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Meet My Leading Ladies

AMAZING, INCREDIBLE, INSANELY PERFECT commission by @EllieDoodles02

This was a Christmas present from my husband (aka, The Best Husband In The Universe). I’ve wanted this piece since I first started writing, when it was just Stenne and I. However, our girl gang has grown by three a (until I think up another series and we grow by one more). I’d love to introduce you to by leading ladies, from left to right!


Anna Cooper

Book: Cooper & Parrish

Blonde hair, blue eyes, and a questionable fashion sense for a late 19th-century single woman are the first three things every townsperson in Billetsby, England sees when they spy Anna Cooper running like a mad woman through town, brandishing weapons and screaming in a foreign language no one can quite place. Usually trailing behind her in a reserved (albeit embarrassed) manner is Dr. James Parrish with his phials of swirling blue liquid and disapproving frown. Unfortunately for both Anna and James, they are the only two in Billetsby capable of saving the town from the mysterious evil forces that are slowing converging, and therefore must defy danger on perilous adventures together.

Anna is never seen without her precious blue-flamed katana and ornate revolvers—all of which were a gift from a Qing dynasty prince, mind you. Like any decent English woman, her favorite beverage is tea. Her wardrobe is an eclectic blend of 19th century English fashion, tribal wear from her adventures abroad, and pieces from her late grandmother’s jewelry collection she can’t bear to live without.

An Excerpt from Cooper & Parrish:

“Would you like me to escort you home?”

“Do I look incapable of getting there by myself?” Anna snaps.

“Is that a trick question?” The man asks without missing a beat. “Yes, you do. That’s why I offered to walk you home. I just saved you from an attack you weren’t able to fend off yourself.”

“Excuse me, sir,” scoffs Anna. “I had it under control.”

“Under control? Are you daft, woman? That thing

“Nearly killed me. I heard you the first time,” Anna cuts him off. “I would say thank you, but I’m not grateful to a pompous ass who refuses to acknowledge that I can handle myself against a simple forest daemon.”

“Tiyanak,” he corrects. 

“You’re entitled to your wrong opinion, but I’m telling you, it’s not a tiyanak,” Anna shoots back. “Now if you don’t mind I’ll be on my way, by myself, thank you very much.”


Bridie

Book: The Last McNary

It’s not Bridie’s fault that she has to kill to survive on the streets of Zenith; it’s her parents’ fault for abandoning their 10-year-old in the Bloat nearly fifteen years ago. Now 25, Bridie struggles to survive in a city where her blood is the only asset she has and harrowing ghosts stalk her trail.

Zenith runs on blood, literally. Bridie has spent her life dodging cops and undercover hospital agents intent on capturing her to make her a bloodslave—someone kept by the hospitals and forcibly drained of blood until they’re no longer useful. Bridie’s one of the oldest homeless kids in Tent City to remain uncaught until a chance meeting with a young girl lands both in the Bloat’s run-down hospital.

Bridie thought her life was over when she got captured. She didn’t realize it was only the beginning of a new and terrifying chapter of a book that’s been closed for 15 years.

As a 15-year resident of Zenith’s grimiest streets, Bridie is nearly always covered in some sort of mud, dirt, or muck. She suffers from anemia, as most homeless, starving kids in Zenith do, and trades her blood for daily iron tablets (pretty counter-intuitive, right?). Though fierce and vicious to strangers, she’s kind and forgiving to those she cares about. It’s tough to get on her good side and when you do, only a truly devastating betrayal will cut you off from her forever.

Bridie doesn’t remember much about her parents, nor does she care to.

An Excerpt from The Last McNary:

“That reminds me,” I pull up my sleeve. “My bracelet. Can you keep an eye out for it? Maybe the cop who took it will bring it in to trade, with a little of his own blood for your… wares.” Flourishing my hand toward the synthetic blood Marv pushes on Zenith, I roll my eyes. “It’s not the first gold you’ll receive,” I suggest, nodding to a worn oval box on an endcap near Marv’s shoulder. Though the green gems and gold filigree are tarnished, it looks like it was once valuable to someone.

“I’ll keep a watch,” Marv nods. “How’d a cop get it off of you in the first place?”

I respond through mouthfuls of the hearty stew. “Breakfast trap next to the police station. I was feeling risky this morning.”

Marv’s expression dours. “Hey kid… you’re, uh… you’re pretty shit at stealing, you know that?”

“It’s a good thing I’m better at violence,” I exhale, launching myself onto the checkout counter beside him and brandishing my knife. “Stealing is easier when you don’t have any witnesses.”


Me! (Katarina Betterton)

Hey there! I’m the author of all these ladies. I grew up on the East Coast, have been writing on and off since around fourth grade, and married the love of my life in June 2018. We have an adorably mischievous puppy and my favorite part of our relationship is that we somehow figured out a way to be real adults while also being kids at heart.

Instead of boring you with my entire autobiography, jump over to my About page if you’d like to learn more about me!


Stenne

Book: 33

Stenne believes she’s a “nobody;” just another insignificant person in the world working as hard as she can to earn points for her Haven. In her eyes, she’s the same as everyone else—after all, they all wear the same thing, eat the same meal, and do the same jobs. However, when tripping over a stranger brings on a persistent headache and an ability to question what she thought she’s always known, Stenne realizes she isn’t like her neighbors at all. She’s different, and that difference can get her killed.

Stenne soon discovers she’s not alone in distinction; a boy swearing they’ve known each other since childhood begins to confirm what Stenne’s wondered about her world. Her confusion comes to a head when the leader of the Commune—Stenne’s home and the last civilization on Earth—threatens Stenne with a choice to either lose her Haven or forget the boy who seems to know more about herself than she does.

Stenne decides to risk everything—her comfortable world, her Haven, and her life—to dig deeper into the Commune’s apparent lies and seek out the truth of her past before the Commune destroys her future.

As per Commune instruction, Stenne is never not in her uniform: a black v-neck t-shirt and dark grey industrial cargo pants. She’s scared of pretty much everything, but her worst fear is failing. Stenne doesn’t have ambition besides earning as many points as possible for her Haven. She has a hard time admitting her faults (as she sees every fault as a failure), but knows she can be a rash decision maker, quick to fly off the handle, and completely lacking in common sense at times. Much greater than her faults, though, are her strengths: her kindness, her bravery, her optimism, and her smile.

An Excerpt from 33:

There are eight statements about myself I know to be utterly true—eight tenets by which I’ve thrived for the last 23 years and 362 days. 

I am the Commune.

I am safe.

I am liked.

I am capable.

I matter.

I have a purpose.

I want my Haven.

I am not special.


Eta

Book: mErTAle

To her crew, Eta is the fiercest pirate sailing the six seas of Ondur. Under her flag as the Daughters of the Sea, they’ve been able to collect bounties from nearly every coastal town the water touches and eliminate other pirate threats. As the only female captain with an all-female crew, Eta is the fiercest pirate in Ondor. She’s also a mermaid; a part of herself she’s hid from her land-walking counterparts for six years. Citizens of Ondur have hated the merpeople dwelling below in the kingdom of Undor for generations.

Eta and her crew sail to a popular port after their most recent victory only to find every ship in their fleet there—the warning to Eta that something is wrong. Eta and the skeleton crew with her watch in horror as a warlock explodes every ship in their fleet. Before they can execute a revenge attack, the warlock’s minions attack. Unwilling to resign her remaining crew members to a bitter death when she can swim them to safety, Eta reveals her true form as a mermaid and escapes with her crew to the briney depths of Undor. She loses her way before arriving in the main avenue with her human friends, accidentally crashing the engagement parade of Eta’s ex-fiance and his new bride-to-be. Eta soon faces a choice as she and her crew remain in Undor: stay safe in the confines of the water-based traditional rule, or risk their lives to reclaim their freedom on the waves?

Eta is a regal being without the need to prove her royalty. She’s automatically respected when she walks into a room because of the air of grace and power she carries with her at all times. She’s sure of herself, strong-willed, and a fighter for justice. She hates traditions and the practice of doing something the same way because ‘that’s how it’s always been done.’ As Eta’s two worlds converge, she finds herself questioning her true purpose in life.

An Excerpt from mErTAle:

“I don’t understand, though. If you’re so kind, why be a pirate at all?” He asks, honest curiosity in his voice.

“There aren’t many roles in the world in which women have freedom,” I state plainly. “My crew is made up of women—only women—whose old life offered nothing but pain and confines. Wives beaten within an inch of their lives by the husbands. Widows who can’t support themselves. Spinsters cast aside. Prostitutes sold into slavery. Any woman who doesn’t have anywhere else to go has a place on my ship.”


And There You Have It!

You’ve now met all my leading ladies. Who’s story interests you the most?

PLEASE, please, please go follow the amazing artist who created this incredible work of art, Ellie (@EllieDoodles02 on Instagram). She was such a pleasure to work with (I actually had her do four commissions for me!) and is an amazing human. I literally can’t recommend working with her enough, so please do yourself a favor and go follow her to see more of her incredible work!

Feel free to follow me on Instagram and Twitter as I make my way through writing these awesome women. Have a wonderful rest of your day!

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Reviews

“Lifel1k3” by Jay Kristoff

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Good morning, y’all!

I am so excited to be reviewing Jay Kristoff’s Lifel1k3 today. It was recommended to me by a friend (@l.k.middlebrook.writes on Instagram – go follow her!) and I could not be more thankful for the recommendation. I would absolutely recommend this book to others – I just gave it to my mom, actually!

Now onto the review –

I finished this book on Thursday night and I’m glad I gave myself a few days before writing this review, as some of my opinions about what happened in it have changed!

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

Brief Summary: Eve Carpenter, a botdoc and fighter who lives on the west coast of a post-apocalyptic USA (“Yousay”) seems to be having an awful day when we first meet her. She loses a bot match, meaning she doesn’t make the money for her VERY sick grandpa’s medicine, and she’s just realized she can fry machines with her mind, which brings a fanatical cult called “The Brotherhood” after her. To make matters worse Eve, her best friend Lemon Fresh, and small robot Cricket find a humanoid bot named Ezekiel that seems to know Eve from her past.
When one of Ezekiel’s kind comes to destroy Eve and her friends, Ezekiel defends them all, but fails to save Eve’s grandfather from capture. In the ensuing pages, the motley band of Eve, Lemon, Cricket, Ezekiel, and robotic dog Kaiser trek across the dangerous and barren country to save what Eve loves most, learning more about the secrets of the past every step of the way.

Best Parts: There’s a lot of good to say about this book. First of all, the pacing was nearly perfect. I almost never got bored and something was continually going on in either the plot or subplot to think about. Kristoff does a great job of blending characters to show the differences in personality during these action sequences – it was interesting to see how Eve and Ezekiel interact with each other vs. Cricket and Ezekiel, or Eve and Lemon.
Kristoff’s characterization was spot on for the entire book. I think my absolute favorite part of this book actually was how dynamic Eve and Lemon were. By the end of the book, the two girls change completely from who they were at page 1.

Room for Improvement: My criticism is a little nit-picky since I really did love the book. The descriptions of setting at the beginning were good, but as the book progressed, they seemed more confusing and I couldn’t easily imagine where the characters were supposed to be. Along with that, I’m personally not a huge machine/robotics fan, so that aesthetic wasn’t super interesting to me as I read. But as I said, very nit-picky comments full of personal preference in an otherwise incredible story.

Final Review: I have a ton more feelings about this book, but they all involve like MAJOR spoilers and I won’t do that to y’all. However if you’ve read Lifel1k3 and you want to talk about it, DM me on Instagram and we will gush about it for 3 hours.

Thanks for stopping by, y’all! Happy reading!

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Reviews

Bethany Beach Books: The Book Drop

Hi friends!

In exchange for a review, Bethany Beach Books was kind enough to send me a sample of their subscription box! And WOW guys it was so wonderful!

I am so excited to review The Book Drop from Bethany Beach Books! A few basics about the subscription:

  • First, the box came SUPER fast! I was super excited to get it, so this was a plus. It was also packaged so sweetly!
  • The book I got was SPOT on. I honestly forget which subscription box I chose (they have several different ones to choose from!) but I received Wait For Me by Caroline Leech. It’s a 360-page historical romance that I’m excited to sink my teeth into.
  • Their subscription boxes come with more than just a book. I got a wonderful bookmark with the bookstore contact information as well! In other boxes, you can get a note about why they love the book, a list of indie bookstores are loving, and sometimes even a letter from the author!!

So the basics are great and all, but what really is the mission of this subscription program: “to incredible reads that the average reader won’t discover otherwise.” I’m usually a science fiction and fantasy reader, but after the first few pages of this book, I know I’ll love it. And I know I wouldn’t have picked it up if I hadn’t gotten this subscription box. I just think it’s a really great idea to broaden the horizons of bookworms everywhere, while supporting and championing independent authors.
The price is also amazing. While some of the more mainstream book subscription boxes start between $16/$32, The Book Drop starts as low as $8 a month. They also don’t have any pesky contracts or tie you into a year – you can go month to month, 3 months, 6 month, or a year prepay! That gives you the flexibility to read and pay as you’d like!
I also loved the variety of boxes they offer. There’s Books for Tea (book clubs would LOVE this), Books for Coffee (an assortment of thrillers, action, suspense, and even nonfiction), Books for Tea AND Coffee (a surprise of either Tea or Coffee books), Books for Young Adults, and Books for Middle Grade. With the added bonus that the books are unique, it’s a subscription box well worth it.
Well… what are you waiting for?! Head on over to The Book Drop and see for yourself how great this subscription box is. Don’t forget to tell me what you think!