Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Izzy Hoffman is Not a Witch by Alyssa Alessi

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Alyssa Alessi will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click to see the other stops on the tour.

Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it?

There is something so special about juvenile fiction. It is the beautiful time in between childhood and growing up. The in between years of innocence and the life lessons to come. I absolutely love the magic of those years, where anything is possible. I write juvenile fiction to capture those moments on a page.

Pretend your protagonist is at school and opens his/her locker – what will we see inside?

If Izzy were to open her locker, you’d find an extra cardigan hanging up. She would have it draped so it partially covers her non school related books, her sack of crystals and her homemade lotions. If you ask to use some of her lotion, she’d gladly share.

What candy do you give out at Halloween?

I became the boring adult who hands out goodies other than candy. I know, it’s hard to believe. I usually start picking up cool Halloween themed items towards the end of the summer and add the trinkets to a Halloween box I have. Inside this treasure box you’ll find things like Halloween pencils, stickers, fake tattoos, vampire teeth, plastic spiders, etc.

What book is on your nightstand currently?

I tend to read more than one book at a time, so there are multiple. For middle grade, I have Warriors of the Suburbs by Tim Kreher. Adult fiction, Bad Cree by Jessica Johns, and The Beast You Are by Paul Tremblay for a short story collection. I usually have a craft book on my bedside table as well, but I must have taken it on the road with me and forgot to put it back.

Hunger Games or Twilight? Why?

I will forever be a twilight fan. Between the ages of thirteen and seventeen, I didn’t read as much as I used to. Stephanie Myers pulled me out of that reading slump by combing vampires, wolves, and a main character who could have been any of my friends. I fell in love with reading again, and I for that, Twilight holds a place in my heart!

Favorite pizza toppings.

Pizza is my all-time favorite, and I will never tire from it. The toppings I head for are green peppers, onion, black olives and (turkey) pepperoni. Preferably all of those toppings at once.

Twelve-year-old Izzy has been haunted by the shadow of her ten-times-great grandmother for as long as she can remember. This is no ordinary ancestral ghost: This great granny was the first woman to be hung for witchcraft in Izzy’s small New England town.

Every October first, tourists flood the streets of Marblehead. Unfortunately, this year so do a mysterious man and a possessed town psychic. When the man shows up at Izzy’s family-run bookstore, making odd demands and threatening her mom, she must find the connection between this creep and her ghostly visions.

Trying to make sense of this chaos, Izzy roams into secret rooms, holds seances at the local tarot parlor, and digs through the old family cookbooks that sit on her shelves. When she discovers that she may be a part of a once-in-a-century ritual, Izzy must decide whether it’s going to take baking magic or blood magic to protect herself and her parents from the return of the witch hunt.

Read an Excerpt

The tarot reader is only a few blocks down. The cheesiness of her storefront makes me second guess coming here. A neon crystal ball flickers in the window. I open the door and I’m hit in the face with the scent of incense. She has floral tapestry hanging from literally everywhere. It’s so dark in here I’m surprised she can even see her cards.

“Hello?” No answer. What am I doing? I turn to leave but hear the faint sound of a woman talking from a distance. Miss Clara is walking a client out of her back room.

“Thank you so much.” A young woman sniffles while wiping away tears.

“You are very welcome, love and light.” The client leaves and Miss Clara stops when she sees me. The old woman wears a pair of small rectangular purple sunglasses. They match her black-and-lilac colored robe, which flows freely around her frail ancient body. Her white fluffy hair gives her a frazzled appearance that doesn’t match her sudden robotic tone.

“Izzy, I’m so happy you came to see me. That crystal looks great on you.”

“Yeah, well it doesn’t work. You should give my friend her money back,” I snap.

“Well, I think you know it isn’t instant magic. You must believe in things for them to work.”

I had a really hard day so far and I’m not in the mood to play her games.

“Oh my god! Will you stop? What is with you? Why did you tell my friend I’m a witch?” I get made fun of enough by kids my own age and don’t need some crazy old lady spreading rumors about me.

“Well, aren’t you?” she asks.

About the Author:
Alyssa Alessi is a writer of middle grade, young adult and short stories all inspired by the unsettling macabre aesthetic of New England. As a child she was on a constant hunt for ghosts, vampires, and her own powers as a witch. When she couldn’t find them, she settled for writing them into existence. You can find her hiking any trail in the Northeast said to be haunted, roaming old cemeteries with a camera in hand, or thrift shopping anywhere antiques are sold. She resides in Boston, MA with her husband, three children and their mini dachshund.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Chasing Harmony by Melanie Bell

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Melanie Bell will award a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it?

I’m fascinated by coming-of-age stories. People’s emotions are strong when they’re young, and they’re experiencing many things for the first time. If I want to tell an emotionally powerful story, I can draw on memories of first loves, the fears I had when I didn’t yet understand much about the world, and early experiences that involved the five senses, like listening to music or building a fort outside.

Pretend your protagonist is at school and opens his/her locker – what will we see inside?

Anna collects road signs, so she’d probably have a few hanging in her locker, along with her clarinet and music books. She might also have some cartoons, CDs, and a stuffed animal in there.

What superpower would you love to have? Why?

As a teenager, I wrote a story for my friend group where we found a world underground and all gained superpowers. Mine was the ability to understand and speak every language. I like traveling, so I’d love to be able to communicate with anyone anywhere, and to enjoy reading, writing, and media in other languages, too!

Hunger Games or Twilight? Why?

I think the Hunger Games trilogy is brilliant. The books are fast paced, with an innovative concept and immersive world. Like many YA novels, they use the trope of a love triangle, but it’s never really about love – it’s about the main character’s resilience and choosing between different sets of values to live by.

What reality show would you love to be on? Why?

If only I was a better singer – shows like American Idol seem fun. Or Eurovision! I’d rather perform in front of a crowd than be on a show where a bunch of people are stuck living together somewhere and the fun comes from watching their interpersonal drama.

Favorite TV show from your childhood?

When I was very young, I liked watching Barney. These memories stand out because I daydreamed about making a TV show like it, only mine would star talking cats. I was going to be CEO of this whole corporation, with merchandise, a theme park, and everything!

Favorite pizza toppings.

I love cheese, veggies, and various pizza combinations involving these ingredients. But my old favorite is black olives and mushrooms.

Create an ice cream flavor. What’s it called?

How about something for kids (and adults) who love watching machines at work? I’d call it “Construction!” It would have chocolate rocks, toffee debris, and a bulldozer-yellow banana base.

Playlist for your current book.

Chasing Harmony has a Spotify playlist that includes most of the songs referenced in the book!

Favorite class in high school. Why?

In my last year of high school, I enrolled in an English class at the closest university. We had a lot of online discussion and occasional meetings in person. I’m grateful for this opportunity, as I was able to learn and engage at a higher level than I was used to, and it was really exciting! My best educational opportunities have been those I’ve advocated for myself. School tends to be standardized, which means it often isn’t meeting everyone’s needs. If you’re in school and it isn’t working for you, I’m strongly in favor of making a case for yourself to customize your experience!

A refreshing YA debut from Canadian author Melanie Bell, perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, Becky Albertalli, and Nina LaCour.

Melanie Bell has created a compelling coming-of-age story, featuring a bisexual protagonist, for those that can relate to the search for untapped potential. Told in alternating timelines on Prince Edward Island and Vancouver, Chasing Harmony reminds us of the exhilarating feeling that comes with hearing your heart’s song.

Piano prodigy Anna Stern is used to having all eyes on her. As she becomes a teenager, Anna struggles to find her identity without the soundtrack of sonatas and concertos. There’s also the worry that comes with the crushing expectations of her musical gift and her parents’ imploding marriage.

Anna finds refuge in her best friend, Liss, who is full of magic and escape plans. However, now their relationship is changing and Anna is starting to fall for her. Adding to the complicated status is new kid Darien, who is always vying for Anna's attention.

As the haunting spectre of burnout lurks close by, an upcoming performance with Liss will determine both of their futures. With everything building to a crescendo, what follows is an authentic life in the making.

Read an Excerpt

Liss’s violin, marbleized wood luminous as eyes. Her foot’s proximity. Liss outshining her. An inch between sole and polished body. Liss so satisfied. Hesitation. Liss’s lips touching her, Liss’s gifts untouchable. Impact before she realizes there’s been an impact. Hideous cracking sounds. Again, again, encore.

There is a sense of cold grandeur in Anna’s eyes. In the keys of every piano are salamanders, scorpions, grass snakes, rats. Anna is made of piano keys. The violin is on the floor and the pinchy flat of her right foot is through it and touching the uncolorful speckles. The music room has windows but they’re high and hard to see through. Anna’s pulse is doubled where the veins stick out. Beethoven is a musical negative. Everyone had loved them. Past is a negative sometimes set to music. The violin is in two main pieces with a hole scrunched in the middle and assorted splinters. The violin is back in the case on the shelf. It has a name on it. Adrenalin has Anna’s veins alight. Liss now owns two halves of a violin. The splinters would be hers too but Anna has picked them up and thrown them on top of the lint and pizza box in the garbage. A piano is too big to stomp through. Love? She shudders. A splinter is lodged in Anna’s index finger just below the nail.

About the Author: Melanie Bell is a Canadian multi-genre writer living in the UK. Her books include a short story collection,Dream Signs, a nonfiction title, The Modern Enneagram, and the YA novel Chasing Harmony. She has written for several publications including Contrary, Cicada, The Fiddlehead, and Huffington Post. She loves music, art, and nature, and aspires to see as much of the world as she can.


Barnes and Noble:

a Rafflecopter giveaway