Friday, April 11, 2014

She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick: Guest Post & Giveaway!

She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
Published by Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan

Publish Date: April 22, 2014

224 Pages
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


Laureth Peak's father is a writer. For years he's been trying, and failing, to write a novel about coincidence. His wife thinks he's obsessed, Laureth thinks he's on the verge of a breakdown.He's supposed to be doing research in Austria, so when his notebook shows up in New York, Laureth knows something is wrong.


On impulse she steals her mother's credit card and heads for the States, taking her strange little brother Benjamin with her. Reunited with the notebook, they begin to follow clues inside, trying to find their wayward father. Ahead lie challenges and threats, all of which are that much tougher for Laureth than they would be for any other 16-year old. Because Laureth Peak is blind. (from Goodreads) 




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I feel very fortunate and honored to be hosting Marcus Sedgwick on my blog today. When I read She Is Not Invisible a while back, I was blown away. I loved the concept of the story, I loved how the author approached his story, and I loved the cover. I thought it was brilliantly executed. 

Here is an excerpt from my review
"This is my first experience with Mr. Sedgwick's work and I am really impressed with She Is Not Invisible. It is not a long book by any means, but this story is absolutely FULL of things. There is a ton of information in there and it is all important and none of it is wasted or filler. I love the way that the book began with a bang and didn't let up until the end. I love the way I forgot what the genre/category of this story is and I just enjoyed the story. I love the way I was trying to anticipate next moves and figure things out, but I never really could - it kept me on my toes the entire time. And I love the way the story's female main character used her sight to show that she was NOT weak, that she was NOT to be walked-upon, and that she was still every bit as awesome and kick-butt as girls that can see."
(You can read my thoughts on She Is Not Invisible HERE.)  

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This book is a bit of a departure from Mr. Sedgwick's "normal" work, so he has been kind enough to share a few thoughts on his writing process on writing a "happy" book where he normally writes books that are a little...different. 

MY HAPPY BOOK

She Is Not Invisible is My Happy Book. At the start of my career it only took me about four or five books to get myself a reputation for writing dark fiction. I don’t mind that rep at all – there’s no shame in it, and furthermore, I rather like writing dark things. It’s fun. Or perhaps I mean ‘fun’? Anyway, the dark things in life give you something to get your teeth into, as a writer. From time to time I have tried to point out that there is, in fact, a lot of optimism, hope and kindness in my books. Of all the extensive critical analysis I’ve read in the UK on my books, it was, of all people, my aged mother who hit the nail on the head; your books have really bad things happening, she said one day, but in the middle of them is a truly kind and gentle individual trying to make sense of it all.
I think she was dead right in that; and without realizing why I was doing it at first, that is what I have been doing; it’s how I see life; most of us are gentle and kind people, stuck in a world that can at times be bewildering and difficult. As a writer, you just exaggerate those things, and put them between the covers of your book.
Despite all this however, I had been feeling for some time that it would be nice to write a happy book. A book that was more light-hearted in tone. Perhaps, even, a book in which no one died! Because that had never happened before.
She Is Not Invisible is the result. In part, it became a happy book because I decided to have a protagonist who had been blind from birth. This might not seem immediately obvious at first, but bear with me! Having made that decision, I spent two years in and out of a specialist school for the blind and visually impaired, speaking at length and in depth with the children and teenagers there. They are amazing people. I was inspired by them endlessly. Going blind is probably one of most people’s biggest fears, and yet here was a school full of young people who had either been blind from birth, or whose sight had degenerated over time, and who were almost unfailingly happy people to hang out with. I spoke to the librarian a lot too. She’s worked there about fifteen years now, I think, and in that time she said she’s never once heard a student say ‘poor me’. Yes, there are some tough moments in these people’s lives, without question. Moments of darkness in a life of literal darkness. And yet I found it such an uplifting and optimistic place to be, every single time I went.
So I wanted to write a happy book, with a lovely, positive depiction of the relationship of the siblings in the book; Laureth, the blind protagonist, and her kid brother Benjamin. I hate that contemporary fiction seems unable to ever show a brother and sister who actually like each other, never mind love each other. That’s not my experience of family life, and I wanted to show the pair in a really positive way.
Of course, through the book, they tackle some dark and difficult moments, but overall, and despite these moments, this is a book about love. It’s a book about a family who had forgotten what they mean to each other, and have to find out again. And does anyone die? Well, that would be a spoiler too far, but despite everything that happens in it, this is, at last, my happy
Back to the doom and gloom next time... 

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Click here to check out the rest of the Blog Tour!

Thank you for being here today, Marcus Sedgwick!


Check out these other websites!

Click HERE to read an excerpt from She Is Not Invisible!

She Is Not Available by Marcus Sedgwick will be available for purchase 
on April 22, 2014! 

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GIVEAWAY!
Author Marcus Sedgwick & MacMillan Publishing are offering 
one hardcover copy of SHE IS NOT INVISIBLE
to ONE LUCKY WINNER!

(US/Canada Only) (ends April 20)


a Rafflecopter giveaway






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The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund Review {with Audiobook Notes}

The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund
Series: Hearts of Faith #1
Published by Bethany House
Publish Date: October 1, 2010

387 Pages
Source: Book - Bought, Audiobook - Bought
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher--whether her assistance is wanted or not. Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John's protests of her aid. She's even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family.

Yet Elizabeth's new role as nanny takes a dangerous turn when John's boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher's enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she's more determined than ever to save the child--and man--she's come to love.
 (from Goodreads) 



The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund 

My Thoughts: I read and listened to The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund when I was still very early in my historical-fiction reading. (I'm still very new to historical fiction.) I have to be honest and admit that I had forgotten so much about this time period in England, but it took practically no time at all before I was historically re-acclimated, so to speak, and I found swept up by the plot of this story. 

Young, engaged Elizabeth finds herself housekeeper to the newly-widowed Preacher John Costin - she has been placed in charge of his home and caring for his young children, including his tiny newborn. Elizabeth is passionate in the things she believes in and in her causes, including the devotion to Costin's children - she grows to be fond of them and then to love them very much. Despite being a woman in keeping of her faith, Elizabeth knew that keeping this job in the Costin household would require breaking some of the rules and standards of the Puritan community in order to keep the newborn Thomas alive (for example, the only wet nurse she could find to supply Thomas' needs was one that was not in good social standing, and having her nurse Thomas was heavily looked down upon by the church). Elizabeth's belief that she was doing the right thing in keeping the job as an engaged woman in the widower's household soon gave way to gossip. Elizabeth did not like the gossip and she did not like defying the ways of the "church" but she knew in her heart what was right and she stuck to what she felt she had to do: she remained faithful to God, she did her best in her job with Preacher Costin, and she took care of the children - especially the sickly newborn. Doing these things was a risk to her own upcoming marriage - because Elizabeth was a "plain" girl, she knew that it was possible she would not find another to marry her should this engagement fall through. 

As the book begins, Pastor John Costin is a man that has just lost his wife - we see him as a person that is devastated. When Elizabeth comes into his home and takes care of his children, slowly and effectively bringing some happiness into his house again, we see him begin to perk up and focus on his job as a preacher. What makes this character interesting is the fact that there are people out there that do not like him, that are willing to harm him for his beliefs, yet he continues to risk everything to spread the news that he is preaching to people. (It is also really interesting that Elizabeth - not being married to him, just being the housekeeper and children's caretaker - is willing to continue to stay with him, working with his family, knowing the risks of being associated with him. She is not safe and is asked several times by her own family to leave the job to preserve her own life. She refuses.) 

Those risks are realized as dangerous things begin to happen - to Elizabeth, to other people close to the family, and to the entire family - including the children. There are some well-written moments scattered around in the story in which I found myself holding my breath and waiting, waiting to see the outcome. Not everyone was as bold and brave as Elizabeth, and unfortunately not everyone made it through this story. These scenes were suspenseful and had me both turning the pages and listening with wide eyes at the same time. 

Regarding the romance in the story: over time, Costin begins to trust Elizabeth with his home, his family, and his heart. The love that builds between them is very sweet and quite passionate, actually. This romance is not "sexy" but it is clear that these two feel an attraction for one another. While the love between the two is slowly, slowly, slowly brewing, there are several other plot lines occurring: the matrons of the community want to take the baby away from the preacher so he can be "properly" raised, a mysterious man keeps coming to the house to see Costin and eventually becomes violent and issues threats to Elizabeth and some other characters, and Elizabeth's loyalty to the preacher ends up costing her dearly in her own personal life. 

Ultimately, I really found myself loving this book and audiobook. I was completely taken in by this story. I began the book with the assumption that it would be a light read but found quickly that I had misjudged it - this is a very well-researched, very well-planned, excellent story. It held my attention easily and tightly, and I even re-read a few parts with wide eyes and a pounding heart. This is my first experience with Jody Hedlund but I now have another of her one of her books on my Kindle, I have purchased another audiobook, and I currently have an additional book by this author in my library bag.  

Audiobook NotesThe audiobook format of The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund is published by Oasis Audio and is 10 hours, 30 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Mimi Black - this appears to be the only fiction work this reader has made at the point of this blog post. She has a nice, clear voice that is perfect for this book because it is important to pay attention to the details since there are several things going on at one time. This narrator made it easy to fall into the story and stay there. I would not hesitate to recommend this audiobook to others for a first-read or re-read. I'm excited that I bought it so I can listen again in the future. 


I would recommend The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund to fans of historical fiction/inspirational fiction with romance. I loved this book and by reading it, I found a new author to enjoy. When I bought this book, it was free for my Kindle, and I'm thrilled I one-clicked! SEE, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GIVE THE FREE/SALE BOOKS A CHANCE! Sometimes you win in a great big way. 


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The Preacher's Bride will appeal to fans of:

Historical Fiction/Inspirational Fiction with Romance
Romance: Slowly Developing. No triangle.  
Inspirational Fiction
Great Setting
Great Secondary Cast
Family Relationships

The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund
is currently available for purchase.

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Does THE PREACHER'S BRIDE look 
like something you would be interested in reading? 

I LOVED adding this author to my reading list. 

She is very highly recommended! 



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