Betwixt the Books Recommends: Beachy Reads

Wherein Michaela and Gretchen discuss a handfull of books that they feel are great books to bring to the BEACH or just generally read during those hot summer months.

October 2016 Wrap Up

I am in love with this video for several reasons. The first is that October was a seriously weird reading month, so the books I read are all over the place and only like one of them was good. I think it was so good that it leeched all the potential for the rest of the month. Also, it’s the first time I’ve DNFed something in a really long time. Then there is the fact that I begin to slowly lose my mind as the video goes along. Anyways. Uh. Enjoy?

Interview + Giveaway with Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban

Hey guys! Would you look at this – content on a Thursday. I might be slacking, but there are some great authors out there who are doing you guys justice! One such author is Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban, author of Two Moon Princess and the soon-to-be released The King in the Stone. Let’s meet her!

DSCN5574-e1457049581624-300x246I was born in Galicia (Northern Spain) and went to college in Madrid, where I finished my Ph.D. in Biology. For the next ten years, I worked as a researcher both in Madrid and at the University of Davis in California.

My writing career started when I came to live in Pennsylvania in the 1990s. Following my first sale, a magazine article on latex allergy, I published four books for Chelsea House (Facts on File): Heroin, Ritalin, Mad Cow Disease, and Lung Cancer.

My Young Adult novel Two Moon Princess, (the story of a discontented medieval princess, eager to live life on her own terms, who lands in modern day California) was published in 2007 by Tanglewood Press. It was recognized with the bronze award by the ForeWord Magazine in the Juvenile fiction category. It’s also available now as an e-book.

Two Moon Princess won first price in the 2015 Latino Book into Movie Awards, family and children category.

Immortal Love, a paranormal romance, (Crimson Romance, 2012) follows my adventures in search of a literary agent in a contemporary alternate world where the late Spanish poets Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer and Federico García Lorca are immortals.

Website | Blog | Facebook

Now, she’s here today to answer some questions about her upcoming novel, A King in the Stone. What’s this book about, you ask? Well, let me tell you!

Continue reading

ARC Review: “And I Darken” by Kiersten White

27190613And I Darken (The Conquerers Saga #1) by Kiersten White

Goodreads | Amazon

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL.

And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

3 1/2 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the eARC! This title will be released June 28th, 2016

As someone who has read almost every Kiersten White book in existence, I still don’t know what to make of this one. It opens up with a disclaimer that this is like no other Kiersten White book you’ve ever read, and that’s fair. But it’s for all these good AND bad reasons that are jumbled in my head and have left me mightily confused.

Continue reading

ARC Review: “Risuko” by David Kudler

risuko-v2b-medium-circleRisuko: A Kunoichi Tale (Seasons of the Sword #1) by David Kudler

Goodreads | Amazon

Can one girl win a war?

My name is Kano Murasaki, but most people call me Risuko. Squirrel.

I am from Serenity Province, though I was not born there.

My nation has been at war for a hundred years, Serenity is under attack, my family is in disgrace, but some people think that I can bring victory. That I can be a very special kind of woman.

All I want to do is climb.

My name is Kano Murasaki, but everyone calls me Squirrel.

Risuko.

Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan — or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems.

Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is.

Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) is a young, fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn’t possibly have the power to change the outcome. Or could she?

Two and a half stars

Thanks to NetGalley and Stillpoint Digital Press for this eARC! This title will be available on June 15th, 2016.

If you read that blurb, like I did, you might be under the impression that a lot happens in this book. It doesn’t. This book was a constant push and pull for me, where I really wanted to like it … but nothing ever really happened. While Risuko was an interesting character, the cast around her fell flat and the overall plot seemed underdone. I was intrigued by the world and the overall politics, but they were never dealt with overmuch. All in all, this book had all the elements–it just didn’t use them.

Continue reading

ARC Review: “Lions in the Garden” by Chelsea Luna

lions2bin2bthe2bgardenLions in the Garden (The Uprising #1) by Chelsea Luna

Goodreads | Amazon

Prague, 1610

Ludmila Novakova–Mila–has barely set foot outside Prague Castle in her seventeen years. But with the choice between braving the bandits and wolves of Bohemia’s uneasy roads or being married off to a disgusting old baron, she’s taken what she can carry and fled.

Escape won’t be easy. Even Mila has heard the rumors of a rebellion coming against the court. The peasants are hungry. The king hasn’t been seen in months. Mila’s father, the High Chancellor, is well known and well hated.

But Mila can’t sit behind a stone wall and let fear force her into a life of silk gowns and certain misery. Her mother’s death has taught her that much. She has one ally: Marc, the son of the blacksmith. A commoner, a Protestant–and perhaps a traitor, too. But the farther she gets from the castle, the more lies she uncovers, unraveling everything she thought she knew. And the harder it is to tell friend from enemy–and wrong from right…

Three stars

Thanks to NetGalley, Kensington Books and Lyrical Press for this eARC! This title will be published on March 1, 2016.

As a lover of anything vaguely historical fiction, I knew I had to request this from NetGalley. Luna tackles a period of history and a place that I had never read anything of before, and that alone hooked me. However, the first few chapters … well, they were really rough.

Continue reading

Review: “The Twentieth Wife” by Indu Sundaresan

27298The Twentieth Wife (Taj Mahal Trilogy #1) by Indu Sundaresan

Goodreads | Amazon

Published February 18, 2003, by Washington Square Press

An enchanting historical epic of grand passion and adventure, this debut novel tells the captivating story of one of India’s most controversial empresses — a woman whose brilliance and determination trumped myriad obstacles, and whose love shaped the course of the Mughal Empire. Skillfully blending the textures of historical reality with the rich and sensual imaginings of a timeless fairy tale, The Twentieth Wife sweeps readers up in Mehrunnisa’s embattled love with Prince Salim, and in the bedazzling destiny of a woman — a legend in her own time — who was all but lost to history until now.

Three stars

Random historical fiction alert! This is for my Pop Sugar Reading Challenge and also happens to be a re-read. I haven’t read this since high school, but I remembered really liking it. I took my original review down from four stars, for reasons I’ll explain, but I think I’m still really excited to read the next book in this series, The Feast of Roses.

Continue reading

ARC Review: “Annabeth Neverending” by Leyla Kader Dahm

27468996Annabeth Neverending by Leyla Kader Dahm

Goodreads | Amazon

At first, teenager Annabeth Prescott thinks she’s found quite a deal when she talks down the price of an ankh pendant she discovers at a flea market. She soon wonders if the bauble is more than she’s bargained for when she faints and glimpses images from a past life in ancient Egypt.

The discovery coincides with another new find: Gabriel, a handsome young man who takes an interest in her. When she meets his twin brother C. J. at a Halloween party, she realizes they look exactly like two boys who figure prominently into her memories.

Does C. J. share the heroic qualities held by his past incarnation Sethe, her bodyguard when she was Princess Ana? Does Gabriel possess the same evil powers he wielded as Kha, the black sorcerer who sought her affection?

Love meets the supernatural in this gripping young adult paranormal romance. Readers with an interest in reincarnation, as well as ancient Egypt, will be drawn to its mystical mixture of history and hesitation as Annabeth sways between the two brothers.

Will her reincarnated soulmate win out? Or will Kha finally find the way to her heart?

Two and a half stars

Thanks to Leyla and NetGalley for this free review copy! Annabeth Neverending is available for purchase now.

Full disclosure: I read this book while recovering from wisdom teeth removal. However, I still don’t think that that impacts just how rough the first part of this book was. The romance–and the way Annabeth talks about the romance–was sometimes uncomfortable. While it began to redeem itself in the middle, the ending was also weirdly rushed. Still, I picked it up because I will read anything vaguely related to Ancient Egypt, and that’s most of what kept me going.

Continue reading

Worth It Wednesdays: “Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

Code Name VerityTitle: Code Name Verity

Author: Elizabeth Wein

Goodreads Description: I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine – and I will do anything, anything to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France – an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.

Why it’s worth it: I should note that I had no reason to like this book. No reason. I don’t like war books, I don’t like books that switch perspectives and are written in this strange, shifting POV. (Read more about that in my review.) But did I like this book?

I BLOODY WELL LOVED IT.

I am not one who cries easily over books. I’m not one to say, “Wow, that book really stuck with me.” But with this one, I did both. I laughed, I cried, I screamed and at the end of it I sat there in a stunned silence and just FELT THINGS. So many things. Wein has crafted such a technically skilled and gorgeous novel that any other book that I’ve read like it has paled in comparison.

Back when I did Top Ten Tuesdays consistently, I listed this book for just about everything: Top Books about Friendship, Top Books I Wish were Taught in Schools – you name it. I also made my book club read this book, to intensely favorable reviews. It’s WORTH READING as few others are. Just have Kleenex handy.

Read it if you’re looking for: strong female friendships, historical fiction: WWII, female spies, female pilots, tears, feelings and emotions, beautiful writing, strong storytelling, action and adventure