Review + Favorite Quotes: BLACKHEARTS by Nicole Castroman Blog Tour!

Blackhearts.png

I was thrilled when I got the email that I would be a part of the Blackhearts blog tour! Everything about this book sounded right up my alley. Spoiler, IT SO WAS! If you’re into a beautiful story and romance, this book is for you too! And, can we take a quick minute to appreciate that cover?


Review

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 9th, 2016
Series: N/A
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Blog Tour)
Genre(s): Adventure, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Retelling, Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

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 rambles

Special thanks to The Fantastic Flying Book Club for hosting the blog tour and to Simon Pulse and Edelweiss for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. SO. MUCH. It has taken me a couple of days to compose my feelings in order to right a proper review. My mind seriously couldn’t put this book into words, and I’m still having some troubles, so bear with me here. Blackhearts is an absolutely beautiful story. Everything about it was just that: beautiful. The writing, the story, the characters, the romance, everything.

I’ll start with the writing. It was descriptive, but not too much so. The writing didn’t take away from the story, but enhanced it. A lot of historical fiction books tend to be long and drawn out, but that’s not the case with Blackhearts. It was an addicting read, but not in the “normal” page-turning sense of the word. I felt like I was taking my time experiencing the story while I was reading, when in reality I was flying through it. I think that speaks to the rich immersive quality of Nicole Castroman’s ability to write a story.

Continue reading “Review + Favorite Quotes: BLACKHEARTS by Nicole Castroman Blog Tour!”

Review: THESE VICIOUS MASKS by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: February 9th, 2016
Series: These Vicious Masks, #1
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Jane Austen meets X-­Men in this gripping and adventure-­filled paranormal romance set in Victorian London.

England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.

my rambles

Special thanks to Swoon Reads and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

This book was pretty darn awesome. But couldn’t you just tell it would be from the very first line of the synopsis? Um, YES! Well, These Vicious Masks combined two genres that I love to read: historical fiction and paranormal, in a way that was witty, snarky, fun, and exciting! The story was super fast-paced. There was tons of banter. And Evelyn was reminiscent of Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet. In other words, I was smiling throughout the entire book.

These Vicious Masks is one of those books that you can’t help but adore from the moment you begin reading. From the very beginning, only a few pages in, I was hooked. Right off the bat, the story is filled with everything I mentioned before that I loved: all the banter, all the wit, and lots of mystery!

The characters were one of my favorite parts of the story. When I said that Evelyn was like Lizzie, I wasn’t kidding. She’s snarky, clever, funny, and can hold her own. There’s of course two handsome men, Mr. Kent and Mr. Braddock. Both of them are equally swoony and each brings something different to the table. Mr. Kent is the happy-go-lucky, silly guy with a warm heart. And Mr. Braddock is the brooding, tall-dark-handsome. Evelyn totally calls Braddock on that fact, too. I loved those scenes between them! The banter between Evelyn, Kent, Braddock, and even the other side characters is light and oh so entertaining.

Not only were the characters awesome, but the story, of course was too. The paranormal abilities of the characters are freaking cool, and I can’t wait to learn more about them. Where did they come from? Where will it take them? We don’t yet know… The mystery surrounding the kidnapping of Evelyn’s sister Rose was made even more interesting thanks to those abilities. And of course there’s a revelation at the end that I can tell will be further investigated in the next books. I was getting a very Clockwork Angel vibe from the whole thing.

Well, now I’ve compared this book to two others. I don’t like it when I compare books, but to get the feeling of the book across to you, I can really only do it by way of referencing other titles. Not that These Vicious Masks is like a copy of either of the books — it’s definitely not. But I think that it takes the best qualities from those two novels and puts them together in a great way, and creates an awesome new story.

My one problem was the ending. I thought it seemed a bit rushed, and ended out of the blue. I would have liked more closure to bring the first installment of this series to a less convenient end. But, that was the least of my worries when looking at this book as a whole.

All in all, These Vicious Masks is simply tons of fun! There’s laughs, there’s action, and there are the slightest hints of a romance. It’s not your typical deep and dark historical fiction novel. There’s something in These Vicious Masks for everyone!

7

xo

Review: Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack

24891517Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 29th, 2015
Series: N/A
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Genre(s): Gothic, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Synopsis from Goodreads:

After the untimely death of her aunt, Cecilia Cross is forced to return to Sanctuary, a rambling, old mansion that crowns a remote island off the coast of Maine. Cecilia is both drawn to and repulsed by Sanctuary. The scent of the ocean intoxicates her, but she’s also haunted by the ghosts of her past—of her father and sister who died there, of her mother who was torn away from her and sent to an asylum, and of the vengeful spirit of a woman wronged. Flooding memories leave Cecilia shaken, desperate to run away and forget her terrible family history.

But then a mysterious guest arrives at Sanctuary: Eli Bauer, a professor sent to examine Sanctuary’s library. Cecilia is intrigued by this strange young man who seems so interested in her—even more interested in her than in the books he is meant to be studying. Who is he and what does he want? Can Cecilia possibly trust her growing feelings for him? And can he help her make peace a tragic past and a haunted present?

Luminous and evocative, Sanctuary is a remarkable exploration of love and loss—and the ghosts that come back to haunt us.

my rambles

Special thanks to Scholastic for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

Sanctuary landed on my doorstep unsolicited, so prior to opening the package, I’d never heard of it before. I’m really happy it came into my possession though, because I quite enjoyed this book!

Very eerie, Sanctuary is one of the few Gothic YA books I’ve read. There are ghosts, and old mansion with an intriguing past, a creepy psychologist and asylum, and lots of family secrets. Sounds good, right? And it is! Not only were the elements Gothic-influenced, but the writing was beautiful. It added to the creepiness of the story and transported me back in time to both the current events of the book, and the flashbacks.

Sometimes books of this genre tend to drag in parts (for example I’m currently rereading Jane Eyre for my Lit class, and some parts are indeed slow). But for me, Sanctuary was well paced, and entertaining to the very, very end. The one foible I have with this book is that I found the chapters to have kind of abrupt endings. This won’t be a problem for someone picking up and putting down the book often, but as someone who read this in large chunks at a time, it was something I noticed. I would have liked it if the chapters flowed more, but that’s just my personal preference.

The mystery involved an interesting melding of history and paranormal. There was talk of witches, the history of Acadians from Nova Scotia, and the inclusion of ghosts, possession, and spirits. I liked how the book had lots of detail, but at times I got a bit confused. There’s also a lot of family relations that are talked about over generations, which was sometime difficult for me to follow. Much like I felt for the abrupt chapter endings, this didn’t really affect my overall liking of the book, though.

There is a bit of romance, because what’s a YA book without romance these days, right?! I liked it, and I thought it was sweet, but a bit rushed. I did root for the pair of Liza and Eli from the beginning though. I like myself a young, hot, intelligent guy!

So all in all, I found Sanctuary to be an entertaining historical-gothic-paranormal book! I really enjoyed the lush writing that took me back in time, and the focus on a group and location in history that I wasn’t familiar with. Both historical fiction and ghost-loving fans will find something they’ll enjoy in Sanctuary!

7

xo

Review: Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 25th, 2015
Series: The Diviners, #2 | The Diviners
Pages: 624
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal
Synopsis from Goodreads:

After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. Now that the world knows of her ability to “read” objects, and therefore, read the past, she has become a media darling, earning the title, “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” But not everyone is so accepting of the Diviners’ abilities…

Meanwhile, mysterious deaths have been turning up in the city, victims of an unknown sleeping sickness. Can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld and catch a killer?

my rambles

Special thanks to Little, Brown BYR and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

The long wait for Lair of Dreams is (almost) over! Although I hopped on The Diviners bandwagon late, and didn’t have to wait nearly as long as some of you dedicated fans to see what happened next, I was probably just as excited as you to dive back into this world.

While Lair of Dreams had a different kind of feel than book one, it still had Libba Bray’s amazing, atmospheric writing that brings you into the roaring 20s, and of course, the paranormal world of Diviners. In great contrast to the horror and gore of The Diviners, this one brings on the eerie mystery of dream worlds.

Some new characters are introduced, but the old gang returns for more, but some (like Evie) fall more to the background. Henry’s past gets explained, and the book focuses mostly on him and his abilities. The new character, Ling, is also at the forefront of the story. More Diviners come out of the woodwork, and lead the story in the direction of not only solving the current dream problem, but trying to understand what to make of all the paranormal coming into their world.

I was a bit disappointed to find that Evie gets dragged into a predictable love triangle in Lair of Dreams. But, I will say that it didn’t take over the book, which was a relief. While Evie, Sam, and Jericho are going through heartache, the romance between Henry and his childhood sweetheart was refreshing!

This one was a little slower paced than its predecessor, but with Libba Bray writing the story, you can’t help but be entranced to continue reading.

The ending hinted that the next book will possibly dig deeper into the world of the paranormal in general, and get to the bottom of what’s been causing all the mayhem. What I got from the book was that the next book will maybe have Theta, Sam, and possibly Jericho back on center stage as each of them tackle the new(ish) problems that they’ve been facing in Lair of Dreams.

While I still thoroughly enjoyed Lair of Dreams, it fell a bit short when comparing to The Diviners. Libba Bray’s iconic writing was enough to keep me pulled under to “dream with her.”

xo

Review: Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: August 18th, 2015
Series: Blood of Gods and Royals, #1
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre(s): Alternate History, High Fantasy, Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Weaving fantasy with the salacious and fascinating details of real history, New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known: Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

my rambles

Special thanks to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

First of all, can we take a moment to appreciate that incredible cover and amazing synopsis? Just from looking at the cover and then reading that blurb I had a feeling Legacy of Kings was going to be a new favorite of mine, and I was right! After reading this book I’m not going to lie, I’ve become significantly more interested in Alexander the Great and all of the history surrounding him and the other real historical characters that Eleanor Herman was sure to incorporate in the book.

Like many other historical fiction and fantasy books, Legacy of Kings is filled with clever, sly, intelligent and sometimes evil characters that lead to one of my favorite things lately in books: POLITICAL INTRIGUE! The book switches to the stories of many different characters, allowing the reader to view all sides of the action, and see how characters who haven’t even met will become intertwined. While there are many different characters’ stories happening throughout the course of the book, Eleanor Herman did a wonderful job of keeping them completely distinct and creating personalities for these characters that are entirely their own.

While I would have been totally happy with just the “normal” conflicts and action that ensues in a historical fiction book, Eleanor Herman adds fantasy and superstition which was the icing on the cake for me! Legacy of Kings begins to delve into the different kinds of Blood magic that some characters have been gifted with, but also the effects that the said magic has on everyone in the kingdom, and abroad. The main conflict of the book is a major result of magic, and I am eager to learn more about it and see how the battles will end in future books!

I can’t forget the romance, because there is definitely a complicated and tangled web of relationships. Just when you think you like a couple together — think again! But there are some super steamy scenes that I did enjoy!

When I got to the end of Legacy of Kings, I didn’t even realize it, which is my only complaint! I could have kept reading on and on. There are a bunch of characters who we don’t see as much toward the end of the book, which left me hanging and desperately wanting to know what happened to them!

I could go on gushing about just how detailed and incredible Legacy of Kings was. Fans of high fantasy and historical fiction will be extremely pleased by the action, intrigue, romance, and characters that Legacy of Kings brings to the table. A fantastic and must read!

xo