Book Reviews, Spotlight on Writing

Author Discovery ~ Mini Interview with Crystal King

Please welcome the author of The Chef’s Secret. Be sure and add it to your Goodreads list!

What author do you compare your book(s)/writing style to the most?

Madeleine Miller. I strive to bring the lost history of food to life in the way that she brings the ancient myths to life.

What is your favorite book genre? Why?

I read very widely across a bunch of different genres. I really want a wonderful story to grab me, overall. But I do tend to drift toward magical realism and fantasy quite often. I love the idea of escaping into different worlds, which is also why historical fiction is so fun for me to write.

What is your favorite television show? Why?

I don’t watch much television, to be honest! When I  do,  I could fall way too easily into the world of binging, and I have books to write! But I do watch Dr. Who, The Magicians, and I love Stranger Things.

If you could have written a popular, well-known book, what would it have been and why?

I don’t find myself envious or jealous of books or authors like that, so this is a hard question. We can only write the books inside of us. But I would love it if my novels eventually find the success and love of say, M.F.K. Fisher’s food writing, or the fandom of Phillipa Gregory, or the popularity of books that find themselves on Reese Witherspoon’s nightstand.

Using your most recent book, who would play your main character(s) in a movie?

Kit Harrington has the look closest to what I had in mind for Giovanni in The Chef’s Secret, although he’d need to acquire an Italian accent to pull it off, I’m thinking.

Why should your readers pick your book over a well-known author’s book?

So many factors go into how publishers decide to promote their books and readers don’t realize that only 5-10% of a publisher’s catalog gets any real promotion. So many incredible books are published, even by the big houses, but don’t get the same love on the shelf as those books. By only going with what is popular, a reader is missing out on some fantastic stories that might appeal to them even more.

My books are about the unsung heroes of culinary Italy. My latest novel, The Chef’s Secret, is about the world’s first celebrity chef, Bartolomeo Scappi, whose 1570 cookbook L’Opera di Bartolomeo Scappi, was a bestselling cookbook for almost 200 years after its publication. We don’t know much about Scappi’s life, so I had a lot of fun making some of that up. It’s a mystery and a love story. Feast of Sorrow is the tale of the world’s first gourmand, Apicius, whose name is on the oldest known cookbook. He died in a totally crazy way and I wanted to tell the story of how he got there.

If a reader loves diving into the historical past, loves Italy, or loves food, they will likely find some kinship with one of my novels. The trick is to not read one when you are hungry!

What is your go-to snack?

Snack? Hmm. I don’t snack much, actually. But if I could, I’d down a bit of gelato or ice cream, every day. My go-to flavor is something with chocolate and peanut butter!

You can buy the book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Book Reviews

Special Sale!

This is just a quick post to let y’all know that Grounded in January is on sale for only $2.99 for Kindle and Nook.

Plus, it’s a finalist in the romance genre for the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards (winner announced on November 9th)

What readers are saying:

I’m not a romance reader, but I could not put this story down! ~ April on Amazon

Grounded in January is a heartwarming, down-to-earth tale that will convince you that two people, no matter how imperfect, can still find a perfect love. – Cassidy Carter, author of Love on Location from Hallmark Publishing.

I devoured this book so fast. It is so beautiful. ~ Briana on Goodreads

This fast-paced novel grabs your attention at page one and keeps it all the way to the end. This page-turner will have you flying through the pages. I highly recommend this book and I assure you that you won’t be disappointed. ~ Caroline on Goodreads

Here is the book trailer!

Book Reviews, Spotlight on Writing

Author Discovery ~ Mini Interview with Ametra Rayford

Please welcome the author of Duality, a book soon to be sporting a new cover! But my lucky readers get to see the new one here. *UPDATE! Duality was just listed as a finalist Paranormal/Supernatural category with The Independent Author Network!!!!

What author do you compare your book(s)/writing style to the most?

Ira Levin. I’ve read several of his novels – a few more than once – and I love how he was able to include descriptions and set a scene for you without it feeling like a lecture and without detracting from the flow of the story. He provided a stellar example of showing and not telling. He was so good at it that it was hard to see the characters or the setting in any way other than how he wrote it. I saw the movie Rosemary’s Baby before reading the novel. The first time I read the book it felt as though the novel was an adaptation of the movie, rather than the other way around, because the movie plucked so many details from the book and brought them to life. That’s what I admire and try to emulate. I’d love it if my readers could come away with an ability to see, smell, and taste (because I tend to incorporate food here and there) the situations I toss my characters into.

What is your favorite book genre? Why?

I read a lot of different genres, but I love fantasy novels the most. From the time I was in elementary school reading mythology, to high school and stories about Merlin, before David Eddings, R.A. Salvatore, Margaret Weis, and Tracy Hickman took over in young adulthood – fantasy novels have always been something I go back to when I want to dream. I am also a huge fan of seeing how different fantasy authors craft the limitations that exist within the worlds they’ve created. I love reading about the hierarchy or power structures as they exist in a world that’s otherwise limitless.

What is your favorite television show? Why?

New cover – coming soon!

I haven’t had a lot of time lately to watch television, but my go-to show for years has been Criminal Minds. I have a deep fascination with what comprises the core of a person – what makes them tick. That’s pretty much the premise behind the show. What makes a person transcend from a normal, everyday dude to the UnSub (Unknown Subject)? I’m all over that.

If you could have written a popular, well-known book, what would it have been and why?

Well, I hope that I have written what will become a popular, well-known book. (Ha!) But, if we’re talking about the book of another author, I’d love to have written The Godfather. I am more than mildly-obsessed with mob culture. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in Chicago and learned about Al Capone at an early age…or if it’s because I was glued to the television during the farce that became the opening of Al Capone’s vault…but, I have been in love with mafia lore since I was a child: The Godfather, Casino, Goodfellas, Hoodlum, The Making of the Mob series – all of that thrills me.

Using your most recent book, who would play your main character(s) in a movie?

Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet.

Why should your readers pick your book over a well-known author’s book?

I’m not sure that they have to. There’s plenty of room at the table, so to speak, and I’ve yet to meet someone who goes into a bookstore and comes out with only one book. With a well-known author, there’s a certain comfort level involved. You may not know the details of this particular story, but you know enough about the author’s work to have a general idea of what to expect. You don’t know what to expect from me. I am a new author, currently working on my sophomore novel, and I haven’t yet settled into a trend. My first novel combined suspense with splashes of horror and spirituality. My next novel is fantasy. My work transcends multiple genres.

What is your go-to snack? 

Sunflower seeds! I can go through a ridiculous amount of them while working on a novel. I’d eat them at work if I could – shell-cracking and all.

You can follow Ametra on her:


Twitter @AlwaysAmetra


You can buy the book on Amazon.

Life, better known as blah, blah, blah

Free Solo – A Lesson, Even if You’re Afraid of Heights

Recently, I watched the documentary, Free Solo. The story about Alex Honnold and his journey up El Capitan’s 900-meter vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park.

I hate heights. Which meant I was not able to watch every scene of the movie because I literally felt like I was falling off the couch as dizziness hit me. How could someone, such as myself, gain any insight into life after watching Free Solo? I clearly was not able to go climb a mountain.

If you’ve seen this film maybe you had the following thoughts. First, you decided to concur your fears and scale some mountains. Or, second, you felt like complete crap that you could never do something so challenging.

For me, Free Solo showcased that everyone is different, be it big differences or little differences. Your El Capitan’s 900-meter vertical rock might be finishing and submitting a manuscript. It might be getting married or having a baby. It might even be leaving your house or seeking help for an addiction. But for some, maybe it is climbing a mountain.

What else did I learn from Free Solo? I’m so happy you want to know.

The camera crew played a heavy role in the film, maybe more so than other documentaries I’ve watched. When thinking about my own El Capitan, who was my film crew? How does that affect me and my goals? My film crew are family and friends. They support me and stand in exactly the right spot to lift me up. They affect my goals by making sure I don’t give up, but if I do, they will support that as well.

Good Eats

In the Kitchen with Savannah

When I think back on my childhood, I rarely spent time in the kitchen. Sure, I helped my father read a recipe, measure out the ingredients, but mostly it was a highly-UNdisguised math project. I never liked to cook or bake. Hamburger Helper or a boxed meal worked fine for me. Fast forward to married life where I did zero cooking and only limited baking (from a box) for twelve years.

But guess what happens when you get divorced and after a few months realize chicken broth and microwave dinners won’t cut it? You learn a new set of skills, and that’s just what I did. Fast forward again and even I’m not sure who created this cooking-baking monster I became. Move over Cookie Monster I have newly discovered skills!

I became what I would call a pretty-darn-tooting-great cook-baker after about a year of trial and error. So, at this point, I’ve been “In the Kitchen with Myself” for about six years now. Guess who my teacher was … ME! (Ok, okay, a little Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray). I still mess up brand new recipes, but to be honest, I prefer my meals to dining out. (Right!?! I know, I don’t believe it either, but I leave most restaurants feeling the meal could have tasted better). Two of the best things about learning this new-found hidden skill set is that I’ve created a decent amount of recipes. And second, I’ve created two original recipes (one for Grounded in January and one for another manuscript out on submission).

I’d love to hear from my readers – Is there is something you discovered about yourself that you had no idea you could master?

Book Reviews, Spotlight on Writing

Author Discovery ~ Mini Interview with Cheyanne Young

Please welcome the author of The Last Wish of Sasha Cade, The Breakup Support Group, and The City of Legends trilogy. All young adult (YA) stories. At the end of the interview, you can find a blurb about The Last Wish of Sasha Cade. Be sure and add it to your Goodreads list!

P.S. Cheyanne will be at Changing Hands Bookstore, in Tempe, AZ on September 26th at 7 p.m.

What author do you compare your book(s)/writing style to the most?

I never feel quite competent enough to compare myself to other writers, but I’ve been told my writing style is similar to Sarah Dessen (swoon) and Morgan Matson (ultra swoon). My writing style is contemporary, romantic, angsty, and a little funny. (At least, my kid thinks it’s funny.)

What is your favorite book genre? Why?

I am forever a fan of YA contemporary novels. I was a teen mom who had to grow up fast. I often feel like I missed out on all the best parts of those years and that I’m kind of stuck there mentally, as an adult. Give me all the teenage angst, realistic settings, first kisses, and love stories. I am here for it.

What is your favorite television show? Why?

Oh no. I have so many. I adore dry sarcasm and humor, something that can make me laugh after a long day of bleeding my heart onto my manuscript page. For those shows, I love: Schitt’s Creek, The Office, Bob’s Burgers, Kim’s Convenience, Misfits, & Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Don’t ask me to choose one. I can’t.

If you could have written a popular, well-known book, what would it have been and why?

I would have written The Perks of Being a Wallflower because every time I read that book, it feels as though it’s speaking directly to me.

Using your most recent book, who would play your main character(s) in a movie?

Funny you should ask – The Last Wish of Sasha Cade is being made into a TV show right now! I don’t know who will be cast, (and I doubt I’ll get a say in it) but I’ve always pictured Angela Kinsey as Mrs. Cade. For Raquel, I like Kiernan Shipka. I have no idea who could play Elijah, but he better be swoony and broody and adorable. For Sasha, I would love to see Amandla Stenberg play the role.

Why should your readers pick your book over a well-known author’s book?

Well-known authors get a lot of publisher money and promotion spent on them. Their books can’t help but be found and read. Whereas, us little authors do almost all of the promotion ourselves, with our own money. To date, I’ve spent more money promoting my book than I’ve earned on it, and I do it because I believe in Sasha’s story and I want readers to love it as much as I do. So while I love (and read!) well-known books, I always go out of my way to pull one I’ve never heard of off the shelf and give it a shot. You might find your new favorite author this way.

What is your go-to snack?

Coffee. I eat once a day, and it’s usually something terrible for me. But all day I’m drinking coffee. 🙂 Yes, the life of an author is extremely glamorous.


The Last Wish of Sasha Cade – book blurb

How far would you go for your best friend?

The day Raquel has been dreading for months has finally arrived. Sasha, her best friend in the whole world, has died of cancer. Overwhelmed and brokenhearted, Raquel can’t even imagine life without her.

And then a letter from Sasha arrives. Has she somehow found a way to communicate from beyond the grave?

In fact, Sasha spent her final weeks planning an elaborate scavenger hunt for the friend she would have to leave behind. When Raquel follows the instructions to return to Sasha’s grave, a mysterious stranger with striking eyes is waiting for her. There’s a secret attached to this boy that only Sasha – and now Raquel – knows.

This boy, Elijah, might be just who Raquel needs to help her move on from her terrible loss. But can Raquel remain true to herself while also honoring her friend’s final wish?


Cheyanne Young’s compulsively readable breakout novel offers abiding friendship and forbidden romance, along with an incisive look at how class differences shape who we are and who we grow to be.

You can follow her on Twitter: @NormalChey

And visit her website.

You can buy her latest novel, The Last Wish of Sasha Cade on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.