Lou is in the middle of a quarter-life crisis. Fresh out of college, she’s unemployed and unsure of herself. But when she gets the chance to escape to Scotland with her best friend, it could be the answer to her quest for self-discovery. The trip is not at all what she expected, especially when her tour guide turns out to be the dreamy historian Brian, and together they embark on a hunt for information about Isobel Key, a woman accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century.
They set out to learn the truth of the condemned witch, but Lou isn’t prepared for the knowledge that awaits her. She must face her own demons if she has any hope of righting the wrongs of the past. Flashing between the seventeenth century and modern day Scotland, The Secret of Isobel Key is a mystery that will please readers of all ages.
~ Xpresso BT
My journey into the world of books
by Jen McConnel
I honestly can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t in love with books. My parents read to me before bed when I was young, and pretty much ever since I learned to read, I’ve had a book on hand. I collected the old, hardcover Nancy Drews while I was growing up (I still have the collection, and I can still tell you the plot of my all-time favorite, the one with the mannequin in Turkey), and I aced every summer reading challenge the library in my town had each year. While I’m infinitely grateful to have grown up in such a print-rich environment, there were a few books and reading experiences that changed the way I read, and I’d like to share a few of these moments with you.
Reading Susan Cooper in fifth grade. My fifth grade teacher read Over Sea, Under Stone as a read aloud, and then the entire class read The Dark is Rising. I borrowed the rest of this wonderful fantasy series from my teacher, pestering him until he gave me the next three volumes, and I think this was the first time I’d read a fantasy series. I fell in love with the myth and magic of Cooper’s world, and the set of books I later bought for myself still sit to the left of my desk bookshelf.
Reading Judy Blume in middle school. One of my best friends stole her older sister’s copy of Forever, and we passed the tattered, dog-eared book around our group, eagerly memorizing the passages about sex and first love. I’m willing to bet a lot of girls learned about safe, consensual sex from that book over the thirty plus years since it came out!
Reading Charles Dickens in high school. I had Great Expectations crammed down my throat freshman year of high school, and I’m so glad my junior English teacher had us read Tale of Two Cities; without that, I might have gone through life thinking I hated Dickens. As it is, I fell in love with Sydney Carton (ah, my first anti-hero!) and got swept up in the bloody history of the French Revolution.
Reading Barbara Kingsolver in college. When you’re an English major, you get to take all kinds of fabulous classes, but the one that really sticks in my head was my freshman year. The course was called “Literature and the Quest for Self”, and I was lucky enough to take a section taught by a passionate feminist, so we had a female author heavy reading list (something I didn’t realize was rare until I started taking other English classes, but that’s an entirely different post for another time). One of the books we read was Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, and I fell in love with her prose. Since then, she’s become one of my favorite authors, and I’m so glad I discovered her at a relatively young age.
There are way too many books and authors that have deeply impacted me to list them all, but these four moments were pretty definitive to my path as a reader. What books or authors have changed the way you read?
Thanks for having me today! 🙂
About the Author & Links:
Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. When she isn’t crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches college writing composition and yoga. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time. She is the author of The Secret of Isobel Key (NA 2013) and Daughter of Chaos (YA 2014).
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