Thursday, January 16, 2020

Blog Tour & Book Sketch: Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

By: Isabel Ibañez
Published By: Page Street Books
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Series: None
Pages: 384
Genre: Fantasy
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: A lush tapestry of magic, romance, and revolución, drawing inspiration from Bolivian politics and history.

Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.

When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place.

She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princess, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge—and her Condesa.

First Thought After Finishing: I know this is a standalone, but I’d love to read a sequel!

I love cultural books, particularly ones that transport you beyond your current walls and to a rich, new setting that you have never seen before. Fantasy is also my favorite genre. Combining them into a Bolivian-inspired world full of secrets, revolution, and forbidden love had me very excited to read this book.

Ximena can never truly be Ximena. From the time she was eight years old, she has been the decoy for Catalina, the Illustrian Condesa. When the enemy Llacsan king demands the Condesa’s hand in marriage, Ximena has no choice but to journey to the castillo to accept his proposal or risk the lives of her people. Ximena is eager for the opportunity, hoping she will find a way to end the king’s reign—permanently. Only she never expected people in enemy territory to be kind, or to find that perhaps history did not happen the way she had always been told. All too soon, Ximena must decide where her loyalties lie, but in doing so, she will risk losing the only life she has ever known—or losing herself.

Woven in Moonlight may be a story of royalty and revolution, but it is also a story of growth and change. Due to the Llacsan rebellion, Ximena lost her parents and found herself serving as the Condesa’s decoy. After spending so much time sublimating her own thoughts and feelings for the greater good, her deepest desire is to simply be herself. As much as she dreads travelling to the castillo and essentially being a hostage in enemy territory, it was this uncomfortable experience that allowed her to grow and have a more expansive worldview. The message felt a bit heavy-handed at times, but in today’s radically charged political climate, it is important to remember that there are always two sides to every story and that the best way forward may not always be the same way that it has always been before.

Although the plot was a bit predictable, the rich setting, the bits of Bolivian culture sprinkled throughout the novel, and the slow-burn romance kept the story engaging. More than once my mouth was watering for the Bolivian dishes described, and I loved the bits of Spanish woven into the story! I also enjoyed the details of Ximena and Tamaya’s weaving—I could easily envision the beauty of the tapestries, particularly with the vibrant colors, animals and scenery included.

Woven in Moonlight is Isabel Ibanez’s debut novel, but when visiting Goodreads, I discovered that she has already said that there will be a sequel set in the same world! I will be eagerly anticipating this next book, Written in Starlight, and look forward to journeying back to this Bolivian-inspired world for the characters to build a better future!

Most Memorable Aspect: Ximena’s animal companions—I wish that I could have them!

~ ~ ~ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~ ~ ~

Isabel Ibañez was born in Boca Raton, Florida, and is the proud daughter of two Bolivian immigrants. A true word nerd, she received her degree in creative writing and has been a Pitch Wars mentor for three years. Isabel is an avid movie goer and loves hosting family and friends around the dinner table. She currently lives in Winter Park, Florida, with her husband, their adorable dog, and a serious collection of books. Say hi on social media at @IsabelWriter09.

Find her online:
Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram


Week One:
1/6/20 - BookHounds YA - Excerpt
1/6/20 - Nay's Pink Bookshelf - Review
1/7/20 - Do You Dog-Ear? - Review
1/7/20 - Ramblings of a Book Nerd - Review
1/8/20 - Kait Plus Books - Excerpt
1/8/20 - Cuz I'm A Nerd - Review
1/9/20 - Life Within the Pages - Review
1/9/20 - Smada's Book Smack - Review
10/10/20 - Fictitious Wonderland - Review
10/10/20 - Fictitious Fox - Review

Week Two:
1/13/20 - Eli to the Nth - Review
1/13/20 - Lifestyle of Me - Review
1/14/20 - Here's to Happy Endings - Review
1/14/20 - Not in Jersey - Review
1/15/20 - Fire and Ice - Review
1/15/20 - Pop the Butterfly Reads - Review
1/16/20 - History from a Woman's Perspective - Review
1/16/20 - Portrait of a Book - Review
1/17/20 - Two Points of Interest - Review
1/17/20 - D Wants to Read - Review


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Friday, January 10, 2020

Blog Tour & Book Sketch: Throw Like a Girl by Sarah Henning

Throw Like a Girl
By: Sarah Henning
Published By: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Series: None
Pages: 368
Genre: Contemporary
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: Friday Night Lights meets Morgan Matson's The Unexpected Everything in this contemporary debut where swoonworthy romance meets underdog sports story.

When softball star Liv Rodinsky throws one ill-advised punch during the most important game of the year, she loses her scholarship to her fancy private school, her boyfriend, and her teammates all in one fell swoop. With no other options, Liv is forced to transfer to the nearest public school, Northland, where she'll have to convince their coach she deserves a spot on the softball team, all while facing both her ex and the teammates of the girl she punched... Every. Single. Day.

Enter Grey, the injured star quarterback with amazing hair and a foolproof plan: if Liv joins the football team as his temporary replacement, he'll make sure she gets a spot on the softball team in the Spring. But it will take more than the perfect spiral for Liv to find acceptance in Northland's halls, and behind that charming smile, Grey may not be so perfect after all.

With well-drawn characters and a charming quarterback love interest who's got brains as well as brawn, Throw Like a Girl will have readers swooning from the very first page.

First Thought After Finishing: The YA genre needs more sports romances!

Although I’m not an athlete myself, I enjoy reading stories that feature sports. I always admire the dedication that these teenage athletes display as they pursue their dreams. Throw Like a Girl showcased not only athletic talent but also the challenge of balancing family pressure, romance, and normal teenage life.

Liv has it all—a sports family, the perfect boyfriend, a great group of friends, and the star spot on her private school’s softball team. But all of that vanishes with one punch during a tournament game. Much to her dismay, Liv will have to attend the rival public school, which is home to the softball team of the girl she punched. Liv expected talent to carry her through, but her new coach wants to see something more—teamwork. When the starting quarterback approaches her with an offer to help if she joins the football team, Liv knows she has to take the opportunity. Only she never expected to like football so much, or to pass her heart to the quarterback. And when secrets come to light, only Liv can decide what play to call and hope it results in a touchdown.

As a teenager, I stopped playing soccer because playing on a team against boys several years older than me made me nervous. Liv, however, is almost fearless, earning her place on a male team in a male sport and earning not their contempt but their admiration. This is not only because of her athleticism but also because of her work ethic, strong character, and determination to be the best that she can. I appreciated her reminders of all the lessons she had been taught by her father and sister, and they made me want to redouble my efforts in my own passions.

This book was pitched as a sports romance, and it does not disappoint on either count. The vivid description of all of the games—softball, football, and even volleyball—transported me to the bleachers and left me cheering for Liv and her team. And the romance between Liv and Grey, though not without its problems, was often incredibly sweet. True, they both made mistakes, but what girl doesn’t want to discover that the handsome, unattainable quarterback is actually a devoted friend and boyfriend? And no review would be complete without mentioning Addie, Liv’s sassy softball friend. Addie is the loyal, unconditional friend that everyone needs, and she is the voice of reason in the midst of Liv’s tempest. If there was ever a spinoff about her, I would most definitely read it.

At its heart, Throw Like a Girl centers around standing up for oneself in the right way, whether it is with family, in relationships, or against enemies. But with this message woven into a book that is by turns humorous and touching but always engaging, the story never feels like a sermon. I was sad to see the end of Liv’s journey, and I can only hope that a companion novel might offer a glimpse of these wonderful characters. This book is perfect for fans of Miranda Kenneally's novels. I will be eagerly awaiting Sarah Henning’s next book!

Most Memorable Aspect: The detailed descriptions of all of the sports games.

~ ~ ~ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~ ~ ~

Sarah Henning is a recovering journalist who has worked for the Palm Beach Post, Kansas City Star and Associated Press, among others. While in South Florida, Sarah lived and worked through five hurricanes, which gave her an extreme respect for the ocean. When not writing, she runs ultramarathons, hits the playground with her two kids and hangs out with her husband Justin, who doubles as her long-suffering IT department. Sarah lives in Lawrence, Kansas, which, despite being extremely far from the beach, happens to be pretty cool.

Find her online:
Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


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