Reviews

Book Review: Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

Blackhearts (Blackhearts, #1)

GoodReads Summary:

Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

My Review:

Blackhearts is an unstoppable story full of history, romance, and intrigue. This is Nicole Castroman’s debut novel and her writing style is genius.

The story is told from the 3rd person limited POV. You go through the story seeing through both Teach’s and Anne’s perspectives. The 3rd person limited narration allows the reader to fully understand the context of the situation through the character’s eyes. When Anne is speaking, we only know how she is feeling and how she is interpreting Teach’s actions. The reader comes to understand how high society functions as well as the behind the curtain of the household staff. Anne is considered beneath the regular household staff due to her mother’s background (being from the West Indies).

Castroman did an excellent job at conveying the misogynistic, sexist,  and racist standards present during the time period Blackhearts is written. I didn’t have any preconceived notions about this book, but I will say reading others reviews of it helped me set my mind. When you hear “Blackbeard retelling”, you think pirates and ships. While Castroman didn’t give us those things in Blackhearts, she gave us a starting place, which I am grateful for. To understand Blackbeard you have to know where he comes from, and specifically, what made him into a pirate.

The romance itself is a slow burn, building to greatness. You can feel the attraction between Teach and  Anne from the first page. It also helps that there are other characters who get in their way. Miss Patience, the little priss teach is betrothed to (I wished she’d fall off a cliff. I am sure there are plenty in Bristol). Master Drummond, Anne’s employer and Teach’s father. I hope, if there is a second book (there better be), we come to understand why Master Drummond was so controlling, thinking he knew what was best for his son. I can’t believe that his character is just that controlling.

And finally, THAT CLIFFHANGER ENDING! I stayed up super late to finish reading Blackhearts and it was totally worth it (I also had a terrible nights sleep, dreams filled with rats, cockroaches, ships, and seas). The slow burning love Teach and Anne have for each other reaches it’s climax and then everything explodes. My only thought at the end of the book was, if Anne hadn’t lied to Teach originally then none of this would be happening!

Black Sails tv season 3 starz pirate

If you like historical fiction, retellings, and romance, Blackhearts is the perfect combination.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Contemporary Conversations, NA Contemporary, NA Romance, Reviews

ContempConvos: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Hopeless (Hopeless, #1)

GoodReads Summary:

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

My Review:

Hopless is a roller coaster of emotion. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started this book. All of Colleen Hoover’s novels deal with some kind of serious issue throughout the story, and Hopeless was no exception.

I do have to say that this book and the theme’s represented hit very close to home for. I don’t want to say too much about what happens because that basically gives away the entire plot of the book.

I can say that Holder is a very caring and concerned person. He truly only wants what is best for Sky and that basically means telling her the truth, which has been locked away for a long time, and exploding her world apart. Sky is very much a simple girl who wants to go to school, love her mother, and live her file. Unfortunately, that just isn’t possible. When events take place they put a lot of pressure on Sky. But, with Holder by her side, even though he turned her world inside out,  she is able to face a past that was  suppressed. She came out on the other side stronger and more understanding of why her mother home schooled her and kept her in the dark.

Definitely know that if you have triggers for certain themes, this book may not be for you. But if you can handle serious life situations and learn from them, then read Hopeless.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

ContempConvos: Lola and The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2)

GoodReads Summary:

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion… she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit – the more sparkly, more wild – the better. And life is pretty close to perfect for Lola, especially with her hot rocker boyfriend.

That is, until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket return to the neighbourhood and unearth a past of hurt that Lola thought was long buried. So when talented inventor Cricket steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally face up to a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. Could the boy from Lola’s past be the love of her future?

My Review:

Of the three novels Stephanie Perkins wrote in this series, Lola and The Boy Next Door is my favorite. While I loved Anna and St. Etienne (their love is eternal), it was Lola and Cricket’s chemistry that had me hooked to this author. Also, it does help that I am a sucker for boy-next-door love stories.

Lola is quite an eccentric character- constantly changing her style to represent who she is that particular day. That really struck a cord with me. Most people tend to be very muted in their personal fashion style, a lot of the reason is constricted by society and code of conducts at work. I lived vicariously through Lola and her ever changing identity. She never once apologies for being who she is.

Cricket is the lovable, softly spoken, “nerd” next door who I immediately fell in love with. He truly is the opposite of Lola; and you know what they say about opposites… they attract. You can feel their chemistry right away and I knew they were meant to be together. There were some obstetrical for this to take place- Lola’s scumbag of a boyfriend, Lola and Cricket’s past history, the tension between Lola and Calli. Also, just the general blockage of Lola herself. She doesn’t try to be self-destructive, but sometimes she just can’t help it.

Some characters from Anna and the French Kiss make an appearance or two, which was super fun.

Overall, a fun, quirky, light-hearted read.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Contemporary Conversations, Reviews

ContempConvos: Forever & Always (The Ever Trilogy #1) by Jasinda Wilder

Forever & Always (The Ever Trilogy, #1)

GoodReads Summary:

Ever,
These letters are often all that get me through week to week. Even if it’s just random stuff, nothing important, they’re important to me. Gramps is great, and I love working on the ranch.

But…I’m lonely.

I feel disconnected, like I’m no one, like I don’t belong anywhere. Like I’m just here until something else happens. I don’t even know what I want with my future. But your letters, they make me feel connected to something, to someone. I had a crush on you, when we first met. I thought you were beautiful. So beautiful. It was hard to think of anything else. Then camp ended and we never got together, and now all I have of you is these letters.

S**t.

I just told you I have a crush on you. HAD. Had a crush. Not sure what is anymore. A letter-crush? A literary love? That’s stupid. Sorry. I just have this rule with myself that I never throw away what I write and I always send it, so hopefully this doesn’t weird you out too much. I had a dream about you too. Same kind of thing. Us, in the darkness, together.

Just us.

And it was like you said, a memory turned into a dream, but a memory of something that’s never happened, but in the dream it felt so real, and it was more, I don’t even know, more RIGHT than anything I’ve ever felt, in life or in dreams. I wonder what it means that we both had the same dream about each other. Maybe nothing, maybe everything. You tell me.

Cade

My Review:

Forever & Always was an interesting read. It is the first in the series, followed by two others. it tells the slow love story of Ever and Cade, who meet at a camp when they are young and become pen pals. Over the course of the novel, they write about their daily lives  and begin to fall in love. It isn’t until they are in college, close by each other, that they can begin to fall in love in real life.

I found it an interesting way to get two characters to really know each other. In an age where teens, and young adults, are texting, face-timing, have numerous ways to contact each other, the author choose an old way for these characters to fall in love. The author also choose to write from both Ever and Cade’s POV so we can see more of their lives than what they are just writing to each other.

And let me tell you, their lives are far from easy going. Each has struggles that would be difficult for anyone to handle, but for people so young it’s even harder. Cade and Ever are forced to mature at a much younger age. And its great to see how these two communicate about everything back and forth. They find that they can say things that they wouldn’t necessarily say face to face, or even over text.  There is no judgement, only understanding. This allows their love for each other to grow slowly, understanding where each other is coming from, and knowing from the start, what their secrets are- what makes them happy, what hurts them. Being a pen pal allows for a truth to build between them.

When Cade and Ever do finally come together it’s an explosion. Because they’ve been apart for so long and in love with each other for so long, that awkward “start” to a relationship isn’t there. It’s exciting But it’s also challenging. They have to learn how to speak, using their voices, not their pens. And it causes tension between the two.

The ending of this book is climactic to the max. I didn’t see it coming and it will make you rush to read the next book. it really is a great, slow-burn love story between to characters who truly grow to love and understand each other.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

ARC Review: Playing Defense (Corrigan Falls Raiders #2) by Cate Cameron

Playing Defense (Corrigan Falls Raiders, #2)

GoodReads Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Claudia Waring has never kissed a boy. Never been popular. Never been to a hockey game. All that’s about to change. Assigned to tutor Chris Winslow, a prank-loving, gorgeous hockey player, Claudia’s perfectly planned life immediately veers off course. And she kind of likes it. But as fun as Chris is, she knows she’ll never fit in his world.

After his latest prank lands him in hot water, Chris has to get serious about school or lose hockey. Not an easy thing for someone as carefree as the defenseman. The biggest problem, though, is how much he wants to help his cute, buttoned-up tutor loosen up a little. But while confidence has never been a problem for him, around Claudia, Chris is all nerves. Why would a girl as smart as her ever fall for a jock like him?

My Review:

Cate Cameron’s Playing Defense is an adorable novel about life, love, and deciding to be your true self- despite other people’s opinions.

Claudia is a bookish, nose to the grind, math girl. She has worked very hard over the course of her high school career to get into the University of Waterloo. However, while she has the grades to be accepted, she doesn’t have the extra curriculars. Her guidance counselor assigns her to be a tutor for Chris Winslow, a star hockey player. As a result of tutoring, Claudia gains new friends, and new experiences through the Sisterhood, a club set up to challenge each other to be better people and breakdown their own barriers.

Claudia is quirky and weird. She faces a lot of trials in Playing Defense. She learns to over come her own shyness. She has to decide if she wants to be the quiet, bookish girl she’s always been, or, become the outgoing girl she wants to be. Part of this challenge, and the coming of age theme, is facing her parents. While she is changing from a caterpillar to the beautiful butterfly, Claudia’s parents believe it is the influence of Chris and her new friends, not of her own decisions. Her parents have a difficult time handling her interest in Chris as a possible boyfriend and believe he is no good for her. Eventually, they do get to her, but she is able to face them and be the “Dia” she wants to be.

And while yes Chris is quite lazy, and the reason he needs a tutor, Claudia and Chris help each other grow and realize they can accomplish, and be, so much more if they just try. Trying is the key to this story. Trying new experiences. Putting effort into your work, whether it’s school or sports. Being your true self.

Rating: 4 out of 5

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to review with ARC. Receiving this ARC for free in no way influenced my review.

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Adult Contemporary, Reviews

Blog Tour & ARC Review: Holding Court by K.C. Held

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GoodReads Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Jules Verity knows exactly what’s in store at her new job at castle-turned-dinner-theater Tudor Times. Some extra cash, wearing a fancy-pants dress, and plenty of time to secretly drool over the ever-so-tasty–and completely unavailable–Grayson Chandler. Except that it’s not quite what she imagined.

For one, the costume Jules has to wear is awful. Then there’s the dead body she finds that just kind of…well, disappears. Oh, and there’s the small issue of Jules and her episodes of what her best friend calls “Psychic Tourette’s Syndrome”–spontaneous and uncontrollable outbursts of seemingly absurd prophecies.

The only bright side? This whole dead body thing seems to have gotten Grayson’s attention. Except that the more Jules investigates, the more she discovers that Grayson’s interest might not be as courtly as she thought. In fact, it’s starting to look suspicious…

Copy of HC24Liz’s Review

K.C. Held’s debut novel Holding Court is laugh out loud funny and vivacious. I started and finished this novel in the same day. I was also at the gym while reading and, let me tell you, no one wanted to get on the elliptical next to me because I looked like I was crazy. I couldn’t stop laughing. Held’s writing is snappy, whimsical, and absolute.

The plot moves along quickly, keeping the reader satisfied, but also, at the same time, wanting more. I couldn’t figure out who the murderer was and the way the story winds, there were potentially three or four people who could’ve done it, including Jules herself.

The characters are characters themselves. Jules comes from a family with “gifts”. An aura reading, matching-making grandmother. A mother who can determine if an antique is real and where/when it was crafted. Jules’ best friend is quirky, giving Jules the nickname Blurt- which suites her quite well. Grayson is charming in a squight kind of way.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a funny, thrilling, off-the-wall read.

Veronica’s Review

OMG. FREAKING ADORABLE. *squeals*

Copy of HC22At the beginning of Holding Court I was a little hesitant because I did not get what was going on. Part of the reason was that I just dove into the book without reading the synopsis. Did not know the main character was psychic so it was a huge surprise when it was mentioned in the book.

I really really like Jules. She is funny, down to earth, and did I say she is hilarious?! Her love obsessions opened the door to many hilarious occurrences and went perfectly with the murder mystery we had going on in the story.

I wish we had an epilogue, but I guess I can be okay with what we got. It was a good ending. But I wanted MORE.

Overall, if you are looking for a hilarious fun read, look no further. Holding Court is everything you didn’t know you were looking for!

Amazon | B&N | iBooks |Kobo | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca | Entangled Page

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K.C. HELD was born and raised in California with stopovers in Honduras, Mexico, and France. Married to her high school sweetheart, and mom to two avid bookworms, she holds an MFA in costume design and is an accomplished seamstress with a background in opera, theater, film, and television. Although she once spent a summer working in a castle, there were no dead bodies involved.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Goodreads

KC Held

Just an FYI, K.C. Held is an awesome person in general! Go buy her book!

Rating: 5 out of 5

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read this ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not influence my review. 

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Reviews, YA Paranormal

Book Review: The Power by Jennifer L Armentrout

The Power (Titan)

GoodReads Summary:

With any great change, there is always strife, and the Covenant University has become the frontline between pure-bloods who want the Breed Order reinstated and the half-bloods who want the right to control their own destinies.

Fate has other plans.

The violence is escalating and war between the races seems inevitable, and it couldn’t come at a worse time. Hyperion may be out of commission, but Josie and Seth know they have only earned a reprieve.  Seth must get Josie fully prepared, which means controlling her newfound abilities, and they need to find the other demigods before the Titans do.

But the gods are sensing a greater threat. 

Only one thing is more dangerous than a bunch of starved Titans, and that’s an out-of-control Apollyon. The aether in Josie is drawing Seth in deeper, and when lust mixes with love and gives way to power, he knows being close to her is not only dangerous to her, but to everyone around them, but letting her go requires a level of selflessness that just isn’t Seth’s style.

The paths taken in the past are becoming the roads of the future.

Just as chaos breaks out, familiar faces from the past return, complicating the already strained bond between Josie and Seth, and when the danger from the Titans erupts with devastating consequences, the dark allure of power calls to Seth again, but this time Josie might not be able to pull him back.

And when the struggle between power and love becomes the deadliest battleground, there may be no salvation.

My Review:

So, we know this is the follow up to The Return, a spin-off series of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Covenant Series. In the first book we meet Seth again, the Apollyon, one year after the events of the Covenant Series take place. He is charged with protecting Apollo’s daughter, Josie, a demigod. The second book picks up where he first left off. Josie and Seth are the Covenant University in South Dakota training so that Josie can gain control of her demigod powers.

I was underwhelmed with this book. Maybe my expectations were too high? Or maybe because the characters need to grow, it wasn’t as exciting? I am not totally sure. The writing was still very good. And Seth was still the jackass… nothing changing there. I mean, we even got to see Alex and Aiden, my baes from the Covenant Series. But this book was less about the action and more about the relationships- pure-bloods vs. halfs and the Breeding Order, Josie and Seth, Josie and Apollo. And I guess I wasn’t expecting that; maybe that’s why I am underwhelmed.

I still really enjoyed reading it, but not as much as The Power, or some of Armentrout’s other novels.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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