The Wild Journey of Juniper Berry Author Interview and Review

Monday, August 21, 2023


Eleven-year-old Juniper Berry lives with her family deep in the wild woods. Living off the grid is pretty exciting, but her happy life in the wild ends abruptly when her younger brother gets sick, and they move to the city to be closer to the hospital. Juniper and her older sister end up living with cousins they hardly know and attending public school for the first time, which is harder to navigate than the wild woods ever were. Juniper feels like a wolf cub separated from her pack.

As the hospital bills for her brother start piling up, Juniper knows they’ll need to be paid before the family can go back to the woods, so she decides to make enough money to help out. With her cousin Alayna’s support, Juniper starts posting videos filled with her wisdom from the woods, hoping to get a following. But what if it doesn’t work? What if the bills never get paid? Not going home to the wild is Juniper’s worst nightmare. While she’s stuck in the city, she might as well make the most of it, like sticking up for Alayna, who’s being bullied by her supposed friends, for starters.

The Wild Journey of Juniper Berry is a story about perseverance when faced with difficult and unfamiliar challenges, belonging and finding your identity, compassion for others, and learning that our differences can sometimes be our strengths.


SHELLY BROWN went to junior high in a regular ol’ building (boring) and has never transformed into a round fuzzy animal. But she has been listening to K-pop since before BTS’s first album and feels a deep affection for well-made falafel pitas. She’s an aunt to some incredible young people, a substitute teacher, and a wannabe Kyoshi warrior.

CHAD MORRIS loves the VR set he got for Christmas and is much better at it than he is at video games, but that’s still not saying much. Still he would love to try to keep his balance on Skatecoaster, laugh like crazy in The Furriest, and punch light blasts at alien bugs in Infestation ExtermiNation. He occasionally dances in public, and he’s pretty terrible at social media.

As a married couple, Chad and Shelly both love writing books and hanging out with each other and their five kids. They’re grateful they get to spend time with students in assemblies across the nation talking about topics from kindness to writing.


Life Is What It's Called - The Wild Journey of Juniper Berry and Virtually Me share similar themes about being yourself. Why do you think this theme is important for middle grade readers? Do any of your other books have a similar theme?

Shelly: The middle grades were rough for me and I think a lot of other people too. We try so hard to fit in and we seldom do. At least not as well as we'd like. But as we get older, we realize that there was nothing wrong with us in the first place. I would just love to get that message to kids as early as possible. You're cool. Shelly Brown thinks you're cool just the way you are. You'll figure it out eventually but until then feel free to lean on my faith in you.

Squint for sure also addresses this theme head on. The other books are a little different.

Life Is What It's Called - What makes The Wild Journey of Juniper Berry a "must" read for middle grade readers?

Chad: We’re really excited for it. It’s the story of Juniper Berry, a girl who grows up in the woods totally off the grid. She knows how to make fish traps, avoid bears, and shoot a bow and arrow, but when her brother gets sick and they have to come live in society, she has to use all her skills to survive the scariest thing of all….MIDDLE SCHOOL!

I love a lot of things about the story. I love the Juni knows who she is. She knows she’s amazing, and she doesn’t understand why she would do things just to fit in. She doesn’t understand all the rules and calls people out on mean things they do. But she’s up against some crazy odds and high stakes, and has a lot to learn and a lot of give.

Life Is What It's Called - How does The Wild Journey of Juniper Berry stand apart from the other middle grade books on the market?

Shelly: Juniper Berry is a character unlike anything you will probably ever read. She's so funny, and so confident, and so adventurous. And her sense of wonder at a world that most readers will find very commonplace is a joy. Like she’s fascinated with fridges and laundry boxes (washers). It's fun to explore a world most of us will never really know (living in the solitary woods) and a world we know too well (society) through the eyes of someone who has never experienced any of it before.

Life Is What It's Called - What was your favorite scene to write?

Chad: There is one scene where Juniper meets her cousins for the first time and is going to stay with them. And for reasons that will make more sense in the book, her cousin in on her phone and Juni is holding a bow and arrow and a goose. Her cousins thinks Juni is weird because she doesn’t know what a fridge is. Juni thinks her cousin is weird because she calls the goose a duck. And then things just get crazier from there. The dynamic between them was really fun to write. And it continues for chapters.

Life Is What It's Called - What are the benefits to co-authoring, and how did those benefits help you to write The Wild Journey of Juniper Berry?

Shelly: Chad brings his strengths (pacing and humor) and I bring mine (character and theme) and we always have a better story because of it.

Life Is What It's Called - Do you see continuing Juniper Berry as a series?

Chad: It was designed as a standalone, but we do have an idea for a sequel. We’ll have to see if that’s a project we focus on in the future or not.

Life Is What It's Called - What writing projects are you working on right now?

Shelly: Super-secret stuff 😉 Just kidding, kind of. We just got the green light for two more books. We’ll be doing another contemporary, and something entirely new. What are they about? That's the secret 🤫

Life Is What It's Called - How do you see this book being used in the classroom?

Chad: I think Juniper would be a great read-aloud. It’s fun and adventurous. It had super interesting stuff about living off the grid, but also moments where Juniper gets curious about how certain things work, like a fridge and a stove, and people who use them every day don’t know. And kids might get curious too. Plus, there’s a goose named Zombie who wears a sweater. (Again, it makes more sense in the book.) But then there are some real powerful scenes about being true to yourself, standing up for others, and truly helping even when it’s extremely hard.

Life Is What It's Called - What do you want readers to know about you as an author?

Shelly: That we're awesome and they should buy all our books. 😂🤣😂🤣 We are husband-wife writing team that works really hard on each of our books. We really try to make them worth reading. And we love readers!!!! We have 5 children, 4 chickens, 3 TVs, 2 of us, and one computer that we share.

Just kidding about the computer part.

Juniper Berry, the main character in The Wild Journey of Juniper Berry, lives off the grid in the wilderness with her family. She knows how to hunt, forage for food, and has many survival skills. When her brother gets sick, her family goes to stay with family that live in the city. For the first time in her life, Juniper goes to public school and faces society. 

I love the storytelling and the many different themes in this book. It's a great book for a class discussion, book project,or just to read for fun. The authors dive into themes of being true to yourself, not judging others based on their experiences, going out of your comfort zone, ways technology and society are harmful, good in society, healing family wounds, and many more. The themes were age appropriate and themes that I love my kids to take-in before approaching middle-school. I loved that this book offered so much and also had rich storytelling. You come to understand the characters and feel for their ups and downs. Overall, I was very pleased with this book. It's a book that my kids will enjoy and love. I would like to see a sequel from this book. To learn more, click here.

Please note that I received a free copy of this book to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

Chiara's Choice Book Review and Author Interview

Monday, August 21, 2023


Chiara Madero, daughter of an Italian baron, is the epitome of beauty and fire, and when confronted, her lovely lips reveal a sharp tongue. But her enchanting facade hides a less-than-elegant truth: her family believes her true value lies in her ability to secure an advantageous match. And there is no better place to find a wealthy, titled husband than the London Marriage Mart.

Mr. Abraham Jamison is not a firstborn son and has procrastinated choosing an occupation. Nevertheless, his honest and forthright nature immediately captures Chiara’s attention. He is unsuitable for a woman of her station in all ways, but she can’t seem to resist seeking out his company. Abraham sees through her fiery personality and refuses to play her games, yet after waging a mutual battle of wits, an unexpected friendship forms between them—a rapport that soon blossoms into something more.

Abraham’s wish is to become a man worthy of her. But when faced with her family’s determination to manipulate circumstances to their advantage, he and Chiara must face their feelings and find the strength to defy an insurmountable obstacle: Chiara’s mother.


Chalon Linton is an air force spouse, a mother of four, and a fan of all things romance. Jane Austen has long been a favorite because who can resist handsome men in tailcoats? Manners, wit, and true love, combined with a faith in God, guide her stories to a happily ever after. She has met friends from around the globe and is grateful for each experience that adds to her own faith in the goodness of people. Chalon currently lives with her handsome husband in Southern California.


Life Is What It's Called - What do you think readers will enjoy most about this book? 

Chalon Linton - I think we read a lot about strong female characters in literature. Elizabeth Bennet set the bar high. Often these women are independent thinkers, and to some extent they also conform to the rules of society, partially because they have to, and partially because that is what is expected of an English debutante. I love Chiara because she is strong, but she is also flawed. She knowingly breaks expectations and fights to be seen. She is determined, and feisty, where Abraham is demure and practical. We don't always like Chiara's reactions or her antics, but as the book progresses, we see a softer side to her. We learn her background and motivations. I hope the reader will enjoy reading about imperfection and someone trying their best to navigate the trails thrown in their path.

Life Is What It's Called - Which character in this book is most like you? 

Chalon Linton - I probably relate most to Abraham. I don't like to stir contention, but I won't let myself be trampled on. And sometimes I feel directionless or lost, is that just me? Ha Ha. I don't like letting people down, but expectations can be big and overwhelming. I also have great support from my family and when I love, I love BIG.

Life Is What It's Called - What themes run through this book? 

Chalon Linton - I'd say one of the big themes is that we all have the opportunity to change. Whether it's our circumstances, or our attitudes. We can apologize or ask for an apology. We can take the next step in achieving our dreams. And---we can reach out to others and ask for help, friendship, and support in our efforts.

Life is What It's Called - Will there be any more book spin-offs? 

Chalon Linton - Two brothers remain unmarried, and Geoffrey and Peter deserve their happily ever after. I'm working on their stories right now and this next book has been so fun to write. I am involved in a joint anthology, and my novella is about Lord Landon's pursuit of love. Can't wait to share that one for Christmas 2024.

Life Is What It's Called - What was your favorite scene to write? 

Chalon Linton - I loved writing the chapters where the characters visit Whixley Castle. It represents a big shift for both Abraham and Chiara to be vulnerable and open. They find similarities and their relationship deepens from this point. I also loved writing the scene of the first ball, where their tempers collide. Showing both of their reactions and emotions on such an elevated level was a fun foray.

Life Is What It's Called - What scene was the most difficult to write and why? 

Chalon Linton - The most difficult scene, hmm, maybe it's good that nothing immediately comes to mind. I had to do a lot of research for the final chapters, and I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say it's an HEA, but the ending is not typical for a Regency-era novel. One scene that was difficult to write occurs after Chaira has left the Jamison estate in tears. Abraham knows he is to blame and needs to apologize. I wanted to make sure that scene was done well, and the correct emotion was conveyed because the border between friendship and romance can be hard to navigate. It was important for me to show both characters' hesitations, while also having them both acknowledge that this was a BIG deal. It takes lots of editing and re-reading to make sure those tough scenes convey what I want them too. I hope I got it right.

Life Is What It's Called - How is this book similar and different to your other books? 

Chalon Linton - This book is considered a companion novel and has characters from both Forever, Phoebe and Escape to Everly Manor. I think it's always fun to see familiar names and personalities in novels. Chiara is the daughter of an Italian Baron, giving a bit of a different twist on London society and we get to meet her brother, Mattias, and see how the cultural changes affect him. I also think a difference between this book and the other two companion novels is that Chiara's Choice is more character driven. We read of Abraham's dilemma about a lack of career and Chiara's maneuvering through her new situation. They act and things happen, rather than a plot driven novel where something happens, causing them to act or react.

Life Is What It's Called - What writing projects are you working on next? 

Chalon Linton - I love writing historical fiction, but also have a passion for Contemporary Christian Fiction. I will soon be working through edits for book three of my Air Force Romance series which will release in summer of 2024. As I mentioned above, I am currently writing Peter Jamison's story which will wrap things up for Geoffrey Jamison, as well. I have a few YA's that I'd love to revisit and then it depends on where the writing bug takes me. I have a growing folder of ideas, so I hope to follow the inspiration.

Life Is What It's Called - What do you want readers to know about you as an author? 

Chalon Linton - I'm not one that gets too personal, but I'll say I love a good hike (bonus if it leads to a waterfall), a warm chocolate chip cookie (I make good cookies), a crackling fire, a fun k-drama binge, and a gripping novel. I do hope readers enjoy my stories and my characters, but I write because it brings me joy. I think it is important that everyone make time for those things in their lives that uplift them. For me, I am uplifted by my Savior, Jesus Christ, my family, nature, and writing and reading. Thanks so much for reading my stories and welcoming me in this space.

In Chiara's Choice, Chiara is visiting England with her mother and her brother. Her mother and father want her to marry a titled English man to help further their own interest. Upon meeting Abraham Jamison, Chiara founds herself interested in his honesty and lacking willingness to play her games. The two battle it out until they figure out each other's feelings...

The characters in this book are really interesting. I love the combativeness and the awkward situations that they place themselves in. The dynamic between the two is really interesting and I loved the dialogue. Linton had awkward situations grow even more awkward and combative. I felt like this was one of Chalon's strongest novels yet. The edgy dialogue softened as the characters grew to know each other and I was a little disappointed since I really enjoyed the witty sparring. This story is more character-driven than action-driven, and I felt like it really played well with Linton's writing style. Overall, this is a fun, clean romance that romance readers will want to add to their TBR piles. To find out more, click here.

Please note that I received a free book to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog. This post is in cooperation with the author.

Only a Trenza Away Book Review

Wednesday, August 16, 2023


A little girl feels her father's love as he takes time to braid her hair each night and share imaginative bedtime stories.

Every night, Xiomara's (zee-oh-MA-da) papa delicately braids her hair before bed. As he gently tugs and twists and tightens her hair, father and daughter embark on imaginative and fun adventures as he makes up stories about Xia and her trenzas, or "braids" in Spanish.

In one story, her trenza becomes a sturdy twisted vine that she uses to bravely swing through the jungle. In another, her trenzas are jump ropes as she catches the beat to play double Dutch with the best players in the neighborhood.

But Xia worries what she would do if Papa was not there to help her in a real adventure―like starting a new school. Could the strength Xia needs already be woven into her braids?


Nadine Fonseca is on a mission to build a brighter, kinder, and more inclusive future, one young reader at a time. She founded Mighty Kind, an educational multimedia company for families that aims to use the simple and universal concept of kindness as a bridge to antiracist/anti-bias learning. Only a Trenza Away is her debut children's picture book and is based on some of her fond childhood memories. Nadine is neurodivergent, a biracial Latina, wife, and mother of four. She holds an MBA and believes that everyone, big or small, has the power to change the world.

Xiomara's papa braids her hair before bed and tells imaginative stories. The story captures the imagination of the readers. It weaves a beautiful tradition in with how a child can cope with their worries. Kids will gravitate towards the beautiful illustrations and delight in the storytelling of this book. This book shares a beautiful tradition and the bond between a father and daughter. My daughter instantly gravitated toward this book and loved reading it over and over. To learn more about this story, click here.

Please note that I received a free copy to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links.

The Art of Love and Lies Book Review and Author Interview

Saturday, August 12, 2023


Manchester, England, 1857

Rosanna Hawkins is one of Manchester’s finest artists, even though no one knows her name. She reproduces “parlor versions” of classic masterpieces with near-perfect precision, which her employer then sells to the emerging upper-middle class families.

When the largest art exhibition ever to be held in England opens in Manchester, Rosanna is excited to visit. She meets the handsome Inspector Martin Harrison, who is head of security, and is immediately intrigued by his charm, confidence, and portrait-worthy good looks. The two spend many a flirtatious afternoon exploring the exhibition hall, discussing art, and sharing their secret hopes. Rosanna dreams of painting something original and meaningful, and Martin hopes to one day shed the shadow of his father’s notorious past.

But when they discover the theft of some of the paintings―and all the evidence points to Rosanna―she must convince Inspector Harrison she is innocent and proposes a plan to capture the real art thief.

It is a daring race to catch the criminal before he disappears with the most priceless piece in the collection―Michaelangelo’s The Manchester Madonna. If Rosanna and Inspector Harrison fail, not only will the painting be lost forever but so will their chance to paint their own happily ever after.


Rebecca Anderson loves hiking, Broadway shows, rainstorms, food, books, and movies. She lives in the mountains and adores the ocean; she dreams of travel but loves staying home. Happiness is dabbling in lots of creative activities, afternoon naps, and cheese. All the cheese.


Life Is What It's Called - What are the themes in The Art of Love and Lies?

Rebecca Anderson - As a former English teacher, I have to qualify my answer: Themes arise that were never necessarily intended, but when plots and characteristics work together to present universal truths, you kind of run with it.

So, I’d say that some of the themes in The Art of Love and Lies are the following:
  • What is art, as opposed to craft? What makes an artist?
  • Which matters more—what we see or what we feel it means?
  • When an emotional intimacy develops quickly, can it be trusted?
  • Are there universal standards of truth and beauty? (But I can’t get all that serious about Plato, so I stick to pretty paintings)

Life Is What It's Called - Will this be a series with more books on the sisters of Rosana Hawkins?

Rebecca Anderson - I would LOVE to do a story for each of Rosanna’s sisters, and I hope that happens! Lottie and Ella have depths I’d love to discover, both related to their artistic gifts and in their own souls.

Life Is What It's Called - What do you think readers will like most about this book?

Rebecca Anderson - I adore a great bad guy. I hope people love Anton Greystone (right up until they definitely have to hate him). I hope they like the forays into an artist’s mind. I love the relationship she has with her sisters, but it’s much deeper in my head than it was able to be in this book. I hope they love the playful way Rosanna teases Martin. And of course, everyone loves Martin. Right?? (*Sigh, men in uniform*)

Life Is What It's Called - How is The Art of Loves and Lies similar and different to Isabelle and Alexander?

Rebecca Anderson - At their cores, they’re both love stories—romances that guarantee a happy ending, which I love. They both explore attractions and feelings of duty. There is disappointment and there is sweetness. Time period is the same (Mid-Victorian 1850s) as well as location (Manchester, England). That surety that one’s opinions are right (do we all feel that, and then do we all feel a little devastated when we realize we’re wrong?). I love to explore the conflict between expectation and reality, so I think that will feel familiar, even in a very different setting.

The Art of Love and Lies is playful—much more than Isabelle and Alexander, which, because of its tragic plot, has to be taken more seriously.

Life Is What It's Called -What was your favorite scene to write?

Rebecca Anderson - When Rosanna takes Martin into the office, and they try out the Gaze. If you know, you know.

Life Is What It's Called -Why did you decide for Rosana to be an artist, and what research did you have to do to create this character?

Rebecca Anderson - I love the idea of being an artist. I have no talent for creating visual art, but I love to imitate. (I watch a LOT of watercolor tutorials online.) But I am definitely an appreciator. I have a minor in art history, and I love museums and galleries. One of my kids is a professional artist, and the courage and effort it takes to make a life in the arts astounds me. And my favorite part about creating Rosanna’s talents is that she doesn’t consider herself an artist. (WHAT??) She doesn’t feel like an innovator, which, to her, is the true mark. I have many friends who are gifted artists, but several of them don’t see themselves that way. I love that internal conflict.

When I read about the Art Treasures Exhibition, I wanted to set a story within its galleries, and having Rosanna be a painter was such a fun way to explore that element of history. I read a ton about the paintings that hung on the walls that summer, and because of my university studies, I knew many of the artists (mostly men from Western Europe, but—you know—we do better now) and recognized many of the paintings.

I love to do the research for a story, and this was like going back in time and wandering gallery halls. A dream!

In The Art of Love and Lie, Rosanna produces "parlor" replicas of famous paintings. When the great works start disappearing at an art exhibit and are replaced with her replicas, Rosanna is a primary suspect. She must convince the handsome Inspector Harrison that she's innocent. 

Rosanna instantly draws the reader into the story through her character and love of art. Rosanna struggles trying to earn a living within the scope of what society will allow. She has to put up with the condescending comments and criticisms of her art broker. Gradually through the book she starts to fight for what she wants. This book shows the vulnerability of women during that time period to fulfill their artistic endeavors and get recognized for it. I felt like there was a lot of interesting themes and ideas from this book that shows how women have progressed in society. The other interesting idea was replicas. Nowadays, there are replicas sold at museums and online. I never really thought about what it took to make a replica in the Victorian era. There were different ideas presented in this book that got me thinking a little more deeply about society and art. I liked that the book showed deeper thoughts that were layered beyond the main storyline. The main story was also interesting as Rosanna and Inspector Harrison try to get back the famous paintings that were stolen. It had a bit of action, drama, danger and romance. I felt like it had a bit of everything. I would be interested to see if the author continues this book as a series. It didn't feel like a stand-alone to me and there were hints of an overarching storyline, but I don't know if that was intentional or just my imagination running away from me. I would recommend checking it out and adding it to your to-read list. To learn more, click here.

Please note that I received a free copy to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post is in cooperation with the publisher. This post also contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

The Official Fablehaven Cookbook Review

Thursday, August 10, 2023


Includes an original, never-before-published story about the Fablehaven woodland brownies by #1 New York Times best-selling author Brandon Mull.

The Fablehaven house brownies are known for coming into the kitchen at night and baking delightful treats as a surprise for caretakers and their guests. Now, Fablehaven fans can enjoy nearly fifty wondrous recipes inspired by the world of Fablehaven. Each recipe includes a Fablehaven origin story and full-color food photography. Enjoy a selection of magical crafts like Wizard Slime and Vanessa’s Invisible Ink. Bonus: also includes a few of Brandon Mull’s favorite desserts.

Wondrous Recipes Include:

Fairy Toast
Muriel’s Pretzel Knots
Ogre Stew
Bubda’s Sloppy Guac
Calico Bread
Lena’s Loaded Crepes
Bracken’s Unicorn Shakes
Zombie Cake Eyeballs
Dragon Egg Cupcakes
Goblin Glop Trifle
Tanu’s Bottled-Up Emotions
Singing Sisters Bubbling Brew


BRANDON MULL is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Fablehaven, Candy Shop War, Beyonders, and Five Kingdoms series. A kinetic thinker, Brandon enjoys bouncy balls, squeezable stress toys, and popping bubble wrap. He lives in Utah in a happy little valley near the mouth of a canyon with his wife, Erlyn, their eleven children, and some animals. Brandon loves meeting his readers and hearing about their experiences with his books. 

CHERIE MULL is a mom of four who has always loved making and eating good food. After graduating with a degree in biology, Cherie worked in gene sequencing and pharmaceutical research before exchanging her lab coat for an apron. She now owns a thriving baking business, creating cakes and custom treats for weddings, birthdays, and other celebrations. Cherie and her husband, Bryson—Brandon Mull’s brother—have been beta readers for the Fablehaven stories since the beginning.

The Official Fablehaven Cookbook shares recipes that go along with the Fablehaven series. As soon as my kids saw this book, they wanted to try the recipes especially since it went along with one of their favorite book series. We started with Muriel's Pretzel Knots. I made it with my son. I did put a little less flour than it said in the recipe. With the elevation changes, you'll want to judge the amount of flour based on the feel of the dough. My nine-year-old son made it on his own as well, but he followed the recipe exactly and they didn't turn out very well. I did like that he was encouraged to try and bake from this book. My seven-year-old daughter and four-year-old son have made the fairy toast recipe several times. I've also made Grandma Larsen's Sugar Cookies twice and they were a favorite with my kids. I loved that the recipe book is very kid friendly and that my kids are excited to make the recipes. After seeing their excitement, I felt like this was a good early cookbook to start kids cooking and baking. This book was a hit in our household, and I would recommend getting this book for your family to try. To learn more, click here.

Please note that I received this book for free to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

Swimming in a Sea of Stars Book Review

Tuesday, August 1, 2023


Journal entry: Heading to school. I know what everyone will say. There goes the girl who tried to kill herself.

Addison is no stranger to feeling stressed, insecure, and sad. Her therapist recommended she keep a journal to help her understand those feelings better, which she really needs today. It’s her first day back to school, several weeks after she survived her suicide attempt. She knows there are rumors about why she did it: A lousy home life? Bullying? Heartbreak? None of them are true, but it doesn’t matter because Addison still feels like she’s drowning. She still holds secrets she’s not ready to share.

During the school day, Addison encounters four other students struggling with their own secrets:

Booker is anxious about seeing Addison. They were sort of a couple until he tried to kiss her. She fled and then tried to end her life. Those two things couldn’t be related, could they?

Celia feels trapped by her mother’s abusive boyfriend. She can guess why Addison did what she did.

Damion is TikTok-famous and thinks befriending Addison could boost his followers. But what no one knows is he needs the world to remember him since his sick mom doesn’t anymore.

Avery is considered a loner and doesn’t know Addison, but they have neighboring lockers. With Avery’s older brother in jail for dealing drugs, Avery is desperate for meaningful human connection.

Swimming in a Sea of Stars is a poignant and gripping novel about how we’re all interconnected, like the stars in the night sky that form constellations and map out the universe, and if even one star goes missing, the effect is profound.


Julie Wright (1972-still breathing) was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. She's lived in LA, Boston, and the literal middle of nowhere (don't ask). She wrote her first book when she was fifteen. Since then, she's written twenty-three novels and coauthored three. Julie is a two-time winner of the Whitney award for best romance with her books "Cross My Heart" and "Lies Jane Austen Told Me." The America Library Association listed “Glass Slippers, Ever After, and Me” in their 2020 top ten best romances and "A Captain for Caroline Gray" in their 2021 top ten best romances. Her book "Death Thieves" was a Whitney finalist.

She has one husband, five kids, two grandbabies, one dog, and a varying amount of houseplants (depending on attrition).

She loves writing, reading, traveling, hiking, playing with her kids, and watching her husband make dinner.

She used to speak fluent Swedish, but now speaks only well enough to cuss out her children in public.

She hates mayonnaise. 


Life Is What It's Called - How do you find writing for a YA audience different from an adult romance?

Julie Wright - Oddly enough, I have written for both of those audiences pretty much from the beginning. My first book was YA. My second was an adult romance. I find that the primary difference between these as I go back and forth between them are the priorities and motivations of the characters. In a YA, there is more self-discovery, less worry about career advancement, more first love versus committed relationship—not that those things don’t crossover from one age to the other but that they are more prevalent in one over the other. I enjoy both immensely. I write and read in both.

Life Is What It's Called-Why did you decide the topic for this book on suicide, self-harm, and abuse?

Julie Wright - This particular book actually began as a flippant suggestion made by my son. He told me to write a book that takes place all in one day where nothing happens. I answered that something happens every day, that every day matters. The longer I thought about it, the more I realized it was true. I have chronic depression and anxiety and have worked to overcome a lot of my personal struggles (to be clear, however, I have never been abused). I also work with youth and have found that suicidal ideation and self-harm are far more prevalent than they should be. Our youth are filled with potential, ability, and capacity for good. I wanted to celebrate those things to remind them of the reasons they have to stay—even when things are bad.

Life Is What It's Called-What do you think readers will learn from this book?

Julie Wright - I’m hoping they see their own value, that they see hope in their own futures. I’m hoping they will be gentle with themselves and with others.

Life Is What It's Called-Why is the messaging in this book relevant for today's YA readers?

Julie Wright-We live in an incredibly noisy world, filled with the diminished self-worth that come with social media and the soul-crushing news reports. With the significant increase in deaths by suicide, never has hope been more necessary.

Life Is What It's Called-What do you think your fans will think of this book?

Julie Wright - I hope my fans will love it. I feel like the themes of healing, belonging, and friendship are universal. That said, it is a heavy topic, which is definitely a deviation from my usual writing but that weight is infused with hope and strength.

Life Is What It's Called-What was the hardest part about writing this book?

Julie Wright - Oh, wow. This is a tough question because it was all hard. There were so many stops and starts with this particular story. I did a lot of research and pulled from several people’s real and heartbreaking stories.

Life Is What It's Called-What was the best part about writing this book?

Julie Wright - The best part was definitely as I was writing the last chapter and feeling like the characters were going to be all right. It was relief.

Life Is What It's Called-Do you relate to any of the characters? If so, how?

Julie Wright - I relate to all of them in some way or another. My father-in-law with Alzheimer’s lived with us for three years. I have depression. I’ve lost loved ones to both illness and suicide. I’ve felt isolated. These experiences and emotions are universal to the human condition.

Life Is What It's Called-Will you venture back into Regency Romance or modern-day twists on classics in the future? or more YA books?

Julie Wright - Absolutely! On all of the above. I have another regency (Windsong Manor) coming out in November of this year. And I have a regency releasing next year.

Life Is What It's Called-What writing projects are you working on next?

Julie Wright - I have another contemporary young adult novel that I am currently working on. I am loving the story so far!

Life Is What It's Called-Even though this book is a different genre from your other books, how is it similar to your other books? How is it different?

Julie Wright - I’ve mentioned how I believe certain conditions to be universal. I believe love, fear, hope, and the need to be connected are universal. The primary differences between my novels are motivations, perspectives, and priorities.

Life Is What It's Called-What do you want readers to know about you as an author?

Julie Wright - This was a surprisingly hard question as well. I would have to say that I want them to know that even though I'm not always the best version of myself, I believe in second chances and getting up and trying again. And I really believe in the power and magic of love, forgiveness, generosity, and compassion.

Swimming in a Sea of Stars shares the lives of five teens and how their lives intersect and connect. The story talks about a range of things from suicide, depression, self-harm and terminal illness to help address concerns that teens may have. When I first signed up to review this book, I just saw the author's name and knew that I wanted to add the book to my TBR pile. I've enjoyed Julie Wright's books in the past. When the book actually came and I read the back cover, I was taken back because the topic in this book was a lot heavier than Wright's other books. I decided to read one page and was instantly hooked. I ended up reading it in a day. I wanted to see what happened to the characters and where the author was leading me. The character's stories are intriguing, and their worlds differ and are similar in some ways. The author not only tells the story beautifully but writes it beautifully and artistically. The author's skill really comes out in this book, and I loved the craftmanship that went into this book. I was really impressed with the writing and although her other works are fun reads, I felt like this was a step above them and even above most of the YA books in the market. This book had a lot of meat to it, and I liked the metaphor that we're all interconnected like the stars in the night sky. The metaphor was wonderful poignant. Overall, I would highly recommend this book. It's rare to read a book where the craftmanship is as beautiful as the story. It would be an excellent book for teens to adults to read and even discuss in a classroom setting. This is one of my top recommendations to read for this year. To learn more, click here.

Please note that I received a free book to review, but this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

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