Genre: Middle Grade

A #PubDay Stories in the Spotlight | [the stories on Jorie’s readerly radar] feat. notes and an extract of “Breathing Underwater” by Sarah Allen

Posted Tuesday, 30 March, 2021 by jorielov , , 1 Comment

Stories in the Spotlight banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I am a HUGE champion of Middle Grade Fiction! I started to re-immerse myself into this wonderful landscape of stories through my local library in [2008] when I realised how many wicked wonderful authors were publishing the kind of stories I would have itched to have been able to read whilst I was a Middle Grade reader in elementary school! These are the stories which are either set in Contemporary or Historical worlds enriched by the breadth of their character’s journeys and leveraged with emotional conviction by their writers.

I had intended to interview this lovely author for the blog tour – however, whilst I started working full-time after a long hiatus this February and was re-adjusting to working after being my Dad’s carer for the past five years since his stroke – it took me away from my blog and left me a bit out of hours to complete some of the interviews I had planned to feature this Spring. Thereby, I was grateful to Xpresso for helping me feature an extract for this lovely release instead today!

Being that is is #MiddleGradeMarch – I had hoped to release some of the reviews I had planned to champion last year (see also Post) whilst talking about the new ones I’ve been finding on #bookTwitter and/or through my local library which has been a wicked wonderful resource for me in discovering the latest #MiddleGrade releases which capture my bookish eye of curiosity! You will be seeing a few of those coming up during #WyrdAndWonder this May – keep your eyes on @WyrdAndWonder via Twitter for announcements and the event’s feeds wherein everyone in the book blogging community who joins us for our 4th Year of celebrating Fantasy will be having features, reviews and other content on their blogs throughout May, 2021.

Be sure to read the extract and my thoughts about the story to see if this perhaps might wink an interest into your own readerly wanderings this year! And, let’s all take a moment to give a shout of joy to our beautiful Middle Grade authors who still enchant us with their stories as adults! As all stories are for all readers!!

Remember – brew your favourite cuppa and enjoy your stay!

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A #PubDay Stories in the Spotlight | [the stories on Jorie’s readerly radar] feat. notes and an extract of “Breathing Underwater” by Sarah AllenBreathing Underwater
by Sarah Allen
Source: Chapter Sampler

Breathing Underwater is a sparkly, moving middle grade novel from Sarah Allen, and a big-hearted exploration of sisterhood, dreams, and what it means to be there for someone you love.

Olivia is on the road trip of her dreams, with her trusty camera and her big sister Ruth by her side. Three years ago, before their family moved from California to Tennessee, Olivia and Ruth buried a time capsule on their favorite beach. Now, they’re taking an RV back across the country to uncover the memories they left behind. But Ruth’s depression has been getting worse, so Olivia has created a plan to help her remember how life used to be: a makeshift scavenger hunt across the country, like pirates hunting for treasure, taking pictures and making memories along the way.

All she wants is to take the picture that makes her sister smile. But what if things can never go back to how they used to be? What if they never find the treasure they’re seeking? Through all the questions, loving her sister, not changing her, is all Olivia can do—and maybe it’s enough.

Genres: Children's Literature, Middle Grade


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0374313258

Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers

on 30th March, 2021

Format: Chapter Sampler | Online

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Converse on Twitter via: #BreathingUnderwater as well as #MGLit and #MiddleGrade

About Sarah Allen

Sarah Allen

Sarah Allen has been published in The Evansville Review, Allegory, and on WritersDigest. She has an MFA from Brigham Young University. Like Libby in her novel What Stars are Made Of, Allen was born with Turner Syndrome.

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Posted Tuesday, 30 March, 2021 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book | Novel Extract, Book Blitz, Book Spotlight, Xpresso Book Tours

Happily hosting my second #TheWriteReads Ultimate Blog Tour | showcasing “Amari and the Night Brothers” (Supernatural Investigations, Book One) by B.B. Alston

Posted Wednesday, 30 December, 2020 by jorielov , , , , , , 1 Comment

Stories in the Spotlight banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

You might be curious where Jorie’s been since the days leading into Christmas,… I had a lot of lovely plans of how I wanted to round out the year – stories I earmarked to read, a series I wanted to showcase Christmas week and weekend as much as a few final posts I was looking forward to composing in order to properly send out the year with a bit of a glow of joy rather than the angst I had felt off/on throughout 2020.

However, as Christmas and New Year’s weeks turnt into a working fortnight for my Mum rather than the first bout of holidays wherein Mum would be able to spend the hours with us as a family – you could say I was the busiest elf behind the holidays this year! I felt like I had lived through most of the hours Mum worked as she totalled nearly (or even surpassed) 112 hours in less than two weeks by the time her hours conclude on New Year’s Day! She was the only one who could accept emergency holiday shifts and as thankful as we were for the increase in hours – Dad and I missed having her for Christmas and we’ll be celebrating separately for New Year’s this year as well.

Due to the shift in what we were doing this year and how those upturnt hours left me fatigued and exhausted – I haven’t picked up a book in more than three weeks, nor have I sorted out anything on my blog in over two – if you wanted my updates, they were flickering into my tweets, as I did manage to microblog my Christmas. I decided to re-shift my #yearendreads into a New Year’s readathon courtesy of Mum’s emergency shifts New Year’s Eve & Day, whilst I am hoping to release some posts to conclude my thoughts about the past year on Jorie Loves A Story, too.

Today – I have the pleasure of showcasing a new book which I am quite sure by now with #TheWriteReads blog tour in full swing is on everyone’s bookish radar – is a new Middle Grade Fantasy novel I’m wicked excited about having in my hands to read, too! It can take me half of forever to find the kinds of Fantasy stories I want to read because I’m not really into all the topical Fantasy series (save Harry Potter) as I tend to read a predominately high level of Indie Fantasy authors, such as this year’s Esme’s Wish.

In fact, I read another Indie Fantasy novelist (Owen Crane) this year for Wyrd And Wonder (@WyrdAndWonder) as much as I showcased interviews with Indie Fantasy novelists as well for the event. Indie Fantasy (and all the stories within the Speculative realms) is where my readerly heart tends to lie these last years due to how Indie authors are writing stories I not only *devour!* but they are told in a way which appeals to my fantastical sensibility especially if you consider the adult side of the ledger with the Tipsy Fairy Tales by E. Chris Garrison: Blue Spirit, Restless Spirit and my forthcoming review of Mean Spirit.

Yet, what drew me into this world of #AmariAndTheNightBrothers is simply the breadth of the world-building in the description of the book! I love Fantasy stories which give you a proper sense of themselves at the jump point and build this wicked sweet layer of anticipation prior to reading the story itself. I am hopeful my library will buy a copy of this lovely story and I’ll be able to read it come January when its released! I did enter the bookaway by the author but as I hadn’t heard from him, I’m presuming those copies went to other readers. Thereby, enjoy the bits I’ve found online to help introduce you to *Amari!* and let’s get ourselves wicked happy for a lovely NEW YEAR full of fantastical reads!!

I love being part of the community of #TheWriteReads and I hope in future to continue hosting the authors on their blog tours – I keep an eye out on the stories I most desire to be reading in order to host a guest feature as print copies are a bit rare for these tours to request. I love hosting the conversations because it helps me feel a bit more rooted in the stories and I hope you’ll have the same takeaway yourself. Although when a conversation isn’t available to host, I like featuring the stories themselves to help give them a signal boost in case one of my readers and followers hasn’t yet discovered the story (or series) which has caught my bookish eye!

Brew yourself a cuppa and enjoy the book trailer!

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Happily hosting my second #TheWriteReads Ultimate Blog Tour | showcasing “Amari and the Night Brothers” (Supernatural Investigations, Book One) by B.B. AlstonAmari and the Night Brothers
by B.B. Alston
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Brittany Jackson

Quinton Peters was the golden boy of the Rosewood low-income housing projects, receiving full scholarship offers to two different Ivy League schools. When he mysteriously goes missing, his little sister, 13-year-old Amari Peters, can’t understand why it’s not a bigger deal. Why isn’t his story all over the news? And why do the police automatically assume he was into something illegal?

Then Amari discovers a ticking briefcase in her brother’s old closet. A briefcase meant for her eyes only. There was far more to Quinton, it seems, than she ever knew. He’s left her a nomination for a summer tryout at the secretive Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Amari is certain the answer to finding out what happened to him lies somewhere inside, if only she can get her head around the idea of mermaids, dwarves, yetis and magicians all being real things, something she has to instantly confront when she is given a weredragon as a roommate.

Amari must compete against some of the nation’s wealthiest kids—who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives and are able to easily answer questions like which two Great Beasts reside in the Atlantic Ocean and how old is Merlin? Just getting around the Bureau is a lesson alone for Amari with signs like ‘Department of Hidden Places this way, or is it?’ If that all wasn’t enough, every Bureau trainee has a talent enhanced to supernatural levels to help them do their jobs – but Amari is given an illegal ability. As if she needed something else to make her stand out.

With an evil magican threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Middle Grade, Middle Grade Fantasy, Paranormal Suspense


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0062975164

Published by Balzer and Bray, Egmont Books

on 19th January, 2021

Published by: Egmont Books (@egmontbooksuk)
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers UK

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This is the first installment of a trilogy!

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Available Formats: Hardback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #Fantasy, #Paranormal #MiddleGrade or #MGLit
as well as #TheWriteReads & #AmariAndTheNightBrothers

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Posted Wednesday, 30 December, 2020 by jorielov in #TheWriteReads, Blog Tour Host, Book Spotlight, Fantasy Fiction

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.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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)

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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 of 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 of 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)

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

7th Annual Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

This story received my award for Best Middle Grade Fantasy.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Juvenile Fiction, Middle Grade Novel, Portal Fantasy, Self-Published Author