend Bear? Bear had shown Hedgehog the wonders of butterflies and taught her to ice-skate, after all. When Hedgehog finally finds her inspiration and delivers the gift, it doesn’t quite turn out as she expected…

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Title: Weird But True!  Christmas
Author: National Geographic Kids
Publisher: National Geographic Kids Books
Release Date: 9/12/17
Even Christmas can be weird — it’s true! Get ready to celebrate the holiday season with wacky facts, stats, tidbits, and traditions about the most wonderful time of the year. Did you know that Santa’s reindeer are probably all female? Or that artificial snow can be made from seaweed? Or that “Jingle Bells” was the first Christmas carol sung in space? Every kid will ho ho ho when they unwrap this fun and festive little gift book, perfect for stocking stuffers or under the tree.



       One winner will receive a copy of each book featured in DAY 2 of the Festival of Lights Giveaway! ~ (US Only) ~


*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Chat with Maureen Johnson (NINE LIARS), Plus Excerpt & Giveaway – US Only

December 2nd, 2022 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with author Maureen Johnson (NINE LIARS)!

Read on to learn more about her, her book, and a giveaway!




Meet the Author: Maureen Johnson

Maureen Johnson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than a dozen young adult novels, including the Truly Devious series, the Shades of London series, Suite Scarlett, and 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Her collaborative books include Ghosts of the Shadow Market (with Cassandra Clare), as well as Let It Snow (with John Green and Lauren Myracle), which was also a hit feature film on Netflix.

Her books have sold more than three million copies worldwide and have been published in more than thirty countries.

The bestselling author is also active in social justice issues and politics both online and IRL. She initiated and organized an open letter in support of trans and nonbinary communities that was signed by more than 2000 North American writers, including Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, Roxane Gay, and Neil Gaiman, as well as publishers and other members of the literary world. She co-hosts the podcast, Says Who? with Punk Planet creator Dan Sinker and edited the collection How I Resist, the entire advance of which was donated to the ACLU.

She has written for publications such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed, The Guardian and CrimeReads. Her CrimeReads essay, “Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village” has garnered upwards of 450,000 views since its publication.

Maureen Johnson grew up in Philadelphia, graduated from the University of Delaware and has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University.  She lives in New York City with her husband and dog.

Website * Twitter * Instagram * Facebook




About the Book: Nine Liars

Stevie Bell solved the case of Truly Devious, and now she’s taking her detecting skills abroad when she becomes embroiled in a mystery from 1990s England. Another pulse-pounding and laugh-out-loud stand-alone mystery from New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson.

Senior year at Ellingham Academy for Stevie Bell isn’t going well. Her boyfriend, David, is studying in London. Her friends are obsessed with college applications. With the cold case of the century solved, Stevie is adrift. There is nothing to distract her from the questions pinging around her brain—questions about college, love, and life in general.

Relief comes when David invites Stevie and her friends to join him for study abroad, and his new friend Izzy introduces her to a double-murder cold case. In 1995, nine friends from Cambridge University went to a country house and played a drunken game of hide-and-seek. Two were found in the woodshed the next day, murdered with an ax.

The case was assumed to be a burglary gone wrong, but one of the remaining seven saw something she can’t explain. This was no break-in. Someone’s lying about what happened in the woodshed.

Seven suspects. Two murders. One killer still playing a deadly game.





Dear Miss Bell,

I have been reading about your recent success in solving cold cases, like the ones at Ellingham Academy and at Camp Sunny Pines. There is something going on in my town and I need your help getting to the bottom of it. My neighbor has been killing people in an industrial dryer and putting their remains in our community garden. I have tried to dig up the garden myself but I am not permitted inside due to a legal matter, and it is very hard to do with a small shovel. Can you come here and help me to…

Stevie Bell stopped reading.

It was a quiet October night in Minerva House. At the farmhouse table in its cozy common room, she sat with her friends. Janelle Franklin and Vi Harper-Tomo were side by side working on their laptops.

“You finished your Stanford essay, right?” Janelle asked Vi.

“Almost,” Vi replied.

“Are you using that same one for Tufts?

Vi looked up. They had gotten a new pair of white glasses over the summer and had cropped their hair and bleached it to almost the same shade, with a fade of blue down the back of their head. They were wearing a massive blue-and-silver fuzzy sweater that sort of matched their hair. Janelle had embraced the fall palate in an orange sweater and a vibrant kente cloth head wrap in gold, red, and green.

“No,” Vi said. “I’m writing one in Japanese for Tufts, and I’m not done with that one either.”

“Let me know when you’re finished so I can input it into the spreadsheet.”

Janelle and Vi had become a couple from the moment they’d met at the start of last year. They had decided that they didn’t want to go to the same school, probably, but they wanted to go to schools that were close to each other. In true crime talk, they had done a geographical profile of the unsub—worked out exactly what they wanted from their schools, and targeted the regions, then the programs. Every night, Janelle updated the spreadsheet that tracked where they were in their mutual application process.

Next to this, Nate Fisher was also typing away furiously, his face a scowl of concentration. Nate was one of Stevie’s closest friends—lanky, the kind of pale the Victorians would have classified as consumptive, with his never cool T-shirts and his wrong-sized pants hiding an athletic build. A fringe of overgrown brown hair half-shaded his eyes as he bent over his computer. He was usually her companion in avoiding things, but tonight he was letting her down. His fingers hadn’t stopped moving all night.

Stevie was supposed to be working. She had six articles to read tonight for Modern American Political History.  When your class only had five people in it, you couldn’t get away with not doing the reading. You can only vamp so long about the media in general until your teacher raises a practiced eyebrow and puts the imaginary cone of shame on your head.

She looked at the article on her screen: “Defining Bias: How We Interpret What We Read.”

The sound of Nate’s typing echoed in her ears. He had headphones on and his fingers were flying. She had never seen him work this hard. Nate was a writer—he had gotten into Ellingham on the strength of a novel he wrote and published in his early teens. Since that time, he had been running from deadlines and the concept of writing in general like it was an angry bear on an electric bike. Where had he found all this focus?

Maybe from the fact that it was October. Senior year. How had she gotten here?

Well, time does that. The clock ticks steadily on.

Time was ticking right now. She had to read. This was the shortest of the six articles. She knew that because for the last hour, she had scrolled through all six, looking at how long they were and figuring out what to read first. Then she would go to the little kitchen off to the side of the common room and get some more water, or a hot chocolate, or she went to pee, or she walked to her room to get a hoodie, or she walked to her room to get her slippers, or she just stared at the moose head with the holiday lights on it that was mounted above the fireplace.

The rest of her time she looked at her phone, which was how she’d found this new message about the shovel and the industrial dryer.

Time to work. Okay. She would do it this time. She would read. Her sightless gaze dribbled down the first paragraph….

She tapped Nate under the table with her foot.

“What?” Nate said, pulling off his headphones.

“Do you want to go for a walk?” Stevie said. “Go over to the dining hall and get some cake?”

Nate glanced at his screen, looked back at his friend, and sighed.

“Fine,” he said. “But only because I love cake.”

Stevie sagged with relief when he agreed. She had been dangerously close to almost reading three entire sentences.

© 2022 Maureen Johnson




~Author Chat~


YABC:  What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

As a kid, I was a lover of detective mysteries. When I say lover, I mean an obsessive fan. I set out to make a detective—one that could then appear in various mysteries, working on different cases. I have dreamed of fictional detectives all my life! That’s how Stevie Bell was born. In Nine Liars, I’m taking her to England, to solve a murder in an English manor house.

The manor house murder is a classic puzzle from the golden age of mystery for a reason—you have a set cast of suspects and a contained staging area for the puzzle to play out. Country houses are small enough in the grand scope of things to give the problem limits, but big enough and weird enough to have lots of hidey-holes and passages and things like that. There’s also an air of unreality to them. It feels like a backdrop, not a place people would really live. That’s part of the appeal of this kind of mystery novel; it’s not meant to feel like a real crime, like people are being hurt. It’s Clue. It’s a revolving cast of professors and butlers and strange relatives who want to know about the will. In Nine Liars, I wanted to play with that a little—it’s a group of actors, it’s a game, it’s a murder in the woodshed. But then the story continues to the present. The clues are still scattered around. The events in the woodshed had a real impact. And to solve it, Stevie must go back to the stage where this all went down.


YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

I love them all. And there are two casts of friends in this book—the present day cast with Stevie, and the group of friends from Cambridge in 1995. This is a full-on murder mystery, but so much of this book is about friendship, about being in a group.


YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?

The novel, but the title is organic. The story is about a theater group of nine people who called themselves The Nine. It also signifies the closed cast, the suspects. And they’re all faking, putting on a front in some way—they’re acting, they’re covering up secrets. They’re all lying. But why? And what about? That’s for you to find out!


YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?

I worked very hard to get everything that happened at Merryweather right. I plotted out the house and the grounds—I spent a week or so sketching out the floorplan of the house, right down to the location of every door—and laid out the grounds carefully. This meant I did a lot of research into manors and gardens. So much work on gardens. So all of those scenes in 1995—I did a lot of fine embroidery to build the place, present a group of people, and build a puzzle.


 YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?

I think the design is amazing. I’ve loved all of the Stevie Bell covers, but this one is particularly gorgeous. It has a lot of details. The more you look at it, the more you can see the twisted banister in the falling leaves.

YABC:   Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?

Without spoiling anything—there is a character who comes out in this book. It’s been a long time coming, with the seeds planted in all the other Stevie books. I spent a lot of time thinking about when and how they wanted to do that.


YABC:    Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?

David is always a bit hard to handle.


YABC:   What do you do when you procrastinate?

Cook. Or clean. If I suddenly make four types of soup and a cake and I’ve decided to bleach a ceiling, it means I need to write.

YABC:   What’s up next for you?

Right now, I am working on a separate mystery called Death at Morning House. But I am also working on Stevie Bell mysteries six and seven!




Release Date: December 27, 2022

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Genre: Young Adult

Age Range: 14-17; grades 9-12




~ Giveaway Details ~

One (1) winner will receive a copy of Nine Liars (Maureen Johnson) ~US ONLY


*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rockstar Tours: ARMADAS IN THE MIST (Christian Klaver), Guest Post & Giveaway! ~US ONLY

December 2nd, 2022 by

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the ARMADAS IN THE MIST by Christian Klaver Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out
my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


About The Book:

Title: ARMADAS IN THE MIST (The Empire of the
House of Thorns #3)

Author: Christian Klaver

Pub. Date: December 6, 2022

Publisher: CamCat Books

Formats: Hardcover, paperback, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 332

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, B&NiBooks, KoboTBD,

The Black Shuck’s forces gather just
beyond the mist . . .

Captain Justice Kasric knows how
complicated family can be. The escalating Human-Faerie war has scattered and
wounded her siblings and transformed her parents beyond recognition. After
narrowly escaping yet another dangerous clash, fifteen-year-old Justice has had
enough. She’s determined to defeat the Black Shuck, the mysterious leader
controlling the Faerie invasion of London, but if Justice hopes to stand a
chance at victory, she’ll have to do the impossible: reunite her family and
lead them against the looming Faerie Armada.

With her mother and brother at the
helm of the enemy fleet, and the prophesized Seven Virtues slipping out of
reach, Justice more than has her work cut out for her. Even if she can save
England, the cost may be higher than she’s willing to pay.



Grab the first 2 books in the Empire of the House of
Thorns series now!



Guest Post:

Top 6 Influences that went into Shadows Over London:


Emma Bull – War for the Oaks – There’s a very visible through-line from Faerie trickster Phouka to Avonstoke and also from her flavor of sinister and dangerous Faerie to mine. This influence outweighs the other influences all put together. It’s a great read fun and emotional and I challenge you to come up with a better, more lovable group of misfits to root for than these folks.


Roger Zelazny – Chronicles of Amber – when you think about families with intricate politics, steeped in alliances and betrayals, Amber takes the cake. It is strongly enmeshed in the male POV, but it’s still one of the more compelling first-person points-of-view in fantasy for me. Pure gold.


Philip Pullman – Golden Compass – Confession Time: I actually listened to the audio version of this (a full cast) and the woman reading for Lyra just blew me away. So much fun and sass and compassion. Rebel on a wonderful scale and for all the right reasons. A lot of Lyra’s traits found their way into Justice.


S. Lewis – Chronicles of Narnia – Just for a sense of pure childlike wonder, these are old, but classics for a reason. The very first chapter with the crunch of snow and emerald light slanting through the woods are all facets of how it felt for me, as a child, when I first read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.


Tanith Lee – Book of the Beast – Lee was a brilliant writer, with more poetic and lyrical imagery packed into every paragraph than most authors get in an entire book. Any time the Faerie, and their magic, turned dark and sinister, it made me think of Lee. Foreboding stained glass windows and monstrous trees that overtake London in subtle, unseen ways all harken back to the gothic feel of Lee, for me.


S. Forester – Horatio Hornblower Series – A lot of the fascinating little nautical details from Hornblower found their way into this series just as a reflection of my pure love for Hornblower. He would probably cringe at ‘Flugelstan’ as a nautical term, but I stand by it!



About Christian Klaver:

Klaver has been writing for over twenty years, with a number of magazine
publications, including Escape PodDark Wisdom Anthology,
and Anti-Matter. He’s the author of The Supernatural Case Files of
Sherlock Holmes series, but has written over a dozen novels, both fantasy and
sci-fi, often with a Noir bent. He’s worked as book-seller, bartender and a
martial-arts instructor before settling into a career in internet security. He
lives just outside the sprawling decay of Detroit, Michigan, with his wife,
Kimberly, his daughter, Kathryn, and a group of animals he refers to as The
Menagerie. He’s also a part of the Untitled Writer’s Group based in Ann Arbor
for the past decade or so with a bunch of equally starry-eyed dreamers and social

Website | Twitter |
Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub


Giveaway Details:

2 winners will receive a finished copy of ARMADAS IN THE MIST, US Only.

Ends December 20th, midnight EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:



Guest Post/IG Post


Jazzy Book

Excerpt/IG Post


and Kats



Living in
a Bookworld



Two Chicks on




IG Post

Week Two:


A Dream Within
A Dream



Lady Hawkeye

Excerpt/IG Post



IG Review



Review/IG Post


Locks, Hooks
and Books



Books Central

Guest Post/IG Post


Sadie’s Spotlight

Excerpt/IG Post

Week Three:


a Plenty Book Reviews



The Momma Spot



Fire and Ice



Rajiv’s Reviews

Review/IG Post


Danielle Davis

IG Review/TikTok Post


Lifestyle of



A Court of
Coffee and Books

Review/IG Post

Week Four:


Emily Ashlyn

IG & Facebook Review



Review/IG Post


The Real World
According To Sam

Review/IG Post


from a Woman’s Perspective



Blue Box Full of Books

IG Review/LFL Drop Pic



YouTube Review/IG Post


YABC: Festival of Lights GIVEAWAY DAY 1 ~US ONLY

December 1st, 2022 by

Welcome to YABC’s 8th Annual Holiday Giveaway! We’re featuring books perfect for the book lover on your holiday list!–with exciting prize packs every day for the first five days of December.  Giveaways are US only due to publishers’ rights restrictions in other territories. 

Today’s Theme for our First Day of The Festival of Lights Giveaway is Celebrations brought to you by Candlewick and Publisher’s Spotlight!

Thank you for following YABC throughout 2022! It’s been a great year!

Good luck to everyone that enters the giveaways!


Title: We All Celebrate

Author: Chitra Soundar

Illustrator: Jenny Bloomfield

Publisher: Tiny Owl Publishing

Release Date: 11/22/2022

A Collection of celebrations from around the world

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Title: Museum of Hidden Beings: A Guide to Icelandic Creatures of Myth and Legend (Wool of Bat)

Author: Arngrimur Sigurðsson

Publisher: Eye of Newt

Release Date: 7/19/2022

Now available in English so that the creatures of Icelandic legend might knock on new doors…

Iceland, a country of striking and sometimes surreal beauty, is matched by its rich and extensive folklore. Since time immemorial, Icelanders have told tales of strange encounters and experiences they have had while on their travels. From the extraordinary Finngálkn, a crossbreed of man and beast to the Kráki, a giant octopus that preys on trawlers and oil rigs, Icelandic folklore is riddled with fantastic tales that expound natural phenomenon and circumstance with peculiar supernatural creatures from myth and legend.

Take these tales, passed down from generation to generation throughout the centuries, make with them what you will and share them again.

First published in Iceland as DuldýrasafniðThe Museum of Hidden Beings is now available in English, worldwide, so that the creatures of Icelandic legend might knock on new doors.

Part of the Wool of Bat series focused on the preservation and promotion of folklore and oral history from around the world.

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Title: An Illustrated Collection of Nordic Animals 

Author: Prikko-Liisa Surojegin 

Publisher: Floris Books 

Release Date: 10/4/2022 

Travel to the snowy forests of Lapland in this warm and witty storybook with beautiful illustrations – perfect for sharing and reading aloud.

Classic characters of Nordic folklore – cunning Fox, gullible Wolf, clever Hare and powerful Bear – star in these lively stories of mischief and fun. Readers will discover why Bear is ruler of the northern forests, how Fox outwitted Wolf, and what Hare did to earn her fluffy white tail.

In this stunning storybook, renowned Finnish author-illustrator Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin retells twenty-six of her favorite traditional animal tales, illustrated with intricate and characterful artwork. An ideal gift book, An Illustrated Collection of Nordic Animal Tales features foil details, luxury paper and a ribbon marker. Readers of all ages will find themselves drawn into the warm and funny stories which are sprinkled with the magic of Nordic culture.

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Title: Frindleswylde
Author and Illustrator: Natalia O’Hara; Lauren O”Hara
Publisher: Candlewick
Publication Date: 11/8/2022

Hauntingly told and sumptuously illustrated, this wintry modern fairy tale is perfect for holiday sharing.


When Frindleswylde is near, the wind trembles, the sun pales, and the wild things hide. When he enters Cora and Granny’s house in the woods, Frindleswylde steals the light from their lantern, so Granny can’t find her way home after work in the dark. And when a determined Cora chases the mysterious boy down a hole in the fishpond to his frozen kingdom, he sets her three Impossible Tasks. If she completes them, she can take her light and go, or so he says. But can Cora resist the urge to forget? As fresh and sparkling as sunlight on ice, this beautifully illustrated tale of enchantment–reminiscent of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”–celebrates the transformative power of love in the darkest of times, the unbreakable bond between grandparent and child, and the bright promise of springtime.
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       One winner will receive a copy of each book featured in DAY 1 of the Festival of Lights Giveaway! ~ (US Only) ~


*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Chat With Ryan Calejo (Charlie Hernández & the Golden Dooms), Plus Giveaway! ~ US Only!

November 30th, 2022 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with author Ryan Calejo (Charlie Hernández & the Golden Dooms)!

Read on to learn more about him, his book, and a giveaway!




Meet the Author: Ryan Calejo

Ryan Calejo is the award-winning author of the Charlie Hernández series and the ChupaCarter series, which he co-authored with George Lopez. His books have been featured in half a dozen state reading lists and he is a two-time gold medal winner of the Florida Book Awards. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @RyanCalejo.

Website * Twitter * Instagram




About the Book: Charlie Hernández & the Golden Dooms

Inspired by Hispanic folklore, legends, and myths from the Iberian Peninsula and Central and South America, this third book in the Charlie Hernández series follows Charlie as he fights against an army of the dead.

After hitchhiking across Central and South America to rescue the Witch Queen and face off against La Mano Peluda, Charlie Hernández is pretty much grounded for life. But after all he’s been through, some quiet time at home with his parents might be nice. Though it would be better if he didn’t have to share his room with his obnoxiously perfect cousin Raúl, who’s staying with them.

But quiet is hard to come by when you’re the fifth and final morphling, and it’s not long before death walks back into Charlie’s life. Or at least, the dead do, starting with a mysterious young calaca who corners him at school, dropping cryptic hints about trouble brewing in the 305. With the League of Shadows focused on repairing fractured alliances and tracking gathering armies, this one’s up to Charlie to solve.

Following the clues only leads to more questions, and not even teenage investigative journalist extraordinaire Violet Rey can figure out how a sudden rooster infestation, earthquakes, missing persons, and a pet-napping gang of lizard-men—whom Charlie doesn’t recognize from any legend—are all connected. Most concerning of all is when they learn a map has been stolen that reveals the locations of the Golden Dooms, the twelve ancient calaca watchmen who form the magical barrier between the realms.

To stop the impending invasion, Charlie and Violet must outwit an ancient evil and unravel the most sinister of schemes. That is, unless they’d rather watch the Land of the Living get overrun by the dead.

Amazon * B&N * IndieBound




~Author Chat~


YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

My inspiration came from my grandmothers. See, growing up, I wasn’t exactly the best-behaved kid on the planet (I’m being generous here). So in order to keep me from running around everywhere and jumping off things, my abuelitas would entertain me by telling me stories—the same folktales and legends they’d heard growing up, and the ones I ended up writing about in the books. If it wasn’t for my abuelitas this series wouldn’t exist, and I’m very thankful to them for all the inspiration they’ve given me over the years.


YABC: How do you know when a book is finished?

The truth is I never do. My editors usually have to pry it from my fingers!


YABC: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Probably all the way back in elementary school. In 5th grade one of my teachers gave me my all-time favorite homework assignment. She told the class that we could write about anything we wanted; the only rule was that it had to be exactly one page long. Something about that level of creative freedom really appealed to me, and I’ve been writing ever since!


YABC: What type of scene do you love to write the most?

Action scenes! Those were always my favorite to read growing up, and I still love the feeling of getting swept up in a thrilling action sequence!


YABC: What word do you have trouble overusing?

Probably the word probably. I probably use it a lot more than I probably should. (See what I mean?) Thankfully my editors cut most of them before the final copy.


YABC: What is your favorite writing space?

I love writing at the beach! I just feel so relaxed when I’m around the ocean. I love the sound of it, the smell. Plus, I love building sandcastles!


YABC: What hobbies do you enjoy?

Oh, there are so many! But if I had to pick my top five, I’d say swimming, chess, basketball, dancing, and mango tastings. Though, now that I think about it, mango tastings are probably my favorite.


YABC: How do you plan to celebrate the launch of your book?

With a mango tasting, of course! Did I mention how much I love mangos?


YABC: What do you do when you procrastinate?

I tell one of my editors about it and she’ll usually remind me of my deadline and that’s always enough to panic me into writing. Works every time!


YABC: What’s up next for you? 

Thanks for asking! I’m currently working on the fourth book of the Charlie Hernández series, which I’m super duper excited about! I’m also working on the second book of a heartfelt and hilarious series that I’m co-authoring with the one and only George Lopez. The first book is titled ChupaCarter and it follows the adventures of a spunky 12-year-old boy named Jorge who discovers a chupacabra living on his grandparent’s farm. For sneak peeks, cover reveals, and all that kind of fun stuff you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram @RyanCalejo.



Title: Charlie Hernández & the Golden Dooms

Author: Ryan Calejo

Release Date: September 13, 2022

Publisher: Aladdin (Simon & Schuster)

ISBN-10: 1534484213

ISBN-13: 978-1534484214

Genre: Fantasy

Age Range: 10 – 14




~ Giveaway Details ~

Two (2) winners will receive a copy of the first three books in the Charlie Hernández series (Ryan Calejo) ~US ONLY


*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*


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Author Chat With Linda Sarsour (We’re In This Together), Plus Giveaway! – US Only (No P.O. Boxes)!

November 28th, 2022 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with author Linda Sarsour (We’re In This Together)!

Read on to learn more about her, her book, and a giveaway!




Meet the Author: Linda Sarsour

Linda Sarsour is a Brooklyn-born Palestinian Muslim American community organizer and mother of three. Recognized for her award-winning intersectional work, she served as national cochair of the Women’s March, helping to organize the largest single-day protest in US history. She is the former executive director of the Arab American Association of New York and cofounder of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPower Change, as well as Until Freedom, a national racial justice organization working with Black and Brown communities across the country.

Website * Twitter * Instagram * Facebook * Tiktok




About the Book: We’re Still In This Together

An inspiring and empowering young readers edition of We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders, the memoir by Women’s March coorganizer and activist Linda Sarsour.

You can count on me, your Palestinian Muslim sister, to keep her voice loud, keep her feet on the streets, and keep my head held high because I am not afraid.

On January 17, 2017, Linda Sarsour stood in the National Mall to deliver a speech that would go down in history. A crowd of over 470,000 people gathered in Washington, DC, to advocate for legislation, policy, and the protection of women’s rights—with Linda, a Muslim American activist from Brooklyn, leading the charge, unapologetic and unafraid.

In this middle grade edition of We Are Not Here to be Bystanders, Linda shares the memories that shaped her into the activist she is today, and how these pivotal moments in her life led her to being an organizer in one of the largest single-day protests in US history. From the Brooklyn bodega her father owned to the streets of Washington, DC, Linda’s story as a daughter of Palestinian immigrants is a moving portrayal of what it means to find your voice in your youth and use it for the good of others as an adult.

Purchase Now




~Author Chat~


YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER?

I was inspired to write We’re In This Together because I believe that our world is in danger and it can only be saved by our young people. My book is a necessary and timely opportunity to challenge and inspire youth to be the change they want to see. I believe that the stories in my book will resonate, educate and provide practical information and skills.


YABC: Which came first, the title or the book?

The title came first. I thought a lot about how I wanted to write a serious book about issues impacting Black and Brown communities but also be hopeful. The title reaffirms hope and solidarity. It inspired the way I framed the stories I shared so that even through injustice, young people were introduced to solutions, love across differences and moments of hope.


YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?

I am most proud of the campaign I helped lead in New York City to incorporate Muslim holidays in to the public school calendar. The description of how we brought people together, our consistency, resiliency even through many obstacles leaves me inspired and motivated. I hope that it will do the same for the young people who read this book.


YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now

I have learned that anyone can be a writer and storyteller and that we each deserve to share our experiences, triumphs and losses. Over the years, I gained more courage to tell my story, even in a world that often marginalized and demonized my voice. Writing forces you to set aside time, reflect and share some of your most sacred moments. You learn that your story may inspire others and so that becomes your biggest motivation.


YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?

I love the cover of We’re In This Together so much because to me it shows power, courage and faith. I love how bold the colors are! It makes me feel like a superhero and I hope that little Muslim girls and girls of color get excited and encouraged when they see it. I hope the message they take from the cover is that they are powerful too.


YABC: What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?

The most recent book I read is State of Emergency by Tamika D. Mallory. This book is powerful and resonates with me as it goes into depth on the current issues impacting Black communities today and connecting them to American history. Tamika is a bold and brave Black woman activist from New York and this book is written through her eyes. It is enraging yet also inspiring and gives us a vision of equity and justice for the future.

YABC: What’s up next for you?

In addition to We Are Not Here To Be Bystanders, my adult memoir, We’re In This Together, my young reader edition, I also have a picture book coming later next year. I am excited to continue expanding on the generations I am reaching through my stories. I also have my own radio show every Wednesday morning on WBAI.


YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate in WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER? 

Losing my mentor and friend, Basemah Atweh in a devastating car crash was very difficult for me. I knew that this story about death and dying would be hard for young readers but I felt it was necessary. This story shaped who I am and helped define my path forward as a full time activist and organizer. This story demonstrated love, loyalty and legacy. I hope that it inspires youth who may have lost someone they love, that they can move on without ever forgetting the one they lost, that they could do good for the world in their memory and honor.

YABC: What is the main message or lesson you would like your reader to remember from WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER?

My main message in We’re In This Together is solidarity. I want young readers to walk away believing that we are all intertwined and that when one of us is not free, none of us are free. I hope they are inspired to help others regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, etc.


YABC: What would you say is your superpower?

My superpower is courage. I am not afraid. I am brave and can stand up against very powerful people and forces who choose to oppress marginalized people.



Title: We’re In This Together

Author: Linda Sarsour

ISBN-13: 9781534439290

ISBN-10: 1534439293

Release Date: November 29, 2022

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Imprint: Salaam Reads

Ages: 8-12, Grades 3-7




~ Giveaway Details ~


Three (3) winners will receive a copy of We’re In This Together (Linda Sarsour)! ~US ONLY (No P.O Boxes)


*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*


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Author Chat With Michelle Kadarusman (Berani), Plus Giveaway! ~US/CAN ONLY

November 28th, 2022 by

Today we are chatting with Michelle Kadarusman, author of Berani!

Read on for more about her, the book, and a giveaway!




Meet Michelle Kadarusman:

Michelle Kadarusman grew up in Melbourne, Australia, and also lived many years throughout her father’s homeland of Indonesia before moving to Canada in 2000. Her books have earned numerous nominations, including the Governor General’s Literary Awards, the Ontario Library Association Silver Birch Awards, and the

Green Earth Book Award. Her novels include The Theory of Hummingbirds, Girl of the Southern Sea, and Music for Tigers. Her first picture book, Room for More, published in 2022. Michelle now lives in Toronto, Canada and Byron Bay, Australia.

Website * Twitter * Instagram * Facebook




About the Book: Berani

Malia has had a privileged upbringing in Indonesia, but since her Indonesian father died, her Canadian mother wants to return to her own family on the other side of the world. Malia is determined to stay. Indonesia is her home, and she loves it. Besides, if she leaves, how can she continue to fight for her country’s precious rainforests? Ari knows he is lucky to be going to school and competing on the chess team, even if it means an endless round of chores at his uncle’s restaurant. Back in his home village, he and his cousin Suni dreamed about getting a chance like this. But now he is here without her, and the guilt is

crushing him. As if that weren’t enough, he’s horribly worried about Ginger Juice, his uncle’s orangutan. The too-small cage where she lives is clearly hurting her body and her mind, but where else can she go? The rainforest where she was born is a palm oil plantation now. In Berani, Governor General’s Award finalist Michelle Kadarusman spins together three perspectives: Malia, who is prepared to risk anything for her activism, Ari, who knows the right path but fears what it will cost, and Ginger Juice, the caged orangutan who still remembers the forest and her mother. The choices the young people make will have consequences for themselves, for Ginger Juice, and for others, if they are brave enough–or reckless enough–to choose.

Amazon * B&N * IndieBound




~Author Chat~


YABC:  What gave you the inspiration to write this book? 

Berani was inspired by an experience I had when I was living in Surabaya, Indonesia, many years ago. My brother was also living in Indonesia at the time and traveling to remote areas of East Java for his work. He called me one day, distressed, to tell me he had been to a small restaurant in the village of Malang where he saw an orangutan in a cage. We managed to find an organization who liberated her and just like in the story, the cage had to be cut open to release her because she had outgrown the opening. The experience stayed with me all these years and then recently I read about some brave young activists in the region. Bringing the two elements together brought the story to life.


YABC:   Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?  

By far the most emotionally difficult passages to write were the scenes where Ginger Juice loses her rainforest home, her mother, and of her captivity. My research pointed to the incredibly strong bond shared between mother and baby orangutans, also that we are so similar in DNA that an orangutan kept in long term captivity would display the same kind of mental, physical and emotion deterioration that you would find in humans. This is a disturbing fact considering our habit of keeping apes in captivity and something I wanted to try and communicate by having Ginger Juice’s voice heard from her cage. As difficult as those chapters were to write, I hope the passages will allow readers to build empathy for her plight.


YABC:    What is the main message or lesson you would like your reader to remember from this book? 

To all the young activists, I hope to impart the simple fact that you can make a difference.


YABC:     Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart? 

I’m very grateful for the many organizations who work towards protecting orangutans and other endangered species. The work of Leif Cocks, the founder of The Orangutan Project (TOP) was extremely helpful in my research. TOP works tirelessly on initiatives to help save the species. Their work focuses on these areas:

Rescue, Rehabilitation, Release

Securing and Protecting Natural Habitat

Educating and Supporting Local Communities

Changing the Game by Standing Up and Speaking Out


YABC:   What advice do you have for new writers?   

My top three pieces of advice are:

Don’t give up! That is the main thing to remember. I spent a decade writing and getting rejections before I was finally published. For many of us, honing the craft takes a long time, so be willing to dig in

Listen to trusted sources when it comes to critiques, but stay true to your own voice

Read, read, read! Read widely, this is how you develop good taste as a writer

YABC:  Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now? 

If I could give advice to myself as a newly published author, I’d tell her not to rush. Take the time you need to get it right.


YABC:   What’s up next for you? 

In fall 2023, with Pajama Press, I will release a collection of short stories for middle-grade readers. Each story has an environmental theme and is set on an island, both real and imagined.

YABC:   Is there anything that you would like to add? 

In Berani I also wanted to explore having a character who comes from different cultures. Like Malia, I have an Indonesian parent and a parent from a western culture. In middle grade years especially, I think we can struggle with self-identity. For those of us with parents from different backgrounds it can be more confusing because we perhaps feel the need to have an alliance with one culture over the other. There are no right or wrong answers of course, it’s a very personal journey. But I was interested to introduce the theme with Malia’s character and to show some of her inner struggles and ultimately her willingness to explore her personal cultural identity.



Title: Berani

Author: Michelle Kadarusman

Release Date: August 16, 2022

Publisher: Pajama Press

ISBN-10: 1772782602

ISBN-13: 9781772782608

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

Age Range: 8-12





Five (5) winners will receive a copy of Berani (Michelle Kadarusman) ~US/CAN ONLY


*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*


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Giveaway: Finally, Something Dangerous: The One and Onlys and the Case of the Robot Crow (Doug Cornett) ~ US Only

November 23rd, 2022 by

We’re excited to host the giveaway for Finally, Something Dangerous: The One and Onlys and the Case of the Robot Crow (Doug Cornett)! 

Read on to find out more about the author, the book and a giveaway:




About the Author: Doug Cornett

Doug Cornett received his MFA from Portland State University and in 2016 was awarded first prize for the William Van Dyke Short Story Contest from Ruminate Magazine. He is also the author of Finally, Something Mysterious. He lives in Ohio with his family.

Website * Instagram * Twitter 




About the Book: Finally, Something Dangerous: The One and Onlys and the Case of the Robot Crow

The mystery-solving trio, the One and Onlys, from Finally, Something Mysterious is back with another whodunit. Robot crows, a poetry-slash-wrestling Club, and a hamster infestation? This looks like another case to tackle!

As the excitement from the last mystery the One and Onlys solved is starting to dwindle, Shanks, Peephole, and Paul worry that their town is back to being boring old Bellwood. But as plans for a shiny town makeover get underway, they realize that the “old Bellwood” is anything but.

The glee over “New Bellwood” is palpable, and it’s hard not to get swept away by the flashy new milkshake joint and other developments that are quickly making their small town unrecognizable. But the One and Onlys can’t deny that something nefarious seems to be afoot–especially if the robot crow they stumbled upon is any indication.

Strange? Yes. Dangerous? Hopefully! Shanks doesn’t know how these things are connected, but she’s determined to find out—with the help of the One and Onlys.




Title:  Finally, Something Dangerous: The One and Onlys and the Case of the Robot Crow

Author: Doug Cornett

Release Date:  11/22/22

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

ISBN-10: 0593432924

ISBN-13: 9780593432921

Genre: mystery/fiction



Three (3) winners will receive a copy of Finally, Something Dangerous (Doug Cornett) ~US Only!


*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*


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Rockstar Tours: MOTHER OF THE RIVER (Emily McPherson), Guest Post & Giveaway! ~INT

November 22nd, 2022 by

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the MOTHER OF THE RIVER by Emily McPherson Pre-Order  Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check
out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


About The Book:

Title: MOTHER OF THE RIVER (Protectors #1)

Author: Emily McPherson

Pub. Date: March 7, 2023

Publisher: Eyebright Books

Formats:  Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD,

Inspired by traditional Irish
Mythology, Mother of the River tells the story of a 17 year
old girl in search of her missing mother when she stumbles upon a forgotten

Ianthe was only six years old when her mother vanished and the strange statue
appeared in the river near her home. Now, eleven years later, the statue stands
as a memorial and a place where Ianthe often visits to tell her mother about
her life. But when an old acquaintance returns to town and suggests the statue
isn’t just a statue, the presence of a mythical creature comes into question,
and Ianthe begins to wonder what really happened all those years ago.


With her best friend Fintan by her side, Ianthe searches for a lost legend and
discovers fantastical dangers, family secrets, and the magic of Ireland. But
finding the myth may not be enough to mend the past. And finding the truth just
may threaten her future.

May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know
where you are going, and the insight to know when you have gone too far- Irish

Book Teaser Trailer:




@therealemilymcpherson #booktok #youngadultbooks #fantasybooks #femaleprotagonist #irishmythology #motheroftheriver ♬ Fallen down – Slowed – 「Incørrect」


Guest Post:

A Day in the Life of Emily McPherson


My daily schedule only recently changed as we (finally) got my son into services for ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). So, this is a new day in the life.


My husband works from home and wakes up at a normal-person hour while my son and I avoid the morning hours like the plague because mornings are gross. We roll out of bed at the very reasonable hour of 10 AM, then I rush like a mad woman to get him to pre-k by 11 while he moves at a sloth-like pace. After I drop the kiddo off at school, I usually grab some coffee or, as my husband and I call it, get-shit-done juice (ie. passionfruit tea) because something about it makes me extremely productive for the day.


I get home and say hi to the pugs. Then I have four blissful, uninterrupted hours where I ruin the peace and drive myself absolutely crazy with writing, editing, marketing, and reading. I tend to save my writing and editing for Saturdays when I have an entirely husband- and kid-free day, giving me plenty of time to dive into the world of my characters. Weekdays are more focused on reading and marketing, and as marketing is not my forte, a lot of my time allotted for that is spent on research and trial and error efforts. After my four hours is up, I pick my son up from school and take him to our local special need services building where he has play-based therapies for two more hours. (I know. It’s a long day for such a small human, but he loves it, and he has Wednesdays and weekends off.) So, I have an additional two hours of book-related anxiety during that time as well. Yay!


When the three of us are finally home for the day, we like to relax with a book or play with stuffed animals, bubbles, alphabet cards, or whatever else the kiddo wants to do. Thursdays have been dubbed “Thirsty Therapy Thursdays” in our house as my husband and I have our individual therapies that day and could usually use a drink after discussing what trauma made us the stereotypically depressed Millenials we are today. So, if it’s Thursday, I make myself a drink in my new Christmas cup that looks like a tree ornament, making it a merry, magical drink!


We live in a fairly small space and don’t have a dining room (or space to put a table), so dinner is always served on the couch with a movie or show. Our son refuses to sleep until my husband and I go to bed, but he usually heads into his bedroom and plays on his tablet while the grown-ups watch The Crown, Dead to Me, Hell’s Kitchen, iZombie for the third time, or Down to Earth. After a few kid-free (though not necessarily uninterrupted) episodes, we get ready for bed, make sure the dogs have water for the night, and go to bed where I plot my next six books just to forget all my brilliant, Pulitzer Prize-winning ideas by morning.


All-in-all, it’s a pretty good life. I’m grateful for all I have and who I have, and I wouldn’t change anythi–well, a dinner table would be nice.



About Emily McPherson:

McPherson is an author for young adult readers with several fantasy projects in
the works. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, she strives to normalize
seeing characters of the rainbow on the page without harmful stereotypes. She
is an Irish dancer with a slight obsession with mythological creatures. She
lives in Connecticut with her husband, son, and – the real mythological
creatures – her two rescue pugs.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | Goodreads | Amazon





Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a $10 Amazon GC, International.

Ends December 10th, midnight EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:


the Love of Kidlit

Guest Post


YA Books Central

Guest Post/IG Post


A Dream Within A Dream

Guest Post


The Momma Spot



Jazzy Book Reviews

Excerpt/IG Post


Books and Kats


Week Two:


Books a Plenty Book Reviews



and Ice




IG Review/TikTok Post


A Blue Box Full of Books

IG Review/LFL Drop pic


100 Pages A Day



Kim”s Book Reviews and Writing Aha’s

Review/IG Post



Review/IG Post

Week Three:



IG Review



IG Review


Rockstar Tours: A WILDERNESS OF STARS (Shea Ernshaw), Excerpt & Giveaway! ~US ONLY

November 21st, 2022 by

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the A WILDERNESS OF STARS by Shea Ernshaw Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out
my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


About The Book:


Author: Shea Ernshaw

Pub. Date: November 29, 2022

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 400

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, Audible, B&NiBooks, KoboTBD,

Deluxe edition with special
embellishments on first printing only!

In this magical romance from the #1 New York Times bestselling
author of Long Live the Pumpkin Queen, an illness cursing the
land forces a teen girl astronomer to venture across the wilderness in search
of the stars’ message that will, hopefully, save them all.

When all is lost, look to the stars.

Vega has lived in the valley her whole life—forbidden by her mother to leave
the safety of its borders because of the unknown threats waiting for her in the
wilds beyond. But when Vega sees an omen in the sky—one she cannot ignore—she
is forced to leave the protective boundaries of the valley. Yet the outside
world is much more terrifying than Vega could have ever imagined. People are
gravely sick—they lose their eyesight and their hearing, just before they lose
their lives.

But Vega has a secret: she is the Last Astronomer—a title carried from
generation to generation—and she is the only one who understands the knowledge
of the stars. Knowledge that could hold the key to a cure. So when locals spot
the tattoo on Vega’s neck in the shape of a constellation—the mark of an
astronomer—chaos erupts. Fearing for her life, Vega is rescued by a girl named
Cricket who leads her to Noah, a boy marked by his own mysterious tattoos.

On the run from the men hunting her, Vega sets out across the plains with
Cricket and Noah, in search of a fabled cure kept secret by the astronomers.
But as the line between friends and protectors begins to blur, Vega must decide
whether to safeguard the sacred knowledge of the astronomers…or if she will
risk everything to try to save them all.




ORION, Gamma Ori

+06° 20’ 58”

A hundred years ago, the first Astronomer looked up at the night sky and made note of what she saw: horseshoe nebulas and spiral galaxies and dying star clusters. But she did not yet know what lay hidden in the shadowy darkness between stars. She was not a seer, a fortune-teller, as was common in the old world but rarely talked about now. Instead she used the circular glass rings of her telescope to make sense of the dark; she used physics and chemistry and science. She drafted charts and measured distances and sketched formations like Pleiades and Andromeda onto wax paper.

Maybe if she had believed in fate. If she had listened to her gut—that hollow twisting beneath her lowest ribs—she might have feared what she didn’t understand.

She might have known that the shadow concealed more than dust and particles of broken moons.

She would have looked closer.

And seen.


Mom is dying, and we both know it.

She’s been sick for almost a month, the consumption shredding apart her insides, clouding her eyes and making it impossible for her to breathe without an awful rasp.

On the roof of our small house, I lie flat on my back, breathing in the cool, windless spring air—the night sky a riddle of stars above me—but inside the cabin, through the open window, I can hear Mom dozing fitfully: fever making her sweat and toss and mumble in her sleep.

I press my palms against the roof beneath me, as if I could push away the awful sound, push away the sickness inside her. I count the constellations, naming them in my mind—a ritual that Mom insists I repeat night after night so I won’t forget—and it calms me, the pattern of unaltered stars, their position always right where they should be. Unlike Mom, who is slipping away. Beyond the row of blue spruce trees on the far side of the summer garden, above the valley wall, I trace Clovis and Andromeda with my fingertip. I find Orion, the hunter from Greek mythology, and Rigel, a bright blue-white supergiant shimmering near the horizon. Each one tells a story. Each one has some secret to be shared, if I have the patience to look.

I follow the simple line of Aries, the golden-fleeced ram, my finger making a slight arc through the midnight sky. Sometimes I let myself fall asleep on the roof, to be closer to the stars; sometimes I stay awake all night, searching for something up there that might bring me hope.

I search for something that isn’t there.

An owl lets out a low, somber cry from the toolshed; the wind slides across the roof, stirring my long, dark hair, curled slightly at the ends, sending gooseflesh across my scarred, copper skin. And I wonder if it’s all for nothing. All the knowledge I keep safe inside me—patterns and sequences and the names of constellations—all of it useless if I never leave these valley walls.

Heat rises behind my eyes, but I push it down, counting the stars of Leo, the lion, killed by Hercules with his bare hands and placed in the sky. Stories threaded and stitched in the starlight. But I wonder what stories will be told about me: The girl who stayed safe in her valley. Who never left. Who died like her mother, taking all her knowledge with her.

I wipe at my eyes, hating the tears, willing the stars to show me something—begging. But the sky sits just as it always has—unaltered, unchanged—and I know I’ve been forgotten by the stars, by the ancient gods. Abandoned. They do not see me as I see them.

I press a hand to my ear, a soft ringing in my eardrum, an ache so small that it’s hardly there—scratch, scratch, like an insect in my skull—but when I swing my gaze back to the sky, blinking away the wetness, a thin, rainless cloud slides along the valley walls, pushing north . . .

And something catches my eye.

Tiny. Flickering.

In the darkness, in the space between stars . . .

A light. Small at first. Where none should be.

To the east.

I scramble to my feet, tugging my sweater close across my chest, squinting up at the unusual light. Light that shouldn’t be there.

It glows a shimmering whiteness, but its position in the sky makes no sense. I blink and recenter my gaze—as Mom taught me—but when I scan the horizon, it’s still there. There. Only a flicker at first—like a dying ember in a campfire—but after a moment it grows brighter, rising above the treetops.

Not a falling star.

Not a comet.

Something larger. A shiver skips up into my throat—a knowing—like the telltale scent of moisture in the air, hours before a single raindrop has fallen from the sky.

I’ve stared at this patch of horizon countless times, and seen nothing: only darkness and tiny pine-needle pricks of ordinary starlight. But when I rub my palms against the hollows of my eyes, then look again to the east . . . I find it. Still there.

A star . . . where no star had been the night before.

My heart begins to ram against my rib cage, thoughts crashing and tumbling over one another, wanting to be sure. And then I see it: the star isn’t alone.

There are two.

One fainter than the other, smaller, but they rest side by side: twin stars shivering an amber light from the middle of our galaxy. And as they rise higher above the horizon, they appear so close, it feels as if I can almost reach up and pluck them down, hold them in my palm like an August firefly, golden and pulsing, then carry them inside to show Mom.

Two delicate orbs.


A hum of excitement and disbelief vibrates up into my chest, behind my eyes, and I swing myself down from the roof, perching my foot against the wooden post, then landing on the front porch with a thud—something I’ve done hundreds of times—then dart through the front door into the cabin.

A fire still burns in the stone fireplace, the scent of cloves and rosemary heavy in the air from the herbs drying above the fire, and I drop to the floor beside Mom’s bed, taking her skeletal hand in mine. My fingers tremble, and her eyes flit open, damp and bloodshot.

“I saw them,” I say softly, voice catching on each letter, as if I might choke on them. “On the eastern horizon . . . two twin stars.”

Mom’s eyes struggle to blink, her skin the color of sun-bleached bones, but her hair is still long and dark and wavy at the ends. Freckles sit scattered across her nose, and her mouth is the same shape as mine, like a bow tied from rope. I see myself in her—but she has always been braver, fearless, mightier than a winter storm. And I worry that the things that bind me to her, to our ancestors, don’t live as strong in my bloodstream.

But now, as I stare down at her, she is half the woman she once was, weak and addled with sickness. And I’m afraid of what’s to come.

She tries to push herself up, to crane her head to the window—she wants to see the stars for herself—but her elbows buckle and her dust-thin body falls back to the mattress, teeth rattling. I place a cold cloth, dampened with river water, on her forehead to wipe away the sweat. “Are they—” She coughs, pinches her eyes closed, starts again. “—in alignment with the pole star?”

I nod, tears dripping from my eyes.

“Sister stars,” she mutters, a small twitch at the corners of her pale mouth—an almost smile—something she hasn’t done in weeks. “It’s time.” She squeezes my hand and her eyelashes flutter, her sight almost lost completely. She only sees shadows now, waves of dark.

“We can leave in the morning,” I answer, my nerves like fire in my veins—we will finally be leaving the valley. I will finally be going beyond its sheer cliff walls.

But she shakes her head and swallows. “No.”

A small fire burns in the fireplace, but the cold night air still catches at the back of my throat. I already understand what she means: I can see it in the dampness of her eyes, the tight pinch of her mouth. She will not be leaving the cabin. Or the valley.

She wants me to go alone.

“I can help you to walk,” I urge, feeling the anxiety clotting in my chest like mud. We will go together, like we’ve always planned. She and I. Venturing beyond the valley walls at last.

But she only blinks, tears rolling down her cheekbones. “I’ll be too slow.” She coughs and clutches a hand to her trembling mouth, and more tears fall from her chin. “You already know everything,” she whispers, eyes straining to see me through the winter fog of her vision. “You don’t need me.” Her eyes flutter. “Go to the ocean,” she instructs, words I already know, that she has told me so many times, they are like a song in my ears, repeating, repeating, without end. “Find the Architect. Don’t look back, Vega.”

I grip her hand tighter, as if I can already feel the miles, the space widening between us. “I’m not leaving you here.” She won’t be able to bring up water from the river or even pull herself out of bed. If I leave, she’ll die quickly. Of thirst and pain. She’ll die alone.

Her jaw clenches along her cheekbones, and I can see the woman she once was: strong, toughened by the land, by the years, some of that fight still left in her. “There’s no time,” she says forcefully, straining against the words before sinking back against her pillow.

I lift my eyes, wet with tears, to the window, where the twin stars hover against the dark. I knows she’s right. Time is already slipping away, hour by hour—the twin stars won’t be visible forever. Days from now, they will arch away, out of sight, and it will be too late.

Another hundred years before they come into alignment again.

I think Mom knows I won’t leave her, senses I won’t let her die alone in the cold of the cabin. She knows I’ll stay as long as she’s alive.

Because in two days’ time, the evening after a rainstorm drenches the valley, she lets the consumption tear apart the last of her lungs, her heart, her eyes. She stops fighting. “Leave the valley, Vega . . . ,” she sputters near the end, fingers twitching, then mumbles something about black feathers falling from the sky, birds dropping to their death—fevered words.

I brush the dark hair from her face, feeling like my own heart is about to give out, and I watch her features pinch tight, freckles massing together on her forehead while the sunset burns sapphire and pale and colorless through the small cabin windows. At last I hear the air leave her lungs. Feel the slack in her hand.

And just like that, she’s gone. A soundless letting go.

She gave up. She let herself die.

To make sure I’d leave.

To make sure I’d live.

I bury my mother before the morning sunlight breaks through the treetops and sparks across the blades of grass. I do it swiftly, before her body has time to stiffen, wrapping her gently in the cornflower-blue bedsheet, then stitching it closed with a needle and thread. I carry her down the hill from the old cabin and place her in the ground.

For a moment, I feel like I might be sick, the dimmed night sky whirling and tilting above me, but I stumble the five paces from her grave down to the river’s edge and wade in up to my knees, feeling the strength of Medicine Bow River carving its slow, ancient path through our protected valley, walled in on two sides.

I know what I have to do.

The stories of my ancestors like a ticking clock against the soft place at my temples.

In the cold river, I scrub away the dirt from my hands, my fingernails, wishing I could strip away the hurt rupturing inside me like a dying star. But it’s marrow-deep, cut into me now. I take another step toward the fast-moving center of the river, the water glacier-cold and deep, and I dig my toes into the gravelly river bottom, feeling the weight of the planet beneath me, anchoring me so I don’t drift away. Without gravity, we’d all float up into the stars light as dove feathers, Mom would say. We’d spend nights out here beside the river, peering through her telescope—the one she built herself with plates of glass fastened at perfectly measured angles. She’d tell me to recite the names of constellations and orbiting moons and comets always breaking through our atmosphere in dazzling trails of light. You need to know the sky as well as the valley; you need to be able to chart a course using only the stars to navigate, she’d explain. She taught me the shape and structure of the night sky. She made sure I’d never forget, even after she was gone.

With my shaking hand, I reach toward the moonlight, freckles making a pattern from my thumb all the way up along my forearm, and I try to see her in my own skin—I am made of her, after all. The same cells and atoms, blood of my blood. But it isn’t enough. She was brown eyes flecked with green, fingernails always cut short, dirt pressed into the creases of her knuckles. She was both the soil and the sky, a kaleidoscope of parts.

My knees give out and I sink into the icy water, sitting cross-legged on the river bottom, water up to my throat, tears shedding down my cheeks. The cold could kill me; the roaring current could drown me. But I don’t feel any of it. I tilt my head back while tears break against my eyelids, and in the pale twilight sky, I find the southern pole star, dim and flickering just above the treetops—the navigational point that will always guide me home, no matter where I am, the star that connects all the others.

“The sky belongs to you now,” Mom had whispered right at the end, fighting to keep her eyes open, coughing and then spitting up blood. But even the anatomy of stars are woven with memories of her. It’s all her. This valley and the cliff walls and the starlight that drapes over me like a ruthless, unmerciful hand. But through the awful blur of tears, I find the twin stars again—Tova and Llitha—sister stars, caught in their own kind of gravity. Bound to each other. The old folklore stories say the sisters were banished to the night sky by their father after they refused to marry two underworld princes. Now they are two points of light hovering in the east. Whispering their ancient words, summoning me closer—to a place beyond the valley where I’ve never been.

To an ocean, at the edge of everything, across forbidden land.

All my life, Mom had warned of the world outside our valley—it’s dangerous and cruel, she would say. But we are safe here, far from it all. We remained in our isolated valley, studying the sky, marking our charts and maps, where no one knows our names . . . or who we are descended from.

But now she’s gone and the twin stars gleam in the night sky.

Now . . . I have to leave, travel to a place where my ancestors have never been. As if it were that easy. As if my legs could carry me beyond this valley when they can barely carry me back up to the cabin from the river.

My body shakes, hands milk-white and numb, and I push myself up from the water—my long cotton nightdress clinging to my skin, the front hem stained with dark, ruddy soil from digging. It will need to be scrubbed, set to soak. Or maybe I’ll just burn it, bury it, leave it behind. What use will it be out there, anyway. Beyond the walls.

I stagger back up to the shore, arms hanging wet and limp at my sides, and collapse onto the grass. The night sinks away, and the sun begins to rise, bright and terrible and unforgiving.

I could walk the day’s journey to Mr. and Mrs. Horace’s place—our closest neighbor, our only neighbor—and tell them Mom has died. I could sit at their kitchen table while Mrs. Horace brings me flattened corn cakes and hot tea, then touches me with her worrying hands, straightening the hem of my shirtsleeves, fussing with my long, coiled hair. Mr. Horace will stand at the door as if there were some way to set this right with nails and hewn boards—the only remedy he knows. But they would not want me to leave the valley. A girl of only seventeen shouldn’t be on her own, I imagine Mrs. Horace saying. They will insist I stay with them, sleep in the narrow loft of their timber house. They’re good people, but I cannot make a life among their stock of goats and cattle and dogs.

I rub my hand across the back of my neck, searching for a reminder—for courage—and I feel the smooth skin that is marked by ink. I can’t see it, but I know it’s there—Mom had the same mark, a tattoo that assures me of who I am: my mother’s daughter. Linked, bound to each other even after her death.

You’re descended from brave women, she used to tell me, as if she knew someday it would come to this. I scrub at the corners of my eyes, not wanting to feel the tears, when a flock of starlings tear away from the sagging oaks near the riverbank.

Something’s startled them.

They screech angrily, wings beating away toward the west, but in between the sound . . . I hear the distinct thud of hooves against the hard ground of the road.

I turn, gazing up the hill, where the road winds along the valley, and a plume of dust furls into the air.

Someone is coming up the road.

My eyes flash to the cabin, body still shaking from the cold of the river. I could run up the hill and duck inside, feel into the top chest of drawers for the old revolver Mom kept hidden there, load it like she taught me, then wait at the window with the barrel pointed up the road. Or I could hide. The tree line is only a few paces from the river; I could be inside the sparse oaks within a few seconds. I could make my way up the ridge to the Horaces’ place and be there by sundown.

But instead my legs don’t move. My insides too numb, my chest too heart-shattered.

The sound of a horse, of a wagon, rattles up the road, vibrating at every stone and divot, echoing up across the valley, becoming its own kind of disjointed birdsong.

I lift a hand over my eyes, straining to see, lungs stilled—the cold writhing down my joints—and when the horse appears over the last rise, drawing the old box wagon behind it, I let out a long, shaky breath.

Salty lines of tears spill down my face, the relief sudden and heavy in my chest.

After almost a month away, Pa is home.

We stand over Mom’s grave—my hair dripping with river water.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t here,” Pa manages, kneeling down to rest a sun-darkened hand against the dirt. His chin dips, reddish-brown beard quivering, and he wipes at the corners of his eyes, catching the tears before they fall. I look away, not wanting to see the pain in his eyes.

“She’s been sick since you left,” I tell him, biting back the sob waiting at the top of my rib cage, the hurt like floodwaters inside me, almost too big to contain.

Pa nods at the dark soil, the morning wind singing through the cattail reeds beside the river. “Nothing you could have done.”

We stand this way for a time—silent, staring at the place where her body now rests—as if each of us is cycling through our own pain. Finding ways to tuck it away. Pa is a quiet man, more comfortable with uncrowded roads and the silence of an evening spent alone, than with consoling words. An owl lets out a somber cry from the woodshed, just as the sun breaks through the trees, inching higher in the sky. And at last Pa pushes himself up, knees creaking, eyes still damp at the corners, and we start back for the house, each of us silent. I can meet Pa’s stride now, nearly as tall as him, legs like reeds and arms swinging at my sides. Almost as tall as a tree, Mom liked to say, braiding my oak-brown hair down my back, her fingers brushing the dark ink of the tattoo at my neck—the tattoo she gave me years ago.

At the cabin, Pa lights his pipe and eases himself into one of the porch chairs—chairs he himself made when I was small. I still remember the smell of wood shavings, mottled dust, a sweet nutty scent. Normally, when Pa returns to the valley, I ask him to tell me a story from the outside, about distant towns and foreign people and the unusual places he’s seen: two-story buildings and deep, calm lakes as warm as bathwater and strangers with eyes as blue as the June sky. They are good stories, tales I sometimes think can’t be entirely true—Pa’s cheeks grinning, eyes shimmering with some faraway memory. My knowledge of the world has been shaped by Pa’s stories. And also by Mom’s warnings.

But I don’t ask for a story now—I ask something else. “Where will you go, after here?”

It’s been nearly a month since he was last in the valley—when the snow still insulated the ground and hung from the eaves of the old cabin—but now spring has crept in over the land, turning it green and soft, the approaching of a gentler season: long, sunlit days, crisp carrots from the ground, frogs singing from the mucky banks of the river in the evening. Something I won’t be here to see.

“North,” he answers, his tired, creased eyes focused out over the valley, to the slow-moving river winking under the morning sun. “To the market.”

“When will you leave?”

“Tomorrow.” He releases a puff of tobacco smoke into the air. “I need to be back on the road in the morning.”

Beside the porch railing, I run a hand down Odie’s neck—Pa’s mare, a black-and-white appaloosa who has found a patch of clover sprouting up in the shade of the porch deck. Pa never hobbles her with leather straps around her ankles, or ties her to a tree when he’s here. He says she has no reason to wander; all the good pasture is near the house.

“How far away is it?” I knit my fingers through Odie’s coarse mane, then down to her black velvet nose.

“A week’s journey, maybe a few days more. Depends on the roads.” Smoke puffs from Pa’s nose, wheeling up into the night sky, and he touches the wiry strands of his beard, his mustache.

I cut my eyes away to his wagon—sitting near the shed—with its tall wooden sides and flat top. Painted along the wood slats are black, swooping letters—much more elaborate than the straight, perpendicular letters that Mom taught me to write when I was younger. But the words on Pa’s wagon are meant to draw people near, to catch their eyes, to entice them to trade a coin or two for what he sells inside.

Pa’s Cure-All Tonic Elixir, it reads, and a small blue medicine bottle has been painted beside the words with silver stars erupting from the top. Beneath this is a list of the ailments that Pa’s tonic will cure: headache, heartache, cough, fever, hair loss, tooth loss, arthritis, lethargy, dizziness, sleeplessness, drunkenness, toe aches, warts.

I shift my gaze back to Pa, his eyes drowsy and distant. I think of summers past when Mom and Pa and I would sit on the porch and watch the sun fade while we peeled baskets of peas and listened to Pa’s stories. A time lost to us now. I clear my throat, stuffing down the tears. “I’m coming with you.”

But Pa immediately shakes his head, not even considering it. “The road isn’t a safe place for you.”

I lower my hand from Odie’s muzzle. I know Pa doesn’t understand why I need to leave. He doesn’t know the stories that Mom whispered to me at night when he was away. The women in our family have kept our secrets for a hundred years, she would tell me softly, as if she didn’t even want the stars to hear. They are dangerous secrets; they put us at risk. So we keep them to ourselves. “I’m stronger than I look,” I say, shoulders straightening back, my left hand scraping along my neck, fingers tracing the tattoo.

Pa’s brow tugs downward as he eyes me, his expression hidden beneath the wiry strands of his overgrown beard. “No,” he answers sharply. “You need to stay in the valley, where you’re protected.”

“Mom wanted me to leave—” I say, clenching my teeth. Mom and I spent most of our life in the valley alone—the two of us with our stories and constellations and a language only we understood—while Pa spent his life out on the road.

He removes the pipe from his mouth, exhaling, a softness to his eyes—a sadness—like he understands the need I feel, but he thinks I’m being foolish. A girl who doesn’t know what she’s asking for. “Your mother has taught you many things, but she hasn’t prepared you for what’s out there.” He taps the toe of his dusty-brown boot against the worn boards of the deck.

I turn away from him, feeling the threat of tears against my eyelids, and lift my eyes to the sky—to the place in the east where I saw the twin stars, now lost to the morning sunlight. The owl, who had been perched on the woodshed, extends its broad winds, and tears away over the river, beyond the valley walls.

“I’ll go on my own,” I say.

“You don’t have a horse.”

“I’ll walk.” I had planned on walking anyway, marching out of the valley on foot.

He exhales through his nose, eyes clicking up the road. “It’ll take you a week just to reach the nearest outpost. And your feet will be raw as hide by then, blistered down to the bone.” There is a growl in his voice, a grittiness, as though he’s recalling the harsh, unending stretch of roads beyond the valley. Recalling long, hot days when he pushed the wagon on, exhausted, throat coated in dust. And he doesn’t wish the same for me.

I kick at a small rock and it skitters under the porch. Odie lifts her head, wide-eyed, before resuming her methodical chewing of the clover and bunchgrass.

Pa rests the stem of the old pipe at the corner of his mouth, mustache twitching, the fragrant smoke—cloves and cinnamon—coiling up into the rafters of the porch roof. “It’s easy to think the world beyond what we know is better than what we have, but trust me, Vega, your life here is safer than anything out there.” He leans forward to rest his elbows on his knees, gazing out at the road—this day has already worn him thin, down to bone. “She kept you isolated here for a reason.” He tamps out the tobacco in his pipe onto the rough boards of the deck, letting the burnt leaves fall between the cracks, then stands up. “I’m sorry, Vega, I can’t take you with me.” He gives me a quick nod, his shoulders bent forward, bearing the grief of Mom’s death heavy in his tired frame, and before I can say anything else, before I can protest, he walks down the porch steps and strides out toward the river, toward Mom’s grave.

My heart should sink—I should feel the hard slam of despair and hopelessness landing in my gut. But instead I feel something else: a new story weaving itself together like starlight along the dark night of my skin. The story of what comes next.

What I have to do.

Pa is asleep in his wagon, nighttime once again folded over the valley, and Odie stands beside the porch, head dipped low, huge eyelashes twitching softly like reeds of grass.

I press my fingertips to the glass beside Mom’s empty bed, nervously counting the constellations out of habit, reciting them in my mind: Crux, Perseus, Leo Minor, and even Cepheus—a broad formation of stars that has always looked like a bow and arrow to me, even though Mom said it was named after the mythical king Cepheus, husband to Cassiopeia, father of Andromeda. My reflection peers back in the glass, the swooped shape of my nose, my ears set low, skin like amber—it’s all her. Reminders of Mom everywhere. Through my reflection, I stare out at the twin stars to the east, like lanterns burning in the sky. My ancestors spent their life waiting for them to appear—Tova and Llitha—for a sign that it was time to leave the valley. They watched the sky each night, studied it, and waited. A hundred years have passed since the twin stars last swung this far on their orbit across their galaxy, and found themselves close enough for us to see. A rare event. One that almost seems impossible—one I started to think might never happen. Only a folktale passed down by the women in my family, a story that had lost all meaning. But the stories were right.

And at last the waiting has ended with me.

I drop my hand from the window, my fingerprints left on the glass—the last part of myself I will leave behind.

I already know what I will do.

I move through the house, gathering a loaf of bread and hard biscuits, preserved blackberries in glass jars that clink and rattle in the burlap sack. I eye the shelf of books near the fireplace: an old book of Scottish poems, a wild foraging cookbook, and several about astronomy. Mom said books were rare, hard to come by. But I know the astronomy books by heart, their pages useless to me now, and I have no need for the others beyond the walls of the house. So I leave them all behind.

I pull my favorite sweater over my head, the color of wheat and flax—the one Mom has mended dozens of times over the years, the one that once belonged to her, and her mother before her—then grab my gray canvas coat from the hook by the door. I fold the quilt from Mom’s bed, tucking it under my arm, then pick up the lit candle. My lungs breathe heavy, doubt scratching at my skull. I can still feel her within these walls where I drew my first breath: where I learned to chart the stars, to read while sitting at the small wood table pressed against the corner, where Mom and I have carved our names into the low bench—like the white heron stacks pebbles beside the river to mark its territory, to warn other birds that this is its home. Mom taught me how to survive, to make fire and cut my own hair and mend my own shirts.

But I have to do this—it has to be absolute; otherwise I might change my mind.

I need there to be nothing left to return to.

I lower the candle to one of Mom’s pillows, and the flame catches instantly. It springs across the sheets to the curtains, igniting on the pile of stacked firewood beside the stove. It lunges up the log walls, turning hot and ashy in minutes. How voracious fire is. How unstoppable. It destroys without thought.

With the burlap sack over my shoulder, I shove my feet into my boots, not bothering to lace them, and walk out onto the front porch, feeling the flames growing hot and angry behind me. Like something coming alive, devouring my childhood, my entire life in this cabin. Leaving nothing. I fight the urge to run to the river with a pail and bring back buckets of water, dousing the flames.

There’s no turning back now.

The sky is still dark, a belt of clustered stars running from north to south. But when I lower my gaze back to the wagon, Pa is awake, a hand held over his brow. Odie has backstepped away from the porch railing, dust rising around her hooves, ears jumping forward and back, frightened of the snapping flames.

“Vega . . .” Pa peers past me at the cabin, at the flames now licking through the doorway. “What did you do?”

Bravery is not summoned overnight; it takes several almost moments until the one that finally sparks a need bright enough that you’re willing to burn your old life to the ground.

“My home is gone—” I say down to him from the edge of the porch. “I should probably go with you now.”

My name—Vega—means dweller in the meadow. Mom would say that my name was a reminder that this valley was my home, that I was safe here, like a bird tucked into the cavity of its nest.

But with smoke curling up into the dawn sky behind me, flames chewing apart the cabin where I was born, I leave the valley behind.

For most of my life, I have feared the unnamable longing that has pricked at me like a briar caught in wool—a curiosity about what lay beyond the valley. The world out there is wild and savage and unkind, Mom would tell me, eyes trained up the road. We won’t leave until it’s time.

Low, mangy oaks dig their pointed limbs into the side of the wagon, shrieking against the wood, but Pa coaxes Odie on with a soft click of his tongue. In the back of the wagon, the glass jars filled with Pa’s tonic rattle a constant chorus of clinks and clangs—a sweet smell emanating from the wood crates.

The valley walls shrink away around us, and we emerge into the flat rangeland rolling out endlessly into the distance—a stretch of road dotted with bull snakes and dry scrub brush and rocky terrain known to hobble good horses. But this view isn’t new—I’ve seen it before, when Mom and I would make the rare trek to the Horaces’—though this time it’s a length of land that I’m not merely seeing from a distance, but that I will be entering into. My chest feels tight, anxious, but I refuse to glance over my shoulder and see the smoldering embers of the cabin behind us. I’ve made my decision.

Don’t look back, Mom told me once. You’re not going that way.

We slip free of the crowded oaks, and the sun becomes a scowling eye, bright and watchful. I wish we were traveling at night so I could see the stars, the comfort they bring, the reminder that no matter how far I travel, I can always use them to chart my way back to the valley.

We pass the Horaces’—a modest farmhouse set back between four shaded elm trees, with a low creek running through the land behind it. The barn is another forty yards beyond the creek, and the Horaces’ livestock of goats and sheep and cattle have gathered near the fence, watching us. Odie slows her gait, head craned toward them, but Pa snaps the reins to prod her forward. My body vibrates, a wave of nausea rising in my belly—I’m now farther beyond the valley than I’ve ever been.

Pa makes a grumbling sound, low and disapproving: He thinks this is a bad idea, taking me with him, letting me leave the valley. But he stays quiet. Maybe he knows there are reasons tucked inside me that he doesn’t understand—the whispered words shared only between Mom and me. Or maybe he can’t bear to leave me in the burnt-out remains of the cabin. So we travel in silence across the open plains while the hours tick by, the sound of the creaking wagon becoming an ache in my ears, watching birds fly in slow patterns overhead, crows and ravens out looking for unfortunate field mice and jackrabbits.

It’s stark, unwelcoming land, and I push down the knot tightening in my stomach the farther we travel from the valley. From Mom buried in the ground. From everything I’ve ever known.

Because I don’t have a choice.

When we finally leave the long expanse of rangeland and move into the clotted hills, it’s well after dark. A coyote lopes through the elms beside us, fur the color of gunmetal, paws thrumming against the soft earth. It follows us for a time, eyes darting at me as if in warning. Turn back, it cautions with its golden eyes, before it finally slips back into the briars and woodland.

It must be near midnight when we emerge through the scraggly oaks and Pa slows the wagon. “It’s called Soda Creek,” he says, nodding ahead at the barren wash, not even a trickle down the center. “It ain’t much now, but in a week or so, it’ll be flooded from spring rains. Muddy and violent, not safe to cross. We came just in time.”

Pa urges Odie through the low, dry channel and up the other side, the wagon cutting back into the trees along a shallow ridge. My eyes have grown heavy, my throat dry from the dust, and I crave sleep with the same sort of immediacy I used to crave the cool river on an unbearably hot summer day. The wagon heaves up the last rise, and we find ourselves atop a ridge, overlooking a long, open prairie. Pa pulls Odie to a halt. “We’ll camp here tonight.”

“Shouldn’t we keep going?” I press, not wanting to stop. Every hour a hammer in my eardrum, knowing there are so few left.

“It’s not safe to travel at night.” He lumbers down to the ground and begins unhitching Odie from the harness.

Ahead of us, I can see all the way down to the valley beyond—a long stretch of grassland framed by more hills in the distance.

And situated in that prairie landscape is a town.

I lie folded in Mom’s quilt watching sparks from the campfire pirouette up among the stars, comforted by the unaltered arrangement of the night sky, the placement of the Milky Way and star clusters exactly where they should be—while the dry, sparse landscape around me feels entirely foreign, smelling of strange plants and far-off winds. Just beyond the firelight, I can hear creatures moving among the dark, the flash of their eyes through the low oak trees. An eerie, ghostly feeling against my skin.

Even though sleep tugs at me, and I crave a long night’s rest, I worry that we’re traveling too slow. It took us an entire day, and we’ve only just reached the outskirts of a town in the distance.

How long will it take me to find the Architect? Days? A week? A man I’ve never met. He could be anywhere. Impossible to find if he’s in hiding, if he doesn’t want to be found. He might even be dead. But Mom always assured me that if one Architect died, there would be another to take his place. The lineage would never be lost. Just as she taught me the stories of our past to ensure they wouldn’t be forgotten, the Architect would do the same.

Somewhere out there is an Architect—and he will know the way to the sea.

I just need to find him.

Briefly I let my fingers stray to the back of my neck, tracing the lines of the tattoo, then drop my hand back to my lap and continue counting the stars above me, marking their names in my mind. “You can see Bellatrix tonight,” I say softly to Pa, pointing a finger to the west, just above the treetops. “It’s the third-brightest star in the Orion constellation.”

Pa lifts his head from the campfire, where he’s placed a cast-iron pot filled with water and dried pinto beans to boil, and looks up at the sky.

Bellatrix means female warrior,” I add, lowering my hand. “Some stars are easier to locate, like Orion’s belt or the pole star. But Mom said you have to observe all the constellations if you want to know the full story.” From a single point in the sky, you should be able to map the rest of the universe.

Pa makes a paltry sound, like he doesn’t want to think about Mom, the grief tucked away in his barrel chest. Maybe he feels guilty he wasn’t there when it happened, knelt beside her bed, a hand to her pale, hollowed cheek, a chance to say goodbye. But he has never been a constant in our lives—he is like the wandering coyote, better suited for long, dusty roads than a life within permanent walls, only stopping in the valley every month or so, when his route brings him close. Yet it’s also what I admire, envy, about him: his freedom, the ease with which he comes and goes.

His life wasn’t built around Mom—not like mine was. He didn’t wake each morning to the soft murmur of her recounting the mass and luminosity of stars, or fall asleep to the sound of her laugh, deep and forceful like a man’s—that I swear made the slatted roof of the cabin tremble like she was the winter wind itself. She had a gravity about her, and she was more complex—like a series of strange, unending riddles—than Pa will ever know.

He dips his head and resumes stirring the pinto beans, adding a little salt and unknown herbs. Odie wanders among the oaks, nibbling on bunchgrass, tail swishing through the night air. “When we reach the next town,” he says, eyes still low, “don’t talk about this to anyone else.”

“About what?”

“The stars, constellations, all the things your mom taught you.”

My eyes trace the carefully stitched seams of Mom’s quilt—a blanket that was once her mother’s, passed down to her after Grandma died. And now it belongs to me.

“They won’t understand,” he adds, flashing me a look to be sure I’ve heard him, that I understand. Like he’s still considering taking me back to the valley and leaving me there, letting me sleep in the smoldering ash of the cabin. Where I’d be safe.

“I know.” My mouth flattens, a stone rolling around in my chest. I grew up discussing the geography of stars every evening—the row of planets in our solar system, the constellations that spun across the axis of our sky each night—knowledge that Mom was carving into my bones, into my mind, because it needed to be remembered. But out here, she warned, our knowledge means something else. It threatens to unearth a past that some would like to remain hidden—forgotten. While others covet it in a way that makes my very existence dangerous.

Again, the nagging fear creeps up inside me, the old warnings scratching at my insides, telling me that I shouldn’t have left the valley, I shouldn’t be out here in the wild of this unprotected terrain. But I don’t say any of this to Pa—I’ll reveal no weakness to him, the doubt that keeps wanting to surface as I peer out into the dark of the forest surrounding us. I keep it tucked inside me. Unspoken.

After we eat, I lie on my side, the quilt tucked up to my chin, and I stare out through the clearing to the small town beyond. There are no lights, no stirring noises in the distance, only the rooflines visible against the dark horizon.

I’ve never seen a town, but I’ve imagined the way homes might sit crowded together, people living side by side, neighbors only a few steps away.

The fire sputters beside me as Pa snores, but an anxious knot twists and contorts inside my gut, making it impossible to sleep.

What if I can’t find the Architect in time? What if I’m too late.

Excerpt from Shea Ernshaw’s A Wilderness of Stars reprinted with permission from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Excerpt originally posted on



About Shea Ernshaw:

Shea Ernshaw is a NYT bestselling author and winner of the Oregon Book
Award. Her books have been published in over nineteen countries, and her novels
A History of Wild Places, The Wicked Deep, and Winterwood were Indie Next
Picks. She lives in a small mountain town in Oregon, and is happiest when lost
in a good book, lost in the woods, or writing her next novel.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub





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