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Adam Sass Book Recs Camino de Santiago Christmas Christmas Gift Joy Llewellyn Julian Winters Melanie Hooyenga Simcoe & Co Simon Donlevy YA Fiction Young Adult Young Adult Fiction

Christmas Suggestions for Readers and Others…

I do this every now and again, and 2020 is a good year to boost books you enjoyed. It’s been a bad year for releases, as far as in-person events go. Authors have suffered, and bookstores have suffered. Here’s a few book suggestions for those on your list (Or for yourself! We all deserve to pamper ourselves after the year we’ve had!)…these are books I read and loved this year.

Before the books, though, I’d like to highlight another kind of gift! Small businesses just starting out right now are the kind of thing we need! I know just the one to support. LET’S TALK ABOUT SIMCOE & CO.! From their simple but elegant branding, to their FRESH products, I love everything about them!Click on the logo image below to head over to their Facebook page:

Full Disclosure: This brand new company is my niece’s brainchild. They’ve just released their first product in time for Christmas. If you’re in the GTA area (or even if you’re not) check them out at the link in the logo above. They’re located in Port Perry, Ontario and they’re currently featuring SUGAR SCRUBS in various delectable scents.

Their products are cruelty free and vegan. Give their Facebook page a like so you can watch as things unfold!

BOOKS? BOOKS! Did someone say books?

I’m going to suggest 5 from the 25 I read so far this year. Honestly, though, all the books I read this year were awesome. For the ones I don’t highlight here, you can check them out on my Goodreads.

(CLICK ON COVERS TO VISIT AMAZON LINKS)

For travelers and wanderlusters–or those thinking of becoming one–I have just the book! No surprise I read a lot of Camino books. I just finished two more, and I’m about to highlight both of them! First is the travel memoir…

There’s Something Going On! Walking the Camino de Santiago – by Simon Donlevy.

If I say this felt like an audio-book without the audio, you might look at me kind of funny…but that’s exactly what it felt like. Simon Donlevy is a storyteller. I felt like the author was telling me the story of the 6 month sabbatical they took. This retelling of the sabbatical not only covers their travels on the Camino, but also the decisions and planning that went into taking the sabbatical and the trip to Spain. And it covers the after-Camino experience as well. I found it well told and quite enjoyable. Wasn’t fully what I was expecting. That’s what I love about Camino books…they’re always about more than just the Camino. They’re about decisions, plans, serendipity, the unexpected. If you have walked the Camino, you’ll enjoy this book for taking you back to the journey. If you haven’t, it’s a good primer for getting to know both the locations on the Camino and its magic.

Camino Maggie: Teen Rebel Series – by Joy Llewellyn

Truth be told, it feels almost risky telling you about this one! The synopsis is close to the synopsis of my most recent release. It follows four young teens (all girls) who walk the Camino de Santiago in order to avoid the punishment of their crimes. I just found out about this book in November and read it out of curiosity. I loved it! Maggie is a rich girl who breaks into her aunt’s store out of some sense of daring…not to mention to impress the boy who sort of put her up to it. She gets caught. Her Aunt Camille suggests (gives her no option, really) she accompanies her, her friend Andy, and a small group of delinquents to Spain for the experience. The four girls bond as they make their way across Spain. I think young adults would really enjoy this book…as well as any Camino enthusiasts.

Chasing the Sun (The Campfire Series Book One) – by Melanie Hooyenga

This is also a YA book. I’ve spent most of my reading year reading YA…both for pleasure and because it’s what I write. Teens would love this book…but as with all YA books, they’re not just for teens. Anyone on your list who enjoys a sweet love story will enjoy Chasing the Sun. Here’s my review from Goodreads…

Chasing the Sun was such a lovely falling-in-love story between two extremely vulnerable teens who were both a little reluctant to do so. Sage comes to the story having experienced an emotionally tumultuous relationship with a manipulative emotional abusive partner. Neb arrives having just lost his father suddenly in an extremely traumatic way. Together they navigate a path toward each other first through texts and then in person when they finally meet at a summertime school camping trip to view a total solar eclipse together. Both are tentative but excited. Sage wants to believe in love again, but doesn’t fully trust her own judgement. Neb is adjusting to a new city…and isn’t quite sure how to allow himself to feel joy while simultaneously mourning the loss of his father. When Sage and Neb do meet in person, sparks fly immediately. But are sparks enough? This story is filled with wonderfully cute falling in love moments. The eclipse almost becomes a character as the story winds down and the tension mounts and the moment of the eclipse nears. I loved everything about this story!

Now for a book with a one-two punch!

Surrender Your Sons – by Adam Sass

I absolutely loved this book and the power it gave to gay teens! I felt like I could conquer the world after reading this heartbreaking heartrending heartracing story! Get it for LGBTQIA+ readers on your list, whether or not they’re teens. We all carry wounds and trauma that will be both re-lit and assuaged by this book. It would also be an eye-opening read for straight readers. It’s a powerhouse. I honestly thought I reviewed this on Goodreads, as I have talked about it so much and so often that I misremembered actually leaving a review. I will have to rectify that. Just take my word for it, it’s an incredible book. Follow gay teens to a formidable island of oppression as their whisked off from their lives to a disgusting conversion camp. Watch as they try to take their fates into their own hands.

Last, but not least, a book from a pub-sib! From DUET BOOKS, the same Interlude Press imprint that published my latest, The Camino Club.

The Summer of Everything – by Julian Winters

I love Julian Winters books. Like their author, they just radiant light and joy. My Goodreads review below isn’t really enough. Winters’ books are always exceptional! This one was no less so. All readers would love this YA set in Santa Monica. Here’s the synopsis:

Adulting is hard. Just ask Wes Hudson. An avid comic book geek, Wes excels at two things: slacking off and pining after his best friend, Nico. Advice from his friends, ‘90s alt-rock songs, and online dating articles aren’t helping much with his secret crush. And his dream job at Once Upon a Page, the local indie bookstore, is threatened when a coffee shop franchise wants to buy the property. To top it off, his family won’t stop pestering him about picking a college major. When all three problems converge, Wes must face the one thing he’s been avoiding—adulthood.

And my review: Another amazing offering from the incomparable Julian Winters. Loved, loved, loved this story! Loved Wes and Nico and Ella and Coop and the rest of the group! This so so heartfelt! Bring tissues.

That’s 5 books and 1 fantastic small business that promises to have you savoring the aromas of Bergamot, Peppermint, Maple Syrup and more!

Happy 2020 Socially Distant Masked Christmas to you all!

 

 

 

 

Categories
Duet Books Interlude Press Julian Winters Young Adult Young Adult Fiction

The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters is Coming!

Last September (2019), How to be Remy Cameron, by Julian Winters, released on the same day I headed for Spain–via Portugal–for another pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. It was the book I devoured on the plane and before bedtime every night as I settled down in a new town after walking all day long from the previous night’s rest. It was such a delightful read and it’s now a book finely entwined with one of the greatest of my life’s experiences. If you haven’t read Remy’s story, you really should consider picking it up…it’s heartfelt and pure and just so lovely.

The September before (2018), I saved Running With Lions, also by Winters, for my reading material while crossing India from Delhi to Varanasi and onward to Katmandu, Nepal. I remember being on an overnight train headed for Varanasi, reading Running With Lions and forgetting all about the raucous noises about me. I was on the top bunk of a sleeping car, my face mere inches from the ceiling. We jiggled and rattled and crashed our way through the night while I held my phone screen to my face and devoured the story of Sebastian and Emir. Another Julian Winters book intertwined with a memory of wanderlust in a place I hold dear. Another book you should consider picking up if you haven’t done so already.

By the time I read Remy Cameron’s story in September 2019, I already knew that Duet Books/Interlude Press would be publishing my upcoming novel, The Camino Club. But its sale had not yet been announced. I carried that secret with me all the way across Spain in the very setting in which my novel took place! I was also unable to talk about the fact that I had miraculously become a pub-sib to the incredible Julian Winters. He is, in fact, the reason I submitted to Duet Books. Since before the Running With Lions release, I have followed Julian and his work. I noticed that not only does he write fabulous stories, but he’s also one of the nicest people on the internet. He’s friendly and supportive and always so cheerful and encouraging. I saw the way he interacted, I read Lions, I fell in love with the cover of the book. I watched him becoming. I had an idea for a book and I knew I wanted it to be placed in the same home as the one Julian had found in Duet Books.

I was looking forward to having the same experience this year–vacationing with Julian Winters reading material. I pre-ordered The Summer of Everything. It’s due to land on September 8th. A return trip to Paris on September 4th meant that I would once again be devouring a Julian Winters novel while on vacation. This is an author I’ve taken everywhere with me. This year, it’s Wes Hudson’s turn. Wes’s story contains Santa Monica, comic books, a book store, a secret crush…I can’t wait!

With the pandemic, however, plans have been sidelined. The Summer of Everything WILL land on September 8th. I, however, will not be landing in Paris on September 4th. Paris is cancelled. Of course this saddens me. But looking forward to the release of THE SUMMER OF EVERYTHING softens the blow. I will still be away, but here in Ontario…at a cottage getaway. It’s not Paris, but it’s the next best thing. A place to unwind…a place I love. And it will soon be another place intertwined with the memory of devouring a Julian Winters novel.

If you haven’t pre-ordered THE SUMMER OF EVERYTHING yet, you really should! It promises to be a spectacular ride! Check out the cover blurb below:

Adulting is hard. Just ask Wes Hudson. An avid comic book geek, Wes excels at two things: slacking off and pining after his best friend, Nico. Advice from his friends, ’90s alt-rock songs, and online dating articles aren’t helping much with his secret crush. And his dream job at Once Upon a Page, the local indie bookstore, is threatened when a coffee shop franchise wants to buy the property. To top it off, his family won’t stop pestering him about picking a college major. When all three problems converge, Wes must face the one thing he’s been avoiding—adulthood.

Here are some of the places you can pick up THE SUMMER OF EVERYTHING. The last link is for GOODREADS, so you can add the book to your shelf!

Amazon USA | Amazon Canada | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Book Depository | Book Shop | Indigo-Chapters | Indie Bound | Kobo USA | Kobo Canada | Duet Books/Interlude Press | WalMart USA | Goodreads |