Review: “The Deepest Roots” by Miranda Asebedo

37677999Title: The Deepest Roots
Author: Miranda Asebedo
Publisher: HarperTeen/HarperCollins
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

ARC provided by the publisher through Edelweiss.

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Contemporary with a sprinkling of magic, debut author Miranda Asebedo show just how powerful friendship can be in her heartwarming first novel The Deepest Roots.

Cottonwood Hollow, Kansas, is a strange place. For the past century, every girl has been born with a special talent, like the ability to Fix any object, Heal any wound, or Find what is missing.

Best friends Rome, Lux, and Mercy all have similar talents, but to them, their abilities often feel like a curse. Rome may be able to Fix anything she touches, but that won’t help her mom pay rent or make it any easier to confide in Lux and Mercy about what’s going on at home. And Rome isn’t the only one. Lux has been hiding bigger, more dangerous secrets.

As Rome struggles to keep her friendships close, she discovers the truth about life in Cottonwood Hollow—that friends are stronger than curses, that trust is worth the risk, and sometimes, what you’ve been looking for has been under your feet the whole time.

TW: Domestic abuse, sexual assault, and disgusting, abusive language from grown men made to young girls and women alike

Sometimes a book just makes you realize just how good you got it.

The Deepest Roots is one of those rare stories.

The story follow best friends Rome, Lux and Mercy. The three have been friends since their early years. They are blood sisters bound together by their strange talents and their love for one another. They have made a pact to not keep anything from each other, but that promise is broken as the girls keep their struggles to themselves – out of pride for Rome who doesn’t want her friends to pity her as she faces a possible eviction from the small trailer she shares with her single mother; out of shame and fear for Lux who endures living with her abusive stepfather. When a mysterious diary which leads to an equally mysterious treasure land in the girls hands, Rome and Lux see an opportunity to shake off and solve their problems. Little do they know that the true treasure already lie in their feet, waiting for them to take a closer look.

I picked this book up wanting – craving – a story that features strong female friendships, and The Deepest Roots more than measured up to my expectations. This story tugged at my heartstrings, even the ones I’ve thought have long gone numb and made me spill a few tears.

From page one up to that touching end, this novel remained loyal to its focus – the power of friendship. Rome, Lux and Mercy are all fiercely loyal and protective of one another. The strength and depth of their friendship is shown all throughout the story, and I just can’t help but think about my own best friend while I read this book. The three girls would do anything for one another – Mercy using her talent of being an Enough to extend Rome and her mom’s food supply; Lux still lending Rome her make-up bag and fancy top even though the two of them had a fight; Rome putting bleach in Lux’s stepfather’s gas tank when she found out that the creep hits her friend. The friendship the three girls share is simply the best part of this story.

The plot was simple but easy to follow and enjoyable. The writing and pace flowed well. Those elements of the book are great and all, but where Miranda Asebedo really excelled at (and the reason why I gave this novel a whopping five stars) was in creating her characters. She brought to life this cast of characters who stand out, who felt real to me. Rome, Lux and Mercy were relatable in their struggles and how they try to lift themselves out of their current situations. Even the secondary characters like Rome’s mom, Red and Jett will leave an impression to readers.

There is a feminist message woven through this story that I hope will open up discussions. It’s a sweet bonus to an already great book.

I’ve always thought that there’s a lack of books with strong, healthy female friendship. The Deepest Roots fills in a bit of the void, and for that alone I will be recommending this to anyone who’ll care to listen.

🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂

About the Author:

Miranda AsebedoMIRANDA ASEBEDO was born and raised in rural Kansas with a love of fast cars, open skies, and books. She carried that love of books to college, where she got her B.A. and M.A. in English, with an emphasis in Creative Writing and Literature. A Seaton Fellowship recipient, her short fiction has appeared in Kansas Voices, Touchstone, and Midway Journal.

Miranda still lives on the prairie today with her husband, two kids, and two majestic bulldogs named Princess Jellybean and Captain Jack Wobbles. If Miranda’s not writing or reading, she’s most likely convinced everyone to load up in the family muscle car and hit the road.

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Review: “A Touch of Gold” by Annie Sullivan

36575823Title: A Touch of Gold

Author: Annie Sullivan

Publisher: Blink/HarperCollins Christian Publishing

Publication Date: August 14, 2018

Rating:

Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Books-a-Million

(Digital ARC graciously provided by the publisher via Edelweiss)

 

 

The story about King Midas’ golden touch was one of the most memorable stories I’ve learned when I was a child. It was a warning against greed and its consequences when you let it take over you. The end of King Midas’ story was pretty much a done deal, one where you could easily imagine him living a happy and contented life with his daughter after having learned his lesson.

Annie Sullivan, however, breaks open that ending to bring forth an entertaining expansion of the old tale in her debut novel A Touch of Gold.

King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?

I had a hard time deciding what I really think and feel about this book. I did like it – the thought of a book about King Midas’ daughter was an intriguing concept – but somehow it just missed the mark and settled for ‘good’ instead of ‘great.’

A Touch of Gold continues King Midas’ story, putting his daughter, Princess Kora, at the center of things in a creatively expanded world built upon the original myth. Featuring cursed royals, pirates, sirens, a quest to retrieve stolen treasures, deception and betrayal, the book is an adventurous, twisty read.

It starts out strong, opening the story with an attention-grabbing prologue. It has me eating it up. Then, the problems started to trickle in. The first half of the story moved too slowly especially for a standalone.

The story’s secondary characters, meanwhile, annoyed and bothered me. Hettie, Kora’s cousin, got on my nerves. She made getting into the already dragged out first part even harder with all her whinnying and complaining. I seriously wanted to reach into the story and hit her with a pillow (or something). The insta-love between Kora and Aris, the Duke of Wystlinos quickly made me wary, though, this one I understand for reasons I will later explain.

Still, I powered through, and was rewarded when I reached the last half.

Action-filled and twisty up to the end, the last half of this book definitely held the story’s most interesting parts. Pirates! Sea adventure! Fighting off sirens intent to drown you! Who could resist those?!? I definitely couldn’t. Even this, though I enjoyed it, is a little bit problematic. It was rushed and predictable. There were key parts that could have been explored better, like Aris’ betrayal and the immediate shift of Kora’s affection from Aris to Royce.

One thing I can’t fault this book for, though, is Kora’s character growth. Cloistered inside her father’s palace, only getting glimpses of the outside world through her books, Kora has grown full of fear and insecurity. She is scared of hurting people with her strange growing powers, scared of scaring other people away, and, most especially, she is scared of herself. Just like her father, she has let the curse define her and this is a blow to her self-worth, so when someone, a stranger practically, comes around and tells her all these nice things, she falls for it and later pays the price for her naivety.

But she admits her mistakes and, more, she learns from them. Kora starts to trust herself bit by bit as her quest to retrieve her father’s gold progressed, and by the end of the book, she willingly accepts the challenge of becoming the princess her kingdom needs her to be – a capable ruler who has her own agency.

Overall, A Touch of Gold was an interesting and enjoyable read so full of action and adventure. It just wasn’t compelling or engaging enough for me. I’d still recommend you guys give this a try especially if you’re craving for a pirate story with a bit of magic.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: “Darius the Great is Not Okay” by Adib Khorram

Can't Wait Wednesday

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted Tressa at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted Jill at Breaking the Spine.


This is going to be a quick one because I have to hurry to work. Nope, not running late but I just always make it a point to be at the clinic at least 15 minutes earlier before my shift that way shift change endorsements are done just before my colleague’s shift ends. Traffic’s always mad crazy in the city and I want her to go home earlier, or at least clock out on time. It’s a little favor we all do for one another at work, and trust me, it makes working a very stressful job a wee bit easier.

Anyway, back to the topic of books. I’m currently reading this week’s CWW pick alongside Annie Sullivan’s A Touch of Gold, and I got to say I’m enjoying the first few chapters of it I already finished.

37506437Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this unforgettable debut introduces a brilliant new voice in contemporary YA.

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understand that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.

Darius the Great is Not Okay has been a funny read so far. I love Darius’ wit and sarcasm, and can’t wait to get to know his character more. This one is releasing at the end of this month, August 28, but I’ll try to write up a review for it once I finish it. Maybe this weekend? Not sure, but at the pace I’m going, I think I’m all good.

That’s it for me today. I hope all of you are doing fine this mid-week.

💗💗💗

Rachel

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Book Review: M.L. Stedman’s “The Light Between Oceans”

The Light Between Oceans

If you were caught in between two choices both with very heavy consequences, what would you do? Which would you choose? Would you sacrifice the feelings of the people you care for and love to be morally correct, or would you rather continue living your life as it is with a complete family knowing that while you’re happy someone else is suffering because of your decisions? Will you be able to live with that kind of guilt? Will you ever be able to forgive yourself?

Some tough questions, right? Well, that is what M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans is about – the intricate interconnection of lives, choices and decisions, and, ultimately, forgiveness.

 “After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.”

The Light in Between Oceans is a beautiful novel that’s both compelling as it is heart-breaking. It’s a tale about loss, about choices and consequences, about a mother’s love for her child. It is filled with potent characters that all have to make tough, often misguided, decisions. They are people who only want what’s best for the ones they love, people who are flawed, who also hurt; people who are very much like us.

M.L. Stedman created believable characters that readers will surely be able to empathize, maybe even sympathize, with. Many times I’ve found myself understanding why Tom and Isabel did the things they did, though it’s not something I would condone. They both have different and conflicting ways of dealing with their situation. A quote from another character in the story, Ralph Addicott, Tom’s friend,  puts it best. “God knows what got into the pair of you out there. There’s been lie upon lie, all with the best intentions. But it’s gone far enough. Everything you’ve done to help Lucy has hurt someone else.” It’s hard to judge them, Tom and Isabel. Everything they’ve done was to protect Lucy, but everything has its consequences. Tom and Isabel’s characters are both strong and very much affecting. They will make you think about yourself, what you would do if you were in the same situation. Indeed, if I were put in their shoes, I think I will also make a handful of irritional decisions, maybe I could even do worse.

Writing is another strength of this story. The author writes in almost poetic fashion, descriptive and meaningful. She let’s her prose unfold slowly, bit by bit, letting readers absorb and really immerse themselves into Tom and Isabel’s life.

Emotional, deeply affecting and thought-provoking, this is an excellent debut by the author M.L. Stedman. It actually took me months before I finished this novel. I started it last March and only got myself to finish mid-August. It also took some time to let the story really sink in, thus the late review. Usually those are signs I didn’t enjoy the book, but for this one it’s the exact opposite. I enjoyed reading The Light Between Oceans, it was just painful to read about all the characters’s misgivings that I had to stop very often that’s how much I was affected by this story. If you want heart-rending tales, this one is a must-read.

Rated: 3.5/5