New Kids On The Block 2018 with Kristina Pérez

New Kids On The Block is a year-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader meant to welcome and celebrate new voices and debut authors in the literary community.

Are you a debut author whose book is being published in 2018? It’s not too late to sign-up! If you want to participate in New Kids On The Block this year, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! You can send a tweet or DM on Twitter to @Pop_Reader or email me at I would love to collaborate with you!

About Kristina Pérez

Kristina Pérez is a half-Argentine/half-Norwegian native New Yorker. She has spent the past two decades working as a journalist and academic in Europe and Asia. She is the author of the nonfiction title, The Myth of Morgan la Fey and holds a PhD in Medieval Literature from the University of Cambridge. Sweet Black Waves is her debut novel.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads

From Goddess To Saint

When I sat down to write Sweet Black Waves, I knew that I wanted to tell the classic tale of Tristan and Iseult’s star-crossed love from a different perspective – that of Princess Iseult’s lady’s maid, Branwen. The medieval legend rose to prominence in the French and Anglo-Norman courts of the twelfth century, but it’s based on the oral and written traditions of early medieval/Post-Roman Britain and Ireland.

To give myself more creative flexibility, I decided to set Branwen’s story in a more fantastic context. Therefore Princess Iseult’s homeland of Ireland was transformed into the island kingdom of Iveriu, and Tristan’s birthplace of Cornwall became Kernyv.

The original legend is set during the time period when Ireland and Britain were both in the process of converting to Christianity, which resulted in the production of extraordinary literature that blends Celtic mythology with personages from the Bible. Because Ireland was never conquered by the Roman Empire, the missionaries who came to the island to convert the local inhabitants couldn’t force them to “convert by the sword” as happened in many other places in Europe. Instead, the monks had to learn and understand the beliefs held by the Irish people and actually try to convince them of the merits of this new religion.

One of the consequences of this dialogue is that many Celtic gods and goddesses were transformed into saints. Besides Saint Patrick, Saint Brigid is perhaps still one of the best known Irish saints and one of the patron saints of Ireland. However, many of the customs and beliefs associated with her were transposed from the Celtic goddess Bríg, whose name means “exalted one.” For instance, the feast day of Saint Brigid takes place at the time of the traditional Celtic spring festival of Imbolc, which was associated with Bríg.

In Cormac’s Glossary, which is dated to the 10th century and was written by Christian monks, Bríg is said to be beloved of poets and to have two sisters with the same name who are associated with healing and smithing. She is considered a counterpart of the Roman goddess Minerva and the Greek Athena.

In the world of Sweet Black Waves, the goddess I call Bríga is an extremely important deity to my characters, especially the women. I draw on both traditions associated with the Celtic goddess and the Christian saint. What interests me as both a scholar and an author is the transmutability of female divinity and the adaptability of her guises.

The blending of traditions is often as fruitful as the tension between them.

Whether as a goddess or a saint, Brigid/Bríg has been venerated for thousands of years because belief in her brings comfort to the faithful. And I had a lot of fun putting my own twist on the tradition for my debut fantasy novel.

Title Sweet Black Waves
Author Kristina Pérez
Pages 448 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Fantasy, Retelling
Publication Date June 5th 2018 by Imprint
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For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this lush fantasy about warring countries and forbidden romance will have readers entranced.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow, will set Branwen against her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved.

Kristina Pérez’s debut features star-crossed lovers who changed the fate two nations. Inspired by the legend of Tristan and Iseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen.

Waiting On… When We Caught Fire, The Loneliest Girl In The Universe and A Double Life

Waiting On Wednesday is a regular feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which I highlight forthcoming titles which I’m particularly excited about and looking forward to. This weekly event is hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

Publication Date October 2nd 2018 by HarperTeen
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It’s 1871, and Emmeline is poised to take Chicago’s high society by storm. With her faithful best friend and lady’s maid, Fiona, by her side, all of Emmeline’s dreams are about to come true. And Fiona is delighted by her best friend’s rise to prominence — even if it means living in the shadow of Chicago’s elite.

But on the night of Emmeline’s engagement party to the most eligible man in the city, Emmeline is suddenly struck with the memory of a life long ago, a childhood spent in the swamplands of Chicago, and Anders, the boy who she left behind there. Anders, who is now a hot-shot boxer in the bad part of town…Anders who Fiona loves as well.

When Emmeline risks everything to see him for a final fling, Fiona can’t help but feel like she’s losing the last thing that was truly hers — her heart.

It’s only a matter of time before everything goes up in flames: their friendship, their love, and even the city of Chicago itself.

Publication Date July 3rd 2018 by HarperTeen
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The daughter of two astronauts, Romy Silvers is no stranger to life in space. But she never knew how isolating the universe could be until her parents’ tragic deaths left her alone on the Infinity, a spaceship speeding away from Earth.

Romy tries to make the best of her lonely situation, but with only brief messages from her therapist on Earth to keep her company, she can’t help but feel like something is missing. It seems like a dream come true when NASA alerts her that another ship, the Eternity, will be joining the Infinity.

Romy begins exchanging messages with J, the captain of the Eternity, and their friendship breathes new life into her world. But as the Eternity gets closer, Romy learns there’s more to J’s mission than she could have imagined. And suddenly, there are worse things than being alone…

Publication Date July 31st 2018 by Viking
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Claire is a hardworking doctor living a simple, quiet life in London. She is also the daughter of the most notorious murder suspect in the country, though no one knows it.

Nearly thirty years ago, while Claire and her infant brother slept upstairs, a brutal crime was committed in her family’s townhouse. Her father’s car was found abandoned near the English Channel the next morning, with bloodstains on the front seat. Her mother insisted she’d seen him in the house that night, but his powerful, privileged friends maintained his innocence. The first lord accused of murder in more than a century, he has been missing ever since.

When the police tell Claire they’ve found her father, her carefully calibrated existence begins to fracture. She doesn’t know if she’s the daughter of a murderer or a wronged man, but Claire will soon learn how far she’ll go to finally find the truth.

Now it’s YOUR turn! Which books are you most looking forward to this week? Let me know in the comments – I would love to hear from you!

The Writing’s On The Wall: The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik by David Arnold

The Writing’s On The Wall is a regular feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which I create desktop wallpapers inspired by some of my favourite novels, authors, and literary quotes.

Title The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik
Author David Arnold
Pages 432 Pages
Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Fabulism
Publication Date May 22nd 2018 by Viking Children’s
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

The New York Times bestselling author of Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland brings a speculative twist to his latest novel. The result: an incisive and deeply humane story with the feel of Haruki Murakami for teens.

This is Noah Oakman → Sixteen, Bowie believer, concise historian, disillusioned swimmer, son, brother, friend.

Then Noah → Gets hypnotized.

Now Noah → Sees changes – inexplicable scars, odd behaviors, rewritten histories – in all those around him. All except his Strange Fascinations… 

A stunning surrealist portrait, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is a story about all the ways we hurt our friends without knowing it, and all the ways they stick around to save us.

1280×800 » 1440×900 » 1680×1050 » 1920×1200 » 2560×1400

I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to Create The Cut and Connary Fagen Type Design whose clipart and/or fonts I purchased, edited and used in the creation of this wallpaper!

Don’t forget to visit all the wonderful stops along The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik blog tour for a variety of guest posts, reviews, and much, much more!

Week One
May 07 – The Blonde Bookworm
May 08 – Confessions Of A YA Reader 
May 09 – Forever Bookish 
May 10 – Rants and Raves Of A Bibliophile 
May 11 – Adventures In YA Publishing 

Week Two
May 14 – The Nerdy Girl Express 
May 15 – A Court of Coffee and Books 
May 16 – Book Crushin’
May 17 – Mind Of A Book Dragon
May 18 – Tales Of The Ravenous Reader

Week Three
May 21 – Pop! Goes the Reader (You are here – Hi!)
May 22 – The Young Folks 
May 23 – Page Travels
May 24 – Bookfoolery 
May 25 – Dazzled By Books 

Week Four
May 28 – Paper Trail YA 
May 29 – Snow and Books 
May 30 – Reading Writing and Me
May 31 – The Radiant Reader
June 1 – We Live and Breathe Books

Now it’s your turn! What would you like to see made into a desktop wallpaper next? Let me know in the comments – I would love to hear from you!

Cover Reveal: The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

Hi everyone! Today is an extra special day here on Pop! Goes The Reader as I have the unique pleasure of doing something I can honestly say I’ve never done in five years of blogging before – a cover re-reveal! As regular readers of the blog might remember, back in February 2018 I was fortunate enough to have collaborated with author Laura E. Weymouth on the cover reveal for her October 2018 debut novel, The Light Between Worlds. You might therefore be able to imagine my surprise – and absolute delight – when I opened my inbox this week to discover an email asking me to do it all over again! As lovely as the original cover design was, HarperTeen has outdone themselves with the the latest look of The Light Between Worlds cover, thanks in large part to cover designer, Jessie Gang and cover artist, Colin Anderson. In addition to today’s stunning cover reveal, I’ve also been given permission to share lots of other exciting exclusives with you, including an author’s note, except from the novel, and an opportunity for one lucky reader to win an advance reader copy of The Light Between Worlds! Please read on to learn more!

About Laura E. Weymouth

Laura Weymouth is a Canadian writer currently exiled to the strange and foreign wilds of Western New York. When not reading or writing, you can find her tending things that grow – kids, cats, poultry, plants, and ideas. The Light Between Worlds is her debut novel and will be followed by a second, untitled project in 2019.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads

I’m so pleased to be back on Pop! Goes the Reader to share the new, updated cover for The Light Between Worlds with everyone. Light is, at its heart, a portal fantasy. It’s an attempt on my part to grapple with the question of how children would readjust to living in our world after having spent a significant amount of time in another. It’s about how we can never really go back to the people we were before watershed moments, and yes, it is about a magic forest full of wondrous creatures. The design team at Harper did a beautiful job of capturing all those elements in this new cover, and I hope you love it as much as I do!

It’s strange, being out-of-doors so late at night. Shadows loom long and make our postage-stamp lawn and frost-covered shrubs seem eerily unfamiliar. Jamie helps Philippa and me down into the shelter and stands at the entrance, staring back at the house with hunched shoulders and one foot tapping. Philippa wraps a damp blanket around me and we sit side by side, shivering in the cold.

The siren wails on. Somewhere in the distance, bombs begin to fall.

“Do you see them?” Philippa asks anxiously. Jamie shakes his head.

“No, I — wait.” His voice cracks with relief. “There’s Dad.”

Our father looks in at the entrance, and everything’s suddenly a little less dreadful than it was before. Until he frowns and looks at Jamie. “Didn’t your mum come out?”

Before Jamie can answer, Dad sprints back across the lawn. The dull blast of explosions is growing louder, closer. I gnaw on my lower lip and Jamie joins Philippa and me. We put our arms around each other and wait, and I would give anything to be away from here — to leave the dark and danger and fear behind.

“Where are — ?” Philippa asks, choking with worry. But a bomb falls so close that it drowns out her last word and shakes the walls of our small shelter.

“Anywhere but here,” I whisper. Philippa pulls me close, as if her very presence can shield me from harm. Squeezing my eyes shut, I will away the present, picturing somewhere calm, somewhere peaceful — a haven of silence and golden light. “Anywhere but here. Anywhere but here.”

And then, silence. The dark in the shelter grows, till I can make out nothing but my brother’s and sister’s pale faces.

After a moment a sound begins. It’s neither air raid siren nor bombshell. Ringing through the air, it’s low and insistent, halfway between the bellow of a bull and the bugle of an elk. It pulls at my blood and bones until I want to crawl out of my own skin to answer it. Jamie, Philippa, and I stare at each other, wide-eyed.

“Hold on to me,” Jamie orders, panic lacing his words. We join hands and I can barely breathe, I’m so afraid. Under that fear, though, there’s something new and unexpected — anticipation.

The call grows louder and louder until at last light explodes around us. I blink and squint, eyes watering, sure I’ll see only rubble and devastation when my vision clears. But the light stays constant, unlike the flash and sizzle of shelling. It resolves into afternoon sunshine and my heart leaps to find that, impossibly, we’re standing in a wood.

Title The Light Between Worlds
Author Laura E. Weymouth
Pages 351 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Historical Fantasy
To Be Published October 23rd 2018 by HarperTeen
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersBarnes & NobleIndieBoundThe Book Depository

Six years ago, sisters Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell were swept away to a strange and beautiful kingdom called the Woodlands, where they lived for years. But ever since they returned to their lives in post-WWII England, they have struggled to adjust.

Ev desperately wants to return to the Woodlands, and Philippa just wants to move on. When Ev goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.

As an extra, exciting bonus, Laura has been kind enough to offer one lucky reader the opportunity to win an advance reader copy of The Light Between Worlds! One winner will be chosen at random at the conclusion of the giveaway and the prize will be distributed by Laura when ARCs become available. This contest is open internationally. Please fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

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New Kids On The Block 2018 with Maxine Kaplan

New Kids On The Block is a year-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader meant to welcome and celebrate new voices and debut authors in the literary community.

Are you a debut author whose book is being published in 2018? It’s not too late to sign-up! If you want to participate in New Kids On The Block this year, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! You can send a tweet or DM on Twitter to @Pop_Reader or email me at I would love to collaborate with you!

About Maxine Kaplan

Maxine Kaplan was born in Washington, DC. She and her twin sister spent their early childhoods trotting behind their journalist parents as they traveled around the world, eventually settling in Brooklyn, NY. Maxine graduated from Oberlin College in 2007. Following a long stint in the world of publishing, she has worked as a private investigator since 2009. She lives in her adopted hometown of Brooklyn, NY, with her lovely husband and complex cat. The Accidental Bad Girl is her debut novel.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterGoodreads

The Art & Science of the Femme Fatale

My first exposure to the trope of the femme fatale was via the great (if occasionally problematic) director Alfred Hitchcock. The movie was North By Northwest and the femme in question was Eve Kendall, simultaneously the film’s most potent antagonist and the source of its romantic tension. I reimagined her as Kendall Evans for my debut The Accidental Bad Girl.

Ever since I saw Eve Kendall, at age eight, I have thought a lot about femme fatales. After intensive study (a.k.a. massive overconsumption of all forms of media), I have developed the following evolutionary taxonomy of the femme fatale:

1. The OG Femme Fatale – Exhibit: Becky Sharp (Vanity Fair)

So you know that shelf in your high school library just called “literature” with all the really old, dusty, boring books that were written before your grandparents were born? Yeah, that was where fifteen-year-old Max hung out. And, one day, literally because of the apparent anachronism of the title, I pulled out a book called Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, originally published in serialized form in the Victorian-era Punch magazine, from 1847 to 1848. It follows the life of the lowborn and impoverished, but highly educated and canny AF Rebecca Sharp as she determinedly climbs her way up the social ladder with charm, seduction, deception, fraud, and even flat-out theft.

A quick note here: Becky, you guys. Oh my god. BECKY. If you saw the Mira Nair movie with Reese Witherspoon, you don’t even know. Becky is the smartest person in every room. She knows how to give everybody exactly what they want and then how to discard them efficiently when they how outlived their usefulness.

Becky is a talented musician and artist. She is attractive, but not classically beautiful. She has people she cares about, but not enough to deviate from her plan of world domination. Becky fails and comes back stronger. Becky makes the most out of every bad hand of cards. Thackeray follows the lives of the people she wrecks, but only rarely dips into Becky’s perspective. We don’t end the book in her head. She is the star, the catalyzing influence, but she is a supporting character in her own biography.

Pay attention, this will be important later.

2. The Bond Girl – Exhibit: Seriously, every single Bond Girl. You know who I’m talking about. Let’s go ahead and say Pussy Galore.

So here’s a thing to know about me: I not only will watch any Bond movie, any day, I have actually read numerous of the original Ian Fleming Bond novels. Some of these characters are goddamn delights in their own right, but here’s what they all have in common.

The Bond Girls are sexy, but in a damaged way. They are sad, they like luxury, they are elegant, and they are doomed. While key to unraveling the plot, and involved in criminal activity, they are conflicted in their motivations, primarily due to romantic entanglement either with Bond or the villain of the piece. They themselves are not the villain of the piece. They mostly don’t survive.

3. The Noir Broad – Exhibits: Brigid O’Shaughnessy (The Maltese Falcon), Vivian Sternwood (The Big Sleep)

This type of femme fatale is probably the most iconic. They tangle duplicitously with private investigators or similar (but, seriously, mostly private investigators) and are generally truly guilty — I mean guilty of murder, but also of deceiving the lead with their feigned innocence and love.

These women are indelible because they are undeniably “bad,” but they are also loveable. They do not commit crimes out of cold calculation or banal greed, but out of madness, hysteria, or misplaced devotion. They are the focus, but they are not focused on. They never tell their stories until the end and the hero always walks away, worse for having loved them.

4. The Neo-Noir Wild Card – Exhibits: Harley Quinn (DC Comics), Amy Dunn (Gone Girl)

(Disclaimer: Harley Quinn is cheating, because Harley Quinn has evolved. Uniquely, even her creators’, the brilliant Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, have evolved their conception of her into a fully realized, pathos filled antiheroine. She’s extremely important and I could write an entire essay about her. That’s not what this is, but I could.)

The Neo-Noir Wild Card is unique because of the sheer delight she takes in wreaking havoc. The delight is infectious and she is therefore adorable. She is frightening, she is insane, she is hilarious, she is uncontrollable, and she is just human enough to convince you that she might stop being fatal. She is the cutest, and she is terrifying.

This is where we’ve landed in 2018 with the femme fatale: Harley Quinn was allowed to develop beyond her original brief because so many people — notably, especially in the still male-dominated comics field, so many women — responded to her in a way that was entirely unplanned and unexpected. Her rage and violence was contextualized, her heart and her motivations taken seriously, and her persona and personhood allowed to develop on its own terms. Amy Dunn, in contrast, was written by Gillian Flynn, as expert a writer of female rage as anyone ever has been, as an explicitly feminist counterpoint to the traditional domestic “wife-in-peril” narrative.

Harley Quinn started as existing only in relation to the Joker. Hell, he even named her. But she later got an instant classic retelling of her origin in Mad Love, from her perspective. A recent issue, by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, sees her finally beating the hell out of her puddin’ and leaving him to rot. It was instantly iconic. It was badass. Similarly Amy’s “cool girl” monologue was epic and stunning, turning her story into a sensation all women related to.

But Harley’s true, real-world origin will always be as a one-off sidekick to the Joker. She will never stop painting her face in homage. And who is Amy without Nick to f with? Where is her story without her marriage?

(I want to be clear: I LOVE all of the characters I’ve written above. I love them with all my heart. This is not to knock what’s come before.)

What do all of these dangerous women have in common? Their importance and/or success in a narrative are based on their ability to control, or their proximity to, a more important man. Their charm is primary, their rage explained away as madness, and, until recently, their pathos insignificant to the outcome of the story.

They are not the protagonists of their own story — not all the way through.

When you hear the phrase “femme fatale,” you instantly see these women in your head—the Veronica Lake wave, the knowing smile. They have some deep resonance in our experience of human nature. When I wrote The Accidental Bad Girl, it was because I wanted to know more about one of these women. Archetypes are archetypical for a reason, but, truly, I should not be able to use such a rigid taxonomy for such an indelible symbol of womanhood. These girls should not be so easy to put into little boxes, to codify.

Femme fatales are not just props for telling other peoples’ adventures. They are not just sex appeal, color, intrigue — set dressing. They have their own stories. And we deserve them.

The Accidental Bad Girl is my attempt.

Title The Accidental Bad Girl
Author Maxine Kaplan
Pages 384 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date May 15th 2018 by Amulet Books
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Kendall used to be a good girl.

That was before the entire senior class discovered her hooking up with her best friend’s ex. And before became an instant pariah, and vowed to keep her head down until she escaped her small Brooklyn private school for good.

But no such luck: She discovers her online identity has been hacked and she’s being framed for stealing a drug dealer’s stash. If she wants to repair her tattered reputation and save her neck, she’ll have to pretend to a be the bad girl everyone thinks she is. And the longer she plays the role of bad girl, the more it seems to fit.

Friends and enemies, detectives and drug dealers — no one is who they appear to be. Least of all Kendall.