Monday, December 10, 2018

Virtual Book Tour + Review + #Giveaway: Dickensen Academy by Christine Grabowski @christinegrabo @GoddessFish

Dickensen Academy
by Christine Grabowski
GENRE: Young YA - fantasy


Dickensen Academy isn’t a typical boarding school. The faculty is hiding an unbelievable secret within their fine arts program. When Autumn Mattison receives an invitation to attend the high school, she yearns to escape her overbearing father yet remains reluctant to leave her mother and brother. Her doubts fade away when a vivid dream convinces her she belongs there.

Away from home, Autumn discovers a unique school environment that awakens her creative potential, and her new friends become like a second family. However, as she uncovers more about the dark side of the school and struggles with its curriculum, she questions whether Dickensen Academy is truly where she belongs.

When tragedy strikes, Autumn must learn to believe in her own power and stand up to her greatest fear or risk having her memories destroyed to protect the school’s secrets. Caught between secrets and dreams, can she find her true self?


“I feel like there’s something big we don’t know about. Something those students were protecting. I mean, really, why are we here?”

I thought it was just me who was confused. “Well…the recruiters said we’re creative and focused.”

“Yeah, that’s what Principal Locke said too.”

“And we have the right personality.”

Ben looked up at the sky, sighed then turned toward the forest. “What did he say…something about how it will soon become clear why we’re here, and there’s some ultimate purpose for our creativity?”

“I know. That whole creativity part was a bit bizarre.”

He shrugged. “It seems everyone is going with the flow. But I have so many questions.” Then he touched my arm to stop me, so I turned toward him. “I’m thinking they’re isolating us for some special reason,” he admitted in an embarrassed tone.

I tried not to laugh—he was acting paranoid. But I didn’t know Ben well. Maybe he was joking, trying to freak me out. Or was he hitting on me? The flutter in my chest moved to my stomach. I was already anxious about being away from home and whether or not I could hack the academics. I didn’t need to obsess about anything else. But I still had to know about Ben’s dream.

“So…I also had a dream about Dickensen before I accepted the offer.”

Ben’s head snapped toward me. “You did?”

My Review:

I wanted to read Dickensen Academy the first time I laid eyes on it and read the summary. I like reading about paranormal abilities and I also like books with an academy setting. I am so glad I finally decided to read it. I fell in love with the school and the characters from the first page.

Dickensen Academy has a few secrets lurking behind its mysterious walls. When a young girl Autumn is invited to attend she is egger to leave her overbearing strict father but she is reluctant to leave her mother and brother. Autumn has a dream that suggest she should attend the academy. The dream is the deciding factor in making her decision.

After arriving at the academy Autumn starts to learn some of the schools secrets. One of her classes is on dreaming where she has to learn how to make up and story and then put this story into someone’s head as a dream.

Autumn is having a little problem with some of her classes and if she doesn’t pull her grades up her father will take her out of the school. Autumn tries very hard to pull her grades up as she has become to like the school and the new friends she has made not to mention a certain young man that she just happens to be a little sweet on.

Tragedy strikes at home so Autumn has to return. With all the trouble she is having at the academy and all the secrets Autumn begins to wonder if Dickensen is the right place for her. What should she do? Should she return to the academy? Can she give up her life there? Can she give up the friends she has made? Can she leave her mother and brother for a second time?

Dickensen Academy was everything I was expecting and more. The world building is so very awesome. The characters are all very explicitly written. The author knows how to spin a tale that will keep you coming back for more. The plot itself is very intriguing and engrossing. I can’t wait to see what the author has in store for Autumn, Ben, Aditi, Hanna and everyone else in the next book or at least I hope there will be another book.

I would recommend Dickensen Academy to anyone who likes reading about stories set in boarding schools with paranormal elements. 

Interview with Christine Grabowski

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Dickensen Academy?

Most of the characters are freshman in high school, but there are a few important adults in their lives.

Autumn Mattison is the protagonist, and the story is told in her voice. She is an avid writer but her grades pale in comparison to her brother’s. She chooses to attend Dickensen Academy partially to get out from under her father’s controlling influence. At Dickensen she begins to blossom socially and academically but continues to struggle with low self-confidence.

Ben Coleman is the classmate Autumn likes. He is intelligent and cute in a slightly geeky way. He gets along well with most people. He is also the most advanced dream-maker. Autumn doesn’t think she stands a chance with someone like him.

Aditi Singh is Autumn’s roommate. She is extremely artistic and becomes a very sweet and supportive friend.

Caitlyn Black is Autumn’s nemesis. Her parents graduated from Dickensen Academy and have donated over a million dollars, so the faculty appears to turn a blind eye to her wrongdoings.

Josh Mattison is Autumn’s older brother who lives in Seattle with their parents. She is very close to him and without spoiling the book, something happens to him that makes her need to leave the school for a while.

Coach Kat – Autumn’s inspiring cross country coach.

Mrs. Humphrey – Autumn’s elderly resident assistant.

Dr. Mattison – Autumn’s controlling father. He serves as the antagonist.

Can you tell us a little bit about your next books or what you have planned for the future?

I always envisioned Dickensen Academy as a four book series, but experts suggested I write it as a standalone since it was my first book and I didn’t know how it would be received by readers. I’m happy to report that my readers overwhelmingly want to see what happens to Autumn as she advances through the academy, so I dusted off my outline and began writing the sequel in October.

I am also well into the editing phase of a contemporary Sleeping Beauty reimagining. I’m hoping after I get Book 2 of Dickensen Academy to my editor, I will have time to finish the edits on this story.

How long would you say it takes you to write a book?

That is a tough to answer because Dickensen Academy took close to three years to write, but there were many starts and stops and too many re-writes to count. Now that I am writing full-time and have a better understanding of what it takes to write a publishable novel, I am aiming for one year for the sequel.

What is your favorite childhood book?

I loved Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. I read it so many times I even started changing the names (in my head) of the four main girls to keep it interesting. Margaret was such a relatable character for me as a 12-year-old on the verge of growing up.

If you could spend the day with one of the characters from Dickensen Academy who would it be? Please tell us why you chose this particular character, where you would go and what you would do.

I’d love to hang out with Ben. I fell in love with him while writing the story. He is very intelligent and easy to talk to. We’d probably go on a long hike in the mountains.

What was the hardest scene from Dickensen Academy to write?

I had the most difficult time writing the hospital scenes. I did a lot of research. (I don’t want to say about what specifically because I don’t want to spoil the book.) When I research, I have the tendency to include too many details in the initial draft. Some of my beta readers loved the details, some didn’t. Also, I originally had too many lengthy hospital scenes, and it took me awhile to figure out how to get a month of Autumn’s life into fewer, shorter scenes. Although the time away from school dragged for Autumn, I didn’t want it to drag for the reader.

What made you want to become a writer?

Books have always been an important part of my life, so over the years I began to fantasize of writing my own. But it wasn’t until I had kids that I felt compelled to do so. I wanted them to fall in love with reading too, and I found that if they liked a book (or series), they would read like crazy, but if they didn’t care much for it, they hated to read. That inspired me want to write books that would keep kids reading, so they would develop the love of reading for a lifetime.

Just for fun

(a Favorite song: Bohemian Rhapsody

(b Favorite book: Gone with the Wind

(c Favorite movie: The Hunger Games

(d Favorite tv show: Grey’s Anatomy

(e Favorite Food: Raspberries

(f Favorite drink: Coffee

(g Favorite website: Amazon (I buy everything there… or it seems.)

Thanks so much for visiting with us today! 

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Dickensen Academy is Christine’s debut YA novel. After graduating from the University of Washington, she earned her MBA at the University at Albany. She honed her technical writing skills in marketing and consulting but attributes the creative part of the process to her passion for reading.

When she isn’t reading or writing, Christine can often be found running, skiing, or hiking. She lives in Newcastle, Washington, with her supportive husband, two avid teen readers, and their energetic wheaten terriers.

Buy Links:


$25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC 

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.


Victoria Alexander said...

Great review, sounds like a great book!

Christine Grabowski said...

Thank you so much for hosting me today. And I'm thrilled that you loved the book so much. I hope some of your blog followers decide to read Dickensen Academy too.

Bernie Wallace said...

How many drafts did you have to write before you were finished? Congrats on the release. Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

Christine Grabowski said...

I wrote close to 50-60 drafts (I didn't really keep track) which was crazy. But sometimes I'd go through the whole document just doing one thing, like removing adverbs.

Marisela Zuniga said...

thanks for sharing your review, this sounds great