Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Cenote by Chelsea Dyreng

I am thrilled to be able to celebrate the release of my dear friend, Chelsea Dyreng's debut novel, THE CENOTE. I met Chelsea a little over a year ago at the Carolinas SCBWI Conference. When I found out that she is also the mother of five children, we immediately hit it off. And now, she has an incredible book with an amazing cover. Don't you love it?

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

THE CENOTE is a work of fiction told in alternating viewpoints between Sandpiper, a girl who has lived on an island her entire life, and Lark, the son of a chief whose village is in the heart of the jungle. When Lark and his father, the chief, show up on the tiny island that Sandpiper and her people inhabit, Sandpiper's future is uncertain and somewhat bleak. A disgrace to her family, Sandpiper goes along with the plan to obtain the favor of the chief's son, despite her utter disgust towards him. When chosen to be his bride, she must move away from the only home she's ever known and embark on a journey to a new land to live amongst a different culture, people, and family. And no one must know the secret she carries.

This journey of a new life also begins Sandpiper's journey to understanding what true love really means. Lark is nothing Sandpiper ever wanted, but he turns out to be exactly what she needs. 

But when strange things keep happening to the men of their village, Sandpiper must put aside her feelings of betrayal to save the one man who has ever truly loved her. 

I absolutely fell in love with this book. It was such a touching story, written in beautiful language and full of heart. It's a story about love, forgiveness, hope, and the strength of family. The author was able to vividly capture the time period, culture, and habitat of these Mayan people living in the Yucatan. The story behind the cenote, their source of water, was creepy and kept me turning the pages, wanting to know what was happening to the men in the village. For me, this was a book I didn't want to put down, so I read it in a day. And it was worth every minute! 

I give this book 5 stars! And I recommend it to anyone who likes a great story with a hint of mystery and a ton of heart. Happy Reading!

And now, I'm excited to have Chelsea here to answer a few questions about her book and herself. 

Interview with Chelsea Dyreng:

What inspired you to write The Cenote?

I always wanted to write a novel, but I thought that I should at least wait until my kids were all in school. When I told this to my grandma she laughed at me and told me that if I waited until my kids were gone I would lose all my inspiration. She was right! The idea of this story came from a game my daughters were playing upstairs. I was washing the dishes and I could hear them say, “Let’s pretend that this group of people can hear something, but this other group of people can’t.” And that was the spark that started it all.

Now that I’m so invested in Sandpiper and Lark’s story, I’m dying to know if there will be another book or is this a standalone novel?

Hmm….I don’t know. Lark is so fun to write about. :) There is a lot more to the story of Jade and Stone that I had to delete, so maybe I’ll pick up their story. I have another book that is set in the same area, but it is set when the Mayan cities were in their hay-day, and it is about a young girl who must choose to lose her virtue and keep her life, or stay virtuous and be sacrificed to the gods. It is a YA and I’m still waiting to see if my publisher wants to publish it. I think they are waiting to see how well The Cenote does. :)

I'm sure it will do very well! :) The details to the time period, culture, and location were incredible. How much research did you have to do to write this novel?

I checked out a lot of books on the Maya people and studied a lot about the Yucatan on the internet. But I knew my story wouldn’t feel really authentic unless I went there and saw and smelled and touched everything myself. Miraculously, at the same time I was writing the book my aunt needed someone to join her in Merida, Mexico. So my sister and I stayed with her for a week and I got to research to my heart’s content. I even swam in a cenote!

That is so cool! What are you currently working on?

A story about a boy who grows up on a pirate ship.

Ooh, I love that premise! As a mother of several small children, when do you find the time to write?

I only write during naptime or early morning (like 5 am). I have to be writing for at least an hour before I really “sink in” to the world I am forming. I can’t write in 15 minute spurts.

Yeah, the 15 minute spurts don't work for me, either. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Snap my fingers and have the house clean!

That's a great one! Would you rather sing in the rain or dance in the streets?

Sing in the rain

What is your biggest pet peeve? this moment it is Halloween candy. Five kids brings in a heck of a lot of candy. And now they are getting better at keeping track of what they have so it is harder for it to “accidentally” go missing.

The wrappers all over the floor is what gets me! :) Favorite pizza toppings?

I love it all.

If someone were to make a movie of your life, what would it be called?

Chalk Full of Ideas

Lol. Love it! Thanks so much, Chelsea! It was a pleasure to read your book and have you on here today! :)

About the Author:

Chelsea Bagley Dyreng is the daughter of a fireworks salesman and Miss Malibu. She grew up in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Rigby, Idaho. She studied English and music at Brigham Young University. After graduating she worked as a librarian until she married and started family life with a bang by having twins! She now lives in Hillsborough, NC with her husband and five kids. She loves writing, being outside, and eating Mexican food.


  1. That's cool you got to spend time in Mexico and could do firsthand research. Congratulations, Chelsea!

  2. Awesome! It sounds like a wonderful book--one I'd eat up. Where oh where is my time stopper? Oh yeah. I loaned it out. For a peanut eating contest against Death. (True story.)

  3. Congratulations to Chelsea. Now I think I must have a seriously bad attention span because I can't write in longer than 15-minute spurts!

  4. OMG, I want that superpower! Forget flying, I'd take a clean house w/the snap of my fingers, lol! This sounds like a wonderful book, and it's always so great when you can visit the place you're writing about.

  5. That's not a setting you hear about in many books. Unique. Sounds fascinating.

  6. Nice "meeting" you, Chelsea! How awesome to go to Mexico for research!!! Sandpiper and Lark, love the names! And the premise sounds fantastic! Congrats, Chelsea :)

  7. Big families rock! Best of luck to Chelsea. It is a gorgeous cover.

  8. Congrats, Chelsea. Fun interview, Kristin. :) We have a lot of candy in our house too, and I only have 2 kids.

  9. Great interview! Her book looks like a winner:)

  10. Love this cover and the book sounds fascinating. I always enjoy hearing from authors and it was great to learn about Chelsea. I can't write in 15 minute bursts either. Wishing her all the best! :)


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