Blacksouls by Nicole Castroman

Title: Blacksouls (Blackhearts #2)
Author: Nicole Castroman
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 11th 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Pirates, Adventure

Nicole Castroman brings the dangerous pirate ports of the Caribbean to life in this vibrant se-quel to Blackhearts—the reimagined origin story of history’s most infamous pirate, Black-beard.

Edward “Teach” Drummond is setting sail to the Caribbean as first mate on the most cele-brated merchant ship in the British fleet—until he rebels against his captain. Mutiny is a capi-tal offense and Teach knows it could cost him his life, but he believes it worth the risk in or-der to save his crew from the attacking Spanish ships.

Sailing on the same blue waters, Anne barely avoids the Spanish attack, making it safely to Nassau. But lawless criminals, corrupt politics, and dangerous intentions fill the crowded streets of this Caribbean port. Soon, Anne discovers that the man entrusted to keep the peace is quite possibly the most treacherous of them all—and he just happens to hold Teach’s fate in his terrifying hands.

Life and death hang in the balance when Teach and Anne are given a dangerous mission. It’s a mission that will test their love, loyalty and devotion, forcing them down a path neither one could have ever imagined.

Blacksouls is still not the swashbuckling event you expect from a pirate story. This is still an origin story. There is a lot more politics instead of high seas adventure but it doesn’t make it any less interesting.

So many things. Blacksouls took my heart in a vice and squeezed. So many things happen in this part of the story that are emotionally trying. There are also very sweet moments too. I loved the addition of some new characters. Like Alistair, Beth, Benjamin, Cara and Coyle. Of course let’s talk about how kick but Reva is as well. Anne is searching for her biological family but she finds that family is not always about blood.

I loved loved Teach and Anne’s relationship. They are such a solid couple and that is so comforting. I was happy not have any drama with them doubting each other or things along those lines. You know they are going to find the other even if they have to go through gut wrenching experiences to do it.

So many interesting things happening on the political front. When I was a kid there was priate game I used to play as a kid. I wish I could remember what it was because nobody ever seems to know what I’m talking about. It reminds me of that though. Marrying the governor's daughter or going on secret missions. How piracy ties into political motivations of the different settlements. There is also more about the slave trade and the position it puts Anne in at times.

I love how this origin story is coming together. Piece by piece we are seeing what will someday truly make Teach, Blackbeard.

I thought this was a great continuation of the first book. Like I said it can hurt your heart at times but it is also has those moments that are sweet. Of course I still love Nicole’s writing and I felt the book had good pacing. If you enjoyed the first book, I think you will enjoy this one as well.

Nicole was lucky enough to come with her very own best friend...she has a twin sister who can read her mind and finish her sentences for her.

At the age of 13, she went to Europe for the first time and it changed her life. She loves learning about different people, languages and cultures and speaks fluent German. She knows enough Spanish to get herself into trouble and can still read the Cyrillic alphabet from when she studied Russian.

She received her B.A. from Brigham Young University and has lived in Germany, Austria and two different places called Georgia. One is located on the Black Sea. The other is the state of Georgia where she now lives with her handsome husband and two beautiful children who continue to amaze her.



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True North by L.E. Sterling

Title: True North
Author: L.E. Sterling
Published April 4th, 2017 by Entangled Teen
Genre: YA Fantasy/Science Fiction

Abandoned by her family in Plague-ridden Dominion City, eighteen-year-old Lucy Fox has no choice but to rely upon the kindness of the True Borns, a renegade group of genetically enhanced humans, to save her twin sister, Margot. But Nolan Storm, their mysterious leader, has his own agenda. When Storm backtracks on his promise to rescue Margot, Lucy takes her fate into her own hands and sets off for Russia with her True Born bodyguard and maybe-something-more, the lethal yet beautiful Jared Price. In Russia, there’s been whispered rumors of Plague Cure.

While Lucy fights her magnetic attraction to Jared, anxious that his loyalty to Storm will hurt her chances of finding her sister, they quickly discover that not all is as it appears…and discovering the secrets contained in the Fox sisters’ blood before they wind up dead is just the beginning.

As they say in Dominion, sometimes it’s not you…it’s your DNA.

True North picks up four months after the events of True Born. We are back with Lucy, Jared, Storm and the crew but without Margot.

The same mystery remains. What is so special about Lucy and Margot. What are the Watchers after, what is everyone after really. As much as Lucy manages to uncover, she is always hit with new questions. Piece by piece things are revealed and slowly slip into places on a puzzle that is nowhere near completed. I really liked this about the story. Although at times I had to reread parts just to make sure I was understanding. It’s a very submersive plot.

Jared and Lucy. I love the push and pull that occurs between these two. When they have their moments the chemistry is off the charts. When they have their low times, well it’s frustrating as all get out. It was my one major annoyance with Lucy. I could not for the life of me understand why she kept going back in forth about Jared’s motivations. I thought they were quite clear by the end of the first book. I’m guessing much of it stems with her insecurities and distrust of the world. I really like how the love word is not thrown around carelessly either.

One thing I really like about Lucy is despite the fact that she is taking charge of her own life. She doesn’t shed her old one overnight like a bad skin. There are still remnants of the way she was in her personality. Yes she’s learning and changing but you can’t just erase 18 years of life that was ingrained into her. It was often as though her Upper Circle self was battling with this new free version of herself. Again though her habit of falling into a need to the proper daughter would get frustrating.

A new mysteriously fascinating character is introduced. For a minute I worried about a love triangle. I’m not a hater of the love triangle but the way Jared and Lucy’s chemistry lights up a page. There really was no room for one. Which thankfully there is not one. Of course there is more than one Fox girl. Hmmm maybe in the future?

True North was a great second installment. I can’t wait to see where things go. Especially with the ending. So many questions…. It’s good though. Keeping you interested but not holding out on you. I also really like the writing and the flow of the story. It keeps a pretty even pace throughout and of course continues to have the high stakes. I can’t wait to see what Lucy does next.

I was a voracious devotee of sci-fi and fantasy novels all through my childhood, so I suppose it doesn’t come as much of a shock that I’ve returned to the genre with a vengeance.

For a while I turned my back on the genre in favour of ‘high-brow’ literary texts. Ironically, it was my doctoral degree that saw me circling back. There’s something about the way postmodern literature plays with the arcane that had me utterly fascinated, and it wasn’t long until I fell headlong back into my old ways and haven’t looked back since.

My first novel, which isn’t in the Urban Fantasy or Fantasy genres, isn’t high literature, mind you, even if it tangles with some serious statements about politics and the way our western world runs. My editor described it as something between Charles Dickens and The Catcher in the Rye: Serious Fun, in other words.

My second novel, Pluto’s Gate, is where I’ve come home to myself: it’s a contemporary retelling of the Demeter-Persephone-Pluto story from Greek mythology. Folded into the mix is a Shaman-in-training, a magical book, Underworld Gods, a world covered in ice, a three-headed dog, and one lousy ex-boyfriend.

But I’ll tell you this much: I believe in the power of words and stories to transform our inner worlds. Whether the characters be vampires or vagabonds, a good narrative sucker punches so-called reality anyhow.

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Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Title: Geekerella
Author: Ashley Poston
Published: April 4th 2017 by Quirk Book
Buy: Amazon : B&N : Goodreads

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

Geekerella is definitely a love letter to fandom. I love any book that speaks to my nerd heart. As a Star Trek, Star Wars (yes both) and Andromeda fan (does anyone remember that show besides me, Kevin Sorbo...come on) I can relate to being a Stargunner.

So I enjoy Cinderella retellings but they also really stress me out. I’m always super angry at the step mom and sisters because they are always messing with the protagonist stuff. I get frustrated if she doesn’t steal whatever it is back or doesn’t stand up for herself. Of course this is a fandom thing so I’m like you know nothing about that fandom! How dare you bandwagon for some star! So I definitely was getting the heated emotions. I thought the way the Cinderella story was incorporated is fabulous, right down to the glass slipper. I feel like this story should be a movie, why is it not a movie!

Elle and Darien are both great MC’s as we get both of their POV. Which I was grateful for, I couldn’t imagine not knowing what the other was thinking. They have similar qualities as they can both be insecure but also have their own inner strength that needs to shine.

I absolutely love Elle and Darien’s interactions, although I kind of wish she said her name was Serena. Ha ha just kidding. The way their relationship starts and how they go back and forth not knowing who the other is. I thought the interactions were so adorkable. Especially since the center mostly around their love of Starfield.

There are some really winners for side characters, which always makes me happy. Sage is pretty awesome and an even better friend. I love the way she is comfortable in her own skin and is there for Elle. She is the true blue. Also Lonny and Gail help even out Darien. I enjoyed their presence as well. Plus Jessica, did not expect her but I loved her honesty.

Plus The Princess Bride reference of “Have fun storming the castle” which I say all the time and people stare at me. So ya I totally nerded out over the book.

Besides me geeking out over every little fandom thing. The book is well written and fast paced. I couldn’t put it down and never once felt like there was a slow point. It completely sucked me in and now I feel like I want to watch Starfield, or maybe read a spin-off of Starfield. (devilish smile). I loved the setting of the convention too and that Elle works in a food truck called the Pumpkin.

I really loved Geekerella. It’s such a fun read and highly recommend it. Especially with it being convention season now. I think it’s a good way to rev up.

I also love the hardcover for this book. It makes it definitely worth picking up for your home library. I'm guessing the naked version of the book is the correct color blue...

Amy is going to be signing at my local bookstore! Yay! Unfortunately I can't go because I'm working a St. Baldrick's event but even if you don't live in the area you can order a book, have it personalized, and shipped to you. You can call or go online.

Duels & Deception by Cindy Anstey

Title: Duels and Deception
Author: Cindy Anstey
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: April 11th 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance, Young Adult

Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father’s choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.

Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won’t hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert’s help, Lydia strives to keep her family’s good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants…

I was delighted to find the same kind of witty and fun characters in Duels and Deception as I did in Love, Lies and Spies. Cindy Anstey crafts a humorous historical romance.

I absolutely loved Lydia and Robert. Both characters are clever and witty and completely adorable when they are together. Lydia has some control issues that Robert can see and often tease about. There biggest hurdle is always of course, class. Which is common in a historical setting. They have so much great witty banter it makes it fun to read.

I also always love the inclusion of family. I was thinking about how different the world is today on the subject. Before you were mostly with your family and everything happened to you as a group. I liked the inclusion of her interesting Uncle and most of all her mother. Who I think Lydia often under estimates herself. I like when her mom has her own times to shine.

The main plot is a fun mystery involved reputations and marriage. I liked the way the pieces come together as Lydia has to figure out who is at odds with her.

One thing that I have really enjoyed about Cindy’s novels is that there are often side stories. Like that of Cassidy and Cora. They are woven into the main plot but give a little something extra to the story as a whole. You are not just getting to the main characters but the characters around them as well.

I really loved this book. It was fun and well written. It makes me feel like I’m going to go around and start talking like I’m from the era. Ha! The romance is so sweet and cute you can’t help but smile. Just like all the people around Lydia and Robert. I highly recommend it, especially if you are looking for that not so heavy read.

Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester. Love, Lies and Spies is her debut novel.


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Immortal Fire by Annette Marie

Title: Immortal Fire
Author: Annette Marie
(Red Winter Trilogy #3)
Publication date: April 11th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Once, Emi believed the heavenly gods were righteous and wise, while the earthly yokai spirits were bloodthirsty and evil. But with a traitorous deity poised to destroy her world, and the yokai standing as humanity’s only defense, the lies of her upbringing have toppled to reveal a far more terrifying reality.

Despite the looming threat, Emi can’t escape her greatest distraction: Shiro, the fox yokai who has so deftly claimed her heart for his own. Soon—too soon—she will have to break the curse that binds his magic and memories. And once the ancient power inside him awakens, the yokai she loves will be changed forever.

As the earthly gods gather to wage war against the heavens, Emi and Shiro must gamble everything to turn the tide against their immortal, all-powerful foes. Together, they will find a way to save her world—even if it means losing each other.

Each book in the Red Winter Trilogy includes
ten stunning illustrations by award-winning artist
Brittany Jackson.
This is an exclusive preview of one illustration
featured in Immortal Fire.

Annette Marie’s Top 5 Scariest Monsters in the Red Winter Trilogy

5. Kappa – These water imps are best known for drowning people. They live in the water and if you get too close, they’ll drag you under, drown you, and eat you.

4. Oni – Seven-foot-tall ogres with reddish skin, black manes, and tusks. They live in forests, travel in packs, and if they catch you—yep, they’ll eat you.

3. Yamachichi – Though the heroine Emi only briefly encounters this foe, it’s not to be underestimated. It might look like a furry dwarf, but it can steal the breath from your lungs with a single touch.

2. Kanashibari – To take the creepy level up a few notches, these ghostly specters are demons born from the souls of deceased children. They like to trap people in nightmares—or their worst memories.

1. Tsuchigumo – Giant. Spiders. Need I say more? One bite from these icky, nasty, horrible arachnids will put their victim into a coma so the spiders can slowly feed off their life force. Uuuuugh.
Annette Marie is the author of the Amazon best-selling Steel & Stone series, which includes Goodreads Choice Award nominee Yield the Night, and fantasy trilogy Red Winter. Her first love is fantasy, but fast- paced urban fantasy and tantalizing forbidden romances are her guilty pleasures. She lives in the frozen winter wasteland of Alberta, Canada (okay, it's not quite that bad) with her comparatively sensible husband and their furry minion of darkness—sorry, cat—Caesar. When not writing, she can be found elbow-deep in one art project or another while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities.


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