Genre: Children's Literature

An Audiobook Spotlight w/ Notes | “The House Called Hadlows” by Victoria Walker (Clayton), narrated by Kim Bretton

Posted Thursday, 8 October, 2020 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Spotlight banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in [2016] as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring, knitting and playing solitaire agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions.

Through hosting for Audiobookworm Promotions, I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding podcasters who are sharing their bookish lives through pods. Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue wherein I can also request new digital audiobooks to become added to their OverDrive selections. Aside from OverDrive I also enjoy having Audible & Scribd memberships as my budget allows. It is a wonderful new journey and one I enjoy sharing – I have been able to expand the percentage of how many audios I listen to per year since 2018.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “The House Called Hadlows” via Audiobookworm Promotion who is working with Kim Bretton on this blog tour in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I was wickedly enchanted by my journey
into the Sebastian & Melissa series:

Walker plunges you into this world of mystery and magic with such an ease of alignment, you wonder why you’ve not yet traversed through her lens of enchantment sooner! From the nuanced details about the ways in which she built Sebastian’s world – to the foods his cook prepared for him to the more curious details how his life and world was now co-merging into another world’s dilemma. You found connection through the details but she also encouraged you to think further outside the box of what is unthinkable and plausible to imagine. She acts as the guide to give your imagination good folly to exercise its limits and I love her for it!

As I was listening to the story – I saw moments of familiarity within the story – of how it was being told and some of the entanglements of the magical bits of the world. I felt it had a brilliant cross matching of themes and events which could be pulled straight out of The Neverending Story and Jumanji and yet, I wasn’t sure if those stories were writ first or second to this one. Whichever way round, the beauty of course is recognising certain themes and story threads whilst finding a wonderful new world to entreat inside which plays by its own rules.

As Bretton describes the background of Sebastian’s world you can gather he’s living in a rather bustling community but it is how he absently walks through this towne and how he arrives where he is meant to be rather than where he was intending to be is what gave me the most smirks! As isn’t that just as real and humbling honest about our own lives? We sometimes make discoveries we aren’t meaning to make but still find all the same?! I love how he was walking without much direction and finding himself more in the way of others than enjoying the adventure of being outside. By the time he reaches the old furniture shop memories of visiting antiquarian book shoppes and early attic stores came back to mind! I loved those visitations in my childhood as they were great fodder for an emerging writer – as the objects and items for sale were futile ground for my imagination.

The descriptive details about Sebastian’s discovery of the mirror was pure joy! I loved how Walker leant into the scene to pull us closer to Sebastian’s widening eyes as he drew a more curious astonishment about what he was seeing – you can feel what Sebastian felt in that moment and it was awe-inspiring! Especially as the mirror itself was serving as a portal into a different world as much as Bastian’s book served him. The cat he encounters reminded me of the felicity of finding cats in places I had unexpected to find them and how their nature drew you towards them even if you had other things on your mind at the time.

As Sebastian starts to speak with Melissa, she helps him understand how her world and his can merge together – with one keen exception, she cannot cross into his world! When it came time for Sebastian to enter Melissa’s world I was so caught up in the moment with Sebastian, I, too, had forgotten to notice there had been a shifting of worlds – of where his and hers suddenly had merged together and he had taken such a keen step forward into the unknown! The cat (of course) plays a strong role in how he can make this transition as much as the magical object he hadn’t realised he was in possession over – yet, when it came time to visualise this transitional scene, Walker illuminated it with the childhood curiosity and wonderment you could sense and taste as an adult reader who still has the innocence of youth.

I liked how the story was ahead of its time showcasing the differences in boys and girls – and how girls should be seen on equal grounds with each other. Whilst at the same time, I liked how cheeky the fourth wall was broken in some places like when there is a point in the story where the focus is off of Sebastian and Melissa and the reader is acknowledged. I love how subtle this was done and how well those moments fit within the context of the story itself.

One of the best blessings though is her command of language and phrases – she has such a firm presence of wordsmithing this series into a wonderful display of descriptive narrative and sharp bursts of dialogue – the whole story simply feels alive on its own accord. You can almost feel the leaves which are part of Autumnus and you definitely feel like giving a big hug to each of the Seasonal Guardians Sebastian had met on his journey.

-quoted from my review of The Winter of Enchantment

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An Audiobook Spotlight w/ Notes | “The House Called Hadlows” by Victoria Walker (Clayton), narrated by Kim BrettonThe House Called Hadlows
by Victoria Walker (Clayton)
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Kim Bretton

The sequel to The Winter of Enchantment and the return of Mantari the magic cat.

Sebastian and Melissa would never forget their arrival at the house called Hadlows. The long drive through the neglected park and woodland, the lake glimpsed through trees, the house, with its "thousand windows" looking down on them and the great hall, empty but for the portraits covering the walls. Hadlows held a secret, of that they were sure.

Genres: Children's Literature, Classical Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Middle Grade Fantasy, Portal Fantasy


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781906123024

ASIN: B08D26C1X3

Also by this author: The Winter of Enchantment

Also in this series: The Winter of Enchantment


Published by Victoria Clayton Limited

on 22nd July, 2020

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 5 hours and 34 minutes (unabridged)

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The Sebastian & Melissa series:

The Winter of Enchantment by Victoria WalkerThe House Called Hadlows by Victoria Walker

The Winter Enchantment (book one) | see also my review

The House Called Hadlows (book two)

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #AudioReads, #Audiobook and #AudiobookwormPromotions

as well as #KidsLit, #ClassicFantasy, #MGFantasy or #MiddleGrade and #Fantasy; #PortalFantasy

About Victoria Walker (Clayton)

Photo Credit: Kim Bretton Photo is being used with permission.

Victoria Walker was twenty-one when she wrote The Winter of Enchantment in 1968. A second story about Sebastian and Melissa, The House Called Hadlows, was published in 1972. In 1973 she went to Cambridge University to read English and married immediately after finishing her degree. Two children followed and two decades passed before she began to write under her married name of Victoria Clayton. She lives with her husband in Northamptonshire.

Photo Credit: Kim Bretton

(photo is the original illustration by the author on behalf of her series)

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Thursday, 8 October, 2020 by jorielov in Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Blog Tour Host, Children's Classics, Children's Literature, Classical Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Indie Author, Juvenile Fiction, Middle Grade Novel, Portal Fantasy, Self-Published Author

#EnterTheFantastic an Audiobook Review during #RIPXV | “The Winter Enchantment” by Victoria Walker (Clayton), narrated by Kim Bretton

Posted Thursday, 1 October, 2020 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in [2016] as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring, knitting and playing solitaire agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions.

Through hosting for Audiobookworm Promotions, I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding podcasters who are sharing their bookish lives through pods. Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue wherein I can also request new digital audiobooks to become added to their OverDrive selections. Aside from OverDrive I also enjoy having Audible & Scribd memberships as my budget allows. It is a wonderful new journey and one I enjoy sharing – I have been able to expand the percentage of how many audios I listen to per year since 2018.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “A Winter of Enchantment” via Audiobookworm Promotion who is working with Kim Bretton on this blog tour in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Why this series left me curious to listen too:

As one of the co-hosts of @WyrdAndWonder every year now for the past three years (2018-2020) I have been attempting to seek out Classics in Fantasy – especially Classical Children’s Fantasy stories as I would like to establish a better foundation for a genre I have loved since I was seventeen. I grew up loving the films within The Neverending Story series whilst I hungered after more Fantasy films ever since I first saw Pete’s Dragon (the original). There was a mysterious enchantment about those stories – about how magic was interstepping through our world and how sometimes the magical was just round the next corner in our own  individual journeys.

Knowing what I know now about my preferences for reading Fantasy, it shouldn’t have been such a keen revelation to realise I would learn to adore and become passionately enthused by reading (or listening) Urban Fantasy and/or Portal Fantasy. In this particular series, the two are interchangeable because it is partially within an Urban Fantasy framework as Sebastian must cross into the realm wherein Melissa has been living in confinement whilst Sebastian lives in our own world. Yet it is a beautiful Portal Fantasy wherein certain objects act as the transportation and teleportation channels of travelling through both worlds.

I was hoping this series might help me re-align into reading (and listening) to more Fantasy this Autumn. I’ve been attempting to get back into Fantasy since Wyrd And Wonder ended our third year in May; after a series of clustering migraines and other life adversities took me out of their stories. I fought hard during Summer to win back the joy I had in May and in some bursts of readerly blissitude, I had reattained that happiness I had felt in May but it never held. My migraines were a blustering nightmare this Summer and I am thankful as October has finally dawned I am hopeful they will start to lessen their hold on me.

I knew I would immediately connect with Ms Bretton’s voice but what surprised me so happily is how anchoured I felt inside this world of Sebastian & Melissa!! It is a world that is so engaging as you first start to read (or listen) to it – wherein you feel as if this isn’t your first foray into its world. Every turn of the story is a new chance to see something quite fantastical and there are creatures and sweet dialogue inside this story that warms your bookish heart, too! It is a charming representation of Classical Children’s Fantasy and the innocence of their journey together is what I loved most!

Thereby I was lead by earnest curiosity to listen to this series and through that curiosity I have found myself re-aligning back into a genre I love dearly! I am so thankful to be on this blog tour and to have found a new author whose artful crafting of Fantasy has become a new beloved favourite!

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#EnterTheFantastic an Audiobook Review during #RIPXV  | “The Winter Enchantment” by Victoria Walker (Clayton), narrated by Kim BrettonThe Winter of Enchantment
by Victoria Walker (Clayton)
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Kim Bretton

A magic mirror enables Sebastian to travel from his Victorian world of winter snow and Mrs Parkin to a magic world of Melissa, Mantari, and wicked Enchanter and many other exciting people.

This wonderful audiobook follows in the great tradition of the E. Nesbit magic books. Since its first publication in 1969 it has proved its appeal to children of every age. Long out of print until republished by Fidra Books in the UK and Purple House Press in the USA, it received praise from respected children's authors. The sequel to this book is called The House Called Hadlows.

Genres: Children's Literature, Classical Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Middle Grade Fantasy, Portal Fantasy


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ASIN: B08B4645R9

Also by this author: The House Called Hadlows

Also in this series: The House Called Hadlows


Published by Victoria Clayton Limited

on 15th June, 2020

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 4 hours and 13 minutes (unabridged)

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The Sebastian & Melissa series:

The Winter of Enchantment by Victoria WalkerThe House Called Hadlows by Victoria Walker

The Winter Enchantment (book one)

The House Called Hadlows (book two)

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #AudioReads, #Audiobook and #AudiobookwormPromotions

as well as #KidsLit, #ClassicFantasy, #MGFantasy or #MiddleGrade and #Fantasy; #PortalFantasy

About Victoria Walker (Clayton)

Photo Credit: Kim Bretton Photo is being used with permission.

Victoria Walker was twenty-one when she wrote The Winter of Enchantment in 1968. A second story about Sebastian and Melissa, The House Called Hadlows, was published in 1972. In 1973 she went to Cambridge University to read English and married immediately after finishing her degree. Two children followed and two decades passed before she began to write under her married name of Victoria Clayton. She lives with her husband in Northamptonshire.

Photo Credit: Kim Bretton

(photo is the original illustration by the author on behalf of her series)

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Thursday, 1 October, 2020 by jorielov in Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Blog Tour Host, Children's Classics, Children's Literature, Classical Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Indie Author, Juvenile Fiction, Middle Grade Novel, Portal Fantasy, Self-Published Author

A #KidsLit Book Spotlight with Notes | featuring “Hector: At Ground Level” by Gary Finnan

Posted Friday, 24 July, 2020 by jorielov , , , , , 1 Comment

Stories in the Spotlight banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: Over the past few years I’ve been subscribing to Scribd off/on as a more affordable way to listen to audiobooks outside of the ones I am borrowing via my local libraries (of whom have OverDrive). Thereby, as I currently have my subscription to Scribd renewed this Summer, the copy of “Hector: At Ground Level” is self-provided through my subscription to Scribd rather than being provided with a complimentary copy of the story. Therefore, I am choosing to participate on the book blitz, sharing my ruminations with my readers for my own edification but also, as a continuation of a reader’s love for illustrated stories and picture books. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I’ve been a bit consumed with health afflictions, stormy weather patterns, connectivity issues and a bit of personal chaos – much the same as I believe most of us who are muddling through different obstacles this year. When I saw the announcement for this lovely little book with the cute little hedgie on the cover, I knew I wanted to participate on the blitz to help ‘announce’ it to my readers who might feel drawn to the premise as I had myself. As it is a keen story to find these days – as it speaks to how despite the circumstances of our lives as we live them, it is a mark of a person’s character how they set their attitude to ride through the harder times than anything else.

We can never know what is coming round the next corner or which emergency might derail our plans in the spontaneity of a life effecting moment arriving out of the blue – but we can *choose!* how we react and how we act after the crisis is over. Those are the defining moments where we learn the most about ourselves and we seek to find a bit of peace out of the storms which affect us at different seasons of our lives.

One of the things which has kept me firmly grounded through my own share of adversities (outside of my faith) is recognising the smaller moments in life – the lightness of a butterfly fluttering past me, the joy of a flower seeking the sun, the rays of light peeking through the clouds whilst noting all the different animals and birds who carve out their own habitat next to ours – in our cities, neighbourhoods and natural forests. There is a bit of joy everyday waiting for us to find it and it is quite true – sometimes, if you’re always looking skyward, you miss a heap on the surface – because sometimes, you have to take a more simpler route to finding what needs to be seen.

I was quite curious about this title and felt others might be as well – I was further overjoyed when I realised Scribd has the original edition which was released in May, 2013. I happily took advantage of my subscription to read a chapter sampler’s worth of the story in order to tuck in my personal thoughts about how this story starts to unfold whilst happily highlighting it for those who might not have heard of its release!

I generally only use Scribd for audiobooks, however, every blue moon – they have a digital copy of a book I’d love to read in print – which allows me to read a short sampler of the stories before I seek them in an edition I can read and enjoy myself. As due to chronic migraines I can only read stories in print or seek them in audiobook.

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A #KidsLit Book Spotlight with Notes | featuring “Hector: At Ground Level” by Gary FinnanHector
Subtitle: At Ground Level and Beyond: A Very Simple Love Story
by Gary Finnan
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Camryn Finnan, Elina Cherianidou
Source: Scribd | Subscription

This Little Book is about being present to the wonders that exist around us At Ground Level, discovering all that we fail to see when we spend so much of our lives chasing bigger, better, faster, more, endeavouring to fly higher.

Everything else seems much more desirable around us than ourselves, or our lives and loves, after a long day at the slug farm.

When do we decide how to proceed with the life we have built thus far: Joy, Passion,

Marriage, Divorce, Suicide, Enlightenment? Choices we have made. What if you built from a place of strength rather than always feeling diminished and unfulfilled? A life built upon the life you have, rather than the elusive life you imagine, yet fear. Build a great life in balance with your best self and your nurtured relationships. Transformation is seeing the hidden gems that truly exist in plain sight.

We have all heard someone say, The grass is greener on the other side. Is it?

Most of us were 4 or 5 years old when the belief structure we made with life set in: I am stupid, I am weak, I don’t deserve, etc. We engaged believing that we should spend our lives proving that we are who we believe everyone else thinks we are. Breaking the cycle of doubt is essential. Loving self is the first love.

The grass is greenest where you are!

Genres: Artistic Adaptations &/or Picture Books, Children's Literature, Illustrated Stories, Self-Improvement & Self-Actualisation


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1935254447

Published by Balboa Press

on 17th December, 2019

Format: Scribd | Chapter Sampler

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Published by: Balboa Press (@BalboaPress)

(*) Note: the edition I am referencing on my post is for the paperback version (in regards to the ISBN, pub date) which has a different publisher listed – however, this spotlight tour is highlighting the ebook edition by Balboa Press – which is why I am showcasing the cover art and other materials reflecting Balboa Press. Whereas the edition I was reading a sampler from on Scribd was the original edition of this story and completely separate from the current paperback & ebook editions.

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #KidsLit, #Illustration, #SelfHelp
as well as #LoveBooksTours & #Hedgehogs

About Gary Finnan

Born in Scotland and raised in Zimbabwe and South Africa, Gary Finnan splits his time between Sonoma Wine country in California and his farm in Aiken South Carolina, along with his wife Eva and two daughters. Gary is an award-winning inspirational author.

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Posted Friday, 24 July, 2020 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book Spotlight, Indie Author, Love Books Tours

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Ariella and the Curse of Dawnhaven” (Dawnhaven: Book One) by Owen Crane

Posted Saturday, 23 May, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: Right before #WyrdAndWonder, I received a review request directly from the author Owen Crane. It was good timing as I was starting to assemble my chat schedule of guest authors for @SatBookChat for May as I knew I wanted to highlight Indie Fantasy authors during the chat whilst Wyrd And Wonder was underway. As a bit of a meet-greet for participants and authors as well as for my regular chatters to gain some exposure and introduction to what Fantasy can provide as a reader and/or learn about the craft from a writer’s perspective. Thereby, I offered to host Mr Crane during #SatBookChat whilst accepting his novel for review.

I received a complimentary copy of “Ariella and the Curse of Dawnhaven” direct from the author Owen Crane in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Reading and Chatting about Dawnhaven during #WyrdAndWonder:

I truly enjoyed being able to chat about this series, the debut of the author’s and to highlight another introductory conversation about Fantasy during #SatBookChat! It allowed me to present Fantasy in an approachable manner to my regular chatters who might not read as much Fantasy as I do but feel inclined to discuss it in case it might become a new niche of joy for them to chase after as well. It also gave the participants of Wyrd And Wonder a chance to ask an author direct questions about his writerly style of approaching Fantasy, why he personally loves the genre of Fantasy and what his plans were for the series which first begins with “Ariella and the Curse of Dawnhaven”!

During the chat we were able to root out there are five books planned for this series which follows the five year Journey Ariella is undertaking with the Guardians. I felt this made the most sense when Crane disclosed it because it would allow for the most growth out of Ariella as well as the secondary cast of characters to have their chance to shine throughout the saga, too. I love long series in genres – it allows you to gain further knowledge about the world itself, the characters who live there and in a way, you get to stay longer in worlds you don’t wish to exit if it had only been a one-off story.

As we were chatting, we also discovered how much I appreciate reading Fantasy where the Light is not snuffed out by the Darkness. Nor do I seek out overtly gritty and gruesomely violent stories – (in Fantasy or other genres!) as I like to sink my teeth into stories which have quests for the characters to endure and/or there is something they need to either achieve or overcome but not to the point where the context of their stories are erasing the joy in which I pursue the stories I want to be reading. I was thankful a writer of Middle Grade Fantasy also felt this way because too often I am finding Middle Grade & Young Adult Fantasy are becoming a bit to adult in how they are either too darkly lit or too adult in their themes and story-lines.

There is a wonderment of joy seeking out Fantasy as a younger reader – that suspension of reality and the fantastical where innocent curiosity and joy can be nurtured through a story which doesn’t seek to erase that innocence but to capitalise on a well-told story in this ‘otherworld’ place which feels like ours but is wholly new & exciting to explore. I have oft felt Middle Grade & Young Adult stories should be focused more on encouraging younger readers to read well-rounded stories – where there can be adversity and challenge as well as growing transitions in their lives but not to the brink where it feels oppressively dire. This is one reason why I seek out a lot of coming-of age stories – as those can lend better to the kind of story I am seeking out of Children’s Literature.

Having the chance to discuss this series and to talk about Fantasy with Mr Crane was a true delight of joy for me because I like shining a light on Indie Authors who are curating the kind of stories which give me a wicked good time reading! If I could help encourage other readers to try his series and to give an Indie Fantasy series a chance at being one of their next favourite reads – I’ve happily passed forward the joy of discovering his novel! I am thankful he found my blog and submitted a review request – otherwise none of this would have been possible! 

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A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | “Ariella and the Curse of Dawnhaven” (Dawnhaven: Book One) by Owen CraneAriella and the Curse of Dawnhaven
by Owen Crane
Source: Direct from Author

Ariella Lightharbour is heir to the crown with a nation at her feet but knows she’s meant for more. Forsaking her throne she chooses to become a Guardian. As she embarks on The Journey she must find the courage within herself to battle the deadly Ghost Raiders that murdered her father, discover the identity of the elusive shadow and fight to end the curse that threatens to overwhelm the land.

Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Middle Grade, Middle Grade Fantasy


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 979-8607648008

Published by Self Published

on 29th March, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 214

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This is a Self-Published Novel

The Original Title for this story was Ariella and the Blood Curse (2015)

Converse via: #Dawnhaven, #MGLit, #MGFantasy
as well as #MiddleGrade #Fantasy, #IndieAuthor/s, #WyrdAndWonder

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Saturday, 23 May, 2020 by jorielov in #Unboxing BookMail, #WyrdAndWonder, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Book Review (non-blog tour), Childhood Friendship, Coming-Of Age, Fantasy Fiction, Juvenile Fiction, Life Shift, Light vs Dark, Middle Grade Novel, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event