Sunday, February 7, 2016

ARC Review: Blackhearts

Blackhearts
by Nicole Castroman
Expected publication: February 9th 2016
Published by: Simon Pulse
Pre-order: Amazon

Synopsis:
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.

Review

Blackhearts is a reimagination of Edward Teach, more popularly known as Blackbeard’s, life pre-piracy. He was one if not the most infamous pirate, and I daresay one of the most interesting ones, to have ever existed. The real Blackbeard’s origin and life prior to piracy are still unknown so here in Blackhearts, Nicole Castroman makes use of that unknown part of Teach’s life to imagine the factors that led Edward Teach to become the infamous pirate Blackbeard.

I originally added Blackhearts to my TBR because PIRATES! Pirates have had my interest since grade school days. Also because I don’t see any Pirate YA novels around that actually has real pirate personas as characters. Upon learning that this will be about his pre-piracy life though, my level of excitement still didn’t falter because like I said, I find Blackbeard to be one of the most interesting pirates along with Edward Low, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read. What I didn’t expect however, is for this book to be almost completely about romance between Teach and Anne.

Edward “Teach” Drummond is a son of a wealthy merchant who has a penchant for sailing the seas. He has just gotten back after years in the sea. Anne however, is an illegitimate daughter of another merchant who became a maid in the Drummond household. Their first meeting didn’t go well. It was hate at first sight. I found this quite amusing actually and I thought that it was the start of a really good read but my amusement stopped there.

Others may call Anne headstrong but to me she’s an arrogant girl who doesn’t know her place. She’s a maid but the way she talks to Teach, her young master, is full of pride and defiance. I’d have lauded her for it had Teach been a spoiled rich kid but he’s not. Everything she hated about Teach was only because of a misunderstanding but she wouldn’t hear of his explanations so she just assumed the worst in him.

Teach also is a difficult character. I have a love and hate relationship with him though. On one hand, he’s not the spoiled rich kid who uses his wealth to take advantage of those inferior to him like what Anne makes him out to be. But on the other, I just don’t like him around Anne. He is obsessed with her and acts as if he knows everything that’s best for Anne. He also has a temper and a tendency for violence but he never used it to harm Anne.

Their relationship wasn’t a spectacular one either, at least in the beginning. Teach was the first one to crack but all I felt was pity towards him because while Anne obviously feels something for him as well, she is a practical girl who has a goal and is set on seeing it come to life. It actually broke my heart a little when it was only Teach who was fighting for her while Anne was all about planning her escape. It was in these parts that I started feeling for the book again and the first time for me to feel sympathy for the characters. Of course Anne eventually opened herself up to Teach and boy did I love her then.

This last quarter of the book is where everything rearranged itself to fall into their rightful places and I found myself flipping the pages faster and faster until there was no more page to turn to. I thought there was no more hope for these characters, but I was wrong because their development is astounding. I can honestly say that this redeemed the whole book for me and I’m just glad that I stuck to it until the end. It’s still not a happy ending though and I’m really hoping for a sequel which is also a reimagination of Blackbeard’s life during piracy because we all know what became of the real Blackbeard and I’ll be damned if another sad ending befall these two.

A copy was received from publisher via Edelweiss for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Thursday, February 4, 2016

Book Review: Invisibility

Invisibility
by Andrea Cremer, David Levithan
Release date: May 7th 2013
Published by: Penguin

Synopsis:
A magical romance between a boy cursed with invisibility and the one girl who can see him, by New York Times bestselling authors Andrea Cremer and David Levithan.

Stephen is used to invisibility. He was born that way. Invisible. Cursed.

Elizabeth sometimes wishes for invisibility. When you’re invisible, no one can hurt you. So when her mother decides to move the family to New York City, Elizabeth is thrilled. It’s easy to blend in there.

Then Stephen and Elizabeth meet. To Stephen’s amazement, she can see him. And to Elizabeth’s amazement, she wants him to be able to see her—all of her. But as the two become closer, an invisible world gets in their way—a world of grudges and misfortunes, spells and curses. And once they’re thrust into this world, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how deep they’re going to go—because the answer could mean the difference between love and death.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading this, but I admit that the summary sounds like the typical supernatural with cliché romance. It should’ve been the red light for me, but this came highly recommended by a friend who I borrow books from. We were supposed to fangirl together, but after reading I definitely need to pass on the fangirling part.

Stephen was born invisible, like he literally came out of his mother and nobody was able to see him. Creepy, right? Later, we learn that it’s because of a curse that was actually put on her mother by his grandfather. He lives in an apartment building alone. His mother is dead and his father has a new family, but still supports Stephen financially. Elizabeth and her family, on the other, has just moved to the same apartment as Stephen. When they met; surprise, surprise! She could see him. The first and only person ever to be able to see Stephen. And then they fall in love.

It seems weird that Stephen managed to live all alone in an apartment building for so long without anyone noticing something weird about him. Even when it was explained that everything he needed, he took to the Internet to get, like ordering groceries online or online school, it still sounded way too easy and convenient.

The beginning of the book actually looked promising and I really thought that I was gonna like it but I was wrong. As the story progressed, I found myself seriously trying hard not to facepalm. And I couldn’t feel any sort of attachment towards the characters. The only one that came close was Laurie, Elizabeth’s younger brother, who’s gay. He was the only rational character. He tries to be funny most of the time but also fails most of the time. The others are just flat-out boring. I think the only unique part about this book is Stephen’s invisibility but then his situation can also be paralleled to other supernatural YA wherein the guy meets a one-of-a-kind girl who is the first ever person who can do something that no one has ever done to him in a supernatural kind of way. I like that there’s a Tiny Cooper reference here though but still, I’m sad to say that Invisibility just doesn’t cut it for me.

Rating: 2/5 stars
Friday, January 29, 2016

[Blog Tour] Review: Between Shadows by Chanel Cleeton


Between Shadows (An Assassins Novel)
by Chanel Cleeton
Release date: January 19, 2016
Genre: Thriller

Synopsis:
A sexy new thriller about love and revenge from the author of the Capital Confessions and International School series…

X lives by three rules: Show no weakness. Trust no one. Don’t get caught. She lives by the rules they gave her.

The Academy—set in London, shrouded in secrecy—it trains spies, computer experts, and assassins. Their mission? Dispensing justice and altering the course of world politics. Or so they think. In a world where secrets are weapons and some kills are impossible to forget, everything X thought she knew about her life is about to change.

They taught her to fight. To blend into the shadows like a ghost, to operate on the fringes of society, to change her identity with ease. They taught her to kill.

She’ll need every skill they taught her, to stay alive.

Review:
"It’s the banner I’ll carry when I annihilate them."
“Maybe I’ll see if I can play with you later.” I laugh, the sound harsh in the cold London night. You don’t play with a vial of smallpox.

Can we talk about how badass our protagonist, X, is? Because damn, that girl says the most kickass lines ever and she's not just all talk! There's tons of action here too. In fact, we get to see X's fierceness at the start of the book right off the bat.

X is a trained assassin who works for the Academy and is regarded as the best student in class. She has a younger sister, Grace, who specializes in computers. Both of them are orphans whose childhood lives are shrouded by tragedy and secrets that even to them are unknown. This backstory plays a major role in the story and although it comes up from time to time through X’s dreams, it doesn’t fully show up until the latter part of the book because first, X had to deal with her history with Luke. *cue fangirl shrill*

Luke is also an assassin in the Academy, the best one before X took the top spot. It was clear in the beginning that he and X has a history together but it was only revealed little by little as the story progressed. However, the fact that they were romantically involved was pretty much obvious from the start. And if you put that and the fact that they are both assassins working under an organization that technically has its hands wrapped around their necks, you can pretty much get the gist of what happened between the two or why X chose to betray Luke.

Other than Luke is incredibly hot though, he is also really badass. Think of Rose and Dimitri from Vampire Academy. X and Luke are similar in terms of their badassness, but the similarities stop there. I love that X and Luke treat each other equally. Honestly, I think there’s nothing hotter than a kickass couple who regard each other as equals. There are times when Luke becomes protective of X but it always ends up to him supporting her.

As well, I love the relationship between Luke and X. Although they have a past and their attraction to each other was practically visible even at the beginning, their romance is still the slow burn type aka my type of romance. X did something to Luke that made him disappear for two years and when he came back, they were both different persons.

Their past made a huge dent if not destroyed their mutual trust, but apparently not the feelings, that when they met again, the two were constantly battling their minds and emotions as to whether to trust the other or not. It was evident when Luke thought that something came up within the Academy that could potentially endanger their lives and redefine X and Grace’s past. This was made even worse (for them but exciting for me) because they still have feelings for each other.

Overall, Between the Shadows by Chanel Cleeton is one exciting thriller with a well-paced plot, fierce characters, and enthralling storyline that will keep your eyes glued to the pages from the beginning till end.

Rating: 4/5 stars!


About the Author

Originally a Florida girl, CHANEL CLEETON moved to London where she received a bachelor’s degree from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Chanel fell in
love with London and planned to streay there forever, until fate intervened on a Caribbean cruise and a fighter pilot with smooth dance moves swept her off her feet. Now, a happily ever after later, Chanel is living her next adventure.

Law school made Chanel realize she’d rather spend her days writing sexy stories than in a courtroom, and she hasn’t looked back since. An avid reader and hopeless romantic, she’s happiest curled up with a book. She has a weakness for handbags, her three pups, and her husband. 



Chanel writes contemporary romances, women’s fiction, and thrillers. She is published by Harlequin HQN, Penguin/InterMix, and Penguin/Berkley and is the author of the International School, Capital Confessions, and Wild Aces series.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Book Blitz: Between Shadows by Chanel Cleeton


Between Shadows (An Assassins Novel)
by Chanel Cleeton
Release date: January 19, 2016
Genre: Thriller
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo

Synopsis:

A sexy new thriller about love and revenge from the author of the Capital Confessions and International School series…

X lives by three rules: Show no weakness. Trust no one. Don’t get caught. She lives by the rules they gave her.

The Academy—set in London, shrouded in secrecy—it trains spies, computer experts, and assassins. Their mission? Dispensing justice and altering the course of world politics. Or so they think. In a world where secrets are weapons and some kills are impossible to forget, everything X thought she knew about her life is about to change.

They taught her to fight. To blend into the shadows like a ghost, to operate on the fringes of society, to change her identity with ease. They taught her to kill.

She’ll need every skill they taught her, to stay alive.

Praise for the novels of Chanel Cleeton:

"Sexy, funny, and heart-wrenching--this book has it all!" - Laura Kaye, New York Times bestselling author

"A sexy hero, strong heroine, delicious romance, sizzling tension and plenty of breathtaking scandal. I loved this book!"--Monica Murphy, New York Times bestselling author

"A sexy fighter pilot hero? Yes, please. For anyone who's ever had a Top Gun fantasy, Fly With Me is for you."--Roni Loren, New York Times bestselling author of Call On Me

"A sassy, steamy, and sometimes sweet read that had me racing to the next page."--Chelsea M. Cameron, New York Times bestselling author

"Scorching hot and wicked smart, Flirting with Scandal had me hooked from page one! Sizzling with sexual tension and political intrigue, Cleeton weaves a story that is as com
plex as it is sexy. Thank God this is a series because I need more!"--New York Times bestselling author Rachel Harris

"Sexy, intelligent, and intriguing. Chanel Cleeton makes politics scandal-icious."--USA Today bestselling author Tiffany King

"Fun, sexy, and kept me completely absorbed."--Katie McGarry, author of Nowhere But Here

About the Author

Originally a Florida girl, CHANEL CLEETON moved to London where she received a bachelor’s degree from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Chanel fell in
love with London and planned to stay there forever, until fate intervened on a Caribbean cruise and a fighter pilot with smooth dance moves swept her off her feet. Now, a happily ever after later, Chanel is living her next adventure.

Law school made Chanel realize she’d rather spend her days writing sexy stories than in a courtroom, and she hasn’t looked back since. An avid reader and hopeless romantic, she’s happiest curled up with a book. She has a weakness for handbags, her three pups, and her husband. 



Chanel writes contemporary romances, women’s fiction, and thrillers. She is published by Harlequin HQN, Penguin/InterMix, and Penguin/Berkley and is the author of the International School, Capital Confessions, and Wild Aces series.

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