Blog Tour: The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude – Interview + Giveaway


Click on the tour banner to check out the rest of the tour!


Title: The May Queen Murders

Author: Sarah Jude

Release Date: May 3, 2016

Pages: 304

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks


Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night.

Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them. 


I had the wonderful pleasure of interviewing Sarah Jude in anticipation of her upcoming debut novel, The May Queen Murders! I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!

What was your initial inspiration for The May Queen Murders?

The story came from several places. I wanted to set a book in the Ozarks near where I live because I love the old folklore, and in figuring out what people might still subscribe to those superstitions. I met Ivy and Heather who brought with them a lot of memories of friendships I had (and still have) while growing up. I’ve known my best friend Dorothy for close to thirty years, and we had many times where she was Ivy and I was Heather or vice versa. Some years ago, her cousin—who I’d known as long as I’d known Dorothy—was murdered, and there’s a big part of MQM that is still me trying to cope with what happened. It’s very much a book about remembrance in that regard.

I love the fact that your book is titled The May Queen Murders and is actually being published in May…is there a May Day celebration where you’re from? If not, how did you come up with that idea?

Oh, no, there’s no May Queen here. At least not in the very springtime maiden, Led Zeppelin way that’s in the book. Many early Ozarks families came out of Appalachia, where immigrants from the British Isles put down their roots. The May Day type of spring festival is more common in the UK, and there have been unfounded stories of dark rituals taking place during the celebration. I saw the original film of “The Wicker Man” years ago, which depicts a rather dark interpretation of a May Day festival, and it must’ve been an influence as my editor noted it as part of her pitch to her team when she acquired it.

What is your favorite quote from the book?

“In nature, ivy and heather never grew together. They couldn’t because ivy liked shades, whereas heather required sun. They did better apart because, side by side, one withered.”

If The May Queen Murders was going to become a movie, who would you want as your main characters?

Oh, that’s tricky because I don’t really keep up with current actors and actresses. I’ll notice if someone has striking features or gives enchanting performances, but I don’t go out of my way to watch anybody’s films except maybe Helena Bonham-Carter. Maybe if you dye Landon Liboiron’s hair black and throw some thick glasses on him, he could pass for Rook. For both Ivy and Heather, I’d go back in time and snatch a young Hope Sandoval from the band Mazzy Star (she’s Mexican-American like Ivy and seems to be a shy person) and a young Melissa Auf der Maur, who played with Courtney Love. Melissa is this free-spirited redhead, and it just seems like the bands she’s been in couldn’t contain her energy. I’m showing my age here, aren’t I…

If you could date one character in your book, who would it be and why?

Well, I’m married to Dr. Timothy. No, Husband isn’t a vet, but he’s a patient and caring person, but I would hate to see what he’d do if his family were at risk. I couldn’t date Heather. She’s far too flighty, and given that I am the flighty person in my relationship, I need to be with someone who is grounded, so I’m more apt to be with Ivy or Rook.

When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

I had a horrendous head injury when I was six, and I spent a summer in the dark with toy figurines to keep me company. I made up epic stories about them, and it wasn’t long before I wrote them down. As I became a teen, I wrote my first YA novel and was hooked. I had a few detours along the way, but the stories were always there.

Are you currently working on anything that we readers should know about?

I’m working on a few projects. Writing is catharsis for me, so there are always intensely personal elements in what I write. I’m not ready to give details, but I can say that there’s murder. And nice people in the Midwest doing very bad things.

What particular things have you done that have improved your writing?

Honestly, what has helped me grow the most as a writer is working with my critique partners. Having other eyes on my work has made me more aware of what I need to work on. I always hope to challenge myself. Tackling the stories that scare me pushes my writing to a different level.

What do you like to read in your free time?

I’m a literary omnivore. Books on folklore, horticulture, and homeopathic remedies. A LOT of Gothics. I also read a huge amount of YA because I truly like the category and find the voices who are willing to take the greatest risks are the ones who write for teens.

What are five random facts that most people don’t know about you?

I’m truly ambidextrous.

Despite that there are attacks on animals in THE MAY QUEEN MURDERS, I’m an animal rights activist, which made those scenes very hard to write. My dogs come from rescues, and I work with horses at a stable that does equine therapy for the disabled.

I’ve had a skull fracture and four concussions, suffered hairline fractures in my neck, torn every ligament in my left ankle, and broke my right ankle while picking up after my dog while I was pregnant. My friend John claims I’m not a walking bad luck charm but definitely a weird luck charm. I am the human Murphy’s Law.

I’m only 4’10” and make good use of tongs to grab items off high shelves.

Believe it or not, in spite of writing murder mysteries, I’m a Sunday school teacher.

Meet The Author


Sarah Jude lives by the woods and has an owl that lands on her chimney every night. She grew up believing you had to hold your breath whenever you passed a graveyard or a bridge spanning water. Now she writes about cemeteries, murder, and ghostly apparitions. She resides in Missouri with her husband, three children, and three dogs.

You can find her on Goodreads, Twitter, and her website.


3 winners will receive a finished copy of The May Queen Murders

US Only

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Review: Great Falls by Steve Watkins

25937844Title: Great Falls

Author: Steve Watkins

Publication Date: April 26, 2016

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Shane has always worshiped his big brother, Jeremy. But Jeremy hasn’t been the same since he returned home from three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The happy-go-lucky brother that Shane once knew has been replaced by a surly drunk who carries his loaded 9mm with him wherever he goes and is living in their parents’ basement because he can’t face going home to his wife and two little kids.

When Jeremy shows up after one of Shane’s football games and offers to take him up to the family cabin for the weekend, Shane goes along—in part to get away from a humiliation on the field and in part to keep an eye on Jeremy, who’s gone AWOL from his job at Quantico and seems more unstable than ever. But as the camping trip turns into a days-long canoe trip down the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, Shane realizes he’s in way over his head. Can he persuade Jeremy to go back home and get the help he needs before it’s too late?

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

After humiliating himself in front of his entire school, Shane decides to embark on a camping trip with his older brother Jeremy. Before Shane realizes, they are in possession of a canoe and are well on their way down the Shenandoah River and towards the Potomac River. Jeremy, a veteran, is running away from his job, his family, and all the other responsibilities he has back home. While this trip was a way to escape his embarrassment, Shane realizes he needs to stick with Jeremy. If Shane isn’t there for Jeremy, who knows what Jeremy will do…

There were so many instances with Jeremy that frustrated me so much. Maybe I am being a bit harsh, but I seldom felt sorry for Jeremy. I cannot fathom the horrible situations and things he went through, but I feel that some of his actions had absolutely no excuse. And then there is Shane. I feel a bit harsh again, but Shane also frustrated me to no end. Shane is a good kid. He wants to help his brother so badly, but is afraid to confront Jeremy. Shane does become better and learns to ask the questions he was once afraid to ask. However, those moments when Shane did not a backbone were very frustrating.

I do not know what the problem was, but I could not connect with these characters in the slightest. I have read books about veterans before and I have thoroughly enjoyed them. Perhaps it was my timing; I can be a mood reader at times. I honestly wanted to love this book, as other readers before me have. I suppose this book just wasn’t my cup of tea.

2 out of 5 stars

Meet The Author


Steve Watkins is the author of Down Sand Mountain, a young adult novel published in October 2008 by Candlewick Press and another young adult novel, Goat Girl, published by Candlewick Press in spring 2011.

Steve is also author of a short story collection, My Chaos Theory (2006, Southern Methodist University Press), which was a finalist for the Paterson Fiction Prize, and an Honorable Mention for the Library of Virginia Fiction Award. He also wrote the award-winning non-fiction book The Black O: Racism and Redemption in an American Corporate Empire, published in 1997 by the University of Georgia Press, which tells the story of the largest employment discrimination class action lawsuit in U.S. history. His fiction, poetry, and non-fiction articles have appeared in numerous publications, including The Nation, Poets & Writers, Mississippi Review, 100 Percent Pure Florida Fiction, North American Review, and The Pushcart Prize Anthology.

A graduate of Florida State University, Steve teaches journalism, creative writing, and Vietnam War literature at the University of Mary Washington. He also teaches Ashtanga yoga, and works as an investigator and advocate for abused and neglected children through the child advocacy organization CASA. He lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia with his wife Janet, and four daughters–Maggie, Eva, Claire, and Lili. Steve and Janet are co-directors of the religious education program at the Fredericksburg Unitarian Universalist Church.

You can find him on Goodreads, Facebook, and his website.

Waiting on Wednesday: Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

This is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.  “Waiting on Wednesday” spotlights upcoming releases that I’m eagerly anticipating.

Title: Stalking Jack The Ripper

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Publication Date: September 20, 2016


Synopsis from Goodreads:

Presented by James Patterson’s new children’s imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion…

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

This book sounds absolutely and positively brilliant! I’m pretty sure that this book has become one of my most anticipated reads for 2016! I cannot wait to read this beauty!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Bookish Delights


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at The Broke and the Bookish, and I decided to share my list with all of you also!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is Top Ten Book Delights! Shall we?


1. Going to the bookstore


2. Picking up a random book and loving it


3. Getting approved for a ARC you have been dying to read




5. When others reader(s) loved the same book as much as you did


6. Book covers that are works of art


7. Discovering new books


8. Books in the Mail

And there you have it folks! Some of my favorite bookish delights! Let me know what bookish things make you happy in the comments down below!

Review: Fallout by Gwenda Bond

23110163Title: Fallout (Lois Lane #1)

Author: Gwenda Bond

Publication Date: May 1, 2015

Publisher: Switch Press

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Lois Lane is starting a new life in Metropolis. An Army brat, Lois has lived all over—and seen all kinds of things. (Some of them defy explanation, like the near-disaster she witnessed in Kansas in the middle of one night.) But now her family is putting down roots in the big city, and Lois is determined to fit in. Stay quiet. Fly straight. As soon as she steps into her new high school, though, she can see it won’t be that easy. A group known as the Warheads is making life miserable for another girl at school. They’re messing with her mind, somehow, via the high-tech immersive videogame they all play. Not cool. Armed with her wit and her new snazzy job as a reporter, Lois has her sights set on solving this mystery. But sometimes it’s all a bit much. Thank goodness for her maybe-more-than-a friend, a guy she knows only by his screenname, SmallvilleGuy.

For the first time in a long time, Lois and her family are settling into a permanent home. With a new high school to conquer, Lois plans on laying low and making it through the school year without getting suspended, or worse. However, on her first day of school she overhears a conversation between a student and the principal. The student is concerned because she has become the target of a disturbing group at school. When the principal dismisses the student’s concerns, Lois has to step in…so much for laying low.

What seems to be a vile group of bullies, turns out to be something much more strange. The further Lois digs, the weirder things become. With the help of her friends at the Daily Scoop and a special friend she knows as SmallvilleGuy, Lois will stop at nothing until she uncovers the truth.

This book wastes no time jumping right into the action. Very little is established before the conflict is introduced and the plot is made known.While the pacing throughout this entire book is quick and did not have a dull moment, I could not seem to get into the story. I have no idea what it was, but I absolutely could not connect with the characters. Fallout is not even close the being a “bad” read for me, but I felt extremely nonchalant about the story. Nevertheless,  I do plan on reading the sequel because the ending left with many unanswered questions.

3 out of 5 stars

Meet The Author


Gwenda Bond is an author of young adult books. Her latest are Lois Lane: Fallout, which brings the iconic comic book character front and center in her own YA novel, and Girl on a Wire, about a daredevil heroine who discovers magic and mystery lurking beneath the big top. Coming in 2016 are Lois Lane: Double Down and Girl in the Shadows, a new novel of the Cirque American. It’s possible that she escaped from a classic screwball comedy.

She lives in a hundred-year-old house in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband author Christopher Rowe, and their menagerie.

You can find her on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her website.