Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 4, 2020

Book Giveaway: A BOX OF BONES by Marina Cohen

Congratulations to Marina Cohen for her book, A BOX OF BONES, published by Roaring Brook Press. If you like Holly Black and her books, you will love reading what Marina Cohen writes. I read it and totally enjoyed it. I gave it five stars. Here is my review on Goodreads: A perfect middle grade book full of mystery, adventure, and magic that keeps you wanting to turn the page. Even though it’s protagonist is twlve years old technically making it  a middle grade book, this story will appeal to teens and adults. The characters are fun and interesting. It’s a well-written contemporary with a two thousand year old tale woven through out, which Marina brings together with a satisfying ending. If you don’t win, don’t miss this book.

All you have to do to get in the running for win Marina’s new book, is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Please make sure you check back on June 8th to discover the winner. Make sure I will be able to find and email for you, too.


Twelve-year-old Kallie despises nonsense. She believes there’s a rational explanation for everything, despite the good-natured prodding of her Grandpa Jess, who takes her to frivolous wastes of time like their town’s local Festival of Fools.

There, Kallie meets a faceless man (must be some kind of mask) who gives her a strange wooden puzzle box (must be some kind of gimmick). Intrigued despite herself, Kallie sets to work on unlocking its secrets and…lets something out. From here Kallie’s life begins to entangle with another world, a world where Liah, a young bone carver, journeys with her master to sell wares to a wicked Queen.

The sights, sounds, smells, and spells of Liah’s world are beginning to leak into Kallie’s, and if Kallie can’t decipher the meaning of her own story, “the end” might be far from happy.


There is a story behind every story—a tale that tells the journey of the book from the idea’s inception to the polished product. Though it’s possible that some books travel a straight, narrow, and uneventful path, I’d venture to say that most wander long perilous roads, roads riddled with potholes, sharp turns, and other obstacles, and, (as is often the case with me), are paved with a fair share of tears. A Box of Bones was no exception.

Decades ago, a close friend said something to me, something that hung around in my heart and mind. I’ve always had a keen sense of right and wrong, truth and lies, and in my younger years was perhaps a bit too self-righteous. So, this friend said to me one day: “Marina, you and I both know that person is deluding themselves, but don’t tell them, don’t steal their life lies. Sometimes they’re all a person has.” The words would haunt me forever.

Fast forward a few decades when another friend sent my daughter a game for her birthday. It was a box of Rory’s Story Cubes—nine dice covered in pictures. The idea? Throw the dice and use the pictures to tell a story. Of course I played with them more than my daughter did!

So, when I first sat down to write a story about a girl who receives some—what I transformed into—story bones, this novel’s journey began. It started simple and straightforward enough—me, my computer, scraps of writing time gathered here and there over months, however, about 10,000 words in, I stopped.

“Writer’s block?” friends would ask.

“Nope,” I’d say, “I know exactly how this story will proceed.”

“Then why don’t you write it?”

“Because. If I do, if I follow this trajectory, the story will be okay. Perhaps even good. But that’s it. And I don’t want it to be good. I want it to be better than good. I want it to be the best possible story it can be.”

And so I sat, desperately thinking and thinking how to get out of the corner I’d painted myself into and at some point decided I couldn’t write anymore. I’d had a good run with my other books but there would be no more. I was done. (This is where the tears come in. Torrents of them.)

A year later, I was talking to another friend, a writer, when it hit me. I’d been telling the wrong story. All 10,000 words I’d written needed to be deleted and this story needed to begin again. A brand new start. In a brand new location.

Why Burlington? Because they have a Festival of Fools and I needed a clown—no! wait!—a faceless man!—to give my main character, Kaliope, a box of bones.

Still, I wasn’t quite ready. I couldn’t write about a location without seeing it. (I marvel at writers who can!) So I convinced my husband to take a road trip to Vermont and along the way we took a wrong turn. This wrong turn would lead us to the car ferry across Lake Champlain instead of the interstate. And on that car ferry came the idea of what had happened to Kallie’s mother.

Finally, I had the elements I needed: A self-righteous girl. A faceless man. A box of Bones. And a lake full of secrets. It was time to write the best story this could be. Three years of writing, re-writing, revising, editing, nail-biting, greying hair, and there you go, I had a new novel. If you give it a try, I hope it will take you on a fun and interesting journey!


Marina Cohen is the author of several horror and fantasy books for children and young teens. Her novels GHOST RIDE, THE INN BETWEEN, THE DOLL’S EYE, and A BOX OF BONES have been nominated for various awards in Canada and the United States including, The Sunburst Award, The Ontario Library Association’s Red Maple and Silver Birch Awards, The Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, The Rocky Mountain Book Award, The Manitoba Young Reacher’s Choice Award, and The Pacific Northwest Library Association Children’s Choice Award. THE INN BETWEEN and A BOX OF BONES are also Junior Library Guild selections.

Marina loves old castles, hot cocoa, mysterious doors of all shapes and sizes, gingerbread and all things dark and creepy. She spends far too much time asking herself “What if?”

Thank you Marina for sharing your book and journey with us. Kids and adults will gobble this one up. The few black and white illustrations were a nice addition to the story. Can’t wait to read your next book. Good luck!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thank you for sharing your books journey. You met quite a challenge when you had to rewrite! I love the illustrations.


  2. I enjoyed reading about this book’s journey–that first conversation about not stealing someone’s life lies is so powerful. I would love to read this book. Thank you!


  3. Thanks for sharing your interesting story! Congrats!


  4. Sounds like a wonderful book, and I loved the story of how it came to be! Thanks for sharing it!


  5. Are the illustrations by Marina Cohen?


    • Susa,

      No. I should ask her if she knows the name of the llustrator. More later.


  6. Congratulations, Marina!


  7. Fascinating story and author journey. Thanks so much!


  8. Ooooo. Sounds like an intriguing story. And the illustrations are very Chris Van Allsburg/Mary Grandpre. I would love to dive into this book.


  9. Thanks for sharing your story-behind-the-story! Sounds like a great book, congratulations!


  10. You had me at Box of Bones. I like the way Marina thinks…and thinks…and thinks. 🙂


  11. Your concept and cover art are exceptional! I’m ready to join the trek to “their town’s local Festival of Fools.” I shared –


  12. Oh, that cover! And, oh, what a great story of finding the story. I can’t wait to read this one. Thanks for telling me about it.


  13. This is a wonderful book for all ages. What a great post! I have a signed copy, so don’t add me to the give-away.


  14. Oooohhh, this sounds fascinating! Love the concept and the story of how this book came to be. Congratulations, Marina! Kathy, I will share this on Twitter. angelecolline at yahoo dot com


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