Secondly today I’m delighted to bring you a guest post by the lovely Martha Engber, on the blog tour for her most recent book, Winter Light AND there are THREE giveaways – so make sure you scroll down and check it all out!  Good luck!

book blurb & info

Fifteen-year-old Mary Donahue of suburban Chicago is a kid on the cusp of failure during the brutal blizzard winter of 1978-79, the end of a hard luck, hard rock era sunk in the cynical aftermath of the Vietnam War.

Though a smart, beautiful kid, she’s a motherless girl raised by an uneducated, alcoholic father within an extended family of alcoholics and addicts. Aware that she’s sinking, she’s desperate to save herself and so reaches out to an unlikely source, Kathleen, a nice, normal kid from English class.

But when the real storm hits, the full force of a harsh adult world almost buries Mary. Only then does she learn that the only difference between life and death is knowing when to grasp an extended hand.

Published by:Vine Leaves Press on 6th October 2020

Formats available: Paperback & eBook

Purchase Links: Amazon UK ~ Amazon US


guest post by martha engber

When I wrote Winter Light, I had a dilemma. My protagonist is an at-risk 15-year-old girl, which implies the story would be appropriate for teens and young adults. Yet Mary’s troubled journey includes behavior and experiences of which the parents of teens might not approve.

I bypassed the obstacle of parental censorship by writing the story as a literary novel meant for adults. Doing so gave me the freedom to tell Mary’s story as her nature and starkness of her circumstances dictate. Rather than a sanitized version, I attempted to convey the grittiness of what I witnessed in high school.

My conviction to remain true to the story came from every book I read an loved as an adolescent because they featured people my age who possessed that no-punches-pulled quality of authenticity: The Outsiders and That Was Then, This is Now by S. E. Hinton; Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger; Lord of the Flies by William Golding; To Kill a Mockingbirdby Harper Lee; and The Contender by Robert Lipsyte.

In every case, the authors treated the characters in the way I — and maybe all kids — want to be treated when young: the important things that happen to us shouldn’t be brushed off by adults as just kid-stuff. Instead, those experiences are deep, scary and permanently change us in some profound way.

When I researched why none of those books were considered young adult, I learned they were all published previous to 1971, which was when YA began forming as its own category.

Though I read a number of excellent YA novels with my kids, The Giver by Lois Lowry and Holes by Louis Sachar, I didn’t think Mary’s story would fit amongst such material or be appropriate. And I think that’s the dilemma authors face when writing about adolescent characters; the writers want stories that will resonate with teens, but feel the need to meet the approval of parents.

But then I came across the 2017 article in The Atlantic titled “Why So Many Adults Love Young-Adult Literature: Over half of today’s YA readers are over the age of 18.”

When envisioning all those adults enjoying the same stories as kids, that’s when I had the epiphany that ended my struggle about where my novel should be placed. No matter how a book is categorized, all great literature is written by authors who take their characters seriously and give them the freedom to act according to their nature, no matter their age. At their core, those characters are not kids or adults. Instead, they’re just people.

So long live publishers like Vine Leaves Press for having the courage to choose good stories first and worry about categories later!

about the author

Martha Engber’s next novel, WINTER LIGHT, will be published Oct. 6, 2020, by Vine Leaves Press. She’s also the author of THE WIND THIEF, a novel, and GROWING GREAT CHARACTERS FROM THE GROUND UP. A journalist by profession, she’s written hundreds of articles for the Chicago Tribune and other publications. She’s had a play produced in Hollywood and fiction and poetry published in the Aurorean, Watchword, the Berkeley Fiction Review and other journals. She’s also a freelance editor, workshop facilitator and speaker. She currently lives in Northern California with her husband, bike and surfboard.

Where to find Martha online: Website ~ Facebook Author Page ~ Facebook Timeline ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ LinkedIn ~ Goodreads ~ Pinterest

international giveaways

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the links below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize. 

Win an e-copy of Winter Light 


Win a Book Club Chat from Martha Engber


Win a free hour book development consultation with Martha Engber


tour info

Organised by: Rachel’s Random Resources

Thanks to Rachel for inviting me on to the tour, and to Martha for coming over with a guest post.

Back again soon!

Chelle x

Please note this post contains Amazon affiliate links.  If you choose to purchase this book through these link, I will receive a small payment (at no additional cost to you).  This is the only form of monetisation on my blog so every little helps and is appreciated.


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