Tag: Penguin

Buddy Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Posted April 11, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Buddy Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel CleetonReviewer: Ames & Rowena
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Format: eBook, Print
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction
Pages: 394
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 A-Z Reading Challenge, Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
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four-stars

After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity--and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution...

Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba's high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country's growing political unrest--until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary...

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa's last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba's tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she'll need the lessons of her grandmother's past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.

Chanel Cleeton’s Next Year in Havana takes us on an emotional journey to Cuba, in both the past and the present as our main characters, Marisol Ferrera and Elisa Perez, battle through emotions, secrets and the hardships of war, all while falling in love with men that came with their own complications.

Rowena: This was really angsty and while I did end up enjoying it (I even cried), it was a bit slow to start. What did you think, Ames?

Ames: I have to agree. It took me a good while to get into it. Part of it was that in an odd switch I wanted to read this book in print, not in e-format. It’s usually the other way around. So I finally made my way to the bookstore and then I couldn’t finish this book fast enough!

And the angst wasn’t emotional angst. It was -oh my god we’re in the middle of a revolution and we could die- kind of angst. Which I was totally into. I can admit that I don’t know a heck of a lot about Cuba but this book did a really good job of making what happened, relevant and thought-provoking as well as providing a dangerous background for our main character’s grandmother.

Rowena: Yes, the romance took a back seat to all of the angst from everything else that was going on. Once I got the hang of both timelines, all of the characters, and what was going on, I zipped right through this book. My heart hurt and then it soared for both Elisa and what she lived through, how hard her life was even though on the surface, her life looked pretty fluffy, it was anything but and for Marisol, too. When she gets to Cuba, she’s expecting to hear stories of her beloved grandmother through people who once loved her and confided in her but she found so much more than that and I was so here for all of it.

I really liked the way that Cleeton wove this tale. She brought everything going on in Cuba to the front of a very compelling story and I really enjoyed it.

Who was your favorite character?

Ames: Elisa was definitely my favorite character. My heart definitely hurt for what she went through. But I liked how we learned about her story through Marisol’s eyes. I agree with you, I like the way Cleeton wove these two stories together. I liked Pablo more as an old man than when he was younger. His experience and his heartbreak was what made me cry. I really wonder how Elisa and his life would have worked out if Elisa knew the truth. This was a bittersweet book. And I promptly pre-ordered Beatriz book once I was done. LOL.

Rowena: Same. I connected with Elisa’s story and her struggles with every single thing that she went through. From her struggles with loving a man who was fighting on the opposite side of the side her father supported to the way that her family had to creep out of the country to survive and everything that she felt with toward her brother and not being able to know for sure that he was safe and all of that.

I felt the same way about older Pablo. He missed out on so much and my heart for him and just everything. His love for Elisa was true and it was strong and it lasted his entire life even though he moved on. It was so heartbreaking. I’m super glad that I read this one and will definitely be reading more from Cleeton, she’s got magic hands weaving the good stories. I need more of that in my life.

Are you going to read When We Left Cuba? I’m already reading it and so far, it’s just as fantastic as this one was. I give this one 4.25 out of 5 stars, what about you?

Ames: I am planning on reading When We Left Cuba. I needed to read something light and fluffy after Marisol and Elisa’s story though so I’m glad I have a bit of a wait until it’s released. I know I’m going to want to read it in paperback. LOL

I’m giving Next Year in Havana 4.25 out of 5 as well. Despite a bit of a slow beginning it’s definitely an engrossing story and it hits you in the feels. I highly recommend!

Final Grades

Ames: 4.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

Related Books

Next Year in Havana
When We Left Cuba

four-stars


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Review: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

Posted April 9, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: When We Left Cuba by Chanel CleetonReviewer: Rowena
When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: April 9, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Women's Fiction
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
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four-stars

In 1960s Florida, a young Cuban exile will risk her life--and heart--to take back her country in this exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.

Beautiful. Daring. Deadly.

The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez--her family, her people, her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro's inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost.

As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the clash of Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man driven by ambitions of his own. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future--but the wrong move could cost Beatriz everything--not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart...

Chanel Cleeton strikes again with another emotionally driven story that hit me in every single feel in my body. After finishing Next Year in Havana, I looked forward to jumping into this book because I was mighty interested in getting Marisol’s Great-Aunt’s story. Beatriz Perez was the real deal in the first book and she is just as intense and amazing in her book…maybe even more so because we got her front and center with every single page.

Beatriz really stands out in this book. She makes this entire story work. She’s bold, she’s beautiful and she makes no apologies for who and what she does. She was also brave as hell. She knew what she stood for and even though she fell in love with a man who complicated the hell out of her beliefs, and her life, she didn’t apologize for her love for him either. I admired the hell out of her because she was fierce in her beliefs and her loyalties.

This story takes place when the relationship between the US and Cuba was not good and it shows us how complicated living during this time was and I just really enjoyed the drama, the passion and the romance between Beatriz and her boo thang. It wasn’t an easy read. There are things that happen that I wasn’t too comfortable with but because Chanel Cleeton wrote these things in (see content warning above) a way that I couldn’t help but understand, I didn’t mind it too much. There were times when my heart hurt for everything that Beatriz went through and there were times that I about swooned over how passionate Nick and Beatriz’s romance was. There was also times when I cheered for Beatriz because the bitch likes to get shit done. She’s probably my favorite character in both this book and Next Year in Havana and I’m SO glad that I read it.

Do I recommend this book? You bet your ass I do. Go forth and read this one, you won’t regret it. I promise.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

Related Books

Next Year in Havana
When We Left Cuba

four-stars


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Guest Review: The Au Pair by Emma Rous

Posted April 3, 2019 by Ames in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Au Pair by Emma RousReviewer: Ames
The Au Pair by Emma Rous
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Format: Print
Source: Library
Genres: Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 379
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two-half-stars

A grand estate, terrible secrets, and a young woman who bears witness to it all. If V. C. Andrews and Kate Morton had a literary love child, Emma Rous’ The Au Pair would be it.

Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.

Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.

Who is the child and what really happened that day?

One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.

This book caught my eye when it was appearing on lists of books to look forward to in 2019 so I requested it from my local library. Knowing it was about a nanny I had a few predictions about what would happen and I wasn’t wrong but oh man I wasn’t right either!

The Au Pair begins with Seraphine going through her father’s things after he’s passed away. She finds a photograph that was taken on the day she was born, which also happens to be the day her mom died (suicide), which shows her mother holding one baby but also looking really happy. Seraphine is a twin so she’s consumed by the question why there’s only one baby in the picture and why her mom looks so happy when only hours later she took her own life. This mystery has Seraphine tracking down Laura, the nanny her parents used that summer before her and her brother were born. Immediately after talking to Laura, who requests that she be left alone, Seraphine starts getting threatening messages left around her house.

Between this modern day search for the truth, the Au Pair also flashes back to that summer from Laura’s point of view. I thought Laura’s story was more interesting than Seraphine’s although not a lot happens. She’s a student who’s hired to nanny for a couple who already have a little boy. The mother has some mental health issues that her mother and husband keep asking Laura how she’s doing. The husband is away all week working in London and comes home on the weekends to be with his family. The only excitement is when Laura develops a crush on Alex, a friend to the family who comes to visit from time to time.

I have to say, I was somewhat enjoying this book for a good two-thirds of the story but then once the mystery started to be revealed to the reader I was not impressed. Laura’s feelings about things that were happening were very flat and there was no depth to her. I was right about something I predicted happening but then the train went completely off the rails and started flying around the moon. LOL That’s honestly how crazy the plot became. Also, for a book taking place in 2017, why didn’t Seraphine take pictures with her freaking cell phone of the threatening messages that were being left for her? I have to admit that really annoyed me. The danger was weak in the end and the mystery was crazy pants and not in a good way. In the end I’m only going to give the Au Pair

Grade: 2.75 out of 5

two-half-stars


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Featured Review: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Posted March 22, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Featured Review: Magic Bites by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Casee, Holly, & Rowena
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #1
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds, Magic Bites, Magic Strikes, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bleeds
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: March 29, 2009
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 386
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Casee's 2019 TBR Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 TBR Challenge, Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Rowena's 2019 TBR Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-stars
Series Rating: four-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews invites you to experience the first novel in the “intriguing world” (Locus) of Kate Daniels with this special edition of Magic Bites...

Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn't want it any other way…

This special edition includes in-depth information about the world of Kate Daniels, with descriptions of its characters and factions. Explore Kate’s Atlanta like never before with answers to FAQ and a quiz to find your place there. And don’t miss the prequel story “A Questionable Client,” as well as scenes of events in Magic Bites from Curran’s point of view.

Magic Bites is the first book in Ilona Andrews‘ wildly popular Kate Daniels series. The world was once filled with magic, until technology came and drown it out. Now magic has returned in waves, killing tech and causing strange happenings. They call this the Shift.

Here we’re introduced to Kate in post-shift Atlanta as she tries to discover who murdered her guardian.

Holly: I have to be honest, this isn’t a great introduction to the series. I feel it’s necessary to the world-building and to establish Kate’s position in Atlanta and her relationship with Curran and the Pack, but it’s pretty slow and bogged down with a lot of info.

Rowena: I didn’t even read the blurb before starting this book, I only know what I’ve read about the series as a whole on Twitter and around Blog Land but yeah, I agree with Holly. There were times in the first half of the book where I was bored to tears with what was going on…which was a whole lot of nothing. I didn’t understand what was going on, only that Kate was trying to find her guardian’s killer in a world that didn’t make a lick of sense to me. Once I got over that beginning hump and Curran comes on to the scene, things pick up and I started to piece together a little understanding so I didn’t hate the entire thing but yeah, that beginning was boring af.

I will say that the second half really takes off and I’m curious as hell to see where the next book takes us and I’m excited to see it all. I really loved Kate and Curran and Derek. They were freaking great.

Casee: I am definitely going to continue with the series, but I was bored to death while listening to this book. If I had tried to read it instead of listening to it, I never would have finished it. There were parts that I actually enjoyed, but I mostly found it boring and tedious. The only reason I continued on was because I’ve heard that this book is necessary to read if you’re planning on continuing the series.

What did you think of Kate? I found her annoying at the beginning.

Rowena: I thought both her and Curran were annoying at first but that changed over the course of the book. Kate is badass and I loved that she had a soft heart for those in need of help…when she wouldn’t let Curran harm Derek? She won me over completely.

Holly: I agree, both Kate and Curran were annoying at first. As the book went on they improved. It’s funny to go back now and read where they started from. Especially after reading Curran’s POV.

Rowena:Did you guys think that Crest was the bad guy? I did. LOL.

Holly: No, I never thought Crest was the bad guy. I pegged the real villain right away. I still liked watching Kate puzzle it out.

Casee: I didn’t think Crest was the bad guy because that would have been too easy. That was the only reason. I also had no idea who it was.

Holly: Although the beginning of this book moves slow, I can’t deny the attraction to the world. Kate, Curran, Derek and others really come to life, especially in later books. I can’t wait for you guys to read the rest.

Rowena: I’m not going to lie, for a huge chunk of this book, I looked like this while reading:

I was confused with all of the magic short-circuiting cars and phones and then vampires being actual undead and the bad guys, it’s a really different paranormal world than I’m used to and by the end of the book, I was here for it. I didn’t blink at the exploding creatures and Kate cutting creatures heads off and taking them back to her kitchen to investigate them. I was one with this world and seriously, I’m looking forward to digging into this world some more.

Even with the really slow beginning, I enjoyed this one but not nearly as much as I thought I was going to with all of the Kate Daniels love this series gets every damn where. Still, this gets 3 out of 5 stars from me. What about you guys?

Holly: Had I not had so many others telling me this series was amazing, I’d probably never have continued after this book. I do think the events here are necessary to what’s coming, though, so I’m glad you guys read it.

It gets 3 out of 5 from me, too.

Casee: This book was basically an info dump. I’ve been meaning to read it and I’m glad I did because I’m looking forward to continuing on. Despite being yawn inducing, I could definitely see the potential when I was finished reading.

I also give it a 3 out of 5.

Final Grades

Casee: 3 out of 5
Holly: 3 out of 5
Rowena: 3 out of 5

Kate Daniels

three-stars


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Review: River Marked by Patricia Briggs

Posted February 20, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

This month’s prompt for the TBR Challenge was Series so I chose to read River Marked by Patricia Briggs because I am determined to get that entire series read this year. I want to catch up by the time the next book comes out so wish me luck on that. Anyway, on with my review…

Review: River Marked by Patricia BriggsReviewer: Rowena
River Marked (Mercy Thompson, #6) by Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson #6
Also in this series: Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson, #7), Night Broken, Shifting Shadows, Blood Bound, Fire Touched, Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10), Moon Called, Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson, #2), Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson, #3), Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson, #4)
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: March 1, 2011
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 337
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Rowena's 2019 TBR Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Mercy Thompson is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. And she's never known any others of her kind. Until now. As Mercy comes to terms with this new information, an evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River. Something deadly is coming, facts are thin on the ground and Mercy feels ill at ease.

Mercy Thompson brings the badass shenanigans again in River Marked. In this book, she finally marries hottie Alpha Adam Hauptman and they’re headed on their camping honeymoon where they will be completely alone and not have to deal with anyone’s problems…until they get to their campsite and have to deal with everyone else’s problems. The problem that they’re dealing with this time around is a river devil monster who is eating the people who are getting too close to her in the river. When Adam and Mercy happen upon an injured man in the boat and smell his fear, they can’t walk away and this river monster is unique and it is magic of the American Indian variety so Mercy and Adam find themselves getting acquainted with the local Indian tribes….and Mercy’s sort of maybe ghost of a father? Yeah, there’s a lot going on in this book and I thought Briggs did a great job of pulling this story together.

I really liked that there was a Charles and Anna partnership feel to Adam and Mercy in this one. They worked together to fight the bad guys and had only each other that they could trust completely and rely on. The wealth of love that they have for each other melts me at every turn and I just really love their love. Mercy’s letter to Adam at the end was the best way to end this book and honestly, I just can’t wait to continue this series. I’m low key annoyed at myself that I kept this on my TBR shelf for so long. But no more, 2019 is the year that I finish out this series. This was another fantastic addition to the Mercy Thompson series so I definitely recommend it if you started the series but haven’t gotten around to this one. It’s good stuff, I promise!

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

Mercy Thompson

four-stars


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