Saturday Spotlight: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

fdqTitle: Four Dead Queens

Author: Astrid Scholte

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Release Date: February 26, 2019

Page Count: 432 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Read My ARC Review

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.

An enthralling fast-paced murder mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences, Four Dead Queensheralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent.

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Purchase Links

Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Book Depository     Indie Bound

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Preorder Giveaway

Astrid has two awesome preorder giveaways going on, so check them out here!

If you have already preordered, fill out this handy-dandy form here!

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 About the Author

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Raised on a diet of Spielberg, Lucas and Disney, Astrid knew she wanted to be surrounded by all things fantastical from a young age. She’s spent the last 10 years working in film, animation and television as both an artist and manager. Career highlights include working on James Cameron’s Avatar, Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tin Tin andHappy Feet 2 by George Miller. She’s a visual writer and aims to capture the vivid stories that play like movies in her head. When she’s not writing, she’s painting her favorite fictional characters and obliging her furry overlords, Lilo and Mickey.

FOUR DEAD QUEENS (Putnam, 26th of February 2019 and Allen & Unwin, 4th of March) is her debut novel. (Bio from author site)

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The Duke I Tempted-Scarlett Peckham New Release & Giveaway!!

He’s controlled. Meticulous. Immaculate. No one would expect the proper Duke of Westmead to be a member of London’s most illicit secret club. Least of all: his future wife. A marriage to a duke has never been such fun in THE DUKE I TEMPTED by Scarlett Peckham

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About THE DUKE I TEMPTED

Having overcome financial ruin and redeemed his family name to become the most legendary investor in London, the Duke of Westmead needs to secure his holdings by producing an heir. Which means he must find a wife who won’t discover his secret craving to spend his nights on his knees—or make demands on his long scarred-over heart.

Poppy Cavendish is not that type of woman. An ambitious self-taught botanist designing the garden ballroom in which Westmead plans to woo a bride, Poppy has struggled against convention all her life to secure her hard-won independence. She wants the capital to expand her exotic nursery business—not a husband.

But there is something so compelling about Westmead, with his starchy bearing and impossibly kind eyes—that when an accidental scandal makes marriage to the duke the only means to save her nursery, Poppy worries she wants more than the title he is offering. The arrangement is meant to be just business. A greenhouse for an heir. But Poppy yearns to unravel her husband’s secrets—and to tempt the duke to risk his heart.

Available Now!

Order this title at these online retailers:

Amazon  |  B&N  |  iBooksKobo | Google Books

 

Add THE DUKE I TEMPTED to your TBR pile on Goodreads!

Check out the book trailer for THE DUKE I TEMPTED!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__XlVV0KVUA&feature=youtu.be

Thank you for celebrating this exciting new release with us.

Enter to win 

Grand Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card

 

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Exclusive Excerpt!!!

Poppy sat at a round table in the corner, surrounded by piles of drawings. She still wore her gardening clothes, and her eyes were heavy-lidded. She looked intense and flushed and disheveled.

Beautiful.

No. He must stop doing that. Must chasten his reactions to her.

Hardworking. She looked tired from her labors.

He cleared his throat. “Poppy. You’re still awake.”

She looked up at him with a guilty expression. “Your Grace. Yes. And it seems I have invaded your study — I’m so sorry. The others were playing whist in the library and I thought to finish my work in the quiet. I’m just finishing — I’ll leave you.”

“Never mind. Stay. Please. Show me what it is you’re sketching.”

She hesitated. He felt her eyes linger on his face, like she was trying to discern something about him. No doubt, her downcast expression had something to do with his invasion of her bedchamber the previous evening. He needed to address that. No woman who’d been raised in Grove Vale would be ignorant of the stories about his father. He could not have her think that he expected similar liberties of her. He had taken far too many as it was.

“Poppy, last night — I hope I didn’t alarm you. I apologize for intruding. I would not normally disturb a lady’s privacy, and I hope I gave no offense. I was concerned. You seemed quite distressed.”

Her face flickered. “It was only a nightmare,” she said finally. “I shan’t disturb you again.”

“I was not disturbed,” he said quickly.

She smiled. “When I awoke this morning I wondered if I had dreamt you.”

“No,” he said, drinking in her languid eyes.

She reached up and touched his face above his cheekbone. “No,” she agreed. “Here you are. Real indeed.”

Damn him, but he caught her hand and dragged it down to his lips and placed a kiss inside her palm.

Her mouth parted. Perhaps in shock. Perhaps in something closer to the feeling surging behind his sternum, overriding his judgment, his propriety, his will to be the kind of person he had spent a decade refashioning himself into.

“Forgive me. I am not myself tonight,” he forced himself to say, releasing her. He looked into her green eyes and told her the truth of it: “You should leave me.”

He meant it.

And yet.

And yet.

He hoped she wouldn’t listen.

 

 

             ScarlettPeckham  Author Bio:

Scarlett Peckham fell in love with romance novels as a child, sneaking paperbacks from the stash in her grandmother’s closet. By the time she came of age, she had exhausted her library’s supply and begun to dream of writing one of her own.

 

Scarlett studied English at Columbia University and built a career in communications, but in her free hours always returned to her earliest obsession: those delicious, big-hearted books you devour in the dark and can never bear to put down. Her steamy historical romances about alpha heroines have been finalists for the Golden Heart® Award four times. Her debut book, THE DUKE I TEMPTED, will be out July 31, 2018.

 

Scarlett splits her time between London and Los Angeles. When not reading or writing romance she enjoys pretending to know about wine, discussing The Real Housewives, and cooking enormous pots of soup.

 

Scarlett is represented by Sarah Younger at the Nancy Yost Literary Agency and spends far too much time on Instagram and Twitter.

 

Connect with Scarlett:  Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram | Newsletter | Amazon

Happy Reading!!

 

Blog Tour – By a Charm and a Curse by Jaime Questell

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Good morning, fellow book lovers! Today is a special day for two reasons. One, it’s my birthday, so hoorah! And two: I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of the By a Charm and a Curse by Jaime Questell blog tour! I wanted to share my birthday with a very wonderful read, one of my favorites of 2018, so being a part of this tour is definitely the highlight of today. I also had the chance to interview Jaime, which you can check out here.

By a Charm and a Curse is a fantastic read! So, check out the information on the book and author below, an excerpt, my review, and an awesome giveaway hosted by Entangled Teen and Jaime Questell!

Thank you Entangled Teen for the opportunity to be a part of this blog tour and for the chance to read By a Charm and a Curse early!


About By a Charm and a Curse:

CharmLe Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.

Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for.

Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss.

Buylinks: https://entangledpublishing.com/by-a-charm-and-a-curse.html


About Jaime Questell:

JaimeJAIME QUESTELL grew up in Houston, Texas, where she escaped the heat and humidity by diving into stacks of Baby Sitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High books. She has been a book seller (fair warning: book lovers who become book sellers will give half their paychecks right back to their employers), a professional knitter, a semi-professional baker, and now works as a graphic designer in addition to writing.

Author Links:

Author Website: jaimequestell.com

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jaimequestell/

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jaimequestell

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15396319.Jaime_Questell

Newsletter: http://jaimequestell.com/events/


Excerpt from By a Charm and a Curse:

Leslie smiles at the girl with a mixture of pride and tentative hope. “It took us a few days to get Sidney set up somewhere else, and I’m sorry about that. But this wagon belongs to the occupant of the box.” Leslie strokes the side of the ladder that leads to the door. “What you’re going through is terrible, we know it is, though we can never truly understand. It’s a small comfort, but we want you to have a place that’s just your own, a place that you can use to escape.”

A weak, wobbly smile lifts the corners of the girl’s mouth as her gaze roves over the outside of the wagon, a shadow of the smile I saw the other night, when she was with her friend. I wonder what it would take to get her to smile for real.

“What about Sidney?”

“Sidney can make do.” Leslie’s smile broadens into a grin. “Have you seen the way he’s been eating? I wouldn’t be surprised to see him waddle out of the cook shack one of these mornings like Templeton the Rat.” She dangles a small copper key from the end of a length of faded red ribbon. “It’s like I said—the carnival owes the person in the box. This is the least we can do for you in return.”

The girl’s hand shakes as she reaches for the key, and she wraps her slender fingers around it tightly, as though she’s afraid of dropping it. I lose sight of her as she steps inside, and all I can do now is hope she likes the wagon.

I turn to head home and feel the sickening lurch as my foot lands in a slick patch of mud and whips out from beneath me. I throw out my arm. A flash of white-hot pain flares through my hand, but I manage to keep my footing. I step out of the mud that had nearly sent me sprawling on my ass, unsure as to how I even missed it in the first place. Then my hand begins to throb.

A gash runs diagonally across my palm. Blood wells from the wound, filling my cupped hand. The pain sets in, a deep pulsing starting in my palm and radiating up my arm. I glance over at the trailer and see a splash of red smeared along a sharp flap of metal. I must have sliced my hand on that as I tried to grab onto something to keep from slipping.

Falling on carnival grounds doesn’t happen; the charm sees to that. But my bloodied hand begs to differ.


My review: 

By a Charm and a Curse was a unique read and unlike anything I have read before. I feel like that is something very common people say a lot, but in this case, it is true. I’ve read quite a few carnival-themed books, but not once did I compare this beauty to them, and that’s because there is nothing to compare. The magical idea behind By a Charm and a Curse is wholly original and one that peaked my interest. I mean, a curse AND a charm involved in a carnival?! That’s definitely an attention grabber!

The curse, itself, is such an intriguing part of the story. I spent most of the book trying to figure out how the curse came to be and why this carnival was cursed. I was also very much captivated by the charm of the carnival. When I did find out why the curse and charm were created, I was not disappointed.

The two main characters, Emma and Ben, are what pull the story together. The dual narration gives the reader the wonderful opportunity to peek inside each character’s mind and see what it is really like to live with a cursed, yet charmed, carnival. And when things start going wrong in the carnival, the reader gets to see how Ben and Emma react to each incident.

The setting of this book was not just magical, but also captivating. I love the carnival setting and Jaime Questell does not fall short in describing the beautiful setting and landscape of each carnival night. She really goes into detail of the Girl in the Box and her role, while also giving the reader the chance to see the main attractions of the carnival. My favorite attraction was by far Gin and Whiskey’s (you’ll have to read the book to find out which attraction they performed 🙂 ). The pace of the novel was also steady and I did not get that feeling of anything being rushed.

The secondary characters—the carnival workers and performers—were fantastic and relatable and they felt so real. I felt like they were people who I would most definitely befriend. Well, I’d befriend almost all of them. There are some who are questionable and you will understand why when you read By a Charm and a Curse.  

By a Charm and a Curse is a novel I am so thankful I stumbled upon. This beautiful and intoxicating read kept me up late into the night and even had me reading some chapters when I should have been working. Everything about this book pulled to me and made me feel like I was actually there with the characters. I cannot wait to read Jaime Questell’s next work.

By a Charm and a Curse can be found at your local bookstore. I highly recommend this book!


And don’t forget to enter the rafflecopter giveaway for a By a Charm and a Curse swag pack! You can enter here

WWW – Wednesday Readings

Hello, again! I’m back to post about my awesome Wednesday happenings. Well, in the sense of what I am reading, what I recently finished, and what I plan on reading next. For the month of January, I’ve actually been doing really well with reading, in my opinion. I’ll most likely finish the month with reading five books and for many people, that may not seem like a lot. But for me, it definitely is, considering I usually only read one to two books a month.

Anywho, below is my WWW – Wednesday Readings!


What books am I currently reading?

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An interesting fact about me (well, I think it’s interesting): Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card is the first young adult biography I’ve read. It’s very interesting so far; definitely an enjoyable read!


What book did I recently finish?

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Trust me on this: The Queen’s Rising is not a book you are going to want to miss. It was a wonderful and fast read and I was drawn into the world from page one. My review will be posted soon, but make sure this book is on your TBR radar!


What book do I plan on reading next?

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What books are you currently reading or hope to read next?

In case you missed it, I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jaime Questell, the author of By a Charm and a Curse, which hits shelves February 6. I loved the book, so I definitely recommend it. If you would like to read about the interview, you can check it out here.

Thank you all, fellow book lovers!

Happy Reading!

♥Nikole

Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

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A hauntingly beautiful read about family, love, redemption, and what it means to be human. 


Goodreads Synopsis:

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.


Black Bird of the Gallows deserved the award of Goodreads Best Book of the Month (I was very happy to see this book win!), and I hope my review helps to explain why Meg Kassel’s debut deserved this award.

I should first start off by saying that I have been obsessed with this book since June, and I hadn’t even read the book at that time. I came across this book at ALA, and I knew I wanted to read Meg Kassel’s work just based on the cover. But when I found out the story inside that beautiful cover, I became immediately taken and intrigued. So then, September comes and I leave for my first road trip that month. I get home from my road trip to find a package on my counter from Entangled Teen, and inside was a copy of Black Bird of the Gallows. I was excited and did not expect this to happen, so thank you Entangled Teen for sending me a copy of this beautiful book to review. I was beyond thrilled (my nephews can testify for me that I did a little happy dance). The sad part was that I was only home for one more day before I had a second road trip, and since I was the one driving, there was no way I was going to be able to squeeze in some precious reading time. So, alas, I had to wait to read this book and trust me, I was very impatient the whole trip. I have no doubt that I annoyed my passengers. When I finally got home from that long and exhausting road trip, I immediately grabbed the book and sat down on the couch, not even bothering to unpack and not bothering to get some much needed  sleep. I was excited to dive into the world of Black Bird of the  Gallows, and the story did not disappoint.

This book has a beautifully woven plot and complex characters that pull you in from the first line. If the cover does not grab your attention, the synopsis surely will. And let me tell you, Meg Kassel does not disappoint. This haunting tale of curses and death is unique and captivating; the characters are easily likable and relatable. Angie is fighting demons from her past while facing very real demons in her present; her journey is a remarkable one and a journey that not many people would be able to finish.

There were many things I thoroughly enjoyed about Black Bird of the Gallows: 

  • The complexity of the characters: None of the characters are the same. Some are alike, but each character has their own demons, some very real. Angie fights demons from her past and has to learn to live and let go. Reece has demons that follow him every day and never go away; the life of a Harbinger is not a joyous one.
  • The Harbingers of Death and Beekeepers: I have never read anything like this tale and that’s definitely a good thing. This book brought the tale of harbingers of death and beekeepers to life and it was uniquely beautiful. All books are unique but I found this one to be slightly more unique than others, and that may be because I have yet to come across a book about harbingers, so this book is extra special to me.
  • The action: One of the great things about this book is that the action is not reduced to one page or one chapter, but instead is one/third of the book. I’ve read plenty of books where the action scene or ending is rushed, and it unfortunately is a letdown. Not with Black Bird of the Gallows. Meg Kassel does a wonderful job of creating non-stop suspense and ensuring page upon page is filled with action. The action scenes are not the type of action one would see in, let’s say, an Indiana Jones movie; these action scenes bring together the complexity of the characters and what it means to truly want to protect the people you love.
  • The fantasy/paranormal aspect: I loved the history of the harbingers of death and the beekeepers. Meg Kassel does a fantastic job of entwining history and fantasy together. I am a huge fan of fantasy novels and Black Bird of the Gallows is right up my alley.
  • The romance: It’s no surprise to me that I absolutely loved the romance between Angie and Reece. Two complex characters have a complicated and potentially forbidden romance. These two characters are perfect for each other, and Meg Kassel makes sure there is no instant love story; she spends more time focusing on the plot and what it means for the arrival of Reece and his crows. Meg Kassel definitely nailed the romance part of her debut!

Overall, this book is a must-read and one you definitely do not want to miss. Black Bird of the Gallows has easily made its way onto my 2017 Favorite Reads shelf, and it is exactly where the book belongs. Meg Kassel will be one of the authors I will read any work from, so I am looking forward to her next work (possibly a sequel to Black Bird of the Gallows? *wink, wink*)!

My rating: 5/5 stars

Nikole

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo – F.C. Yee

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

Goodreads Synopsis:

Genie Lo is one among droves of Ivy-hopeful overachievers in her sleepy Bay Area suburb. You know, the type who wins. When she’s not crushing it at volleyball or hitting the books, Genie is typically working on how to crack the elusive Harvard entry code.

But when her hometown comes under siege from hellspawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are dramatically rearranged. Enter Quentin Sun, a mysterious new kid in class who becomes Genie’s self-appointed guide to battling demons. While Genie knows Quentin only as an attractive transfer student with an oddly formal command of the English language, in another reality he is Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King incarnate—right down to the furry tale and penchant for peaches.

Suddenly, acing the SATs is the least of Genie’s worries. The fates of her friends, family, and the entire Bay Area all depend on her summoning an inner power that Quentin assures her is strong enough to level the very gates of Heaven. But every second Genie spends tapping into the secret of her true nature is a second in which the lives of her loved ones hang in the balance.


This book was fantastic! I absolutely loved the aspect of the Monkey King and the Chinese history, as well as seeing it brought into the real world. F.C. Yee did a great job integrating both worlds together (the mythical and the real) and I adored the writing and battle scenes.

What I really enjoyed, though, about The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is how real the characters felt, especially when they talked. When the author added in the exclamation points or the capitalized dialogue, I could feel and understand how excited or upset the characters were, and that is something I truly look forward to in every book I read. Not all authors are able to accomplish that (for me, at least) in their first debut, but Yee knocked it out of the park.

I also enjoyed the aspect of Chinese history. I love learning about the different cultures, and with the Chinese culture, the history of the Monkey King is by far one of my favorites. So when I heard about this book, I had to get my hands on a copy. And on a side note, that cover is absolutely stunning!

I loved the molding of the Monkey King, demons, and real-life situations. Bringing ancient beings into Genie’s life is eye-opening to her, especially when she finds out the reason as to why she is being targeted. All Genie wants is to live a normal(ish) life, by doing homework and preparing for college entrance essays. She never expected her life to involve demons and Chinese Gods. It was a fun journey watching Genie’s transformation from normal volleyball girl to something even more.

This book was fantastic and I highly recommend for any action, fantasy and history lovers. I went into reading this book with high expectations and F.C. Yee surpassed those expectations. I am so thankful this book was written, and I cannot wait to see what Yee cooks up next (hopefully it’s more stories about Genie and Quentin!)

Overall rating: 4.5/5 stars

Purchase a copy of The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee at your nearest bookstore!

♥ Nikole