#EnterTheFantastic with #MyYASummer epic first read | “The Twin Stars” (Book One: The Coseema Saga) by Bridgette D. Portman

Posted Sunday, 8 August, 2021 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I had to take a leave of absence hosting for this touring company in [2015] whilst I worked towards finding better balance in my blogging and personal life. I returnt to hosting for Lola’s Book Tours in [2018] before having to take a small hiatus from requesting future blog tours for a second time. By [2020] as my health afflictions from 2018/19 started to recede I realised I could start to host for her authors with better confidence in being able to participate on the tours themselves. I am thankful I can continue to host and feature tours by this touring company from 2020-forward.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Twin Stars” direct from the author Bridgette Dutta Portman in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why this story inspired me to read it:

Portal Fantasy is something I stumbled into in recent years – as I hadn’t come through that vortex of the genre previously. I wasn’t the right fit for Narnia (even though I enjoyed the first and third film adaptations) and I definitely was the kid who couldn’t stop watching “The Neverending Story”. What was interesting for me in your synopsis was the parallels to Neverending Story – how Bastian had to read and then live through the story which felt similar in context to your own character’s journey. I love stories which evoke such a strong reaction and connection between the world, the characters and the reader.

This is why this story appealled to me – as well as the self evolution and growth of Olive. I love coming-of age stories personally and I felt this was an interesting cross-section of why I love reading both MG and YA stories.

From the first moment I learnt of this story, I felt a pull of connection and knew I needed to feature it. I wasn’t sure at the time I signed on for the blog tour if I would be interviewing the author, hosting an extract or able to request the story for review consideration – but I felt as strong of a pull to have this story in my life this year as I have with other selections I’ve featured previously during our 4th Year of Wyrd And Wonder! There was something uniquely different about this story and I had a sense about this world as being one I would find delishly devouring about how the writer wrote the story and allowed us into her character’s journey.

During #SelfPubFantasyMonth in September, I am curating a ‘final week’ of #WyrdAndWonder posts whilst endeavouring to carry forward further readings of Self Pub Fantasy novelists. Tied into those plans will be a forthcoming interview with Ms Portman as I wasn’t able to pull that together for this blog tour due to chaotically brutal lightning storms & a myriad of tech issues I had to work through just to finish this review.

I love finding writers who are writing coming-of age stories in Speculative Young Adult – the kind of stories you almost wish had been available to read during your own childhood but feel equally as blessed to find as an adult as YA doesn’t have an exit clause for readers! Everyone can appreciate YA at any age which is why I wanted to celebrate #MyYASummer all along.

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#EnterTheFantastic with #MyYASummer epic first read | “The Twin Stars” (Book One: The Coseema Saga) by Bridgette D. PortmanThe Twin Stars
by Bridgette Dutta Portman
Source: Author via Lola's Blog Tours

A magical journal. A world savaged by its own suns. An evil prince. A princess in hiding.
And a teenage girl who learns to be the hero of her own story.

Sixteen-year-old Olive Joshi has obsessive-compulsive disorder, and can't stop worrying about hurting the people she loves. She finds refuge in writing about Coseema, a magical princess on a distant planet. Coseema is fearless, confident, and perfect - everything Olive thinks she’ll never be. When she falls through a portal into her own unfinished story, Olive finds herself in a world in peril: double suns scorch the land, the brutal Prince Burnash seeks supreme power, and Coseema is nowhere to be found. Together with her friends - a bold poet, a cursed musician, a renegade soldier, and an adventurous girl from the desert - Olive will have to face her deepest fears to find the hero in herself.

The Twin Stars is an engrossing new portal fantasy in the spirit of the Wizard of Oz, the Neverending Story,and the Chronicles of Narnia.

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Dark Fantasy, Portal Fantasy, Sci-Fantasy, Science Fiction, Space Opera, Upper YA Fantasy, Upper YA Fiction

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0995920422

Published by Titan1Studios

on 2nd July, 2021

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 326

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Ahead of reading my reactions to “The Twin Stars”
ENJOY this short extract of the novel which parlays into the ‘portal’:

She was underwater.

Olive realized it just in time to stop herself from gasping. Panic seared through her body as she thrashed about, kicking downward, tearing at the water uselessly.

There was nothing solid around her.

Murky darkness flooded her eyes; a churning roar filled her ears. Just as her starved lungs neared their limit, her left knee collided with something sharp and firm. She kicked and her foot met rock. She brought her other foot to the same position and pushed off the surface as hard as she could, propelling her body through the water.

The diminishing pain in her ears told her she was traveling upward, moving amidst an effervescence of tiny bubbles. She felt them swirling, fizzing, tickling her flesh, bearing her up toward the light as she begged her tortured lungs to hold out for another few seconds until, at last, she broke the surface.


At first, she could do nothing but devour it. When the haze of panic dissipated and her senses returned, her next coherent thought was that the plane had crashed. But this was not the icy water of the Arctic Ocean. This water felt like a warm bath. It bubbled like soda, and great plumes of vapor waltzed over its surface, spiraling upward until they melted into a golden haze. It reminded Olive of steam rising from mug. It might have been pleasant had she not nearly drowned in it.

The strange pool had a vague familiarity to it, but her head felt too muddled to sort it out.

Where was she? Where was the plane?

It crossed Olive’s mind that she was dead, and the thought sent a chill through her, but her sore knee and aching lungs reassured her. People weren’t supposed to feel pain after death, and they definitely shouldn’t need to breathe.

She treaded water, scanning her surroundings. She thought she saw movement through the curls of steam and paddled toward it, her knee smarting with each kick. Gradually the silhouette of something—no, someone—took shape as she moved through the plumes. At last, her feet touched the jagged, pebbly ground, and with a final rush of adrenaline, she pushed herself forward into the shallows. There she crouched in the warm water and stared up at the figure on the bank.

For a heartbeat, she thought it was Dadiji.

The woman had the same slight stoop, the same gently lined face, the same warm brown skin and long black hair frosted with silver. She was dressed differently, though; this woman wore deep crimson robes, with a fluted, draping cut that reminded Olive of an illustration she had once seen of an ancient Greek poet. A patch covered her right eye. Her left eye was a startlingly vivid purple, and it stared back at the young stranger who had just emerged from the steamy pool.

This was not Dadiji, and yet there was something jarringly familiar about the woman. Not until she spoke did Olive realize what it was.

“Coseema…” breathed the woman.

So, this was a dream. Olive felt a surge of relief. It did not seem like one—her knee throbbed with a very real pain—but this had to be a dream, because she was staring at a person she had made up herself.

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The Coseema Saga:

The Twin Stars (book one)

The Silver Sail (book two) *forthcoming release!

(there is a sneak preview of what is coming next @ the end of “The Twin Stars”)

I marked this as Upper YA due to the topics & subjects explored in the context of the story as well as how dark this fantasy turned in the final quarter of the novel. I felt it was better suited for Upper YA readers rather than for readers seeking traditional YA.

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Published by: Titan1Studios (@RelativityU)

Read About this debut release from Titan1Studios via their website

Converse on Twitter via: #YALit or #ILoveYA; #PortalFantasy + #SpaceOpera
as well as #TheTwinStars and #YAFantasy and #SciFantasy and #DarkFantasy

About Bridgette Dutta Portman

Bridgette Dutta Portman

Bridgette Dutta Portman is an author, playwright, and teaching artist. Dozens of her plays have been produced across the United States and overseas. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Spalding University, as well as a PhD in political science from the University of California, Irvine.

She is past president of the Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco and is currently a member of Same Boat Theater Collective, the Pear Playwrights’ Guild, and the Dramatists’ Guild. She recently joined the board of the Pear Theatre in Mountain View, CA. The Twin Stars is her debut novel, and the first of a planned trilogy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband Deepanshu and their two young children.

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my review of the twin stars:

You immediately connect with Olive – from her thoughts about OCD and how it has affected her life in ways she never imagined it would to the realities of being in a family who didn’t believe in OCD. It had to be difficult to recognise something you cannot explain and yet, it was your living reality and the people you’d think you could trust to talk to about it were not the right people who would understand it at all. I felt her frustration and her anxiety – of how everyday she had to build this projection of what was expected of her and of a reality that was not quite her own. She lived two lives – the one she knew was her truer self and the one her family accepted as Olive’s reality.

In her journal, she chronicled notes of her OCD habits (as she would repetitively check on things during the night for instance) and observations as much as she used the journal to maintain her self-checks such as what was distressing her about being on the plane. We entered her life on a flight to India though this flight itself was not your typical flight because it was a way for her and her family to say goodbye to her grandmother who had already passed. The difficulties in attending funerals and remembrances of our loved ones is reconciling their loss and the absence which is left unfilled when they exit our lives. It is hard to find a way forward when your heart is full of the grief of the person you ache to see again. All of this is going through Olive’s mind whilst in flight and it is how she turns to her own writings and worlds which is keen insight into how strong she is without realising her own strength. She found a way to redirect her anxieties and OCD inclinations through exploring a world only she could imagine into life.

Portman created a seamless transition into this portal she’s devised for her series – it felt as real as Olive had experienced it herself because of how Portman led into the transition. The emotional reaction of Olive finding her brother reading her private thoughts in the journal, the way Olive hurried to flee dealing with that breach of privacy and how cleverly the art of writing in of itself was a fixed point of how a portal could open without having to do anything else at all. Once we took that transition, we found ourselves elsewhere alongside Olive and Portman made us hungry for more of her descriptive narrative from that junction forward. It was there we started to peer into Olive’s own imaginative world and saw how imagination can broker reality and how the two can collide together to form their own existence. This is a Portal Fantasy which writers will love reading because it tucks close to our own writerly experiences in creating the characters and worlds we breathe to life whilst giving readers a strong fantastical experience of their own.

There is a beautiful moment spent between Olive and Nestra; a woman who has such a strong resemblance to Olive’s grandmother – a woman created by her own pen and planted in this world to be a mentor for her heroine Coseema and yet, it was Olive who needed her guidance now. As Portman expounds on the mythology and origins of this world, she also explained the twin stars themselves and how destructive their symbiotic relationship was to each other. For those who love Space Opera, they will love the overtures of this realm binding itself to be a bridge between where Fantasy and Science Fiction can co-merge into one beautiful symmetry of story. For this world has a timeline colliding with those stars – where a force so brutal and strong will rip away the world itself and re-envision this part of space once the stars enter supernova. It is a bond of energy that needs healing and that is at the heart of the story Portman has curated for us to entreat inside.

As Olive acquainted herself with the world she knew as only a writer would – she realised how much had changed since she first gave birth to the world itself. As she observed, someone else had rounded out the edges of her own vision – cleverly Portman fused her vision of this world with a newness of a world which took on its own character after being created. There was a certain kind of duality in the narrative itself – of seeing it through the eyes of whom created it with a palette of words as a painter would use paint and secondly, as a visitor to a world they did not yet understand but of whom knew it had a familiarity about it, too. Olive was a stranger here and yet, she was the one person who understood this world best. To see her walk through these corridors of the Sanctuary and fully experience the Musing Moon, whilst sorting out how she arrived in Lyria altogether is quite exhilarating.

Olive has cast herself into Lyria at a point in its history where suspicion is high in regards to Coseema and being a girl who could prove to be the other girls’ double (or suspected twin) is beyond dangerous as Portman proves through what happens to Olive on her arrival to the Sanctuary itself. Yet, all the while – it is the power of Olive’s own words and instincts as a writer which have the larger impact on Lyria and its inhabitants. She was pulled towards this world – to enter into it through the portal because of someone who beckoned for her to return and it was that fever of hope I felt inspired Olive to reach past her own anxiety to shift into a world she created which needed a heroine to save them.

Nestra understood Olive in a way Olive wasn’t accustomed to being understood. Whilst Jambol was more distrusting of Olive because of how much of herself she secreted away from their knowledge. She didn’t want to create a diffusion of chaos in their world more than there was already but how could she own her own truth if it meant telling them why and how they were alive? Olive felt the weight of her actions deeply and the fact that her actions created a whole world – with persons who had their own lives, their own emotions and heartaches was a bit more than she had first realised were true. The more Olive spoke to Nestra and Jambol, the more she saw behind the words she used to create Lyria. There was life here and there was far more happening on Lyria and the Musing Moon than what she had penned. In essence, the world she created had taken on a new lifeblood of its own.

Jambol was a musician, an artist with sound and the best friend of Coseema; as well as the grandson of Nestra. His path and Olive’s were meant to cross as much as Olive was meant to find Nestra – you know this the more you hug closer into this story. Olive needed to be on Lyria as much as Lyria needed her to be there; similarly to how Bastian had to save the Princess in The Neverending Story. Yet, both stories hold their own identities and the beauty is watching how this story unfolds. There are hidden dangers and there are quieter moments of reflective prose which I enjoyed the most as you could suspend yourself in the timeline of Lyria.

Yet, not everything in this world was without menace and chaos. There was a darkness growing in Lyria by way of Prince Burnash whose quest for power was burning a violent imprint on Lyria and its citizens. He had been written to represent the darkness of the Dead Sun and through that had arisen a black hearted man who could not handle anything except absolute rule. He even turnt his back on his own family and his kinfolk because he was obsessed with overruling his world. He was the brother of Coseema and he was the enemy Olive had a hard time reconciling she had created. As the longer Olive staid in their reality, the harder it was for her to accept the choices she had made in creating their story and back-histories; as it was her choices as a creator to create the good and the bad of their lives. That took a heavier toll on her soul when she was an observer of what those choices created now in the reality that had fused into her own.

Portman also showed what would happen if the toxic words which interfere with our own mental health become a manifestation of darker energy wherein the words themselves can transform into beings of destruction. It is another passageway Portman took to cross-relate the methodology and art of writing into how words can become tangible and real; taking on both a life of their own and a deeper meaning past what they were first intended to occupy. The novel itself is an exploration of the creative mind and the conscience of choice – wherein, what we choose to create and what we conscientiously attempt to achieve can become a bit muddled in execution. As Olive herself is a creator who is undertaking a coming-of age and reckoning of self whilst the world of Lyria is struggling to survive its relentless tyrant and ruler in Burnash.

By the time Olive decided she had to act to change her fate and the fate of this world, she hadn’t realised how hard evoking change here would become. She took one of the cleverest creatures I’ve read about recently (ie. a fluttercamel) to aide in her escape – which was interesting as it was part bird (with wings!) and part camel and fox. It was one of those hybrid creatures I’ve come to love finding in Fantasy but without any bits of it being hard to handle seeing as sometimes Fantasy can produce a lot of creatures which make your skin crawl. Fluttercamels are gentle spirits and have a grace of their own in flight. The irony of course is how her choice in transportation is what ended up saving her life once the desert she fled inside proved to be its own challenge for a traveller of a different world!

Portman changed the pace of the novel in the last quarter of the story to reflect a second transition point where Olive, Bel and Jambol go on a bit of an adventure of their own. Bel is the daughter of the woman who provided refuge for Olive, Jambol and Nestra when they had to escape the Musing Moon but it was Bel’s fortitude and courage which helped lead them into the underground where Bel was reunited with her long-lost Aunt. Although I had missed the journey being co-joined with Nestra as I felt a strong connection between Olive and her grandmother with Olive and Nestra, I knew it was important for Olive to branch out on her own – not just to wrestle out some of what was weighing on her mind and heart, but to tackle a challenge that she needed to see through for her own well being. When the teens went off on their own, it helped re-pivot the story and allowed us to learn more about the histories of Lyria, especially in the different regions of the world where even Olive herself knew less than she realised.

There is a lot of symmetry and overlays with the title of the first installment of this series – there are twin stars in Lyria but the concept of twins and of siblings plays out in different ways as you read the story. This affects the perception of how Olive views herself and her own personal identity which is attached to a portion of her life before birth and how she sees herself in the current timeline of the story as well. It also reflects an interesting ying and yang effect – of how to have a measure of Light in a world you also have to reflect on the Darkness as well. I love finding hidden layers with stories as much as I love a wicked wonderful foundation of an evolving series – The Twin Stars happily kept me both entertained and museful of where we’d venture next within the pages of The Silver Sail. As I had a feeling it might be a clue towards how Lyria’s surviving people will have to travel offworld in order to survive in the long-term.

Fly in the Ointment: Story Direction:

The only downside to this story is that it took a bit of a darker turn in the final pages which I hadn’t picked up on as I was reading the story. Usually there is a bit of foreshadowing when there is a surprise at the end – where I can intuit it before it arrives but in all honesty, I hadn’t foreseen the shift in tone and conclusion as I wished I could have earlier on in the story. For me, part of the joy I had reading this story was diluted a bit because I had trouble rectifying the ending with the heart of the story itself – I think for me, it would have better if the trajectory I believed was the course we were all taking towards the end of the first installment had remained because the path I ended up on was a bit too hard to process.

I felt disappointed and a bit disillusioned too because it was such a hard journey up until this point and then, sadly, I wished it could have gone another way. The only bright spot for me is how Nestra, Jambol and Olive were able to have a conclusion to their individual storylines which I felt was fitting for each of them because it felt honourable to what had happened to them all along. I just felt full of grief for Coseema and the choices which were made on behalf of her character.

on the speculative writerly styling of bridgette dutta portman:

In the opening chapter, Portman has Olive express what it is like to write through grief and the sorrow of losing a loved one – something I could understand myself, as when my grandfather took ill when I was eighteen it set off a series of blocks and start/stops with my own writings. He survived that illness but it took ten years for me to regain the rhythm I once had prior to his illness. He thankfully lived a few years longer past his illness and we enjoyed the time we had with him. However, Portman highlighted this in a way that I could relate too myself – in how she categorised the stopping point for Olive as “trying to sculpt with fog” which is something that felt particularly personal to me as that is exactly the right phrase which I can relate to my own issues in writing throughout my life. Sometimes something takes you out of your own synergy for creating and it takes a heap of patience to find your way back to where you’re creatively recharged.

Colours have a strong presence in the context of the story – all of the textured colours are illuminated and given their own sense of ownership in the story, too. I loved how Portman etched out her world-building – giving us the dimensional shifts and layers I have come to love from reading Speculative Fiction and especially during my forays into #WyrdAndWonder. On top of which, the multiculturalism is beautifully inclusive of both the back-story of Olive and her family and carried forward into the world of the Twin Stars themselves.

Portman’s writing reminds me dearly of Elizabeth Foster’s – within the pages of Esme’s Wish (see also Review) especially how well tuned both women are into writing convicting Young Adult narratives for today’s audience who are seeking solidly crafted world-building, strong female characters and a beautifully lush fantastical background wherein the suspension between reality and fantasy can entice you into a wholly new world of enlightenment. These are the kinds of Young Adult Speculative Fiction writers I am truly blessed to be able to champion on my blog Jorie Loves A Story because they are creating something quite spectacular for today’s adventurous reader!

Portman and Foster also used water as the catalyst of how their portals work in connecting both the world as we know it through their lead character’s life into their otherworld where their characters meet people they never felt would be possible to know and be amongst. It is an interesting mechanism to use as a travelling method because it can be used in two different ways – Foster used a more traditional route of how water can fuse one world to another whilst endeavouring us to take a leap of faith about how water can become a transport of time and worlds whilst Portman evoked her portal through intentional thought and a transitional watery transportation. Uniquely, I loved how both of them eclipsed the science behind their portals and presented their worlds to us.

For me, Young Adult Fiction – of any variety is open to readers of all ages who are seeking the kinds of stories which speak to them to be read. It doesn’t matter where you enter into YA as long as you’ve enjoyed your journey therein and can take out the beauty of what was left for you to find by the writers who are giving us such a hearty tome of lovely worlds to explore and feel blessed to have journeyed inside.

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Speculative Elements of Fantasy and Science Fiction:

→ Magical Loom (Nestra’s)

→ Dimensional Portal (bridging Olive & Coseema’s worlds together)

→ the Gem Garden (it is an exquisitely described rooftop garden of crystals & gems)

→ Hybrid and Cross-species Animals

love stepping through an author’s vision for their world and tucking into all the corners of their vision for it. In this instance, you don’t have to wait too long to see the magical and fantastical illuminate through your own imagination as Portman’s words entice you further into the story as Olive takes up residence in Lyria. It is here where you see things you’d expect to find in a genre bent story which fuses Science Fiction with Portal Fantasy; as much as I credit this for being partially a Sci-Fantasy story as well.

The first object I loved seeing was Nestra’s loom but there are other elements of Sci-Fantasy for your readerly delight to enjoy seeing as well. There is a wonderful gift for magic in this realm – where the arts are vortexes of energy to produce elemental magic into life and where magic itself is co-dependent on the artist or creator to give magic life itself. It is an intriguing part of the framework of this world and I loved seeing where Portman led us to traverse within that aspect of the story.

As foresaid, the fluttercamels are my favourite cross-species animal and creature to discover in The Twin Stars as they are such a cleverly fun animal to have inclusive of the story!

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Equality in Lit:

→ Mental Health Awareness

→ OCD (Descriptive and thoughtful depictions)

→ Anxiety

→ Multicultural Characters

Throughout The Twin Stars, mental health is addressed and highlighted through Olive’s journey dealing with anxiety and OCD. She openly discloses what her journey is like dealing with both and how they intercede into her life on a daily basis. It is a realistic portrayal of someone who is aware of their own OCD tendencies and is unable to stop having OCD overtake their life because of how OCD manifests itself in their life. Portman used Olive’s journal as a record and chronicling of how OCD affects Olive – which is telling in of its own.

The multicultural heritage and characterisations within The Twin Stars is beautifully interwoven into the context of the story and has its own individual component of continuity as well. There is a lovely connectiveness between Olive’s reality and the reality within Lyria – of how Portman fused certain representations of Olive’s internal life as a writer with her outward life as well. In those fusions, Portman has written a lovely portrait of Olive and of Lyria; where both worlds are equal and parallel of each other.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

The Twin Stars blog tour badge was provided by Lola's Blog Tours and is used with permission.Be sure to click the banner to visit the rest of the tour route!

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I enjoy being a hostess for:

Lola's Blog Tours banner provided by Lola Blog Tours and is used with permission.Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Reading “The Twin Stars” kicks off #MyYASummer on Jorie Loves A Story. A tailored concentration of reading YA & celebrating YA during the Summery months – of which, I am co-hosting this year with Peyton @ Word Wilderness of whom already posted her #MyYASummer Announcement! Return to #JLASblog next Sunday for more info!

#MyYASummer badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com{Sources: Book Cover for “The Twin Stars”, synopsis of “The Twin Stars”, author biography and photograph (of Bridgette Dutta Portman), the extract from “The Twin Stars”, blog  tour banner and host badge were provided by Lola’s Blog Tours and are being used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review banner, #MyYASummer banner as well as the Comment Box Banner.}

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 8 August, 2021 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Coming-Of Age, Dark Fantasy, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Lola's Blog Tours, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Portal Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Upper YA Fantasy, Upper YA Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

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