Blog Hops: Comprehensive List of Benefits


Thinking about joining a blog hop but not quite sure?

Consider this: Blog hops create incoming links to your website – links that point specifically TO YOU and that makes a whole lotta sense when you’re trying to build a presence on social media.

The incoming links from a blog hop hosted by a book blog benefit authors in many ways.

Better SEO (search engine optimization) and discovery
Let me start by saying I am NOT talking about “link-building” as an attempt to trip Google’s SEO radar and push you higher in web ranking. (Although, hey. If that happens then I’m all for it. But I’m not talking about using links to try to game the Google machine.) I’m talking about adding your link as a way of being part of a larger blog is a “hub” of book talk with blog posts that are densely packed with both incoming and outgoing links.

People visit book blogs to discover books.

Even when I’m not hosting a blog hop, as a book blogger, the kind of content I create (book reviews, author spotlights, etc.) points to many places (like Amazon) and many people (other authors and readers in the women’s fiction genre). Join the party. Be present. Handshake. Blog hops allow you to ride that inbound/outbound linking wave by connecting your website to my site’s content so when readers stop in for a little book discovery, you’re there waiting to greet them. It’s like placing your website on my bookshelf or like hopping on a moving train that pulls train cars filled with keyword-rich content and news that “points” readers to places on the web.

Adding a link is a lot faster than creating a guest blog post
It’s good marketing strategy to guest post on other blogs. But writing guest posts can be time-consuming. You have to trade emails with the other blogger, write the content, embed images and links. Don’t get me wrong. Guest posts are great and I highly recommend them and while a blog hop is not exactly a full-page guest post, blog hops are a nifty, tidy little way to gain exposure. Blog hops are like micro- guest posting.

Blog Hops verses Blog Tours
Many writers have promoted their books through a blog tour. Blog tours are great. I love, love, love them. A blog HOP is the little sister to the blog TOUR which requires more planning, content, and proper execution. What’s great about a blog hop is that you simply link-up. It only takes a few seconds and it leaves a great social media footprint.

Increased Traffic
Blog hops bump traffic and it helps if participants on the blog hop set aside time to visit other participants on the hop. It’s wise to hop through your fellow bloggers’ links and stop in on their blogs. For one, it’s good blog hop etiquette (if you link-up, it’s implied you’ll also travel and say hello by leaving comments). Two, it’s social. We all know we need to be good stewards of other people’s content by visiting other blogs and saying hello in their comment section. Blog hops help concentrate that effort, streamlining the time you spend on social media. Mark my blog hop on your social media calendar, and rest easy knowing you’ve set aside time to network like we all know we should.

Blog Hops Give You Reason to Amplify
When you’re marketing a book on social media, it sure helps to have fresh content to announce and amplify. Participation in online events says you’re active, you’re social, you’re connected and you take networking seriously. When you take part in a blog hop, amplify your participation by announcing your link-up through your social media channels. It builds your social media “persona” as a friendly, fun-loving blogger that likes to party with others. It not only says you get along with others, but that you like to curate content about social media events. You’re the party girl who says, “Hey, look over here. Come join our good time.”

It’s not a fluke my blog hop is scheduled on a Wednesday, smack in the middle of peak social media activity. And it’s always on the last Wednesday of the month so it’s easy to remember.

So, enough about all that.

Let’s hop.

I hope you’ll join me.

And if you want to help me amplify this list of blog hop benefits, gosh golly, I’d sure be grateful. Social media sharing buttons are below. 🙂

P.S. You might find this page on my book blog interesting – Fiction Writers Blog Hop – it details my blog hop program.

June is Audiobooks Month

Are we really one week shy of July?
What the heck happened to June?
Is 2014 halfway over? Shesh! Where’d the time go?
Well let me start finish by saying: June is Audiobooks Month.Woo-Hoo!


Many of you remember my Audible Audiobooks Narrator Talks Book Recording February 17, 2014 post featuring Lee Ann Howlett, Audible audiobooks narrator.
Lee Ann’s a frequent visitor to my book blog so I tracked her down during this busy month to ask her three questions…
Welcome, Lee Ann!Thanks sharing your insights and hot industry news.

Question #1 from Julie: What kind of activities are happening in the blogosphere to celebrate audiobooks?

leeannhowlettLee Ann’s Response: Lots of giveaways, Julie!  One of the best ways to find out where the giveaways/drawings are is to check Twitter for hashtag #audiomonth.  A giveaway that is going on all summer long is the annual SYNC Young Adult Literature into Your
Headphones.  The giveaway began the week of May 15th and continues through August 13th.  Each week two free downloads are offered.  One is a contemporary book and the other is a classic.  Check it out here.  You can sign up on the site to be notified by email when the latest books are released.

Response from Julie: Yes, that’s right, Lee Ann! I learned about that giveaway when I was in New York at BookExpo. It’s a huge giveaway stirring up all kinds of “buzz!” I’m still imaging great “pairings” and really enjoy thinking about this type of event. So glad you mentioned it here for my readers.


Question #2 from Julie: I had so much fun chatting with you about your audiobooks back in February. What’s going on at Audible and ACX these days? Have they made any major changes in their platform? How about Iambik and Librivox? Any industry news to report?

leeannhowlettLee Ann’s Response: ACX has lowered the percentage that narrators and rights holders (authors) split for royalty share projects.  It was previously 25% each after ACX took their 50% cut.  Now ACX has increased their share to 60% which leaves narrators and rights holders with 20% each.  Because of this, there is more competition for books that pay up front (per finished hour) and books that offer stipends ($100 per finished hour plus royalty shares).

Iambik is working almost exclusively with textbooks now.  LibriVox is still rolling along as a great site for free audiobooks that are in the Public Domain.  (Books published before 1923 in the U.S.)  There are some smaller publishers that also publish classics on Audible.  One of these is Audio Books by Mike Vendetti.  I’ve recorded several short stories and a couple of books through him that are on sale at Audible.

Response from Julie: Such great information, Lee Ann. Thanks for keeping us up-to-date on the audiobooks community.


Question #3 from Julie: So what’s up with you? How are you celebrating Audiobooks Month? Any snazzy giveaways you want to share with my book blog readers?

leeannhowlettLee Ann’s Response: I’m currently holding a giveaway/drawing for the winner’s choice of one of my recorded books on Audible.  They can be found here.  The drawing will be held on June 30th and two winners will be selected at random.  To enter, just head to my blog here.  If anyone has a problem leaving a comment on my blog, just message me via my website here and I’ll make sure your name is in the pot.  I’ve also advertised the drawing on Goodreads so that’s another place people can enter — here.

So, you can see that there’s still lots going on — not just in June but all summer long!

Lee Ann


Thanks for the visit, Lee Ann, and thanks for the great information about the many happenings during Audiobooks Month.

Folks, June ain’t over yet! There’s more great information for you on Lee Ann’s blog. Click here and through the magic of social media you’ll be zoomed away!

Happy Audiobooks Month Everyone!

Personal blog
Twitter:  @lah_ann


“Pizza, oh pizza, I love you.”

HUMPDAYLOWRES Q: What day is it?

A: It’s Wednesday. Hump Day. We’re halfway to the weekend. Woo-Hoo! Now that’s something to celebrate.

Let’s talk books. No. Let’s talk PIZZA and friends who write books.

But first! The author of the poem in the title of this blog post? My daughter, Noelle (now 14), written when she was in the third grade.

oh pizza
I love you

I know, I know. She’s amazing.

Quick note: Next Wednesday (June 25th) is the last Hump Day of the month and you know what THAT means. Time for the Hump Day Blog Hop! Link-up and stay connected with bloggers in the blogosphere. Why? Because it’s fun! (And the connections you make just might lead to a pizza party!)

So I didn’t have room in last week’s post about my trip to New York City to attend BookExpo America (BEA), BookBuzz, and uPublishU to tell you about the fabulous time I had at a Friday night pizza party with a great group of writer friends. JulieFrancine That’s me on the left with the very wise and very zany Francine LaSala, industry veteran, ghost writer of a ton of books and author of THE GIRL, THE GOLD TOOTH, & EVERYTHING and RITA HAYWORTH’S SHOES. (Wanna read my review of THE GIRL, THE GOLD TOOTH, & EVERYTHING? Okay, here you go: Click here.) Francine’s got a not-so-secret life that you can read about by visiting her not-so-secret website: Francine LaSala Productions. Together we shared a most delicious beet salad (oh my gosh, so yum) and a Popeye spinach pizza (also yummy). In our social (and professional – but mostly social) circle, Francine is the go-to person for all questions. All questions lead to Francine who ALWAYS, ALWAYS has the correct answer. She’s so wise. So unbelievably wise. And when I’m with her, I feel like I’ve known her all my life. Not because I’m wise, but because, well, I dunno. Maybe we were Samurai warriors together in a previous life and I like, KILLED someone to protect Francine and she somehow senses it and is nice to me in this life. Hey, it’s possible.EileenMeredithIn January, Francine and I joined some other women from the night’s pizza gathering to party at Eileen Goudge’s oceanfront California beach house (Eileen’s on left in the photo above). I mention it now because I never managed to get a post up last January to tell you about my trip. Eileen’s a New York Times bestselling author of a gazillion books. Seriously, I’m not exaggerating. She’s written a gazillion books. I think like . . . more than 20 or something. Some amazing number. Her talent and productivity are an inspiration. If my memory serves, it was Eileen that floated the idea of a pizza party and I’m so glad she did. She is a warm, generous spirit and is funny, funny, so-freaking-funny, and such a valued source of information about writing and publishing. Her latest novel, Bones and Roses, the first book in her new Cypress Bay mysteries series, is available now on preorder. You gotta check it out.

With Eileen in the photo above is Meredith Schorr, the sweetest writer in all of New York City. I’ve read and reviewed two of Meredith’s novels on my book blog (A State of Jane and Blogger Girl) and loved getting to know her better on that beach trip to California in January where we filmed a very silly book trailer for a boxed set she released in February. Meredith, Francine and Sam (on right in the next photo) organized the wildly successful BookBuzz event the night before so I know they were happy to unwind and relax over a glass of wine and great food.


In the above photo (on the right) is Samantha Stroh Bailey, one of the co-organizers of the Thursday night BookBuzz event and writer extraordinaire of the beloved FINDING LUCAS (4.6 out 5 stars after 91 reviews on Amazon). If you want, you can read my review of FINDING LUCAS here. Sam is an absolute stitch. That’s Southern talk for someone who’s so flippin’ funny she keeps everyone in stitches. (She lives in Canada so I have to explain that ‘stitch’ thing I just said.) Sam was on that California beach trip last January and kept us laughing the entire time. When she’s not lighting up the room with her contagious energy, she’s hunting for typos and those pesky -ly adverbs as owner of Perfect Pen Communications, a full service writing, editing and proofreading company that has recently added English to French writing translation services. She also collaborates on projects with Francine LaSala, mentioned above as the beet-salad-loving woman with the not-so-secret life. Because Sam also holds a Master of Education in Applied Linguistics, I’m going to embedd a typo in this paragraph to see if she can find it and leave a correction in my comment section. Smarty pants.

With Sam, but on the left side of the above photo, is the lovely Sheryn MacMunn, author of FINDING OUT. After a great time at the Friday night pizza party, Sheryn and I spent all day Saturday together at uPublishU where we learned a ton and traded notes in some mind-blowing publishing seminars. Some of Saturday’s seminars we attended:

  • Congratulations, Author: You’re Promoted to CEO
  • Build Your Author Platform & Publish Successfully
  • Engaging Readers: Getting Your Book Discovered by Readers
  • Marketing a Series: Tips & Tricks from Those in the Know
  • Hit the Bestseller List with E-book Preorders: Preorder Strategy A-Z
  • 5 Easy Ways to Get Discovered: Advice from Metadata Gurus
  • Social Media 201

The lunch we spent together on Saturday was absolutely amazing with Cindy Ratzlaff, president of Brand New, Brand You, Inc. Her keynote luncheon topic: Brand YOU: Creating a Rock Star Personal Brand for You and Your Books. So glad I got to hang with Sheryn at BookBuzz on Thursday night, pizza on Friday night, and uPublishU on Saturday. Sheryn rocks.

The lovely women in the above photo are Lydia Laceby and Deborah Schwartz. Lydia is co-founder of Novel Escapes, a crazy great and very influential chick lit and contemporary women’s fiction book blog and review site that I’ve been stalking for years. I recently read Lydia’s début novel, REDESIGNING ROSE and absolutely loved it. If you’ve got time, click here to read my book review and author interview. After the pizza party some of us took a walk and ended up at an Irish Pub to continue a night of lively discussion about writing, publishing, books, and family. One of the true gifts of my trip to New York was the late (late) night talk I had with Lydia and Lynn Marie Hulsman (in photo below). I wish both women didn’t live so far away… because I really, really connected with them.

With Lydia Laceby in the photo above (on the right) is the accomplished Deborah Schwartz, author of Woman on Top. After attending Tufts for undergrad and after earning her Master’s degree in History at Columbia by writing a thesis titled: “Prelude to Feminism in Eighteenth Century England” and after going to Boston University School of Law and spending 18 years as a healthcare attorney, Deborah truly became the ‘woman on top’ by reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2011. Oh! And then she did that little thing called writing a novel. And guess what. She did that well, too. 4.6 stars out of 5 after 43 reviews on Amazon. Shesh! The nerve of her to be so accomplished. One more thing: She’s wonderful. Down to earth, funny, relaxed. An absolute gem. I can’t wait to eat pizza with her again and hope that day comes very soon.


Last, but certainly not least, a woman I adore, Lynn Marie Hulsman. She sat to my right and had the good sense to call the article of clothing I was wearing a ‘blouse’ and not a ‘top’ or ‘shirt’ – a choice of words that sparked a lot of controversy at the table and on Facebook and Twitter. Seriously, it generated 50+ comments on Facebook alone. (Francine, if you’re reading, IT’S A BLOUSE.) I put Lynn Marie last in this post because I didn’t have a good picture of us from the pizza party so I’m using a very crummy photo from the night before at the BookBuzz event. In just two and a half years, Lynn Marie scored an agent, co-wrote two books, ghost-wrote another, published an article, completed one novel, and started a second one. During that time, we connected over twitter and @LynnMarieSays became one of my most favorite people to tweet with, so yes, our relationship began with 140 characters but grew from a genuine sense that we had a lot in common and well, hey. We liked each other. So we tweeted a lot. I mentioned in my section about Lydia that one of the greatest gifts that came from my time in New York was the late night conversation I had with Lydia and Lynn Marie. We shared a walk back to our hotels where I actually banged my SHOULDER (of all things) on a sidewalk under construction while wearing very high wedges. (I hate those shoes. They even gave me blisters, dang them.) Lynn Marie writes lots of things like novels and cookbooks including Make Your Own Soda and a cookbook I especially have my eye on: The Kentucky Bourbon Dessert Cookbook: More than 75 Rich Recipes Featuring Kentucky’s Signature Spirit. She also wrote Christmas at Thornton Hall covered in a Christmas blog post series I ran last December called “Elf on a (Book) Shelf – Countdown to Christmas.”

From the group of pizza lovers that also happened to meet in January at Eileen’s oceanfront beach house (remember that blog post I never wrote?) Eileen, me, Francine, Sam, and Meredith – there was one person missing at pizza night – Jen Tucker who we dialed up for a little FaceTime over dinner. Jen wrote the laugh-out-loud novels: The Day I Wore My Panties Inside Out and The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt as well as two beautiful children’s books, one of which (Two by Two) I read to my son’s third grade classroom and they LOVED it. Jen was my beachie-keen roommate in California and her presence was really missed during our time in New York. We carried you with us in spirit (and on FaceTime, through texting and emails), Jen. We love you and kept you here with us at all times.

Okay, well. So. That’s it for today’s Hump Day Post. One crazy great night of pizza shared with some amazing women writers who I call friends.

My cup runneth cover. I’m drinking from the saucer.

BookBuzz, BookExpo, AudioBook Month, Hoopla . . .

HUMPDAYLOWRES Okay, I seriously need a day between Saturday and Sunday that no one knows about but me.

No, really. I’d love to have 24 hours of uninterrupted blog posting because there’s just so much I want to share with you about my recent trip to BookExpo America in New York City and so many books I’ve recently read and need to review.

Welcome to today’s Hump Day Books Post. It’s Wednesday. Let’s talk books.

BookExpo America (BEA) was a blast – but hands down, the best part was connecting with friends at BookBuzz.

I especially enjoyed rooming with book blogger extraordinaire, Melissa Amster of Chick Lit Central and meeting fellow book blogger, Marlene Engel of Book Mama Blog. The three of us walked back to our hotels after the BookBuzz event, stopping long enough to snap this late night photo:

(From L to R) Melissa Amster, Julie Valerie, Marlene Engel

(From L to R) Melissa Amster, Julie Valerie, Marlene Engel

BookBuzz organizers Meredith Schorr (on left in photo below), Samantha Stroh Bailey (center) and Francine LaSala (right) did a great job of organizing the event. Here’s a late night photo (it’s dark, I know) taken after the event: MeredithSamFrancine It was so great connecting with these great writers featured at this event: Francine LaSala * Samantha Stroh Bailey *Meredith Schorr * Holly Peterson * Cat Lavoie * Lydia Laceby * Chantel Guertin * Samantha March * Glynis Astie * Sheryn MacMunn * Lynn Marie Hulsman * k.c. wilder * Marissa Stapley * Heather Wardell * Deborah Schwartz BookBuzz Okay, okay, I know. Another lousy photo. But hey! I’m sorry… It was dark and it was late. Oh, who’m I kidding? I took lousy photos the entire week. Oh, dang.

On to BookExpo America (BEA) . . . My gosh, was it crowded.     FRIDAYCHOSEN010 A few highlights from BookExpo:

Interested in distributing your book far and wide? Keep an eye on the HOOPLA platform from Midwest Tape and its new app for ebook lending in the library market. Right now, much of the lending in the library market is a one copy/one user model but HOOPLA will work more like Netflix offering library readers instant availability, 24/7, and every time a book is borrowed the publisher gets paid. While this model of book lending is offered by other vendors, Midwest Tape has captured approximately 70% of the library media materials market so their entry will make waves.

I didn’t get a chance to really dive in and learn more about rights@pubmatch powered by RightsLink – but they sure caught my eye for their complete rights system and one-stop-shopping website. Originally launched April 1, 2014 this service is on my list of things I want to know more about. Here’s a little snippet from their website:

“For large publishers, it means giving new life to your mid and backlist titles that aren’t actively being sold anymore. For independent authors, it means being able to sell rights without the need for representation.  For agents, it presents a whole new model for selling rights.”  




June is Audiobook Month and SYNC is giving away two audiobook YA downloads each week for the summer (ending August 14, 2014).

I learned about them at BookExpo and this is what I found interesting:

(1) the pairing of a Young Adult title with a related Classic or required Summer Reading title; (2) the marketing toolbox developed to promote the program; (3) the idea that this format of promotion could be duplicated for other genres, too.

Participants registering for the Summer Reading Program online will find a complete tool kit to share the program at their school, blog, youth group or local library. Readers can text syncya to 25827 to receive text alerts about featured titles. (Requires OverDrive Media Console as the delivery software.)

Sample pairings:

June 19 – June 25, 2014 I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter, read by Renee Raudman (Brilliance Audio) – paired with – ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L.M. Montgomery, read by Colleen Winton (Post Hypnotic Press).

July 31 – August 6, 2014 DIVIDED WE FALL by Trent Reedy, read by Andrew Eiden et al. (Scholastic Audiobooks) – paired with – RED BADGE OF COURAGE by Stephen Crane, read by Frank Muller (Recorded Books).

I still drive around town thinking about the pairings and imaging which women’s fiction books I’d pair with others were I to organize an event like this.

HumpDayBooksTitleImageLOWNow for some specific book news I’m sharing this week: 


JUNE 30, 2014 BOOK RELEASE: Fallen For Rock by Nicky Wells

Fans of UK author Nicky Wells and her Romance that Rocks Your World novels will be thrilled to learn her fifth book, FALLEN FOR ROCK releases this month. Love, life, loyalties. Nothing stays the same when Emily gets drawn into the world of rock. “A thrilling and delicious story of love and self-discovery woven around a broken romance that will make you turn page after page and cheer to the end.” (Warning: FALLEN FOR ROCK contains some explicit content and strong language that may not be suitable for readers under eighteen years of age.)

Connect with Nicky: Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Romantic Novelists’ AssociationSapphire Star Publishing | Amazon | Goodreads |


NEW COVER REVEAL: Big news from three-time author Meredith Schorr: New cover for the fantastic BLOGGER GIRL novel. I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing two of Meredith’s novels: BLOGGER GIRL (read it here) and A STATE OF JANE (read it here). What I really love about the new cover is the incorporation of Meredith’s other two books. JUST FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS is on the billboard in light blue and A STATE OF JANE is in blogger girl’s red shopping bag. So super cute!

Connect with Meredith: Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads |


RELEASED ON iAUTHOR: BEWARE THE SEVENTH WAVE by Maureen Gregory – ready to discover on iAuthor.

Click HERE to browse and buy.

About the book: In the novel deceit, obsessive love, betrayal and murder are threaded alongside the fabric of normal life. Emma is convinced she has found the man of her dreams, until she suspects her lover may have a darker side. Was he a cold, calculated killer or a victim in someone else’s deadly game?

Emma believes she will uncover the truth, but are some lies better left undiscovered?

Connect with Maureen: Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads |

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

OKAY! So that’s it for today’s Hump Day Books Post. (Whew! I’m exhausted.)

Save the Date: I run a Hump Day Blog Hop on the last Wednesday of every month. Join me. It’s super easy to link-up.


Book Review: The Witch of Belladonna Bay by Suzanne Palmieri


I’m having so much fun on the BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge 2014. This summer I’m reading 5 of their recommended titles. Today, I bring you my book review of Suzanne Palmieri’s stunning novel, THE WITCH OF BELLADONNA BAY.

The-Witch-of-Belladonna-Bay-207x300 (1)ABOUT THE BOOK
Bronwyn “BitsyWyn” Whalen hasn’t set eyes on the red dirt of Magnolia Creek, Alabama, for fourteen years—not since her mama died. But with her brother, Patrick, imprisoned for the murder of her childhood best friend, and her eccentric father, Jackson, at his wits’ end while her eleven-year-old niece, Byrd, runs wild, Bronwyn finds herself once again surrounded by ancient magnolia trees and the troubled family she left behind. She becomes immersed in a whirlwind of mystery and magic as she tries to figure out what really happened that fateful night her friend died. And as her bond with Byrd deepens, Bronwyn must face the demons of her past in order to unravel her family’s uncertain future. In Suzanne Palmieri’s thrilling new novel, The Witch of Belladonna Bay, readers will learn if love and magic are enough to bring a broken family back together.


“Suzanne Palmieri has crafted a riveting tale that will keep you up late at night guessing what will happen next. It is a story that will intrigue both male and female readers. Guys, don’t let this one slip
past you.”—Jason Mott, New York Times bestselling author of The Returned

“Ms. Palmieri’s authentic dialogue, and ability to paint a family in crisis, is both charming and layered. If you’re a lover of Southern fiction, magic in its many forms, and the kind of storytelling that keeps you
turning the pages, you’ve come to the right place, y’all.”—Lesley Kagen, New York Times bestselling author of Whistling in the Dark

“Murder, mystery and magic meld in a novel of absolute enchantment. About the lies we tell, the love we struggle for, and the way we find our way back to our rightful place in the world, Palmieri’s book is a
stunner.”—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You and Is This Tomorrow

“Magic weaves its way through this beguiling southern gothic, swirling from the moss-laden trees around the Big House through the misty and menacing Belladonna Bay, and settling into the hearts of
Bronwyn and her niece, Byrd, whose Strange Ways most people just don’t understand. Reminiscent of Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells, this bewitching tale of ghostly mystery, love and family ties will
enchant you from the very first page and linger in the air around you long after the last.”— Wendy Webb, bestselling author of The Fate of Mercy Alban

Oh, my gosh, stunning. The writing had a mystical quality to it, haunting at times, dreamlike and with a subtle tension held throughout the telling of the tale. THE WITCH OF BELLADONNA BAY is a story of love, forgiveness, fear, and redemption; a story of things “obtuse” and things long-buried; a story about coming home to face your past.

At the center of the story are two characters, both with varying degrees of mystical powers called “shine.” Bronwyn “BitsyWyn” Whalen, and a little girl named Byrd share alternating chapters, interrupted a few times with passages from a deceased relative, Bronwyn’s mother, Naomi, who died of an opium overdose. Tragedy follows the Whalen family and the death of Charlotte “Lottie” and the implicated murderer shake the family like never before.

Having left her home in Magnolia Creek fourteen years ago, Bronwyn must return to play mother to eleven-year-old Byrd while trying to solve the murder of her childhood best friend, Lottie, and free her brother, Paddy, who is implicated in the murder.

The mist that covers Belladonna Bay island haunts everyone and hovers over the story like an ominous entity. The mist as story device was well-executed culminating in observations about love, fear and curses. I also enjoyed references to Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s THE LITTLE PRINCE woven throughout.

I was mesmerized by this book and hung on every word trying to figure out what happened on that fateful night. The chapters (I think there were only three?) written from Naomi’s point-of-view felt a bit out-of-place in a book that bounced nicely back and forth between Bronwyn and Byrd. I would have preferred the Naomi chapters be lifted. That said, I loved the play on mermaids and pirates in the passages about Naomi and her husband Jackson. I also wondered how essential the Ben character was to the story, but I didn’t wonder about that much. He was very charming and served to anchor us in Bronwyn’s present life before she was called back home.

It was a powerful read alternating between the tormented Bronwyn playing the reluctant sleuth and the seemingly innocent Byrd’s view of the world. As a child and therefore ‘unreliable narrator,’ Byrd was drawn at times as innocent as her young age; at other times, more wise than the adults in the tale. The use of a child as a main character was provocative because it stood in juxtaposition to our views of good and bad in this world.

Wonderful summer read. Highly recommended.


Amazon for Kindle:
Amazon for paperback:


Suzanne Palmieri Hayes is the author of The Witch of Little Italy and The Witch of Belladonna Bay (May, 2014). She is also the co-author of I’ll Be Seeing You under the name Suzanne Hayes. She lives by the ocean with her husband and three darling witches. She is currently hard at work on her next novel.