WWW WEDNESDAY – 13/01/2021

This is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

All you need to do is answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Also, do follow the host and other bloggers who participate!

It is wonderful to know what everyone is reading and recommendations are always welcome!

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What are you currently reading?

The NewlywedsAbout the Book:

One marriage. One lie. Two sides to the story.

The moment Vivien meets Ashton, she knows she will be his wife and absolutely nothing will stop her.

Powerful, rich and from a good family, Ashton is everything Vivien is not. So, she molds herself into Ashton’s perfect soulmate.

Pouring his favorite vintage wine, whispering ‘I love you’ over dinner in front of friends and biting her tongue when she disagrees with him are simple sacrifices for the perfect marriage she has always craved.

When people begin to notice the bruises on her cheek, she holds their stares. There is no cry for help from Vivien. She simply keeps her mouth shut and lets the gossip continue.

If you saw Vivien nursing a black eye, you might be forgiven for thinking what everyone else does – that she is the victim in her marriage, but you’d be wrong. Vivien and Ashton’s life together is much more complicated than that. You will never guess the true story behind Vivien’s undying devotion to her husband. Nor could you possibly predict what she does next…

Perfect for fans of Gone Girl, Behind Closed Doors and The Perfect Couple. If you enjoy reading twisted psychological thrillers with bags of suspense, then you’ll love The Newlyweds from USA TODAY bestselling author Arianne Richmonde.

What did you recently finish reading?

 

The Vengeance of Indra is Book 3 in the Vikramaditya Veergatha series and is absolutely mind-blowing! The book is so well-written and filled with so many twists and turns!

This series is indeed a must read for fans of Indian Mythology and mythology in general!

 

 

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Wrath of the Hellfires (Vikramaditya Veergatha, #4)

 

Well, as usual my TBR pile is high and there are many upcoming Book releases and blog tours!

In spite of all this, my main target is to read The Wrath of the Hellfires, Book 4 in the Vikramaditya Veergatha series. This is the final book and will bring the entire story to conclusion.

Book Review: Murder in the Snow (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery #4) by Verity Bright

This is going to be my last book review for year 2020! WOW! It has been a  wonderful year with respect to books and reading for me!

About the Book:

Murder in the Snow (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery #4)

An English Christmas has mince pies, cheerful carols, a twinkling tree… and a murder? Thank goodness Lady Swift is on the scene!

Winter, 1920. Amateur sleuth Lady Eleanor Swift is feeling festive. She is playing host to the entire village at Henley Hall for gifts, games and gingerbread. She’s also purchased perfect presents for each of her household – not forgetting the biggest bone in the butcher’s shop for her partner in crime, Gladstone the bulldog – and is looking forward to celebrating her first English country Christmas.

As snowflakes fall, Eleanor is cheering on contestants in the traditional Christmas fun run in the grounds of the Hall. But tragedy strikes when one of the runners drops dead at the finish line. Dashing Detective Seldon is convinced it’s just a heart attack, but Eleanor isn’t so sure. When she finds a rather distinctive key where the man fell, Eleanor knows she’ll never rest until she finds out the truth about what happened in her own home.

Next the vicar is taken ill with what looks like poison and Eleanor starts to wonder if the two cases are linked. When someone tries to frame her by planting poisoned berries in her own kitchen, she knows speed is of the essence. But the entire village was at Henley Hall for the festivities and Eleanor has enough suspects to stuff a town full of turkeys. Can she nail the true killer and clear her name in time for Christmas?

Christmas won’t be complete without it! A festive treat for fans of Agatha Christie, TE Kinsey and Lee Strauss.

My Thoughts:

I requested for and was approved a copy of this book on NetGalley thanks to the publisher Bookouture!

Murder in the Snow is the fourth book in the Eleanor Swift mystery series and thankfully can be read as a standalone. The story, set in the winter of 1920, follows Eleanor as she plays host to the entire village, bringing everyone together for Christmas celebrations. What she does not expect is for one of the contestants to collapse and be declared dead from a possible heart-attack. As her investigative instincts kick in, Eleanor starts to figure the whole thing out when her butler agrees that it seems suspicious.

There are minimal references to her adventures and previous mysteries solved, but these do not take away from the story, nor do they create any confusion for the reader! With a lot happening in the book, the reader is in for unexpected surprises as Eleanor proceeds with her investigation, many times in the most unladylike manner for the 1920s. However, this just adds to her endearing character and makes the reader fall in love with her. The other characters in the book are charming and the best is Mr. Clifford! I adore how he handled the house and supported Eleanor in spite of just being her butler. His connection to her late uncle seems to add some intrigue to his character.

The story is very well-written and mixed in with festive cheer. I enjoyed reading about how the people amused themselves in this rather picturesque setting. This murder mystery is definitely worth the read and I look forward to reading more about Eleanor’s adventures!

Round-up of the Goodreads Reading Challenge 2020!

At the beginning of the year I had planned to read around 50 books (keeping in mind my work schedules and timelines). However, as a result of the pandemic and work from home situation, I was able to increase this number up to 74!

As per the Goodreads stats, the longest book I read was Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer (671 pages), Edwards take on the events that occur in Twilight.

The shortest book read, with just 24 pages was a delightful children’s book titled Dinosaur Adventure: A Field Trip to Remember (Let’s Learn While Playing #2) by Kelly Santana-Banks

It also turns out that my average rating is 3.5 stars!

I love how Goodreads has summarized the books and my year. Check out my list here.

MY 2020 BOOKS
The Tower Lord by Anthony RyanA Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid KemmererShadow Trials by Isla FrostFirstborn Academy by Isla FrostFirstborn Academy by Isla Frost
The Selection by Kiera CassThe One by Kiera CassThe Elite by Kiera CassHouse of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. MaasTwo Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
Inebriated by Katey TaylorLegendary by Stephanie GarberDragon Connection by Ava RichardsonFinale by Stephanie GarberSunrise on Half Moon Bay by Robyn Carr
The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten WhiteQueen of Corvids by J.C. McKenzieRescuing Lord Inglewood by Sally BrittonPrejudice Meets Pride by Rachael AndersonA History of Hexing by Evie Wilde
Keep Forever by Alexa KingaardThe School for Good and Evil by Soman ChainaniThe Girl in the Corner by Amanda ProwseA Torch Against the Night by Sabaa TahirAn Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa TahirAsh Princess by Laura SebastianLady Smoke by Laura SebastianEmber Queen by Laura SebastianWrong Place, Right Time by E.B. Roshan
Summer at Hope Haven by Kristin HarperLucy's Last Chance by Elle SweetMidnight Sun by Stephenie MeyerWho Threw Draco Down the Chimney? by Smita BhattacharyaThe Damned by Renée Ahdieh
The Beautiful by Renée AhdiehThe Guilty Die Twice by Don HartshornThorne Bay by Jeanine CroftProject Hackathon by Arushi AggarwalTwo Murders Too Many by Bluette Matthey
Return to Virgin River by Robyn CarrThe Pigeon Whisperer by Motaz H MatarHinterland by L.M. BrownThe Tech by Mark RavineDinosaur Adventure by Kelly Santana-Banks
Aunt Ivy's Cottage by Kristin HarperPrism by Nina WalkerThe Pageant by Leigh WalkerThe Gala by Leigh WalkerFracture by Nina Walker
The Finale by Leigh Walker337 by M. Jonathan LeeTen Days with a Duke by Erica RidleyThe Guardians of the Halahala by Shatrujeet NathRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Winter of the Wolf by Martha Hunt HandlerBeyond Belief by Ronald CrouchThe Eye of Ra by Ben GartnerSol Invictus by Ben GartnerThe Case of the Smuggler’s Curse by F.S. Dawson
Murder at the Lakeside Library by Holly DanversThe Violinist of Auschwitz by Ellie MidwoodNever Say No by Elizabeth NeepA ​Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir58 Farm End by Natasha Murray
Across the Lake by Nancy LiPetriWedding Bells on Victory Street by Pam HowesForever Your Duke by Erica RidleyChronicles of a Spell Caster by J.J. SingletonSummer of L.U.C.K. by Laura Segal Stegman
Midnight Train to Prague by Carol WindleyThe Lost Village by Daniela SacerdotiAlessia in Atlantis: The Forbidden VialMurder in the Snow (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery #4)

Do share your thoughts on the books I’ve read and don’t hesitate to leave recommendations for books to read in 2021!

Round-up 2020 – Mysteries and thrillers!

Having read a whole lot of books this year, I have decided to do a sum up of the different genres and list my favorite books among those read in 2020!

These posts will help me with the final round-up of favorite books read in 2020 at the end of the year (in another 15 days! :D)

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In this post, I am summarizing the books read in the mystery and thriller genre. Honestly, I haven’t read much in this genre this year, and it is possible to link some of the YA fiction that I have read in this. But, I have chosen to stick to old fashioned mysteries that make us think and investigate along with the main characters.

Who Threw Draco Down the Chimney? by Smita Bhattacharya

Who Threw Draco Down the Chimney? (Darya Nandkarni's Misadventures #3)

This is the third book in the series based on the eccentric character of Darya Nandkarni. Darya is a an accidental and amateur detective who seems to find her way towards mysteries or do they find her? That is a question for the reader to ponder!

Who Threw Draco Down the Chimney? is a very well-crafted mystery filled with the right amount of intrigue in a wonderful setting.

Smita handles the story and characters very well, with detailed descriptions and a steady pace that takes the reader until the very end. The story can be read as a stand-alone one even though there are some minor references to cases that Darya solved previously and to her family.

This is a must read for everyone who enjoys mysteries set in unique places and with wonderful twists and turns!

 

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

The Last Anniversary is a compelling read!

The author has paid strong attention to details while handling the mystery as well as the characters and this makes the story that much more enjoyable. I strongly recommend this book and I hope that everyone enjoys it as much as I did!

 

58 Farm End by Natasha Murray

58 Farm End

58 Farm End is a fast paced mystery thriller that introduces the reader to the Bridgewaters and Hearns. The plot is well thought out and the characters are easy to relate to.

Some parts of the mystery are so unexpected that this makes for an interesting read! The ending is unexpected and I like how this book leads on to the next one!

A well-written murder mystery, this book is a must read for all!

 

Murder at the Lakeside Library by Holly Danvers

Murder at the Lakeside Library follows Rain, the protagonist as she arrives at her family’s log cabin in Lofty Pines. Dealing with personal loss, Rain is emotionally unstable, but feels that this break will do her good. I particularly enjoyed the twist in the story at the end and this redeemed some of the story for me. I would recommend this as a cozy mystery which is simple to read and enjoy!

 

Two Murders Too Many by Bluette Matthey

Two Murders Too Many

The story follows Charlie Simmons as he investigates the unexpected spree of crime and murder in a small midwest town. The story is very well written with a myriad of characters each with their own quirks.

The ending is definitely a little unexpected and it is quite interesting to watch as Charlie works through each clue one by one to reach a conclusion! The book is well worth the read!

 

The Guilty Die Twice: A Legal Thriller by Don Hartshorn

The Guilty Die Twice: A Legal Thriller

The premise of the book intrigued me and thus I picked it up to read. The story follows estranged lawyer brother’s Travis and Jake Lynch as they navigate their separate worlds, having parted ways ten years ago. The story is told from each of their perspectives interspersed with flashbacks to the incident from ten years ago.

Though it takes some effort to get through, the book is definitely worth a one time read.

 

Winter of the Wolf by Martha Hunt Handler

Winter of the Wolf by Martha Hunt Handler

This book follows the life of Bean (yes, this is a very unusual name for a person and I was surprised with it. I thought it was a nickname.) as she navigates life post her brother’s death. We are given glimpses into the lives of the family members before Sam’s death and of course how they each cope after it.

I enjoyed the references to animals and how the author weaves the story around people’s belief systems without sounding like she is preaching. This book is well worth the read especially to admire the bonds of friendship and family that forms the backbone of the plot.

 

I would love to know what you all think about these books, so don’t hesitate to share your thoughts on this post! In addition, I am open to book recommendations in this genre, so do stop by and comment!

Round-up of 2020: Middle Grade and Children’s Fiction books!

Having read a whole lot of books this year, I have decided to do a sum up of the different genres and list my favourite books among those read in 2020! These posts will help me with the final round-up of favourite books read in 2020 at the end of the year (in another 15 days! :D)

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In this post, I am summarizing the list of middle grade fiction and children’s books that I read and enjoyed this year! They are not listed in any particular order and I truly enjoyed all of them.

Reading all these books took me back to my childhood and growing up with Enid Blyton’s novels! It’s wonderful to see how many authors have come out with such wonderful stories and even as an adult, I am glad that I have had the chance to enjoy these books!

The Eye of Ra by Ben Gartner

Sol Invictus (The Eye of Ra #2) by Ben Gartner

The Case of the Smuggler’s Curse by F.S. Dawson

Beyond Belief: The Adventure Begins by Ron Crouch

Dinosaur Adventure: A Field Trip to Remember by Kelly Santana-Banks

Project Hackathon (Coding Supergirls Book 1) by Arushi Aggarwal

Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts or book recommendations in this Genre!

Book Review: 58 Farm End by Natasha Murray

I was provided with a copy of the book from the author via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Release date: 18 December 2020

About the Book:

58 Farm End

After Ivy Brown is found dead in a silent pool at Farm End, Julia Bridgewater and Seth Hearn, from two rival farming families, declare their love for each other.

Their passionate affair does not go unnoticed.

As their bond grows stronger, dark and twisted secrets are unearthed and cause chaos.

Somebody is watching Julia and is becoming impatient.

“Absolutely brilliant! Really, really enjoyed it and I can’t wait for the next in the series.”

Julia and her brother Peter are finding their new life at Farm End challenging. Their dairy farm in Findon, is not doing well. Their Dad, who is struggling with depression, wants to sell the farm and move on. One night, Julia meets the enigmatic Seth Hearn, from the neighbouring Crow Farm and she is instantly drawn to him. How does he know so much about her?

Are Julia and Seth star crossed lovers? Will they be able to deal with those that mean to harm them?

The question is: Who killed Ivy Brown?

My Thoughts:

58 Farm End is a fast paced mystery thriller that introduces the reader to the Bridgewaters and Hearns. They live on neighbouring farms but there is history and bad blood between the two families for years. When Julia Bridgewater meets Seth Hearn, sparks fly even though they are forbidden to see each other. Julia knows her heart and mind and chooses to do as she pleases even though her father and brother disagree. As the story progresses, the reader is provided insight into the families and introduced to various characters.

We are introduced to a variety of characters in the Hearn family, a huge lot and rather suspicious. When Ivy Brown, Jake Hearn’s fiance is found dead in the pond, at the far end of the farm, chaos ensues. Everyone has a shady past or story, everyone is hiding something. I particularly enjoyed how the story unfolded and the mystery unraveled. However, the ease with which Julia and Sean fall in love was a little difficult for me to adjust to.

The plot is well thought out and the characters are easy to relate to. The sibling dynamics between Julia and Peter is interesting and I like how they evolve and learn to understand each other and respect one another. When faced with the prospect of losing their father, they band together to try to help him. There is a lot of heartbreak going around, but in the twists towards the end were brilliantly planned. Some parts of the mystery are so unexpected that this makes for an interesting read!The ending is unexpected and I like how this book leads on to the next one!

A well-written murder mystery, this book is a must read for all!

Cover Reveal – Amends: A Psychic Mystery Series by Carissa Andrews

Amends: A Psychic Mystery Series
Carissa Andrews
(A Diana Hawthorne Supernatural Mystery, #2)
Publication date: February 26th 2021
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Urban Fantasy

For as psychic as she is, shit goes sideways far too often around Diana Hawthorne.

Diana now has everything she ever wanted–her memories, and the soul mate she didn’t realize she was missing. There’s just one problem… the old gods expect her to make amends for her absence. And her work starts now.

But time lost at the oracle isn’t the only thing she has to atone for. Her friend Demetri was stripped of his powers–and it was all her fault. If she could just set things right, she’d feel a whole lot better about moving forward. Unfortunately, Demetri wants nothing to do with her and knows exactly how to keep her out of his head.

To make matters worse, in the age of social media, Diana’s abilities have gone viral. People from all over the world are clambering to get on her books. One case, in particular, hits her radar and despite herself, she can’t shake it. A 14-year-old boy is wrapped up with a deadly governmental agency and he’s scared to death. And he should be–they want to weaponize his power.

Torn between what was and what is, Diana struggles to fully embrace who she’s becoming. Will she be able to help Demitri and make things right? Or will her new role mean leaving the past behind?

Add to Goodreads / Pre-order

 

Author Bio:

“An author emerges from the depths of Minnesotan waters. Sci-fi/Fantasy is my pen of choice.”

Carissa Andrews is a Minnesota-based genre-bending author who writes a combination of science fiction, fantasy, and dystopia. When not writing her own books, she’s busy reading them.

Carissa’s internationally bestselling trilogy, The Pendomus Chronicles, is now in digital, print, and audiobook formats. She has hit the scene as an up and coming speculative fiction author who uses a mix of scifi and fantasy, twisted in modern mythology and alternative history. Check out The Final Five, Oracle, Awakening, and Love is a Merciless God!

Carissa has big plans for 2020. Check out her upcoming series, The Windhaven Witches.

For more information on their release, visit Carissa Andrews’ author website: http://www.carissaandrews.com and sign up for her newsletter notifications.

She lives in central Minnesota with her husband and brood of five kids. Not to mention, her insane husky puppies, Aztec and Pharaoh.

Carissa is also a freelance graphic designer, writer and content creator, social media manager, and marketing professional. She writes consistently on topics of science, technology, art, writing, photography, graphic design, health, self-improvement, and more. Her articles can be found published across the interwebs. Carissa is also a Top-Rated Freelancer on Upwork, and can be contacted for freelancing opportunities: http://bit.ly/UpworkCarissaAndrews

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest

 

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Book Review: Murder at the Lakeside Library by Holly Danvers

About the Book:

In this series debut perfect for fans of Jenn McKinlay and Miranda James, Rain Wilmot must discover the killer, before the book closes on her life.

Rain Wilmot has just returned to her family’s waterfront log cabin in Lofty Pines, Wisconsin after the untimely death of her husband. The cabin is peaceful compared to Rain’s corporate job and comes with an informal library that Rain’s mother, Willow, used to run. But as Rain prepares for the re-opening of the library, all hopes for a peaceful life are shattered when she discovers the body of Thornton Hughes, a real estate buyer, on the premise.

The community of Lofty Pines starts pointing fingers at Willow, since she has been unusually absent from the library this summer. A fishy rumor surfaces when Rain learns that Willow had been spending a lot of time with Thorton. The town even thought they were having an affair.

While theories swirl about Thorton’s death, Rain takes it upon herself to solve the case to exonerate her mother. As more clues surface, Rain will have to piece together the mystery. But if she isn’t careful, she may be the next to end up dead in the water in Murder at Lakeside Library the first in Holly Danvers’ new Lakeside Library mysteries.

My Thoughts:

I requested for and received a copy of this book from NetGalley. The below review is my honest opinion.

Murder at the Lakeside Library follows Rain, the protagonist as she arrives at her family’s log cabin in Lofty Pines. Dealing with personal loss, Rain is emotionally unstable, but feels that this break will do her good. As we follow Rain while she re-discovers friendships, deals with having to run the library connected to the cabin and tries to find some peace in general, a dead body is found near the outhouse on the family’s property. From here the reader is pulled into the investigation of the murder and Rain’s attempts to find out the truth.

The story is well-written, but at times I was a little confused as to where it was going. With a lot of the focus on Rain and her reactions, we are not provided a lot of insight into the murder investigation until the very end. This is something that I did not enjoy as I wanted to understand what was happening as the story progressed.

However, I enjoyed the dynamics between Rain and her friend Julia. The characters were well developed and some were even endearing. I particularly enjoyed the twist in the story at the end and this redeemed some of the story for me. I would recommend this as a cozy mystery which is simple to read and enjoy!

 

 

Book Review: The Case of the Smuggler’s Curse by F.S. Dawson

The Case of the Smuggler’s Curse (The After School Detective Club Book 1)

My Thoughts:

This book, written for children by author Mark Dawson under a pseudonym, is a fast-paced fun read! The story focuses on 4 children and a dog who initially don’t know each other very well, but form a special bond eventually. The children are inquisitive and get caught up in solving a mystery. This book reminds me of Enid Blyton’s Mystery series, but where the children have access to modern amenities and gadgets! A well-written book, this is definitely a series that children will enjoy reading!

In Conversation with Ronald Crouch

I have the pleasure of hosting author Ronald Crouch on the blog. I recently read his first book, a middle grade adventure book titled Beyond Belief: The Adventure Begins.

The book truly is the beginning of an adventure for people of all ages and has an educational aspect to it.

Read on to know more about Ron and his experiences with writing this book.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a child psychologist, married 22 years, and I am the father of a little critical thinker who constantly fact-checks me and asks for evidence. That’s both wonderful and a lot of work. He keeps me on my toes. We are Americans but we live in Germany, where I work at a hospital. We live in a tiny little village on the edge of the black forest, which can be pretty spooky. We bought an old church and we are rehabbing it into a house, which can also be pretty spooky. It is a good thing that we like spooky.

What prompted you to start writing?

For my son’s tenth birthday I looked for a fun adventure story that had the themes he loved and which we often talked about in our family. Themes like critical thinking, cognitive biases, psychology, and being skeptical. It is something we have really emphasized for our son because the world seems to have transitioned from an information age into a misinformation age, and as parents we felt we have to prepare our kid for that. But when I looked for middle reader books with these themes there wasn’t anything that I could find that really dug into these topics and talked about them directly in the context of a fun story. I had a good idea of what an age-appropriate adventure story with those themes would be like. So I thought it would be fun to write one. I always wanted to write for kids, and so this was the perfect excuse to pursue that dream while meeting what I think is an important need.

How did the book “Beyond Belief: The Adventure Begins” happen?

Because the book was originally a birthday gift for my son, I thought about what would be fun for him to read; what would make him excited. I remembered that before moving to Germany, when we lived in Washington, one of our favorite things to do was take what we called “critical thinking field trips.” We had this book, Weird Washington, and he would look up places where strange things were happening, choose a place, and then we would go on a road trip to investigate it. He absolutely loved it. For example, we visited a place called “gravity hill” just outside Prosser, Washington. It is one of those hills where cars are supposed to run uphill. And you know what? It worked! It really seemed like the car was rolling up the hill. But he figured out that the hill was very slight and that the wind was blowing strongly up the hill. We tested his idea by opening the car doors and using them like sails. If it was the wind, we thought, then the car would roll faster with the doors open. And it turned out it did. Afterward, we had lunch in Prosser and he told the story of that adventure to folks at the pizza parlor with so much excitement and pride. I kept thinking of that excitement and pride when I was coming up with the scenes and places in the book. I wanted the main character to feel that, and hopefully, the reader might catch a little of that too. 

Why did you choose to write middle-grade fiction?

I primarily work with children ages 6 to 13. I really enjoy the way their imaginations work and the things that fascinate that age group. Thanks to my work I also have a good sense of what they wish for and what developmental conflicts they have. So writing for that age group felt like a natural choice for me.

What is the ideal target age group for this book?

I think that most children from 8 to 12 will enjoy this book. But it isn’t too scary, so precocious young readers can enjoy it too. But to be totally honest, my ideal target group is actually adults! That is because I really want parents to read this book to their children so that they can have conversations about critical thinking, cognitive biases, and deeper things like how we know what is true. So sprinkled throughout the book are scenes and characters that I hope adults will love and find funny.

Why choose to write about paranormal investigation?

A paranormal investigation is a perfect thing for middle-grade readers because they have one foot in the world of a child and one foot in the world of an adolescent. For them, ghosts and scary things might still be real, but reality is coming into focus with each passing day. Part of the developmental task for this age group is to make that transition from the spooky world of magical thinking into a world that is grounded in reality. It is a hard transition to make. A big part of it is investigating, asking questions, testing assumptions, and finding how the world really works. So a paranormal investigation team seemed like a natural choice. Plus, I thought it was a lot of fun to write about.

How important do you think it is for children to start to relate to and understand psychology?

It is so much more important than most people understand. Psychology is all about knowing why we feel, think, and act the way that we do. If you listen to the kinds of questions that kids ask their parents and teachers, many of them are about exactly these things. The nice thing about psychology is that it actually has some answers to these questions that make sense and are rooted in science. If you give those to your kids then they can better understand themselves and others. 

How old would you say the main character is?

I purposely left that vague in the book so that kids could make the character the age that want him to be. I know that most young readers like to follow the adventures of a kid who is slightly older than themselves. But in my mind, he is ten because that is the age of my son and that is who that character really is to me.

How much research went into the writing of this book?

Most of the research went into studying the places and scenes where the book takes place. For example, there is a scene that takes place at the McMinnville UFO festival in Oregon. This is a festival that takes place once a year. Even though I have been to McMinnville, I have not been to the festival. So for my research, I got to watch hours of hijinks from the festival online. It was actually a lot of fun.

How easy or difficult was it to write this book and create the characters for it?

I found that it was surprisingly easy, and I think that is because these characters are all people that I know already, and they are either close family or famous people who inspire me. For instance, I based the character of Uncle Freeman on James “The Amazing” Randi, who sadly just passed away. I have read so much about him, watched hours of his magic acts and TED talks, and so when I wrote that character it was simple to do. Uncle Freeman was already a character in my life, so to speak. 

How much does your day to day life inspire your characters?

It has a big effect on my characters. The things that I hear my son say, the kinds of questions children ask in my work, the research I read on psychology for my job each day, all these things come together to make my characters come to life. 

How much time do you spend on your writing on average per day?

It varies considerably. I find that if I don’t write for at least half an hour a day then I begin to lose momentum in my writing and it starts to get hard to get back into the story when I return to it. But when I’m in the thick of writing I can spend five or six hours at a time really digging in. As a parent that is hard to do, and it means a lot of negotiating with my wife. Luckily, after 22 years of marriage, I have a lot of support from her.

What do you like best about writing a story?

This is the first book I’ve written, and what I have discovered is that, although writing is work and you have to discipline yourself to do it, I actually have a lot of fun coming up with the twists and turns in the story. That sense of fun is the thing I enjoyed the most and it is one of the things I look for now when I’m writing. I’m almost finished with the next book in the series and I used that emotional sense of whether I’m having fun writing it as a kind of north star guiding my process.

What kind of impact do your stories have on you?

This story brought me a lot of joy because it connected me to a lot of new people. Since publishing it I have heard from children that have read it that they love the book and can’t wait for the next one. One parent reached out and said that her son couldn’t stop talking about the book. Another said that her teenage son had “his mind blown” by how fun psychology could be. I laughed a lot at that one. I had a teacher in the states contact me because she wanted the children in her class to read the book and talk about its themes. We are trying to set up an online book reading for them, which I’m really excited about. I didn’t know how much those connections would mean to me, but I have really cherished them. For the next book in the series, I’ve reached out to these young fans and offered them a look at the next book. I’ve even had some of them become early readers, giving me their feedback. I think the value of that connection, and that chance it gives me to foster confidence and a love of reading in children, has been the most important thing for me. 

What do you do when you aren’t writing?

I am working on turning a former church into a proper home. That is a big job. When I’m not writing I’m often fixing old doors, building bookshelves, installing plumbing, or trying to get fifty-year-old lights to work. I also do a lot of hiking around the black forest, and I have a feeling that at least one book in this series is going to happen there.

Finally, what message do you want to share with us readers?

My message to readers, especially parents reading to their children, is don’t stop the conversation when you reach the end of the book. Use it as a springboard to learn more about critical thinking, psychology, and science. I know that children are naturally hungry to learn more about these things if they learn them through a story or with a parent. Keep the discussion going. That is really important because there is no sign that the misinformation out there is going to let up anytime soon. This book can be a chance to start the process of protecting your kids from it by teaching them to stay skeptical and think critically. And that is my final message: stay skeptical and think critically!