Underground Books: A speakeasy for book lovers.

So, it’s not exactly a speakeasy. You don’t need a password, but you will definitely get that speakeasy secretive vibe. Perhaps you even look over your shoulder before you enter the small unassuming door and descend down the basement steps to make sure no one saw you. You might even have to double check your google maps to make sure you have the right place because it’s not marked by any signs on the building.

The perfect place for bookish rebels.

Bonnie and I immediately fell in love. This is the type of bookstore that when you happen across it, you end up losing yourself in it. You can NOT simply walk in and walk out. You find yourself browsing bookshelf after bookshelf, noticing classics hiding along side new releases. You find yourself oohing and aahing over vintage covers, humorous titles, and thoughtful displays.

There were several things about this independent bookstore that I adored . . . but the book arch simply took my breath away. This is one of the most beautifully creative and lovely things I’ve ever seen paying homage to books, and to those who love them. (Don’t worry, all of the books were badly damaged and only used if so.) The story behind the arch is just a wonderful. Josh and Megan own the bookstore and were married in 2014. They had a friend make the arch for them to be married under. And considering books are what brought them together, I couldn’t imagine a more romantic way to be wed.

On their website, Underground professes to “aim to be a bibliophile’s destination and a browser’s paradise.” They completely nail it. Not only do they have an amazing collection and variety of books, but they sell stuff that truly bookish people would appreciate. Book sculptures, journals made from damaged vintage books, decorative price-bulked books, and postcards of hilarious vintage book covers.

Another fantastic aspect of this indie bookstore was the extra moments the owners sprinkled throughout the store to draw you in. Signs of inclusion, shelves of local books on Carrollton, Ga, and even a “Call me Ishmael” interactive display. Patrons of Underground can call in and record their reviews on books so that customers can pick up the receiver and hear a review from a reader on a book. The books on the display correspond to a number on the phone . . . brilliant, right? I listened to a review from a woman on The Diary of Anne Frank. It felt extremely personal to hear her explain her heartfelt connection with the story being Jewish herself.

It’s completely obvious that the owners, Megan and Josh, adore books and desire to create a creative and special environment for book-lovers. And they are wonderful at it. They had already won me and Bonnie over at Hills & Hamlet, their sister store in Serenbe. If you are ever in or around Carrollton Ga, visiting their indie bookstore is a must!

Just knock 3 times and tell them Steen sent you. 😉

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The Lost Door is now available on Kindle.

I’m excited to announce that The Lost Door, volume 2 of The Door Keeper Trilogy is now available on Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited! The paperback will be following soon. Thank you all so much for your patience and I hope you enjoy the continuation of Eden and Gabby’s story.

The Night Circus Magic.

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Let me start by saying how incredibly grateful I am to have read this story. Erin Morgenstern has earned a loyal fan. I must say, after having read a few reviews of this book from people I trusted, I went into The Night Circus with high expectations. Every single one were met.

I don’t want to critique this book, or give anything away. Part of the magic for me was not really knowing much about the story other than there are two magicians dueling each other and that the backdrop was a circus, only open at night. So in order to help you decide if you want to read this book, I’m just going to make this simple!

If you like using your imagination, you will love this book. I got lost in the sweeping, beautiful details of the circus. Morgenstern did a phenomenal job painting the most elaborate pictures with her imagery. It was stunning as it unfolded within my mind.

If you need lots of action in a story, you will not like this book. This book is more a museum of unique artwork you leisurely walk through siping on a glass of wine, less of a Marvel movie you watch shoveling popcorn.

If you love magic and wonder, you will love this book. While there is not much action in terms of story, the creativity and sense of awe surrounding the magicians creations were completely inspiring. I’ve never wanted to be in the setting of a book more in my life!

If you want a mind numbing read, you will not like this book. If you want to follow the plot, you will need to use your noggin. There are lapses in the timeline, jumping back and forth with in said timeline, and multiple POV’s. But it made me feel as though I was discovering something, like I was working out something previously unknown.

If you appreciate the art of writing as much as the finished product, you will love this book. At least I did. As a writer, Morgenstern’s style inspired me. In fact, after reading The Night Circus, I was inspired to jump back into writing my own story and finishing it. Which for me, is a sign of an awesome story.

And that’s all I’m giving you. If you’re still on the fence, just go pick it up or download it on your kindle. It’s worth the money even if you don’t end up liking it!

Indie Bookstore Tour: Little Shop of Stories

One this stop of our Independent Bookstore Tour, Bonnie and I found ourselves in Decatur Georgia. Home of the annual AJC Decatur Book Festival, which has become the largest Independent book festival in the country! So, this amazing and vibrant city square was the perfect location for our next visit.

In order to set the stage properly for this particular visit, I must tell you . . . it was freaking freezing. Just to prove it, within 48 hours of our visit, all of metro Atlanta was covered in snow. So, I’m not exaggerating.

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As Bonnie and I walked, briskly, through Decatur Square, we marveled at all of the restaurants and shops. All of them looking incredibly inviting as the sleet bounced off our faces. But we were on a mission, and when we finally arrived at Little Shop of Stories and I peeked inside, the deep chill melted from my bones.

Sunny bright yellow walls surrounded me, every square foot covered in autographed illustrations from authors and illustrators. This store was not only the largest we’d visited so far, but the most colorful and brightly lit. Almost as though the store was sparkling against a grey winter backdrop. Like a shiny new penny. (Seriously, part of the floor is gorgeous mosaic pennies.)

For those of you who know me, I love two things: color and themes. So Little Shop of Stories checked many of my boxes. Especially considering everywhere I turned was another corner of the store dedicated/curated from a different children’s book. Including everything from murals, to furniture, to complete rooms! My favorite? Why, Platform 9 3/4 of course!

On par for our tour, we met the super helpful Justin, store manager. He walked us around, showing us the different sections, the loft area for parties and book clubs, answered our questions and gave us some history behind some of his favorite books at the moment.

A fantastic characteristic I noticed about the store, and Decatur in general, was the support for other local businesses. Justin was quick to tell us other indie bookstores in the neighborhood we should put on our tour. Even signage around the store encouraged customers to buy and read local. Supporting community authors, artists, and businesses is very important to me . . . especially as a local author. 🙂

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One of my most favorite features of this particular bookstore was the little handwritten notes I found scattered everywhere. The owners encourage staff to write reviews of books they read and display them on the shelves with the books. How amazing is that?

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While this is absolutely a children’s bookstore, but I highly recommend you visit if you enjoy whimsical enviroments or want to revive your childlike joy and enthusiasm for reading. This bookstore is everything you want from a local, indie business – it’s unique, has a helpful and knowledgeable staff, and the overall feel of the place is incredibly personal. And if you have kids, wether they like to read or not, you need to bring them just so they can get lost in their imagination. I can’t wait to visit again next August when I attend the Indie Book Festival.

If you want to learn more about different events and author readings Little Shop of Stories host, make sure you click here. My tour buddy, Bonnie Clark, is a children’s author herself, so if you want to read her take on our visit, click here! Thanks again to Justin and Little Shop of Stories for being such a warm host on such a frigid winter day.

 

On a scale of 1 to Serenbe: Hills & Hamlets Bookshop

Many years ago, I visited a little community called Serenbe, immediately becoming obsessed. It’s like a small village that values health, the environment, the arts, and sustainable living. Amazing farm to table food, no pesticides, beautiful landscapes, thoughtfully designed houses, random famous people, and all things organic. I talked about it with whoever would listen and dreamed about going back. I even named one of my fictional flowers after it in The Door Keeper. But life gets busy and it’s been years since I’ve visited again, sadly.

Until that is, I found out there was a new adorable bookshop that had open up last year called Hills & Hamlets. Thankfully, my friend Bonnie was just as excited as I was to check it out, so we put it on our Indie Bookstore Tour.

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Our introduction to Serenbe was just as beautiful as I remembered. Everything is thoughtfully designed, from street signs to trash cans. It’s as though the people here find ways to insert passion and art into even the most mundane of objects. After a quick stop into the General Store, (all organic, local, handcrafted), Bonnie and I headed over to Hills & Hamlets.

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The bookstore is unbelievably quaint and completely perfect for this community. Even though it was small, it maximized shelf space in creative ways. We quickly met the friendly and helpful owner, Josh Niesse. He and his wife own another bookstore in Carrollton, Ga and decided to open Hills & Hamlets after falling in love with Serenbe. (Common theme I’m seeing among all who visit.)

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Josh was just what you hope a bookshop owner is: passionate about books all bookish things. He showed us the different sections, including his favorite, the Rare Antiquarian wall. Y’all, this wall is gorgeous and every book lovers dream.

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Not only does H & H sell modern books, antique books by the foot, and beautiful book sets, but they sell some adorable and fun bookish things. Including artwork from book passages, awesome candles called Secular Saints, and handmade journals made from vintage books!

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After spending some quality time in the bookstore, Josh recommended a quick stroll to the walking bridge . . . that apparently leads to magical journey “across the pond.” One of the new developments in Serenbe called Swann Ridge, contains houses and architecture with an European old-world flare.

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I’m not even going to attempt to pretend that Bonnie and I weren’t completely giddy with excitement. We also may or may not have spoken in British accents as we moseyed along the cobblestone streets.

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Already sold and completely in love with Serenbe, we took a moment to find our inner child, jumping on one of the many trampolines spread throughout the community. Just one more way this place encourages residents and visitors to find the fun and joy in life.

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Hungry and spent from our visit, we made our way to the Blue Eyed Daisy. One of my best memories from my visit before. The first of now several restaurants built in Serenbe, The Blue Eyed Daisy is sustained from the 25 acre organic farm located on the property. Seriously farm fresh. Bonnie and I both decided on the Blue Eyed Burger, a local favorite with pimento cheese. That burger sealed the deal, 10 was no longer my judge for perfection, it had become Serenbe. On a scale of 1 to Serenbe, this food, this place, was so Serenbe.

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I can’t wait to go back, please check out the links I included above to learn more about Hills & Hamlets Bookshop and Serenbe. Or you should just go visit and fall in love yourself! If you’d like to read Bonnie’s account of our amazing day there, click here.

Thanks for joining and I look forward to sharing stop number 3 next!

Book Review: The Door Keeper by Steen Jones

Super thankful for Matt featuring The Door Keeper on his blog. Check out his review!

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33874986 This image was taken from Goodreads.com for review purposes under fair use doctrine. The banner and author’s image were taken from her blog for the same purposes.

Character:  Eden has some sympathy to her, and she’s proactive. Honestly, my knock on her is she’s a bit too proactive. I found myself wishing she’d thought of a few things more carefully before she found herself in danger. This seemed like an intentional character…

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Not all news is good news.

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Hello friends and family. After careful consideration, I have decided to push back the release date of The Lost Door until next year.
Between being sick for the past month and some other personal things I am working through, it has become apparent that I need to put my health and family first, especially during this holiday season. Everything is fine, I just realized I should probably capitalize on the greatest benefit of self publishing: setting my own deadlines!
Although The Lost Door is almost completed, there are a few things I do not want to rush, final edits and formatting topping that list. So I will take my time, allow myself to heal, and make the book it’s best possible version.
As soon as I land on a new release date, y’all will be the first to know. Thank you so much for your support, patience, and understanding these last few months.
I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday Season!