Friday, 30 May 2014

Book review: Shadows On The Nile - Kate Furnivall - Guest review

1912 London. Jessie Kenton hears her young brother, Georgie, scream in the middle of the night and wakes up the next morning to find him gone. Her parents never speak of him again.

1932. Twenty years later, Jessie is haunted by the same nightmare. Her other brother, Timothy, has inexplicably vanished from her parents’ home. Wracked by guilt because of her failure to ever find Georgie, and convinced that the two events must be related, she sets out on a quest to find Timothy. She plunges into a mysterious world of séances and mystics, nebulous clues and Egyptian artifacts.

With the help of a dashing and impoverished aristocrat, Sir Montague Chamford, Jessie follows the trail into the alien, swirling sands of the Egyptian desert. Amid the ancient intrigue and blistering heat, a powerful romance sparks between Jessie and Monty. But they must first confront the demons of Jessie’s past—and reveal the dark secrets that threaten not only Timothy’s life but theirs as well.

Guest review by my mum, Dorothy
At the start of the book it seems like there are two stories, independent from each other; which could be confusing at times. The dialogues between Georgie and Thimothy were sometimes a bit too long. It did, however, all come together in an interesting - if not far fetched -  plot. Until the very last page Kate Furnivall brought new, unforeseen elements to the story. I really enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes -mystery references and the mentions of Egyptian history - as well as the search through Egypt - made for a pleasant read. I wasn't really captivated by the story though and I didn't feel a strong connection with the characters. Shadows of the Nile is a nice story about family (history), secrets and the political atmosphere of 1930's England and a refreshing insight into one of history's darkest ideologies - fascism.  


Thank you, mum, for stopping by M's Bookshelf today. 
I had so much fun having you as a guest reviewer. Thank you!

Big thank you to Kate for sending me a copy of  De schaduwen van de Nijl!

Guest post: Isabell from 'Dreaming With Open Eyes' - My Week In Pictures

My Week in Pictures
by Isabell

Hello dear readers of M’s bookshelf,
I am very happy to be a guest on Maryline’s blog today. Let me introduce myself to you. My name is Isabell and I blog over at Dreaming With Open Eyes. I review books, post author interviews, host giveaways and feature a blogger every Friday.
For a change, my guest post is more personal rather than book related. Isn’t it interesting to look behind the curtain and find out more about a book bloggers life? Now you have the change to find out, what I was up to last week. (19th May to 25th May).

1. As some of you know, I am training to be a media designer. In the end of March I’ve written my intermediate exam. The task for the practical part was to design an invitation card for an electronic company for their 20th anniversary. I don’t have the final result yet but I know the point’s I’ve gotten for the card are pretty good. Now waiting for the official result.

2. I’ve been sleeping in the same old bed for the past 12 years. It’s about time to finally buy a new one, so I went shopping for a bed last week. Unfortunately it has not been as successful as I hoped. By the end of the day I ended up ordering it online. It will arrive in a couple of weeks. Can’t wait for it!

3. On 22nd of May was the pub date of two wonderful authors. Paige Toon (Thirteen Weddings) and Giovanna Fletcher (You’re the one that I want). I was so happy when they arrived. I have not started reading them yet but I will soon and I am sure they will be fabulous

4. In September my friend and I will be going on holiday to Ireland. Since I lived in Ireland in 2010 I have a huge love for this country. I love this place so much, that’s why I am so excited to be back. We booked our flights, accommodation, day tours and all we need for the holiday. I just can say: Roll on September

5. On the weekend I visited my sister and her family. I haven’t seen them all for a while. On the picture you can see my two nephews. I love them to bits but they can be some nerve-racking brats sometimes too.

6. The best thing on the weekend was that I have been invited to a birthday party. We met all at my friends place, had a lovely dinner together and after that we went to an event where a band played in the next village.  Lots of people, lots of wine, lots of fun.

7. Every Sunday my mom and I cook a lovely lunch together. For the first time we made self-made noodles. It’s a lot of work but in the end it was all worth it and so delicious. 

Thank you so much Mary for having me on your blog. I loved taking all those picture during the week and writing this post.

Thank you so much for stopping by M's Bookshelf today, Isabell.
Such a fun post! I'm very jealous of your trip and I'm sure you'll sleep (and read ;-) ) SO much better in that new bed!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Book review: I Heart New York - Lindsey Kelk (I Heart #1)


Get ready to meet Angela Clark as she flees the world’s worst wedding for a new life…

It's official. Angela Clarke is in love – with the most fabulous city in the world.

Fleeing her cheating boyfriend and clutching little more than a crumpled bridesmaid dress, a pair of Louboutins and her passport, Angela jumps on a plane, destination - NYC.

Holed up in a cute hotel room, Angela gets a New York makeover from her NBFJenny and a whirlwind tour of the city that never sleeps. Before she knows it, Angela is dating two sexy guys. And, best of all, she gets to write about it in her new blog (Carrie Bradshaw eat your heart out). But it's one thing telling readers about your romantic dilemmas, it's another figuring them out for yourself …

Angela has fallen head over heels for the big apple, but does she heart New York more than home?

My opinion.
To say expectations were set high for this one would be a terrible understatement. I heard only fabulous things about Lindsey's books and I Heart New York is at the top of a lot of "favourites" lists.
And just like I expected, from the very first chapters it was pretty obvious why.
Angela is a brilliant main character. It's so easy to relate to her - even though I've never been near New York and I've never had a break up THAT bad (thank god). First thing I want to do after finishing this book is shopping... a lot, and booking a trip to New York City. If you're looking for a reason to go, this is it! Lindsey sure knows how to sell a city! Lindsey Kelk's writing is amazingly funny, flirty, catchy,... I'm  having a hard time writing this review because this book was just SO much fun and I'm running out of ideas how to express that!
Although I was team T. for the bigger part of the story, I'm extremely happy with how the story turned out. I can't wait for the next book in the I Heart -series!


Monday, 26 May 2014

Book blitz: A Little Bit Of Everything Lost - Stephanie Elliot - Guest post!

At 19, Marnie plunged into first love with Joe, a guy who was completely wrong for her. Their romance was fast and exhilarating and like nothing Marnie had ever experienced or understood. Just as quickly as it began, it was over, with no explanation. He left her with unanswered questions and unexpected feelings of loss and regret, and a quiet grief she would carry with her for the next fifteen years. 

When Joe returns, Marnie is a 34-year-old wife and mother to two rambunctious little boys, who is slowly healing from a devastating loss. All the emotions she suppressed from the past fifteen years surge to the surface, threatening to ruin her marriage and destroy her family. She'll need to confront the one person who hurt her the most to realize that love and loss sometimes go hand in hand… and that you have to live with some of your toughest choices for the rest of your life. 

A Little Bit of Everything Lost is part coming-of-age/part love story. It's a story about a woman desperate to make peace with the past. It's for all women who have ever experienced the magnitude of first love, whether it was a lasting bond or a fleeting moment. Because first love - while it might not have been the best love - is a love none of us ever forgets.


Stephanie Elliot is the author of A Little Bit of Everything Lost, What She Left Us, and the novella, The Cell Phone Lot. She is also a writer and editor and has written for a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites. In her spare time she edits manuscripts for other writers and proofs executive documents. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three children.

Find Stephanie on Twitter, Facebook and her website.

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Stephanie Elliot to M's Bookshelf!


When I set out to write A Little Bit of Everything Lost, I started with a truth. There was an ex-person who I had been thinking about. For a while. And I couldn't stop thinking about him. Even though I was very happily married with three awesome little kids. I think it was because I had felt there was unfinished business there. I think this happens a lot with 'young' relationships. So, because I am a writer, I decided to create my own ending. But what actually ended up happening was that I didn't write 'my' ending. I took the shell of the person I suspected I knew way back when, and then I created a new girl, a person I gave a lot of grief to, Marnie, and then I told their story. Marnie's and Joe's story.

In their story, I told little teeny parts of some truths, and I told a lot of fake stuff. That's the fiction. I completely made up their story based on a few things that I might have remembered from the time I spent with this person who, when looking back, I don't see why I even liked him that much. It was kind of cathartic to do this. And if you were to read the book, you might think it's ALL fiction. Most of it is. But there are some truths, so here is a list of THREE TRUTHS and a LIE. It's up to you to guess the lie!

~I once did contact an ex-boyfriend the exact same way that Marnie gets in touch with Joe in the book. And he did reply to me.

~Lemons are my favorite fruit for the very same reason they are Marnie's favorite fruit.

~Just like Marnie, I had a mix tape with the same music on it when I was in college - The Cure, New Order, Oingo Boingo, Phil Collins, Def Leppard.

~The original working title of A Little Bit of Everything Lost was Checked Out. Then it was titled Before the Beginning. Then it was titled The Life After. I cannot come up with titles for the life of me and hate trying to figure them out.

Leave a comment on which one you think is the LIE and WHY? If you really want to know which ones are the TRUTH, read the book and then feel free to email me after at! You may be surprised at what you discover!

Thank you so much for stopping by, Stephanie! This is a tough one...
I'll leave a comment with the one "truth" I think is a lie!

Chapter One
1988: What Marnie Remembers
Don’t go any lower, don’t go any lower. Oh my God, that feels so good, don’t go any lower.
“Because, it feels too good.”
He looked at her and smiled. A smile that took her breath away, and scared her all at the same time.
“Plus, I don’t even know your name.” She thought it started with a J.
“I told you. It’s Joe. And you’re Marnie."

Chapter Two
            October 2004
The whole process irritated the hell out of Marnie.
The microwave timer buzzed, frozen pancakes warmed and ready.         
“You’re going to be late for the bus!” she yelled as she searched the meat drawer for ham.
“Why don’t I do this the night before?” Marnie muttered into the fridge. She found meat, made sandwiches, and moved to the pantry to grab syrup for the pancakes.
The lid was sticky.
She heard the boys arguing about who got to play Xbox first when they got home from school. They were going to be late. Again. And the lid was covered in syrup. Again.
“Damn it, boys! Get down here. Now!
They were still arguing as they bounded down the stairs and Marnie knew Jeremy had taken his forefinger and thumb and whacked his younger brother on the head because Trey yelped, “I’m telling!”
“No tattling,” Marnie threatened. “Or there’ll be no soccer after school.”
“Good. I hate soccer practice,” Jeremy said.
“Me too,” Trey agreed with his older brother.
Marnie shook her head. There was no winning here. She was losing the battle that was good parenting, and she didn’t know how she was going to survive. High school – hell, junior high school – was still eons away.
The rumble of the bus wheels turning onto the street signaled panic in the boys’ eyes.
“The bus!” Trey screamed.
“Grab a granola bar, your lunches and backpacks, and run!
No matter what chaos each morning brought, Jeremy and Trey were endearing still, her little boys, taking the time to kiss her, and to tell her they loved her. Every morning, no matter what, they managed to love her. If only that were enough. If only.
As Trey buried his head into Marnie for a hug, she inhaled the little boy smell of him. Oh God, how she wished they didn’t have to grow up, didn’t have to become big boys. Big ones – well, big eight-year-olds like Jeremy – were already showing signs of pulling away, of needing her less and less. Of asking for fewer cuddles, and practically no more bedtime stories, wanting rather to stay up late to watch basketball with Dad when he was home. At least six-year-old Trey could still be babied. He and Marnie would snuggle at night and make up stories about worms named Pinkster and Swirmy, who lived in huts in their backyard, and ate muddy cakes filled with flies.
Marnie sighed. “I love you boys. Have a good day.” She touched her belly.
“Love you too, Mom. Bye!” And the door banged behind them. Her double tornado gone. She heard them screaming down the drive, Trey shouting for Jeremy to wait up for him, always, always chasing after his older brother.
Marnie opened the microwave and took out the mini pancakes the boys hadn’t had time to eat. She grabbed the syrup bottle again, forgetting it was sticky.
“Damn it,” she said to no one, because no one was home. It was Tuesday, and Stuart was gone.
She pulled a paper towel off the roll and noticed it had a Fourth of July stars-and-stripes pattern on it. Summer seemed like forever ago. She didn’t want to remember the summer that didn't happen. She didn’t want to think of fireworks and pool parties, barbecues and sparklers. And her boys, their tanned little bodies, their goggled faces, swimming until they were so tired they would collapse into their beds with no coaxing. She didn’t want to think about parades and fresh sugary-tart lemonade, neighborhood get-togethers, of weekend trips to her parent’s lake house, all the things they didn't get to do. She didn’t want to think about what she should be doing now.
Marnie turned the faucet on cold, saturated the paper towel, and rubbed the top of the syrup bottle as best as she could to clean it off. Then she doused the pancakes with syrup and popped the mini pancakes into her mouth, one by one, filling the void with the golden yeasty fluff, not feeling or tasting, just chewing… chewing until they were all gone; until the anxiety settled in the pit of her stomach and she felt like she could begin her day.
She ran a mental list through her head: the dry cleaners, she had to proof photos from last weekend's shoot, a trip to the grocery store. And she would have to stop by the post office to mail that package that had been sitting on the foyer table for over a week now. The one Stuart had asked her to mail.
When he got home last Thursday and spotted it still there, he had sighed. “I didn’t have time today,” she said. “Tomorrow,” she promised. “I’ll get to it tomorrow.”
“I’m home now. I can mail it tomorrow,” he had said, but he hadn’t gotten around to doing it either.
The phone rang, Marnie wiped her sticky fingers on another paper towel, and checked Caller ID. It was Collette. She hadn’t talked to Collette since last week so she settled onto a kitchen bar stool, ready for one of her usual pep talks. Marnie was desperate for one today.
“Hey you,” Marnie answered.
“Mar, hon. He’s back in town.”
Marnie felt a glob of doughy pancake she had just devoured rise to a lump in her throat.

Chapter Three
July 1988
What Marnie really remembered about that night, the night she met him, was bad choice of underwear. She wasn’t looking to meet anyone, didn’t consider she might be taking off her Zena jean shorts and striped tank top; didn’t think a guy would be slipping her bra straps from her shoulders to feel the firm flesh of her breasts, to pinch her nipples until they tightened.
The underwear. The one thing – the only thing – that held her back. Because she didn’t know if her underwear were sexy enough for a guy to peel from her hips, to slide down her thighs, to toss to the floor.
“I can’t.”
“Why?” He nuzzled into her, his stubbled chin sending goose bumps everywhere, and then he licked her neck, and she melted into his shoulder, smelling beer and cologne. They were both buzzed. She shivered, in the dimly lit room, on a bed with a guy she hardly knew. She didn’t know how far it would go, how far he would try to go, how far she would let him go.
She decided she wouldn’t go any further. Only because she was probably wearing her Hanes yellow cotton panties. Instead of giving him an answer, she felt for his face, and kissed him again, biting his lower lip and pulling his hands back up to where they had been. That was feeling pretty incredible anyway, and he was a great kisser.
He hadn’t asked again, and for that, he won some major points. She liked him.
The party was loud. She remembered Phil Collins’ song, Take Me Home blaring on a tape deck, and him whispering, “I’d like to take you home.”
She lifted her hips, and although he kept on his shorts, she could feel him through the denim. He felt big. Really big. Marnie liked knowing he was so turned on. And Marnie knew if she stopped him right now, he’d probably call. And that’s what she wanted.
“Stop,” she breathed heavily into his ear, and nipped at his lobe. “We gotta stop.”
“We just do. You’re turning me on too much.”
There, she said it. Other times, with other guys, she said it only to be a tease. This time she said it because she meant it. And she really, really didn’t want him to see her yellow cotton undies. They’d have to wait. Plus, she wasn’t quite sure about his name. She thought it started with a J.
He rolled off her, frustrated, she could tell, but then he sighed, leaned onto his elbow, hooked his leg over hers, and played with the strands of her hair. This gesture felt more intimate than everything else they had been doing.
“Your eyes are pretty.”
“Oh, come on,” Marnie laughed. “What kind of crap line is that? They’re brown.”
“No they’re not. They’re chocolaty.” He stared at her. Kept staring.
Marnie stared back. Like a game. She decided she wasn’t going to say anything, just wanted to stare into his hazel eyes.
Finally, “Don’t you want to know my name?” he asked.
“Do you want to know mine?
“I think I’m interested in that, yes.” He continued to twirl the piece of her loose hair. “And a lot more. Later. Okay?”
“Marnie. Marnie’s my name.”
“Marnie. That’s different.”
“I never knew a Marnie before. That short for something?”
“Actually, long. For Mar.” She touched his shoulder, just to feel that he was there and real. His skin was warm. And tan.
“Mar. I like that. I’m Joe. Short for Joseph.”
She giggled. “Nice to meet you, Joe.”
He smiled back at her, and then settled his head down on the pillow. They were on the bed of one of his friends, she guessed, because he had led her into the room after the party started dying down, after the game of “Have You Ever” ended with him asking her, “Have you ever seen the bedroom here?”
Marnie hadn’t even known whose house it was; she just knew Collette had a friend who knew the kid who was having the party, and that maybe there would be some cute guys there. Collette had definitely been right.
“Give me your number?” he asked, still playing with her hair, tickling her neck with his fingers. It made her tingle, and she thought of her damned underwear again, wishing they had been different. Maybe.
She rattled off her number and when he said he needed to write it down, Marnie replied, “You want to call me, you’ll remember it.”
“Tell it to me one more time. Slower.”

Chapter Four
October 2004
“Who saw him?”
Collette was barely in the door when Marnie shot the question at her.
“What’d he look like? Was he with anyone? How long’s he in town?”
Marnie felt on the verge of a breakdown reoccurrence, and after what she’d been through the past summer, the reappearance of Joe was going to bring her to the edge.
She was so fragile, and Collette of all people had known her history, had been there when she had first met Joe, fifteen years ago, when he had stormed into her life, and created a whirlwind, changed her from being the person she might have been. And even though they had been together for just a short while, he had thrust himself upon her so abruptly and passionately, she hadn't seen it coming. And just like that, he was gone.
Marnie’s face was flushed, she paced the room like a caged animal, plumped pillows, and wiped non-existent dust. She was a nervous wreck at the mere thought he could be back.
"So, where is he?" she asked again.
“Whoa, Marnie, how about, ‘Hey Collette, would you like some coffee?’”
“Sorry. Coffee?” And Collette followed Marnie into the kitchen where she poured one cup for Collette, cream and sugar, and one for herself, black.
“Thanks. So anyway, no one’s actually seen him yet. Fran's mom ordered something from their family bakery last week and found out his grandmother’s turning ninety, and that the whole family’s coming into town for it. So, technically, I guess he’s not officially back yet. But he’s coming back. For the party.”
“His grandmother’s still alive? When’s the party?”
“I don’t know, around Thanksgiving maybe?”
Marnie sat with her head in her hands, the scent of coffee filling the room, steam wafting from their cups. Collette knew enough to wait quietly while Marnie let her thoughts form, the history of her past churning through her mind.
“What am I going to do?” Marnie said, more to herself than to Collette.
“What you’ve wanted to do all of these years, I suppose.” Collette said.
“I have to see him.”
Collette nodded.
“I have to tell him.”

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Book review: Safe and Sound - T.S. Krupa

When Jill met Jay Greenfield she knew she had found her forever love. She was a kindergarten teacher, he was a high-powered attorney and their lives were perfect. But when a tragic accident takes Jay’s life, this young bride is left to pick up the pieces.

Jill finds herself a young widow facing multiple decisions she thought she had a lifetime to decide. With support from her childhood best friends, Lanie and Stella, Jill attempts to piece her life back together. With nightmares plaguing her dreams and the struggles of constant grief over Jay’s passing, Stella and Lanie keep near constant vigilance over her.

In the process of settling the estate, Jill learns that her husband was not quite the man she thought he was. She finds herself transported to the small beach town of Oak Island, North Carolina. But the fairy tale ending she envisioned no longer exists. She must face the reality that Jay is gone as she finds herself having a chance at love one more time.

Safe and Sound follows a yearlong journey of love, loss, friendship, and conquering the unexpected.

My opinion.
When I first read the blurb and heard some reactions to Safe and Sound, I was sure I wouldn't be able to stop crying... and might even stop enjoy reading because of it. The opposite happened.
Yes, Safe and Sound is an emotional read about a very gripping topic. Will the subject of losing a loved one affect you? Yes. Will you get completely caught up in Jill's story and start (mentally) supporting her? Yes. But just like Jill herself, you won't be in a constant state of near-depression. When she feels sad and she breaks down, I promise you, you will too. But when she feels hopeful and supported, so will you.
T.S. Krupa takes you an amazing journey, along with her characters. Together with her two friends, Jill is looking for a way to pick up the pieces. She thought she lost everything, but with the help of her friends she's starting to pick up the pieces - realizing bit by bit what she still had, and figuring out what it is she wanted to do next.
Oh, and I really like the cover. I didn't pay much attention to it before I started reading, but after finishing the book, I realized it suits it perfectly.
Safe and Sound is a wonderful debut novel - I'll definitely be on the look out for more T.S. Krupa -reads!

Be sure to check out the author interview with T.S. Krupa
at the wonderful Isabell's book blog:

Name: Safe & Sound: A Novel
Author: T.S. Krupa (Twitter/ Facebook/ website)
Format: kindle edition
Pages: 312 pages
Release date: 1st January 2014
Publisher: Advantage Media Group

Thank you so much, T.S. Krupa, for the opportunity
to read and review Safe and Sound.
I really enjoyed it and I'm excited for more!

You might also enjoy 

The Golden Apple 

by Faerl Marie,

one of my favourite reads of 2013.

More info and my review here.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Guest post + Q&A: The Geneva Project #1 - Truth - Christina Benjamin

Welcome, Christina, to M's Bookshelf!
Delighted to have you here!

For more information about Truth (The Geneva Project #1),
check out my review-post here.

Truth one of the best books I've read this year & labeled as one of *M's Favourites*

About the author. Young adult author Christina Benjamin grew up in the small town of La Plume, PA, where at an early age her playful imagination lent itself to love the art of story telling. She began to write short stories in grade school and continued practicing her craft all the way through college where she attended the University of Central Florida to complete her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Technical Writing. 
After spending some time writing for blogs and websites, she was inspired to get back to her true love of telling stories, and dove head first into The Geneva Project, her first novel. 
Christina now lives in Central Florida with her husband, dog and cats and spends her free time writing the 2nd book of The Geneva Project series.

Find Christina on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook and her website.

Guest Post by Christina Benjamin 
for The Geneva Project - Truth

I was inspired to write this book after I realized that three of my favorite series had ended; Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games.  I find I always hate when series end, whether it be books, television or movies.  I grow so attached to the characters and worlds they live in, that when they end, I miss them terribly.  It’s like being told you can’t hang out with your friends anymore.  Sure you can always revisit, but it’s not the same.  There are no more new adventures to look forward to, and for me, that’s the best part; the prospect of endless possibilities. 

I find that’s one of my favorite things about being in the driver’s seat of my own series.  I took the great advice I was offered to write what I love to read, so I chose the YA genre and one day just put fingers to keys and the first 6 chapters flowed out of me, like a dam had been released, and the The Geneva Project was born.

It was addicting, creating my own new world.  It was like a private escape and I could fill it with all my own new characters and creatures, friends and foes. 

Creating Hullabee Island has been so fun. I mashed up places where I grew up, vacationed or hope to visit and somehow it all works together.  The location was set, now it was time for the characters.  Geneva, the main character just spoke to me.  Her voice just appeared in my mind and I felt compelled to give that voice freedom on the pages of my laptop.  

I wrote Geneva first. It was like she came to me and said, “I have a story to tell, just trust me.” And I did.  I haven’t looked back since.  I wrote the first book just as you see it, cover to cover.  I was just as excited to see what I was going to write for Geneva next.  TRUTH is told through her eyes, and as a reader, we get to discover it with her.  In the writing process, I felt I was discovering the twists and turns of Geneva’s self discovery voyage right along with her.  I didn’t have an outline, or really know where I wanted to go with her story.  I just knew I wanted her to be a great heroine and a role model young readers could look up to, yet still relate to. So, I kept that in mind and then just let the story unfold.      

Another fun element of developing the world of The Geneva Project, is all the freedom it allows me to create a whole new world.  I'm a very visual person and I love art, photography, nature and I've had such a great time collecting things that remind me of The Geneva Project or inspire my writing.  Check out my Pinterest board devoted to "everything TGP."  

I also had a great time developing new creatures. I’m a huge animal lover, so I really enjoyed incorporating my own unique take on the animals that inhibit Hullabee Island. My two cats, Hank and Ari and my dog, Vince gave me the perfect inspiration.  They are loyal fans and sit by my side while I write, so I felt they’d earned their spot in the pages of TRUTH.  I used there names as anagrams for the evil tarcats, Khan and Ria and the beloved marmouse, Niv. 

My sweet dog Vince, is a rescue we adopted 6 years ago and he owns a huge chunk of my heart and I feel that is definitely evident in my writing of the character Niv, which he inspired.  It was fun to use some of his quirky personality traits in my description of Niv and what a marmouse looks like.  I still laugh when I read about Niv, because it’s hard not to picture Vince.  I also love how Niv seems to be a character favorite of my young readers.  A class of 4th and 5th graders love him so much that I decided to make them their very own marmouse to hold while the teacher reads TRUTH aloud to them.  After a trip to the local craft store and a lot of hot glue, I had a pretty great marmouse plush toy to send them.  The class loves it so much, that holding him during story time is the new reward they all strive for.

Things like that remind me how empowering writing, reading and great story telling truly is.  As much as I enjoy writing an addicting story, I love inspiring young minds the most.  A love of reading is such a fundamentally rewarding habit to develop in young people.  It is a tool that will help them throughout their entire lives; expanding their imagination through literacy, and education.  Words are so powerful, they can give you a voice, they can create anything you can dream up and with they right imagination, they can take you anywhere you want to go. 

Hearing these children light up, while they recount their favorite parts of TRUTH and beg for the next book makes my heart so happy.  I hope The Geneva Project series takes off so that I can continue writing and devote more time inspiring young adult readers and promoting literacy.

Book Trailer

Q&A with Christina!

Do you write under a pen name? 
No, all my published work is under my name, Christina M. Benjamin. 

Have you always known you wanted to be a writer?
Sort of.  I always knew I enjoyed writing.  It’s one of the only constants that I’ve enjoyed over my whole life.  I always loved reading, writing short stories, poetry, even long essays and reports in college.  I was the girl who would crank out a 20 page paper I’d been procrastinating over in an hour when I found out there was a party or some fun event I didn’t want to miss.  I guess filling pages with words has always just come easily to me.  As a child I was a “talker” so I guess that translated into the gift of gab, which has made me long winded (as you can see from this response.  Ha-ha)  Anyway, I guess I didn’t always know I wanted to be an author of YA fiction, but I’ve tried other things here and there and nothing seems to fit as well as writing for me.  It’s my “happy place.”

 What are the best and the worst things about being a writer?
That answer is one in the same for me.  It’s that my head is always filled with thoughts!  It’s wonderful to have an unlimited pool of ideas running round your head, but it’s also horrible, when you’re trying to sleep or concentrate on anything else.  I’m also my harshest critic.  The first book was really never intended to be published.  I just did it for myself really.  Once my husband read it, he said “we have to publish.” I was nervous about having it out there to be judged, but finally took a leap of faith.  I’m very glad I did. Truth has been welcomed with such a positive response.  It’s more than I could have ever hoped for.  Yet that puts extra pressure on me to make book 2, Secrets, live up to the standards set by Truth.  I hope that I do the characters and fans justice.   

Where did your inspiration for The Geneva Project come from?
I try to surround myself with the things that bring me happiness in life and I know that seeps through to my writing.  I’m influenced by nature, music, art, film, literature and have incorporated things I love from each into The Geneva Project.  I have the strongest connection with music.  To me, music is like the voice of the soul.  It can make you feel emotion so strongly with a simple beat or melody.  The relationship between Geneva and Nova or Geneva and Remi is complicated, but often I’ll be listening to a song on the radio and think, “that’s exactly it! This gut wrenching love song totally captures their relationship!”  Sometimes it’s more about the feeling than the words and that’s what I think is so special about music.       

...and the characters?
I spoke a little about this in the guest post I did.  I was particularly inspired by my pets.  My two black and white cats inspired the menacing Tarcats in The Geneva Project.  Khan and Ria are anagrams of their real names, Hank and Ari.  My dog Vince, inspired the beloved Marmouse, Niv.  The human characters are just fictional characters that I’ve lovingly developed.  I try to make them dimensional, pulling some personality traits from my life experience, but none are based on any one specific person.

Is personal experience important for your fictional writing?
Definitely. I think no matter what voice you’re writing, your person experience influences how you write.  Sure, fictional writing can come from your imagination, but I think when you create a character that readers truly connect and relate to, it’s because you’ve let some real life experiences shape them.  As a writer it makes you vulnerable and there’s a great honesty in that quality.

If you could achieve one thing in your writing career, what would it be?
Oh wow!  Only one thing….? I’d really love for everyone who wants to read, to have the opportunity to do so.  There are so many impoverished areas in the world, where children are starved for reading materials.  To have the resources to visit these areas and give them what they need to further their literacy, imagination, creativity and education, would be a dream come true. 

If I could have one more writing wish granted by the book genie, it would be to see my books made into movies!  I’m a movie junkie.  Seeing works of literature come to life through the art of film is one of the most fascinating things to me.  It’s so rewarding to see a book you’ve enjoyed reading on the big screen.  I love seeing who is cast as the characters and if they look at all like I imagined they would.  I have to say, my all time favorite book series, adapted to film, has to be Harry Potter.  I’m a huge fan of the books and of JK Rowling and it’s very evident that she had a big hand in guiding the directors to ensure the films fit the books.  I know fans appreciate that and I’m sure as a writer, it is pretty amazing to watch your imagination to come to life!

Can you tell us anything more about future projects, or what's to come in The Geneva Project series?
Certainly.  Right now I’m editing the second book, The Geneva Project – Secrets.  As the title eludes, Geneva and her friends will be faced with unraveling the Book of Secrets as well as some secrets of their own.  Some new characters are introduced and new powers.  I’ve also started the third book, because I just couldn’t pull myself away from writing.  (when you see how book 2 ends you’ll understand)  Right now I have a total of four books planned for the series, but who knows how far it could go!

Thank you so much for stopping by, Christina, and for answering my questions! Such a pleasure to work with you.
I would LOVE it if The Geneva Project became a movie series! I'd definitely go and watch. 
Best of luck with writing and editing - I'm waiting rather impatiently on book #2... and #3, and...