September SST: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess Interview + Giveaway

Sunday Street Team


Welcome to the Sunday Street Team! I was lucky enough to interview Jessica Cluess about the first book, A Shadow Bright and Burning, in a new trilogy of hers. See below for her answers, plus a giveaway.


A Shadow Bright and BurningTitle: A Shadow Bright and Burning
Jessica Cluess
Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
September 20, 2016
Summary (via Goodreads): I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?


Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she’s brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?





Was there anything specific in your life that made you want to write?

The recession of 2008, actually. I know that’s not the most romantic story in the world, but it’s the truth! I was barely making ends meet, and I really had no idea what was going to happen to me. So, feeling glum, I picked up Dune by Frank Herbert and got instantly whisked away to another world. I thought ‘I need to write stories that make other people feel this way.’ So I got to work, and I haven’t stopped since.


What’s your favorite color?

Red. I’m a Gryffindor, it’s expected.


If you were on a deserted island, what’s one book that you’d want to have with you?

Is there a How To Survive On A Deserted Island For Dummies? Because then definitely that one.


Did you have a playlist that you listened to while writing A Shadow Bright and Burning, or are you a ‘write in the quiet’ type of person?

I’m a ‘listen to the same song over and over while staring at a blank wall and thinking, then shutting off the music to write’ type of person. But I listened to everyone from Florence + The Machine and Janelle Monae to Bach and Stephen Sondheim to music from video games and the theme song from Outlander for like ten hours straight. I believe music is to writers the way food is to pregnant women: it may be a combination of something you’d never eat or listen to normally, but when you’re creating, it suddenly becomes the only thing you want.


Do you know how many books are going to be in the Kingdom on Fire series?

Three. I know exactly what happens in the epilogue of the final book. When I write it, I’m going to be pretty emotional.


If you could have any job in the world, what would you choose and why?

Besides this one? Because it’s pretty sweet. Well, when I was a kid, I wanted to be an FBI agent. Then, when I realized that didn’t involve hunting for aliens or interviewing cannibals, I changed my goals.


Do you have any advice for writers looking to be published?

I think the biggest thing is persistence. My first book that I queried died a horrible death—no one would touch it. If I’d stopped there, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. So even after the worst rejection of your life, remember that an acceptance could literally be right around the corner.


Chocolate or vanilla?

Oof. Chocolate, I suppose. Although sometimes a vanilla milkshake is perfection.


What are some of your hobbies?

Honestly, writing used to be my hobby, so I need to get some more. Let’s see. I love hiking. If I could, I’d hike every day, always in the early morning. Watching terrible movies with my friends and shouting at the screen is always fun. Maybe I should take up knitting.


Are you considering writing in other genres, like contemporary for example?

I’m a fantasy writer at heart. For me, it’s the genre that allows a lot of fantastic worldbuilding with really intense emotion, two things that I love. I would love to write a detective series one day, but it would probably end up with something supernatural going on. I can’t stay away.



about the author


JESSICA CLUESS is a writer, a graduate of Northwestern University, and an unapologetic nerd. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel. When she’s not writing books, she’s an instructor at Writopia Lab, helping kids and teens tell their own stories.





a Rafflecopter giveaway

September 2016 TBR

Last month I read 5 of the books I listed for my August TBR, and 2 additional ones I didn’t list (Falling for You and Shuffle, Repeat). I like having a big TBR pile to choose from, so I’m going to keep doing this for a while. Here’s my tentative August TBR list. Obviously I won’t get to all these books this month. So like usual, whatever I don’t get to, I’ll push to the next month like I did with last month’s TBR.


To read:

A Shadow Bright and Burning A Song to Take the World Apart The Art of Not Breathing Did I Mention I Need You You Were Here The Art of Being Normal This Song Is (Not) for You Status Update Beta Test Connection Error Enter Title Here Summer of Supernovas The Inside of Out Wild Swans Calling It Undecided I Crawl Through It Now and Again Wrecked South of Sunshine Anything Could Happen Play On Last Will and Testament Right of First Refusal Out On Good Behavior The Fixer The Long Game How It Feels to Fly Emmy & Oliver Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel The Great American Whatever If You Could Be Mine Far From You The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley One Man Guy More Happy Than Not All the Bright Places


Have you read any of these books? Which ones should I move to the top of my TBR list?

Cover Reveal: Tiger’s Watch (Ashes of Gold #1) by Julia Ember

TIGER’S WATCH (Ashes of Gold #1) by Julia Ember
Cover Reveal September 1st, 2016


Book Title: Tiger’s Watch
Series: Ashes of Gold (Book 1 of 3)
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Author: Julia Ember
Release Date: August 2017
Goodreads Link:
Cover Design: Meghan Moss (Trivia: This cover is a physical watercolor painting that Meghan did for the book, not a digital painting.)


Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as an inhabiter, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But when the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.


Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi sees a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander – a side that draws them to Xian.


When their spying reveals that everything the inhabiter’s academy taught was a lie, Tashi faces a choice: save their country or the boy they’ve started to love? But while Tashi grapples with the decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn’t question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabiter’s bond to their animal is for life – when Katala dies, so will Tashi.




Originally from the Windy City, Julia Ember now resides in Sunny Scotland where she learned to enjoy both haggis and black pudding. She spends her days working as a professional Book Nerd for a large book distribution firm, and her nights writing YA Romantic Fantasy novels.


A world traveler since childhood, Julia has now visited over 60 countries. Her travels inspire the fictional worlds she writes about and she populates those worlds with magic and monsters.

Monthly Wrap-Up – August 2016

I read only 7 books this past month, and I finally passed my goal of 100 books! I’m at 103 read so far this year. I really want to excel with all my yearly reading challenges. Each challenge title is linked to that specific Goodreads shelf, so you can see at a quick glance what my ratings for each book were.


ARC August Reading Challenge – 4 ARCs read

Girl in Pieces Up to This Pointe Tone Deaf Just a Girl


A Series A Month Reading Challenge – 6 (+ 3 extra)/12 series read


Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge – 64/11-15 books read

Falling for You Shuffle, Repeat Up to This Pointe Tone Deaf Just a GirlSuffer Love


#RockMyTBR Reading Challenge – 42 books read

Suffer Love


Backlist Books Reading Challenge – 52 books read

Falling for You


Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge – 30/30 books read


It’s New to Me Series Starter Reading Challenge – 14/11-12+ series started


Read Tamora Pierce Reading Challenge – 0/8 books read


Debut Author Reading Challenge – 17/12-20 books read

 Girl in Pieces Suffer Love


New To You Reading Challenge – 59/25 books read

Shuffle, Repeat Girl in Pieces Up to This Pointe Tone Deaf Just a GirlSuffer Love


Prequel & Sequel Reading Challenge – 133/51-75 points


EBook Reading Challenge (eARCs count) – 25/10 eBooks read

Girl in Pieces Up to This Pointe Tone Deaf Just a Girl


Pick Your Genre Reading Challenge

Contemporary – 72/25 books read

Falling for You Shuffle, Repeat Girl in Pieces Up to This Pointe Tone Deaf Just a Girl Suffer Love

Fantasy – 30/25 books read


Finishing The Series Reading Challenge – 14/7+ series finished


I Love Libraries Reading Challenge – 46/18 books read

Falling for You Shuffle, Repeat


Harry Potter (Re)Read Reading Challenge – 4/7 books read


Diverse Reads Reading Challenge – 28 books read

Girl in Pieces Tone Deaf


I’m still doing the weekly memes Top Ten Tuesday, Waiting on Wednesday, and Stacking the Shelves. I also started a new weekly meme on my blog called Loved That, Read This, which is all about book recommendations.