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!

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Book Review: The Door Keeper by Steen Jones

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

M.L.S. Weech

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!

Book Review: Shades of Magic Series

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This week I finished A Conjuring of Light, the third installment of the Shades of Magic Series by V.E. Schwab. Wow. Just wow. There are so many things I enjoyed about this series. So, let’s start with the most important part of any story.

The Characters. I adored the characters. Not only are the characters themselves unique and entertaining, but their individual development and growth throughout the books are wonderfully strategic. Kell, the Antari from Red London that can pass from world to world (and one of the only few left) starts off the story mysterious, but rather stiff. Not necessarily stiff in a bad way, just an inflexible way. Kind of emo, determined, and content to carry burdens alone. Without giving away any spoilers, his characters opens himself up to vulnerability, love, and empathy. Lila, the thief from Grey London, while technically a trope (special snowflake/tomboy) was still amazingly refreshing! In most genres, tropes are unavoidable, but if done right can still be new and fun. Schwab does it right. Lila begins the story reckless, fearless, and very lost. She doesn’t have an anchor, or anything worth caring about, which makes her fun and different to read. By the time the story ends, she learns to stop running and allow herself to open up and care about those around her. Plus, I just loved her quick tongue and sharp words and her odd obsession with wanting to become a pirate. Holland, the Antari from White London. I don’t want to say much about him, but I REALLY enjoyed his character. I love when the line between good and evil are blurred, and Holland was an excellent example of that. Prince Rhy of Red London quickly became one of my favorites, especially given his growth over the span of the series. Genuine, slightly spoiled, yet generous and kind, he starts the story simply fun loving and boyish. By the time I turned the last few pages, be had become a brave, unselfish leader who no longer valued the things he once held so dear. Lastly Alucard, a good looking charismatic captain from Red London with witty banter and incredibly gifted with magic, but his character becomes so much more than that by the end of the books. His relationships with the other characters; his loyalty to Lila, love for Rhy, and distaste for Kell, seriously made the series for me. (Not to mention so many secondary characters that were wonderfully developed.)

The Worlds. This is absolutely my favorite thing about Schwab’s writing style. Her ability to create, detail, and explore multiple worlds in such a unique way. She draws things out, and tells you everything. Which I know drives some people crazy, but not me. I’d rather be told too much than not enough. But that’s just my preference. She describes everything lyrically, and she lets her writing set the tempo. In this story we have Red London, Grey London, White London, and Black London. Four different worlds that somehow all overlap with their version of London. Some worlds have magic, some don’t, and some have died because of it. Kell, as well as all Antari, can travel between the different Londons, which becomes complicated as something is found in one London that shouldn’t be there.

The Story. The story itself is full of adventure, love, witty banter, pirate ships, murder, magic tournaments, torture, cursed stones, travel between worlds, death, betrayal, and family. You get to witness brotherly love and kinship, wounded and severed love, romance rekindled and heartbreak. While the first 150 pages A Darker Shade of Magic took me a while to get into, once the story took hold of me, I couldn’t stop reading. Once the action and story starts, it doesn’t stop until the last page. You can see the planning that Schwab put into this story, the perfectly organized plot not going unnoticed.

Series as a whole: 5 STARS

If you like epic tales of Fantasy and haven’t read the Shades of Magic series, I would highly recommend them. V.E. Schwab has me as a loyal reader and I can’t wait until the continuation of the story with her next trilogy set in the Londons.

Sunday Pinning: Cozy reading nooks.

So this week on Pinterest, I found myself drifting into the cozy reading nooks. Maybe it’s the cold weather fast approaching or losing daylight savings time. Either way, the idea of curling up in any one of these nooks with a book, fills me with the warm and fuzzies.

So what makes a reading nook cozy? For me, it breaks down into 3 reasons, sometimes 4. The first and most important requirement?

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Like this pin

  1. Mood lighting. Ah yes, candles, twinkle lights, or in the case above, lanterns. Low lighting may not always be conducive for reading, but it is essential in finding the balance so you feel cozy and relaxed.

(Note: the only exception to not having mood lighting, is to be by a fire, which technically provides the same thing.)

2. Your cozy nook must include soft cuddle-able material such as blankets and/or pillows. Preferably both. In my opinion, a pair of pillows and fleece blanket can transform most any space into a perfect reading nook. There is nothing better than your feet being tangled in a blanket, getting lost in a book.

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This pin.

3. Speaking of feet, mine have to be up. Wether they are propped up on an ottoman, or curled up underneath me, in order to consider myself in a cozy position, my feet have to be up in some way. Now, I know this is technical and I’m getting very obsessive about this, but there are several things I take very seriously and being warm and happy are two of them. The only exception to my feet being up rule, is if I’m swinging. If I’m in a swing, like the one pictured below, I can totally over look my feet touching the ground.

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Reading nooks for nature lovers pin.

The above pin still checks most of our boxes: mood lighting and soft material. Plus, it opens the door for our 4th bonus box that is much harder to check, a gorgeous view.

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Go to this pin.

Now, the above reading nook checks off every box on our list, including our bonus one. It’s difficult to achieve the “nook” feel with a view because most nooks are in little corners, tucked away. But on the rare occasion, like the one above, you can tuck yourself away into a corner of windows and still stare off into the beauty around you while mulling over your fantasy book’s plot.

Do you have a favorite spot to read? What is most important for you in a cozy reading nook?

Do you want an ARC of The Lost Door?

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Would you like an Advanced Reader Copy of The Lost Door before it becomes available for sale? All you have to do is join my promotional team! I’m looking for 20 or 25 people who are willing to help me spread the word about The Lost Door and The Door Keeper trilogy. Here is all you have to do to be eligible:

  1. Be willing to buy the book on Amazon on December 5th. (Paperback or Kindle.)
  2. Leave a review on Amazon of the book with in the first week of release.
  3. Post about the book (Or The Door Keeper) or thoughts about either books & their respective links on Amazon on any one of your social media platforms!

That’s it! If you are willing to commit to doing those three things, I’ll send you an ARC of The Lost Door before anyone else gets their hands on it. (Also, there may be some fun bookish surprises in the mail for you as well!)

Do you have friends who enjoyed The Door Keeper? Make sure you let them know about this cool opportunity.

Email me at steen@thedoorkeepertrilogy.com if you are interested and thanks for all you support!

The Lost Door Goodreads Giveaway!

In order to celebrate the upcoming release of The Lost Door, Book 2 in The Door Keeper Trilogy, I’m giving away 5 signed copies on Goodreads! If you have an account on Goodreads, head over and enter to win. Please also add The Lost Door to your TBR list and share it with your friends.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Lost Door by Steen Jones

The Lost Door

by Steen Jones

Giveaway ends December 05, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

Thanks you guys for all your support, I couldn’t do this without you!

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