Blog Tour: Nemesis and the Swan

Blog Tour

Nemesis and the Swan

by Lindsay K. Bandy

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Release Date: October 27th 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Fiction, France

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From her prison cell in revolutionary Paris, nineteen-year-old aristocrat Hélène d’Aubign recalls the events that led her to choose between following in her parents’ unforgivable footsteps or abandoning the man she loves.

Despite her world of privilege, Hélène is inspired early on by the radical ideas of her progressive governess. Though her family tries to intervene, the seeds of revolution have already been planted in Hélène’s heart, as are the seeds of love from an unlikely friendship with a young jeweler’s apprentice. Hélène’s determination to find true love is as revolutionary as her attempt to unravel the truth behind a chilling set of eye-shaped brooches and the concealed murder that tore her family apart.

As violence erupts in Paris, Hélène is forced into hiding with her estranged family, where the tangled secrets of their past become entwined with her own. When she finally returns to the blood-stained streets of Paris, she finds everything-and everyone-very much changed. In a city where alliances shift overnight, no one knows who to trust.

Faced with looming war, the mystery of her family’s past, and the man she loves near death, Hélène will soon will find out if doing one wrong thing will make everything right, or if it will simply push her closer to the guillotine.

About the Author

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Lindsay Bandy writes historical and contemporary young adult fiction as well as poetry. She lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with her husband, two daughters, and two cats, and currently serves as the co–regional advisor of the Eastern Pennsylvania region of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Guest Post:

On Cake and Privilege

You know the whole “Let them eat cake” thing that Marie Antoinette supposedly said? Well, historians agree: There’s no evidence that those words actually escaped her lips. So how did it become her most famous “quote?” Because the reality of privilege is nothing new!

Image credit: Public domain

As John M. Cunningham explains on Britannica online,

As it happens, folklore scholars have found similar tales in other parts of the world, although the details differ from one version to another. In a tale collected in 16th-century Germany, for instance, a noblewoman wonders why the hungry poor don’t simply eat Krosem (a sweet bread). Essentially, stories of rulers or aristocrats oblivious to their privileges are popular and widespread legends.  

So let’s set the scene for Marie Antoinette: It’s the 1780s. France is in crisis. There isn’t enough grain. Starving Parisians wait in bakery lines for HOURS hoping to bring home a precious loaf for their families, only to be turned away. Prices skyrocket. Taxes increase—but not for the nobility. Children starve and freeze to death in the streets while the occupants of Versailles toss leftovers on the floor for the maids and dogs to clean up. Before the Revolution forced her to pay attention, Marie Antoinette seems to have been oblivious to the plight of her people because she was too busy playing dress-up in her life-sized dollhouse. She was comfortable enough that she didn’t have to pay attention to the suffering of others. So, whether or not she ever said those words, she was, in effect, living them.

Privilege is nothing new, but it’s nothing old, either. We may not have literal entitlement in the form of ducs, marquis, or princesses in modern-day America, but there is no shortage of privilege here. Jamie Beth Cohen, the author of Wasted Pretty and a Jewish friend of mine, recently wrote,

“If you hadn’t heard of the Proud Boys until last night (the first presidential debate), maybe consider how privilege works…it’s not your FAULT you haven’t heard of them, but it MAY be your privilege that you haven’t felt the need to track all groups that may want you dead.”

Acknowledging privilege can come with a certain amount of defensiveness, and the desire to shout: It’s not my fault! But being born into privilege doesn’t automatically equal guilt. The truth is, France’s broken system wasn’t Marie Antoinette’s fault. If we take a step back from the drama of her later years, we see a fourteen-year-old Austrian girl married off to an awkward, gluttonous, and clumsy teenaged French prince. On the journey from Austria to France, she was stripped of her Austrian clothes in a tent and handed over to the French naked and crying. As the fifteenth child of the Empress Maria-Theresa, her education had been neglected. No one asked her if she wanted to leave her homeland to become the future queen of a country already brewing with troubles.  None of those things were her fault, BUT as she came of age and into the role of queen, she had a choice to focus inward or outward. The choice to selfishly ignore her people’s suffering was, indeed, her fault!

When there is a call to change—whether it’s the tocsin of Revolution or the strained last words of George Floyd, the privileged have a decision to make: Are we going to selfishly fight to keep our privileges and delude ourselves that we somehow deserve more than other humans? The monarchy and nobility of the late 1700s refused to acknowledge systemic problems or step out of their literal comfort zones to change them, and it was their ruin.

Today, we’re faced with the same choice, but we have the benefit of learning from the past. In “Story,” screenwriter Robert McKee says authors of historical fiction must “…use the past as a clear glass through which you show us the present,” and I hope that Nemesis and the Swan will do just that. The future has yet to be written. It’s up to us to write it well!

The Days of the French Revolution, by Christopher Hibbert. Perennial/HarperCollins. 1980
Britannica online: Did Marie Antoinette Really Say Let Them Eat Cake? By John M. Cunningham
Author Jamie Beth Cohen,
Smithsonian Magazine:
Image credit: Public domain

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Blog Tour: Sensational

Blog Tour


(Spectacle #2)

By Jodie Lynn Zdrok
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: February 11, 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Jodie Lynn Zdrok’s Sensational is the thrilling follow-up to Spectacle in which a killer haunts the Paris World’s Fair of 1889.

The 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris is full of innovations, cultural displays, and inventions. Millions of visitors attend over the course of several months…so no one would notice if a few were missing, right? Maybe—but someone is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the guillotine with a display of their own: beheaded victims in some of the Exposition’s most popular exhibits.

Nathalie Baudin’s ability to see murder scenes should help, but she’s suffering the effects of her magic more than ever before. Fortunately she has other Insightfuls to team up with—if they can be trusted.

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Book One

Spectacle (#1)

By Jodie Lynn Zdrok
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: February 12, 2019

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
A YA murder mystery in which a young reporter must use her supernatural visions to help track down a killer targeting the young women of Paris.

Paris, 1887.

Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day’s new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered–from the perspective of the murderer himself.

When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie’s search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie’s strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer’s identity–and she’ll have to do it before she becomes a target herself.

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About the Author

Jodie Lynn Zdrok holds two MAs in European History and an MBA. She enjoys rooting for Boston sports teams, traveling, doing races (to offset being a foodie), and posting cat photos to Instagram. She works in technology and lives in North Carolina by way of Massachusetts.

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Blog Tour: The Weight of a Soul

Blog Tour

The Weight of a Soul

By Elizabeth Tammi
Publisher: Flux
Release Date: December 3rd 2019

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
When Lena’s younger sister Fressa is found dead, their whole Viking clan mourns—but it is Lena alone who never recovers. Fressa is the sister that should’ve lived, and Lena cannot rest until she knows exactly what killed Fressa and why—and how to bring her back. She strikes a dark deal with Hela, the Norse goddess of death, and begins a new double life to save her sister.
But as Lena gets closer to bringing Fressa back, she dredges up dangerous discoveries about her own family, and finds herself in the middle of a devastating plan to spur Ragnarök –a deadly chain of events leading to total world destruction.
Still, with her sister’s life in the balance, Lena is willing to risk it all. She’s willing to kill. How far will she go before the darkness consumes her?
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Guest Post
“Knowing the basics of Viking mythology/lore.”
I ended up getting the idea for this story in a pretty convenient place—in class! Even though I’ve been intrigued by Norse mythology and Viking history for quite some years, it wasn’t until I had formal instruction in it that things started to click into place. That made research fairly opportune, because I had already done so much reading and writing on it for a graded essay. I’m an American university student, but in 2018 I was able to spend two terms at Oxford in the United Kingdom studying history and writing as a visiting international student. One week, my tutor assigned a unit in Viking history—I read just about everything I could find on the “Viking Age” in the Radcliffe Camera and wrote an essay about the impact of their raids. After discussing the essay in my tutorial with my professor, I felt reaffirmed in my interest in this era.
The characters and storyline for The Weight of a Soul followed shortly after. In terms of Norse mythology, this isn’t a direct retelling or reimagining of any existing myth (unlike my debut novel, “Outrun the Wind”, which is a reimagining of the story of Atalanta from Greek mythology). The gods exist and inform the culture in which this story’s village resides, but they also don’t have enormous roles or “screen time”. Thankfully, there’s a wealth of literature and retellings of Norse myths out there, and I already knew the basics just from colloquial knowledge and, of course, from loving the Magnus Chase trilogy by Rick Riordan as a teenager. But I did read excerpts from the Prose and Poetic Eddas to get a better sense of the personalities and priorities of some of my story’s main players.
I think the main myth from the Norse that influenced this story was definitely Baldr. He was the god of light, and when he died, he was mourned intensely—even to the point where Hela struck a bargain. She would release his soul if every living being wept for him, and all did, excepting one single giantess (who some allege was disguised Loki). The deal fell through, but something about this story—particularly Hela’s apparent willingness to strike this deal, and to keep it to the strictest of terms—resonated with me, and definitely inspired moments in Lena’s journey in The Weight of a Soul.
Above all, I do want to emphasize that this story is labelled as historical fantasy—with a huge emphasis on fantasy. I know there are definitely some anachronisms present in this book, and though I tried to incorporate and understand as much about the time period’s history and mythos as I could, there is simply too much left unknown by this largely illiterate culture, and with so much inconclusiveness and contradiction, I oftentimes followed where I wanted the story to go, and made the history and mythology bend to meet that. I think that’s mythology’s best quality, though—its fluid and slippery nature make it so exciting to return to time and time again as an author, and I love that it’s something that’s been passed down through so many generations, but also has a living, breathing aspect that allows for new growth and possibilities.
About the Author
Elizabeth Tammi was born in California and grew up in Florida, but is currently double-majoring in Creative Writing and Journalism as an undergraduate at Mercer University in Georgia. When she’s not writing, you can probably find Elizabeth at work for her university’s newspaper and literary magazine. Her other interests include traveling, caffeinated beverages, and mythology. You can find Elizabeth online on Tumblr at (annabethisterrified), Twitter at (@ElizabethTammi), Instagram at (elizabeth_tammi), and at
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Book Blast for Author Larry Yoke

Spotlight Tour

DSCN0391 (2).JPGMeet Larry Yoke.

I’ve been writing short stories and poems since a child. I have taught English as a Second Language (ESL) as well as English, Literature, Reading and Writing (ELRW) at the High School level in Garland, Texas. I’ve used many of my own writings as teaching aids in various classes. I have taken several writing courses through the University of Texas at Dallas, Amberton University, and the University of Iowa, School of Writing. I have a BABA and a MBA from the University of Texas at Dallas and Amberton University, respectively.  I have had the honor of some of my poetry being chosen for Emerging Poets Anthologies, 2017, 2019 and 2020.I won a national writing competition for my novel “Broke Girl” (Fiction Crime: 2018). I have several books published for sale on the major online books stores.

Social Media Links:
Facebook: Larry Yoke
Twitter: @Larry Yoke
Instagram: LarryYoke76


Meet His Books.

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Little Birds: South Dakota bragged about having the lowest crime rate in the entire country until Detective Gloria Ramos uncovers a wide spread nest of corruption that turns this idyllic state upside down.  A mad man is on the loose and it takes Gloria and her new partner, an ex-FBI agent now sheriff joining wits to bring him down. A thriller of high flying adventure from beginning to end. Buy a copy on all major online book retailers!



Coming soon!

Crossing Rivers:  The story is full of tears, joy, humor, fear, terror, and a lot of love and forgiveness along the way. In the end Hunter discovers that his faith in himself, in his mother and the father who died when he was only thirteen, and in God has been eternally strengthened.

Book Purchase Links:


Possum Kingdom

Broke Girl

Little Birds

Second Chances



America’s Emerging Literary Fiction Writers

America’s Emerging Poets 2018: West Region

Georgia’s Best Emerging Poets 

Blog Tour: Across a Broken Shore

Blog Tour

Across a Broken Shore

By Amy Trueblood
Publisher: Flux
Release Date: November 5, 2019

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
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The last thing eighteen-year-old Wilhelmina “Willa” MacCarthy wants is to be a nun. It’s 1936, and as the only daughter amongst four sons, her Irish–Catholic family is counting on her to take her vows—but Willa’s found another calling. Each day she sneaks away to help Doctor Katherine Winston in her medical clinic in San Francisco’s Richmond District.Keeping secrets from her family only becomes more complicated when Willa agrees to help the doctor at a field hospital near the new bridge being built over the Golden Gate. Willa thinks she can handle her new chaotic life, but as she draws closer to a dashing young ironworker and risks grow at the bridge, she discovers that hiding from what she truly wants may be her biggest lie of all.

About the Author

Amy Trueblood grew up in California only ten minutes from Disneyland which sparked an early interest in storytelling. As the youngest of five, she spent most of her time trying to find a quiet place to curl up with her favorite books. After graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in journalism, she worked in entertainment in Los Angeles before returning to work in Arizona.

Fueled by good coffee and an awesome Spotify playlist, you can often find Amy blogging and writing. Nothing But Sky, a 2018 Junior Library Guild selection, is her first novel.

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– 5 copies of Across a Broken Shore by Amy Trueblood
– US only
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Review: Once & Future

Book Reviews
*** Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for a free, honest review.
All opinions are my own. ***


Once & Future.jpg


“I’ve been chased my whole life.” “Now I’m done hiding.”

– Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy, Once & Future



Once & Future Review

By: Rae


Welcome to a gender-bent retelling of the Legend of King Arthur.


King Arthur returns… for his 42nd time? 42 times of mistakes, deaths, lies, secrets, and other juicy details that are hinted at. There is face-palming, joy, heartbreak, success, and failure. When Arthur’s – again 42nd reincarnation – is a girl: what happens to the cycle? Will it be completed or broken or forced to continue?


Let me just say I was not disappointed upon finishing Once & Future. My original apprehension steams from my own disinterest in all things space; only for this disinterest to be laughed at and then forgotten the moment I got swept up into Ari’s story. While space is central to the setting, along with a mix of all the things space requires – from equipment, ships, and so forth – there are touches of the old world (specifically Old Earth) that warm my heart and flow beautifully to contrast the elements of this story.


Speaking of the story’s contrast: good vs. bad. Rich vs. poor. Corporation vs. the people (rather one MC that stands for freedom). All classics; all told countless times in countless different ways. Yet, even as the plot for Once & Future unravels, it isn’t the fight itself that gripped me – nor the retelling of Arthur. It was the characters that I adored.


All of the characters, while maybe forced into their roles based upon their original characters and positions of power from the origin story of King Arthur, breathed new life and inspired me. Each identified with a different culture, personality, sexuality, and it just worked. I laughed with them, cried with them, and wanted to fight with them when the time came. Sure they may have been squeezed into their roles. Sure they could have been different people, gone different ways. But their stories mattered, they had their own choices, and there is more to come with the sequel – I hope at least!
Side note: The humor. I adored the humor. 😊


I also have to take a moment to fangirl over Merlin. His POV and overall story arc was beautiful. I’m very greedy for more. From aging backwards, to lost love, to the feeling of identity loss and loneliness. I just wanted to hug him multiple times and tell him it was going to be “okay.” Also, don’t even get me started on Morgana, the fighting between her and Merlin, and the awesomeness that I felt transpired as she evolved.


Upon seeing other reviews: I do agree that the plot jumped around a bit. And yes the main goal of Ari was completed early on and then the conclusion fell a bit flat. I also agree the characters relationships moved fast and yet they were explained to be pre-set to the point readers know their strong ties were established prior to Once & Future’s beginning. I can see where the emphasis of the retelling of Arthur, (want to say more on Arthur by can’t without spoilers), can cause some hiccups with feeling that Ari gets caught up in her “fate.”


Overall though, I give Once & Future 4/5 stars from its humor to awesome characters and anxiously anticipate the sequel. Have you grabbed your copy yet?

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to rave about Merlin.


Once & Future releases March 26!