Genre: Literary Fiction

#PubDay Book Review | “Adequate Yearly Progress” by Roxanna Elden

Posted Tuesday, 11 February, 2020 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I have been a book blogger hosting publisher blog tours and/or featuring book reviews for Simon & Schuster (as well as a few of their imprints) since 2017 however I didn’t start to host for them regularly until 2018. What I appreciate about being a book blogger for this publisher is that they have the tendency of knowing the types of Contemporary & Historical stories which interest me to read even before I realise there is a new release forthcoming which I might gravitate towards wanting to read! It never fails to delight me finding one of their emails in my Inbox because they have the tendency of selecting the stories which align wonderfully with my own bookish wanderings. It is a joy to be a book blogger on their publisher blog tours and/or hosting reviews for them outside of the organised blog tours.

I received a complimentary copy of “Adequate Yearly Progress” direct from the publisher Atria Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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The reason reading ”Adequate Yearly Progress” appealled to me:

Ever since I was in school, I oft wondered what the teachers were talking about when they weren’t in the classroom. Growing up during budget cuts in the public & private school systems in the United States was an interesting view of the education system. Programs like Art, Drama, Shop (construction) and anything ‘extra’ after school were generally the first to get cut whilst they also had shortages on textbooks which is why I still remember how difficult it was to ‘lose our lockers’ in seventh and eighth grade because we literally had to go down to using ‘class sets’ without taking anything home except for copied work sheets which you could do in your sleep. In other words, for a lot of the years I was in school I didn’t feel academically challenged but what I gained instead was self-confidence, self-advocacy and self-esteem; in essence, I was building life skills and learning how to navigate the world.

Still though – there was a lot of bureaucratic red tape for the teachers, including the good ones who were student centred and held our interests ahead of their own. Some wanted to do more but were hindered by the budget or the restraints of the rules within public or private education (depending which school I was attending and which grade level). The only time I really had a chance to interact with the faculty and teachers more directly was in eighth grade where I befriended the school principal who tragically died prematurely shortly afterwards and in high school where the veil was fully lifted and I learnt far more than I expected!

For these reasons and the current state of public education in America, I decided this might be a rather timely novel to be reading. I also grew up being a dyslexic learner where most of my teachers didn’t realise I had learning difficulties because I learnt to overcompensate for my dyslexia – however, that’s a topic for another time as it lead to its own quirky complications!

Suffice it to say, from a very young age when it came to academic curiosity and literary wanderings – I did most of my educational pursuits off-campus and outside traditional education. I learnt more from my Mum who was technically my first teacher and through my family who always encouraged me to have as many experiences as I could and to seek out alternative learning opportunities.

Once I learnt how to work round my dyslexia the world of books became a cosy comfort because there wasn’t a subject I couldn’t explore on my own and there was a wide literary world out there to time travel through – in essence, what I have shared on Jorie Loves A Story is a small fraction of insight into my life as an independent learner and a self-motivating reader who continues to self-educate herself through literature and libraries.

Thus, I was dearly curious how this Contemporary novel might explore the current state of the educational system and the teachers who have a lot to deal with in regards to resources available to them in order to educate the children in their classrooms. I also thought it might have some cheeky humour along the way which is always a good thing to find!

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#PubDay Book Review | “Adequate Yearly Progress” by Roxanna EldenAdequate Yearly Progress
by Roxanna Elden
Source: Direct from Publisher

Roxanna Elden’s “laugh-out-loud funny satire” (Forbes) is a brilliantly entertaining and moving look at our education system.

Each new school year brings familiar challenges to Brae Hill Valley, a struggling high school in one the biggest cities in Texas. But the teachers also face plenty of personal challenges and this year, they may finally spill over into the classroom.

English teacher Lena Wright, a spoken-word poet, can never seem to truly connect with her students. Hernan D. Hernandez is confident in front of his biology classes, but tongue-tied around the woman he most wants to impress. Down the hall, math teacher Maybelline Galang focuses on the numbers as she struggles to parent her daughter, while Coach Ray hustles his troubled football team toward another winning season. Recording it all is idealistic second-year history teacher Kaytee Mahoney, whose anonymous blog gains new readers by the day as it drifts ever further from her in-class reality. And this year, a new superintendent is determined to leave his own mark on the school—even if that means shutting the whole place down.

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Education & Learning, Literary Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Teachers & Educators


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781982135027

Published by Atria Books

on 11th February, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 400

 Published By:  Published By: Atria Books (@AtriaBooks)
{imprint of} Simon & Schuster (

Converse via: #AdequateYearlyProgress, #ContemporaryFiction + #RealisticFiction
Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Audiobook & Ebook

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About Roxanna Elden

Roxanna Elden

Roxanna Elden is the author of Adequate Yearly Progress: A Novel, and See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers. She combines eleven years of experience as a public school teacher with a decade of speaking to audiences around the country about education issues. She has been featured on NPR as well as in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and more.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Tuesday, 11 February, 2020 by jorielov in 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Equality In Literature, Fly in the Ointment, Learning Difficulties, Literary Fiction, Modern Day, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Publishers & Presses (Direct Reviews), School Life & Situations, Simon & Schuster, Teacher & Student Relationships, Vulgarity in Literature

Blog Book Tour featuring an #INSPY author I used to interact with via Southern Belle View Daily! | “The Fifth Avenue Story Society” by Rachel Hauck

Posted Monday, 10 February, 2020 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquiried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. This is how I came to love discovering the Harlequin Heartwarming authors & series as much as it has been an honour to regularly request INSPY stories and authors. Whenever I host for Prism, I know I am in for an uplifting read and a journey into the stories which give me a lot of joy to find in my readerly queue of #nextreads. It is an honour to be a part of their team of book bloggers.

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “The Fifth Avenue Story Society” direct from the publisher Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why this blog tour reminds me of being engaged
with the Southern Belle View Daily community of INSPY authors:

It wasn’t too long ago I was an active commenter on author’s blogs (ie. 2012) wherein I had my first taste of what the book blogosphere involved and how readers were finding ways to interact directly with authors they had either read or were dearly hoping to read ‘next’. This predates when my vocabulary involved the term “TBR” and long before my own blog was as whispered dream which readily became a reality on the 31st of March (in 2013).

Just ahead of developing Jorie Loves A Story, I discovered Southern Belle View Daily (earlier in 2013) and it was happily bookmarked through my browser’s RSS feeds reader (remember that option?). I loved visiting with the authors who were at the helm of the blog: Lisa Wingate, Rachel Hauck, Julie Cantrell, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson and Beth Webb Hart were the original ladies I interacted with whilst Eva Marie Everson, Kellie Coates Gilbert, Amy Hill Hearth, Denise Hildreth Jones, Jolina Petersheim and Nicole Seitz joined them off/on over the years.

They would host interactive forum discussions on their blog and even the occasional bookaway – I won Beth Webb Hart’s  Moon Over Edisto whilst during my first month of being a book blogger in 2013 I had the opportunity to review Lisa Wingate’s The Prayer Box which also became my first blog tour! Whilst getting Jorie Loves A Story off the ground and dealing with life as it was being lived whilst juggling my chronic migraines – I found I wasn’t able to maintain the connections I had established prior to being a book blogger on the author blogs I had frequented before launching my own blog. Therefore by the time I had the chance to return to Southern Belle View I learnt it was switching over to Facebook and that in effect knocked me out of joining them as I elected to become active on Twitter instead.

Through the years, I’ve grown attached to the series The Prayer Box began whilst I’ve had my eye on reading through all their stories and finding my favourites. Towards that end, I started by reading Kellie Coates Gilbert’s Texas Star series with A Reason to Stay. I still remember being involved with the now defunct Blogging for Books programme and finding one of Ms Tomlinson’s releases was available to request – however, I waited to long to decide to request it and it went to other readers! I learnt not to contemplate those choices too long afterwards, laughs.

As I never quite ‘let go’ of following their literary careers, I found out about The Fifth Avenue Story Society prior to the announcement of the blog tour via Prism Book Tours. I was going to fetch a copy of it from my local library when the invite came into my Inbox. Talk about a serendipitous day!I was overjoyed I could host one of the authors I knew previously but also, this would mark my first story by Ms Hauck I could finally read and I couldn’t wait! I also always see a hawk when I pronounce her name (big smiles) as it was the only way I could remember how to say it aloud! The fact as a wildlife photographer I’ve been blessed to capture hawks IRL through my lens is an added bit of serendipity.

You could say I feel like as I move closer to entering my seventh year as a book blogger this New Year 2020 – I am coming full circle! To my roots as a reader, to the foundation I set down as a blog commenter and as a writer reclaiming her pen and her inspiration to write her own stories. It is an exciting year and one I already feel has become memorable! How lovely I get to kick-off February’s Romance & Women’s Fiction reads with Ms Hauck’s new book!

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On my connection to Rachel Hauck:

I discovered Southern Belle View Daily in early 2013 during the times I engaged with the lovely ladies who were ‘behind’ SBV I came to appreciate conversing with all the Belles, including Rachel Hauck. I was a regular visitor and commenter – up til a certain point as once my blog Jorie Loves A Story launched live in August, 2013 I was not able to visit as regularly as I had previously. In the years since 2013 I have been more at a distance from directly engaging with Ms Hauck (though a few times via Twitter as I recall?) and have followed her releases from afar always hoping to start reading them. One thing which prevented me from starting to read the Belles works of Fiction is that they were not always readily available via my local libraries.

I am disclosing this, to assure you that I can formulate an honest opinion, even though I have interacted with her through Southern Belle View Daily and/or Twitter; as I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time.

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Blog Book Tour featuring an #INSPY author I used to interact with via Southern Belle View Daily! | “The Fifth Avenue Story Society” by Rachel HauckThe Fifth Avenue Story Society
by Rachel Hauck
Source: Publisher via Prism Book Tours

An invitation to join The Fifth Avenue Story Society gives five New York strangers a chance to rewrite their own stories.

Executive assistant Lexa is eager for a much-deserved promotion, but her boss is determined to keep her underemployed.

Literature professor Jett is dealing with a broken heart, as well as a nagging suspicion his literary idol, Gordon Phipps Roth, might be a fraud.

Uber driver Chuck just wants a second chance with his kids.

Aging widower Ed is eager to write the true story of his incredible marriage.

Coral, queen of the cosmetics industry, has broken her engagement and is on the verge of losing her great grandmother’s multimillion-dollar empire.

When all five New Yorkers receive an anonymous, mysterious invitation to the Fifth Avenue Story Society, they suspect they’re victims of a practical joke. No one knows who sent the invitations or why. No one has heard of the literary society. And no one is prepared to reveal their deepest secrets to a roomful of strangers.

Yet curiosity and loneliness bring them back week after week to the old library. And it’s there they discover the stories of their hearts, and the kind of friendship and love that heals their souls.

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction, Literary Fiction


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780310350927

Published by Thomas Nelson

on 4th February, 2020

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 400

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Published by: Thomas Nelson (@ThomasNelson)
an imprint of HarperCollins Christian Publishing (@HCChristianPub)

Converse via: #FifthAvenueStorySociety, #RachelHauck & #TNZFiction
as well as #INSPYFiction and #WomensFiction

About Rachel Hauck

Rachel Hauck

Rachel Hauck is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA TODAY bestselling author of The Wedding Dress, which was also named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and was a RITA finalist. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pet and writes from her ivory tower.

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Posted Monday, 10 February, 2020 by jorielov in 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Introspective Literary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Modern Day, Multiple POV, New York City, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Prism Book Tours, Realistic Fiction, Southern Belle View Daily

#INSPYSundays | Book Review tour feat. “Refuge at Pine Lake” (A Pine Haven novel) by Rose Chandler Johnson

Posted Sunday, 8 September, 2019 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

#INSPYSundays banner made my Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I’ve been hosting for Prism Book Tours since September of 2017 – having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. As I enquired about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors when I’m not showcasing book reviews on behalf of Harlequin Heartwarming which has become my second favourite imprint of Harlequin next to my beloved #LoveINSPIRED Suspense. I am also keenly happy PRISM hosts a variety of Indie Authors and INSPY Fiction novelists.

I received a complimentary copy of “Refuge at Pine Lake” direct from the author Rose Chandler Johnson in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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IF this is your first time seeing my #INSPYSundays showcases – let me explain why I am putting these together! I shared my first one in June & had intended for these to run weekly. I am thankful to resume them this August and will be continuing to have an inspiring story running on Sundays through the rest of the 2019. Thank you as always for following my bookish journey.

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You might be aware of my 7o Authors Challenge – wherein I am attempting to get to know more Inspirational Fiction authors and their series? I have been wanting to find a way to bring this reading focus into the life of my blog but also, highlight some of the stories I am receiving for review purposes as well – not all of them can be featured on the weekends, but those which can I’ll be highlighting through this new series of posts as I love the idea of showcasing them on a day meant for renewal of spirit & rest.

The short version of “Inspirational Fiction” is INSPY and I have enjoyed using the tag #INSPY on Twitter to talk about the stories which fall under this umbrella of literature. It is far more encompassing than strictly reading Christian based fiction as INSPY is inclusive of all religions and faith backgrounds of interest – which is why eventually I’ll be expounding outwards from my initial wanderings of my reading challenge and seeking out more authors who write stories of INSPY that are from new and differing perspectives. A lot of what I currently have marked to read are traditional Christian Fiction selections as they were found via a fellow book blogger’s blog.

Although I had intended to introduce this featured focus in January, 2019 – I decided the timing wasn’t right for me to do so until June. I look forward to seeing where my readerly wanderings will take me as this will be just as wicked interesting of a feature to follow as my #HistoricalMondays or #SaturdaysAreBookish!

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#INSPYSundays | Book Review tour feat. “Refuge at Pine Lake” (A Pine Haven novel) by Rose Chandler JohnsonRefuge at Pine Lake
Subtitle: A Pine Haven Novel
by Rose Chandler Johnson
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

Robin Lancaster, a twenty-six-year-old former kindergarten teacher, has her summer and her life all figured out. She’s ready to be on her own, writing and illustrating her children’s stories at her family’s beloved lake house. Once there, she intends to rekindle a romance with Caleb Jackson, the area’s top hunting and fishing guide, and bag him for herself.

Complications arise from the start when Robin finds out her mother has rented the lake house to a man they know nothing about.

Matthew McLaughlin, forty-year-old widowed university professor and author from California, shows up at Pine Lake in crisis. A sabbatical might be his only hope to save much more than his career. He needs a place of refuge. Sharing the lake house with a lighthearted young woman and her dog is the last thing on his mind.

Caleb Jackson has his own plans. He’s used to things going his way, but a man staying in Robin’s house presents unforeseen challenges. When paths unavoidably tangle for these three, hearts are on the line.

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction, Introspective Literary Fiction, Women's Fiction


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780998493312

Published by Chanson Books

on 6th March, 2019

Format: POD | Print On Demand Paperback

Pages: 373

Published By: Chanson Books

Formats Available: Trade paperback and ebook

Converse via: #RefugeAtPineLake and/or #PineHavenNovel
#INSPY w/ #ContemporaryFiction

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Sunday, 8 September, 2019 by jorielov in #INSPYSundays, #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Contemporary Romance, Family Drama, Fathers and Daughters, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Introspective Literary Fiction, Life Shift, Modern Day, Prism Book Tours, Second Chance Love, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Terminal Illness &/or Cancer, Women's Fiction

#PubDay Book Review | “The Chef’s Secret” by Crystal King

Posted Tuesday, 12 February, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 3 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: In December [2018] I was approached about this New Year’s release – with such a stirring plot and depth of historical presence, I must admit, I felt moved by the sheer volume of what would become explored in the context of the novel itself! The more I explored the writer’s presence online (by her tweets and website) the more captivated I had become and a desire to read this novel increased tenfold. Not just because I love exploring cookery and ambrosial delights as a home cook myself but because I have a dear attachment to Foodie Fiction – inasmuch as I love exploratory Historical Fiction which seeks to root out lost truths and hidden passageways in the historic past – illuminating people we might never have met otherwise had a Historical novelist not uncovered the story to be told. Thus, my heart aches dearly for Historical Fiction and it is not oft I can pass over a chance to delve into a new unknown chapter of History!

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “The Chef’s Secret” direct from the publisher Atria Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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The reason reading ‘”The Chef’s Secret’ appealled to me:

This novel sounds delish to read! I admit, I do not know the history behind Scappi but I love Foodie fiction and I love reading about the Renaissance inasmuch as I love a wicked good Suspense! I’ve read through the premise and it sounds wonderfully intriguing – especially as the nephew goes against his wishes,…

At the time I accepted this novel for review consideration, I was not yet aware of *Feast of Sorrows* nor of the accompanying cookbook which the author graciously sent me a digital copy of and of which I was able to browse at my leisure as it isn’t long in length and it happily opens like a wide angle format PDF file. Even in this sampler of a cookbook where the author is exploring Renaissance era recipes, she’s been inclusive of the ‘history of food’, the manner in which food was resonating with those who cooked their ingredients and the long, long history of how self-identifiable foods by culture, tradition and country of origin are not as we might have felt they had been – including those countries in the Mediterranean who are anchoured through food to speak on behalf of their culture.

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#PubDay Book Review | “The Chef’s Secret” by Crystal KingThe Chef's Secret
by Crystal King
Source: Direct from Publisher, Scribd | Audiobook Subscription
Narrator: Jacques Roy

A captivating novel of Renaissance Italy detailing the mysterious life of Bartolomeo Scappi, the legendary chef to several popes and author of one of the bestselling cookbooks of all time, and the nephew who sets out to discover his late uncle’s secrets—including the identity of the noblewoman Bartolomeo loved until he died.

When Bartolomeo Scappi dies in 1577, he leaves his vast estate—properties, money, and his position—to his nephew and apprentice Giovanni. He also gives Giovanni the keys to two strongboxes and strict instructions to burn their contents. Despite Scappi’s dire warning that the information concealed in those boxes could put Giovanni’s life and others at risk, Giovanni is compelled to learn his uncle’s secrets. He undertakes the arduous task of decoding Scappi’s journals and uncovers a history of deception, betrayal, and murder—all to protect an illicit love affair.

As Giovanni pieces together the details of Scappi’s past, he must contend with two rivals who have joined forces—his brother Cesare and Scappi’s former protégé, Domenico Romoli, who will do anything to get his hands on the late chef’s recipes.

With luscious prose that captures the full scale of the sumptuous feasts for which Scappi was known, The Chef’s Secret serves up power, intrigue, and passion, bringing Renaissance Italy to life in a delectable fashion.

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Cookery, Foodie Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller Suspense, Literary Fiction


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1501196430

ASIN: B07HKM1C83

Also by this author: The Chef's Secret (Interview)

Published by Atria Books

on 12th February, 2019

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 352

Length: 9 hours and 36 minutes (unabridged)

 Published By:  Published By: Atria Books (@AtriaBooks)
{imprint of} Simon & Schuster (

The novels of Crystal King:

Feast of Sorrow by Crystal KingThe Chef's Secret by Crystal King

Converse via: #TheChefsSecret, #HistNov and #HistFic
+ #Renaissance #Cookery with #BartolomeoScappi

Available Formats: Hardcover, Audiobook & Ebook

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I originally felt I would have only been able to listen to a sampler of the audiobook version of #TheChefsSecret – until I had the unexpected JOY of listening to the audiobook in full ahead of posting my review as it released just after midnight the day of publication! The sampler begins as Chapter One begins,..

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About Crystal King

Photo Credit: Wayne Earl Chinnock (Boston Commercial Portrait Photography)

Crystal King is an author, culinary enthusiast, and marketing expert. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language, and culture of Italy.

She has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at several universities including Harvard Extension School and Boston University, as well as at GrubStreet, one of the leading creative writing centers in the US.

A Pushcart Prize–nominated poet and former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her MA in critical and creative thinking from UMass Boston, where she developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers in medias res. She resides in Boston but considers Italy her next great love after her husband, Joe, and their two cats, Nero and Merlin. She is the author of Feast of Sorrow.

Photo Credit: Wayne Earl Chinnock

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Tuesday, 12 February, 2019 by jorielov in 16th Century, Bartolomeo Scappi, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction