RELEASE BLITZ: BLACKHEARTS!!! (+ GIVEAWAYS!)

IT’S FEBRUARY 9TH, AND THAT MEANS…

*DRUMROLL*

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BLACKHEARTS IS HERE!!!

Look, you all know by now (or should know) how much I love this book (you’d know more if you follow me on twitter). There’s no book that quite compares- this book struck me as everything that I wan tin my historical fiction and it still strikes me now. You can find my review right here if you want to know what I felt right after reading it. Perhaps even more than me, my lovely friend Stephanie (who is one of the most AMAZINGLY WONDERFUL AND PERFECT people EVER) from CHASM OF BOOKS (which, by the way, is one of the most amazing blogs EVER) is also a huge lover of Blackhearts. 

This week, we’ve teamed up to blitz the internet with the awesomeness that is this novel! With Glass Sword also releasing today, we were afraid that Nicole’s AMAZING novel might get a little lost in the shuffle of major promotion of the newest Aveyard installment. But Blackhearts is worth so much love and praise and shouting, we’ve rounded up a few others who loved it to get everyone in on the love- and in on the hashtag/street team of two:

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Use the hashtag #prepiratenation on social media to share the love! We want everyone to know about Blackhearts and how awesome Nicole is, so please, help us to spread it like jelly on toast!

In honor of the release, I’ve put together a little aesthetic for Blackhearts, one that I actually think turned out really well. I used pictures from my own pinterest as well as Nicole’s to create it, and I think this might become something I end up doing more often, because I LOVE the way this one turned out. (Although it could have turned out this well because Blackhearts is just so absolutely photogenic!)

 

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Gosh. I love looking at this beautiful cover, and I can’t wait to have to real deal in my hands- by now, my copy should be on the way! I can just smell that ‘new book’ smell, feel the smooth edges of pages against my thumb….WHOO. Can you feel it?! GET EXCITED.

I wish there was a quote I could share with you, but as of yet, I don’t have a finished copy (obviously) and therefore don’t want to share a fan art that’s wrong! But here’s something you might like a little more:

GIVEAWAYS!

GIVEAWAY #1: INTERNATIONAL!

Enter here for a HARDCOVER of BLACKHEARTS, open anywhere The Book Depository ships!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

GIVEAWAY #2: US ONLY

Enter here for a SIGNED HARDCOVER of Blackhearts, as well as SWAG!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

VISIT EVERYONE PARTICIPATING IN THE RELEASE BLITZ!

Chasm of Books

Bookmarks (me!)

Beauty and the Bookshelf

Chasing Faerytales

Arctic Books

My Friends Are Fiction

The YA Booktraveler

Bookishness and Tea

Read.Read.Read.

Sophie Reads YA

Middle Grade Minded

 

I want to give a special thanks to Stephanie @ Chasm of Books (link above) for organizing this great release blitz. Without her, our participating blog list would be pretty short, and our giveaways would be nonexistent! So thanks, Stephanie, the best of the best.

Of course, none of this would have been possible at all without our fearless leader, NICOLE CASTROMAN! She wrote the book that brought Stephanie and I together on this, and I’m forever grateful to her for that! (P.S. We all hope there’s a sequel in the works soon! ;D)

That’s pretty much it, ladies and gents. Please, PLEASE pick up a copy of BLACKHEARTS at your local bookstore or library- you won’t regret it! And remember to tag any Blackhearts release posts or fanart on social media with #prepiratenation so we can all share the love!

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WoW: TRAITOR ANGELS

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly post hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Oh, this is one of my top 2016 releases. I CANNOT wait. Anne Blankman has written two stunning historical novels already- Prisoner of Night and Fog and Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke (those names! those covers!) So, without further ado, here’s her upcoming book, coming to us May 3rd, 2016 from Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins, here’s:

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(Have you ever seen a more beautifully simple cover? I DIE. The summary is just as good)

SUMMARY: 

Six years have passed since England’s King Charles II returned from exile to reclaim the throne, ushering in a new era of stability for his subjects.

Except for Elizabeth Milton. The daughter of notorious poet John Milton, Elizabeth has never known her place in this shifting world—except by her father’s side. By day she helps transcribe his latest masterpiece, the epic poem Paradise Lost, and by night she learns languages and sword fighting. Although she does not dare object, she suspects that he’s training her for a mission whose purpose she cannot fathom.

Until one night the reason becomes clear: the king’s man arrive at her family’s country home to arrest her father. Determined to save him, Elizabeth follows his one cryptic clue and journeys to Oxford, accompanied by her father’s mysterious young houseguest, Antonio Vivani, a darkly handsome Italian scientist who surprises her at every turn. Funny, brilliant, and passionate, Antonio seems just as determined to protect her father as she is—but can she trust him with her heart?

When the two discover that Milton has planted an explosive secret in the half-finished Paradise Lost—a secret the king and his aristocratic supporters are desperate to conceal—Elizabeth is faced with a devastating choice: cling to the shelter of her old life or risk cracking the code, unleashing a secret that could save her father…and tear apart the very fabric of society.

WHY I’M WAITING

AHHHHHHH

AHHHHHHH

AHHHHHHH

AHHHHHHH

Look, I can’t gush enough about how amazing Anne’s books are. She took a time period I don’t enjoy reading about (WWII) and made me ONLY want to read more about the lives of Gretchen and Daniel. If someone at my job at the library asks me for a rec, I send them straight to YA BLANKMAN. I know that Traitor Angels will be no exception. Danger? Check. Intrepid, intelligent, independent heroine? CHECK. Super-hot Italian scientist? CHECK CHECK CHECK.

All I’m saying here is that there are NO complaints when it comes to an Anne Blankman novel, and I have every confidence that this newest book will fill the void in my heart where the daughter of an epic classic literature writer and an Italian scientist will live. I’ll save the rest of my gushing for my review when I finally get my hands on this one (no matter how long it takes) but PREPARE YOURSELVES for the epic storm of love.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

FIND IT ON BARNES & NOBLE OR AMAZON

ANNE’S WEBSITE AND TWITTER

WoW: IVORY AND BONE

     Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I’ve been so busy, I haven’t even been thinking about Waiting on Wednesday, but I really want to get back to promoting my favorites from my TBR. This week involves some EXTREME cover-love, and I can’t wait to share it. With a release date of June 14th, 2016, from HarperCollins, and written by the lovely and talented Julie Eshbaugh, here’s:

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SUMMARY:

The only life seventeen-year-old Kol knows is hunting at the foot of the Great Ice with his brothers. But food is becoming scarce, and without another clan to align with, Kol, his family, and their entire group are facing an uncertain future.

Traveling from the south, Mya and her family arrive at Kol’s camp with a trail of hurt and loss behind them, and hope for a new beginning. When Kol meets Mya, her strength, independence, and beauty instantly captivate him, igniting a desire for much more than survival.

Then on a hunt, Kol makes a grave mistake that jeopardizes the relationship that he and Mya have only just started to build. Mya was guarded to begin with—and for good reason—but no apology or gesture is enough for her to forgive him. Soon after, another clan arrives on their shores. And when Mya spots Lo, a daughter of this new clan, her anger intensifies, adding to the already simmering tension between families. After befriending Lo, Kol learns of a dark history between Lo and Mya that is rooted in the tangle of their pasts.

When violence erupts, Kol is forced to choose between fighting alongside Mya or trusting Lo’s claims. And when things quickly turn deadly, it becomes clear that this was a war that one of them had been planning all along.

WHY I’M WAITING:

Ooh, I just can’t wait for this! A new flavor of historical fiction with a twist, and such a compelling summary! AND THERE MIGHT BE……*drumroll*…..MAMMOTHS. CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE?  A YA WITH A MAMMOTH HUNT? Watch this totally be after mammoths, and this will all be absolutely wrong. A GIRL CAN DREAM. Even if there’s not, this whole idea is just…so unique to YA, and a very different sort of literature than what we usually see. I simply cannot emphasize enough how excited I am for this, and honestly, a lot of it is from the cover alone. I know this is a pretty short WHY, but I think it’s enough. These books are really going to hit a specific audience, and obviously I’m one of those people!

 

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

FIND IT ON BARNES & NOBLE OR AMAZON

JULIE’S WEBSITE AND TWITTER

ARC REVIEW: BLACKHEARTS

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. This is their story.

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 THOUGHTS

PLOT: I’m going to attempt, very carefully, not to swoon after every sentence I write about this book. *SWOON* Sorry. Be prepared- I don’t think I can make this non-gushing.

Let’s get one thing straight- I loved everything about this book. Everything. Except, perhaps, the ending, because I wasn’t ready for it. The plot was much different than I anticipated, and the twists, although they weren’t ridiculously huge (i.e. an asteroid is heading for the earth, ahhhh!) they were unexpected, intriguing, and absolutely fabulous. They always came just when you were ready for something new to happen, and I must admit, this is one of the only times that I recognized the excellence of the pacing in a novel. It was a constant upswing, and although there weren’t action scenes every 15 pages, there was always something to make you go

So, basically, it was amazing.

The plot didn’t get tiresome- sometimes with the historical novels set around this time, it can get repetitive. Dinner, dancing, suitor, dancing, gasp, dinner, gasp, dancing, etc. Those things are great when used to enhance the plot, but not when they’re the entire plot. Blackhearts stayed firmly away from that trend. There were dinners, yes. There was dancing, yes (and pretty dresses!!!). There was gasping (mostly by me), yes. But it served a purpose. It moved the plot forward, giving you important information and leading you to the climax very sneakily. It’s fantastic, until you reach the surprisingly quick conclusion. Then, if you’re like me, you just cry a little bit and search for the invisible last pages.

CHARACTERS: Where do I even begin? This book had everything by way of characters. The variety was stunning- each had a specific voice, and they absolutely each elicited emotions from me. Teach? SWOON SWOON SWOON. He’s strong, he’s fierce, he’s powerful- but what I loved most about Teach was that even though he was one of the darker heroes, this wasn’t a twisted YA relationship, and it certainly wasn’t insta-love. This wasn’t one of those books where the girl becomes a doormat because a hot guy gives her the time of the day- and that brings me to Anne.

Anne is the ultimate heroine- decisive, uncompromising, willing to do anything she has to so she can escape her life as a servant. She doesn’t resign herself to a life of misery, even though her only way out may be to do things she doesn’t want to do. I admired her unflinching spirit, even in the face of danger and ridicule, and I think we need more heroines in YA who think and act like Anne. Even falling in love can’t keep her from following her dreams.

Even the characters that were minor were very distinctive and very entertaining. Drummond, Teach’s father, was such a conflict for me- it was a total love-hate relationship. He’s a great layer of conflict for the story, and I loved the way you see him shift and change- a totally dynamic character. Patience, William, Mary, Margery, etc., all enhanced the book as well- enough subplots to keep the book moving and keep your brain occupied, but not so much that it distracted from the main plot line. Their characters, while not as dynamic, were entertaining and they served a purpose- they weren’t just random characters introduced as filler. Sometimes when that happens it can make me close a book for a while because it’s overwhelming, but Nicole found another great balance with her characters and their roles.

OVERALL: Did I mention how much love this book? Hit the pre-order sites, everyone, and keep your eye out for it. Blackhearts may not be a revolutionary story (it is set in the past!) but the writing and execution certainly is. Five stars, although I’d give it a thousand if I could. When I was (still am) swamped with books that just can’t keep my attention, Blackhearts grabbed my attention, my mind, and then my heart with its rich characters, driven plot, and elegant world.

What else can I say? This was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, and I think everyone else should read it, too. This last image basically sums up how I feel about this book.

AN UNCERTAIN CHOICE

“Remember, we show courage in many ways.”

Official Summary:

     Due to her parents’ promise at her birth, Lady Rosemarie has been prepared to become a nun on the day she turns eighteen. Then, a month before her birthday, a friend of her father’s enters the kingdom and proclaims her parents’ will left a second choice. If Rosemarie can marry before the eve of her eighteenth year, she will be exempt from the ancient vow.

    Before long, Rosemarie is presented with the three most handsome and brave knights in the land. But when the competition for her heart seemingly results in a knight playing foul, she begins to wonder if the cloister is the best place after all. If only one of the knights the one who appears the most guilty had not already captured her heart.

My Thoughts:

     I will admit that I was really looking forward to this book. I thought the cover was so intriguing, and the synopsis was just as attention-grabbing- knights competing for the hand of a beautiful damsel in distress, with one of them trying to destroy the others’ chances? Totally awesome!

     Well, let’s just stop right there. All the knights are friends. Like, BFFs to the point of girliness, and one has even promised not to fight for the Lady Rosemarie’s love. He gets it anyway, but really, that’s pretty predictable. I expected battles and heated fighting between the three of them, maybe a duel or two to defend her honor. Nope. They just took turns taking her on picnics. The first half of the book was kind of dull, really, and I was hard-pressed not to skim the pages looking for some action. The historical accuracy was stellar, though, and I could tell that Hedlund did a lot of research before writing.

     I also was not a great fan of the main character. Rosemarie seemed too naive and confused to be any kind of ruler, even when she was supposed to be groomed for that her entire life. Of course, I understand that her personality had to be that way to an extent to play a role, but she was so passive at times that I felt robbed of what a true emotion would bring to the book- the entire situation should have been very emotional, but we read as though she’s deciding who should be chosen as her personal bodyguard instead of her husband. The love story was a little flat for me, and I wish I would have been given more insight into Rosemarie’s emotion besides ‘Am I ready to be married?’

     I did enjoy the mystery that emerged toward the end of the book. It added some spice, and gave my brain something to chew on while I read of picnics and meaningless gifts. Although I knew the knight accused did not commit the crimes (as mentioned, they made a pact, one not so easily broken), it was fun trying to figure out who the would-be killer would turn out to be and what his or her motivation was.

     Overall, I did like this book, but I was glad it was short (254 pages) because I found that it dragged in several places.  But that’s just my opinion- I would love to hear yours!

What to Watch:

     Jody Hedlund is a well-known Christian fiction author, and this was her first foray into YA novels. What this means is that really, there was very little to watch. The only thing I would caution for younger readers is the violence. As it takes place in a medieval setting, one of the struggles Rosemarie faces is that of torture- that is, whether or not to torture criminals. The book opens on a scene of the sheriff disobeying orders and attempting to both boil a man alive and pull one to pieces. It’s not graphic and it is stopped, but in process. Rosmarie’s nursemaid is also tortured, and they are kidnapped. And of course, there is the final battle between the knights and ‘the bad guys’, which gets a little bit intense. Other than those occurrences, though, there is nothing else to worry about.

     Personally, I liked this book, and I think it is a solid yes for readers with a sensitive conscience. No language, no graphic wording, no drugs- it’s all smooth sailing for those looking for a clean read.

Questions? Comments? Have a book you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and tell me what you think!

PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG

“The man she had loved as a father was a fraud.
He kissed the back of her hands and advocated war; he had played with her on the carpet with toy soldiers, and all along he had been planning the extinction of an entire people.”

Rating: PG-13 for intense scenes and language (in the form of racial slurs against Jews- it does take place in Hitler’s Germany), as well as brief romantic themes

Official Summary: In1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.
        Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.
        Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.
        As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

My thoughts: I am in love with this book. I don’t normally like Nazi/WWII/Hitler themed novels, but all I can say about this one is…wow. Blankman reaches into the soul and brings out the most passionate part of you, pulling forward every emotion she intends to with ease- compassion, fear, confusion- you never know what’s going to happen next. From Gretchen’s cold older brother Reinhard to the passion of Daniel Cohen,  the Jew she befriends, to Gretchen herself, every character evokes an intense emotional reaction that leaves your head spinning.

The research that went into this book is incredible, and it shows in the impeccable details you read as Gretchen and Daniel try to find out the truth about her ‘Uncle Dolf’ and what happened to her father.

There is, of course, some things that may not be considered appropriate for younger readers. As Hitler’s ‘golden children’ Gretchen and Reinhard are fully convinced of the status of Jews as ‘subhuman’ and Reinhard and his friends get in many fights, as well as calling the Jews by names that are, well, unsavory. People do get killed, and there are brief description of that, as well as some animals (Reinhard is not a nice boy).

There are some romantic themes. Daniel and Gretchen (SPOILER SPECIFIC ALERT) end up in love, and they do kiss a few times. Hitler also makes a move on Gretchen, but she escapes, and there is talk of him being in love with Geli, his half-niece, as well as another young woman.  (END spoiler alert).

Overall, I would not recommend this for younger readers simply because of the nature of the book (1930’s Germany was not a child-friendly place), but for more mature readers (13+) I give it a standing ovation for the skillful way the author merges fact with fiction.

Questions? Comments? Books you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and I’ll be sure to check it out!

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