Blacksouls by Nicole Castroman (Blackhearts #2)

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“Blacksouls” by Nicole Castroman

5 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“Nicole Castroman brings the dangerous pirate ports of the Caribbean to life in this vibrant sequel to Blackhearts—the reimagined origin story of history’s most infamous pirate, Blackbeard.

Edward “Teach” Drummond is setting sail to the Caribbean as first mate on the most celebrated merchant ship in the British fleet—until he rebels against his captain. Mutiny is a capital offense and Teach knows it could cost him his life, but he believes it worth the risk in order 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 one of those books that the more time you spend thinking about it, the more you come to love and appreciate the story and its characters. I honestly think that this is in my top three favorite books of the year, and I cannot believe that it took me this long to write a review for it! I guess reading a bunch of duds this spring kind of took up the free time that I use to write reviews… 😦

Last year, “Blackhearts” was one of the best books of 2016, and I completely fell in love with Nicole’s characters and her storytelling style. I loved the fact that “Blackhearts” was a historical novel rather than an high-octane adventure story, and that it was centered on developing the characters and the dynamics between them, rather than the drama that was about the ensue. I love historical fiction and learning about times and new places that I do not know much about, and I love the feeling of taking away some new piece of knowledge or developing a new perspective due to something that I have learned while reading. That sensation of discovery and enjoyment was one of the reasons why I loved “Blackhearts” so much, because it was more than a pyro maniac’s dream; it was about relationships and the invisible cords that linked them all together, and how people and many of their choices were dictated by the time that they live in. That aspect of “Blackhearts” was depicted with such accuracy that I instantly became a fan of Nicole Castroman, and I so admire her skill as a writer and the accuracy of her research. With all that being said about “Blackhearts,” I do have to say that as dear to my heart as Castroman’s debut is to my heart, “Blacksouls” definitely showed how much Nicole has grown as an author over the past year, and let me tell you, this book was one killer of a ride.

After hearing the announcement that there would be a second book in Nicole’s retelling of Blackbeard’s life, I was, to be honest, a bit wary. I had loved the bitter sweet, tormenting ending of “Blackhearts” so much that I did not want a second book to ruin how I felt about the first. Seriously, readers, I should not have wasted my time worrying, because “Blacksouls” was so amazing and it exceeded all of my expectations!

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The second book of Ann and Teach’s story was dynamic, full of the perfect amount of drama and heartache, as well as tension and romance. “Blacksouls” was so well-balanced and wonderfully layered that it kind of blew me away; it was grittier and a bit more wild than “Blackhearts,” but I personally feel like that was the perfect match for how Ann and Teach’s story was unfolding. It was a truly magical experience to read a book that I instantly connected with, especially after a fairly disappointing spring for books!

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Nicole’s research skills were once again put to good use in “Blacksouls,” and I felt utterly transported to the time and place where Teach and Ann lived, fully experiencing the beauties and horrors of that era as their story unfolded before me. Nicole Castroman’s writing made the past come vividly back to life, and since I already have a weakness for well-written and well-researched historical fiction, it is no shocker that I fell more in love with this series and its characters because of how well-executed the historical aspects were!

Teach was (and is) the best pirate character that a reader and fangirl could ever ask for! (sorry, Jack!)

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He was equal parts swoony, wild, and determined, as well as good-hearted. Teach had been amazing in “Blackhearts” and I had completely fallen for him as a character, but underneath his strength, charm, and determination, Teach had felt like a boy during parts of the first book. In “Blacksouls,” however, Teach came in to his own, becoming a more quietly bold and strong young man. I loved seeing the character development that he experienced over the course of “Blacksouls,” especially since he and Ann were apart for half of this book. He was clever, charming, and intelligent in how determined he was to find Anne, which was pretty attractive, let me tell you. As much as I loved Ann and Teach together, though, I did like the fact that I could get to know each of them separately, and I liked seeing the friendship between Teach and John in action as they set sail together again.

I adored pretty much all of the characters in “Blacksouls”; I loved Teach and his fellow sailors, the young brother and sister that Ann sailed to Nassau with, and I loved to hate the villains of Ann and Teach’s story. Unfortunately, the only person I was not a huge fan of in this book was Ann herself, which surprised me because of how much I had liked her in “Blackhearts.” In “Blacksouls,” I had a hard time connecting with Ann, and I found her boldness and ferocity in certain situations to be a little unrealistic, feeling that her actions were sometimes foolish rather than brave, especially when the lives of others were at stake. I still liked Ann and Teach together when they had their reunion moment and they began to make plans together once more, but I really feel that Teach’s character development completely eclipsed that of Ann’s, which I am actually okay with. I would have loved to feel a bit more connected and attached to Ann like I had in “Blackhearts,” but me not being wholly on Ann’s side did not at all detract from my love for this book.

Ahhh, the romance. I still loved Ann and Teach as a couple, even if I was a bit more of a fan of him than her. It was wonderful seeing and experiencing the personalities of these two wonderful characters while they were apart, because I feel like I got to know both of them so much better that way. Them being separated for so long in this book also built the tension and made me more invested in their story and their situation as a whole. Nicole Castroman did such an amazing job of giving me as a reader just enough of their interactions to keep me reading and to be invested in their relationship, but not so much that it detracted from the rest of her book’s plot. I feel like the quote, “[his] parting was my pain,” basically describes this book and what it made me feel, especially when it came to the open ended ending!

Nicole was cruel once again with her ending, but I totally respect her because I AM HOOKED!

I do not want to spoil anything about “Blacksouls” for you, so I will just say that Nicole Castroman did an amazing job of creating another magical and well-developed book. I was held in suspense of what might happen to Teach, Ann, and the other characters in this book, and there was loads of adventure and drama, and piracy to boot! I adored seeing the characters grow and develop apart as well as together, and it was wonderful to see how complex and dynamic Nicole’s story and characters have become. I loved the adventure and intrigue that was woven throughout “Blacksouls,” and I appreciate the fact that this book did not wander away from the heart of this series’ story: the second installment to Nicole’s series still had the tug of war between the romance and relationships like the first book, but it was also more. More complex, more dynamic, and I honestly just wanted to read more. Here’s to hoping that there’s a third book coming out next year, because that cliffhanger will haunt me until I get another book!

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“Blacksouls” was a wonderful, adventurous, and refreshing read, and if you have any fondness for historical fiction, “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and/or “Poldark,” I think that you would absolutely adore this fantastic series!

Release Day: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Good morning, readers! I am so excited to announce that “When Dimple Met Rishi” by Sandhya Menon is out today in bookstores and online!!!!!

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This is the YA contemporary novel that both my sister and I have been anxiously awaiting, and I am beyond excited that it is out today! The story sounds insanely charming (keep scrolling if you want to read the summary), and I started following Sandhya and she seems like the sweetest, most adorable author. Also, she loves Bollywood movies and her newsletter is called “Cupcakes and Tea with Sandhya Menon,” so….that’s like an instant win in my book! (If you are interested in following this author, here is Sandhya’s website.)

Do yourself a favor today and go pick up or order a copy of this beautiful and adorable novel, and enjoys the contemporary FEELS!

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Goodreads summary:

“A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.”

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

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“Geekerella” by Ashley Poston

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“Anything can happen once upon a con…

When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.”

This was just one of those fabulous books that completely took me by surprise! My sister had told me about the premise of “Geekerella,” and although I thought that it sounded like a really fun, cute read, I was a bit skeptical. Sometimes the descriptions of books are better than the books themselves (as we all know), especially when it comes to contemporary retellings of a classic story or fairy tale. That being said, Ashley Poston hit it out of the park with her retelling of “Cinderella,” and I cannot recommend it enough to all of my fellow fangirls out there!

There have been a LOT of retellings and remakes of “Cinderella” (not all of them good), and with it being one of my all-time favorite childhood movies and stories, this book could have totally put me off. Despite everything that could have gone wrong with this retelling, Ashley Poston did such a great job of creating likeable, charismatic, and nerdy characters that I connected “Geekerella” and its characters instantly. I also loved the “Star Trek” vibes that were present throughout this book, and I swear that Ashley Poston must have based part of “Geekerella” on Hilary Duff’s “A Cinderella Story,” because both my sister and I saw the parallels between the two retellings. I loved the geek-tasticness of the heroine and hero and nostalgia that this book evoked in my while I was reading it; “Geekerella” was exactly what I needed as a fangirl, and its adorable cover didn’t hurt matters, either.

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Throughout “Geekerella” I found myself  completely on board with the story and how it unfolded because Ashley Poston truly UNDERSTANDS the fandom life! Things that I normally have issues within contemporary novels I was willing to overlook because the whole time Elle just preached to the choir about the horrors of having something you love remade or turned into a sequel. Can I just tell you how relateable she was at times, despite being fictitious? Elle was super adorkable, and I loved seeing a fellow fangirl properly represented in the soul of this heroine, and I thought that Darien was the perfect match to her nerdiness.

Darien was SO ADORKABLE it hurt!

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As much as I loved Elle and could relate to her fangirl heart, Darien was my favorite part of “Geekerell.” He was so charming and endearing, and he tugged at my heartstrings multiple times. His and Elle’s “meet cute” through a vengeful review and the Con directory was pretty hilarious and unique, and I enjoyed the two of them being apart for most of the book; I felt like I got to know them both better that way until the real meet cute happened. Before and after his and Elle’s official meeting, I loved the nerdy dedication of Darien and was completely charmed by his character. I also really loved his agent and long-time friend from before he became famous. Their relationship was great, and it added another dynamic to Darien’s character that made him even more likable as the story progressed.

“Geekerella” was the perfect fluff read for any time of the year. Normally I dislike contemporary books with an absentee, lazy, or overbearing parent, but in the case of the story being told, I thought that Ashley Poston did a great job of reinterpreting that aspect of the “Cinderella” fairy tale for a modern audience. Ashley’s choice and approach to Elle’s Fairy Godmother was also pretty comical and creative. From the characters to the small tweaks from the original fairy tale, “Geekerella” was the perfect balance of geeky, cute, with a dash of nostalgia. I personally loved this retelling of “Cinderella,” and if you like all things nerdy and fun, you should definitely give this book a try.

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Spirit Followers by Lydia Redwine (Instruments of Sacrifice #1)

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Quality of writing: 4 out of 5 stars.

How much I enjoyed reading this book: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“When a Royal dies, the realms elect the one to take their place. By reasons Camaria does not know, her realm elects her as the next Royal. Now that she is the new-found sixteenth Royal of the nation of Mirabelle, Cam embarks on a journey with her sisters and a young huntsman to the four realms of the nation to complete training in the four kinds of magic. Once she has completed this training, she will then be permitted to consume her annual amount of magic and possess manifested powers. Her ventures are unexpectedly steeped in precarious events when Cam discovers a secret plan of revolt, a past she never knew, and an ancient people group thought dead who call themselves the Spirit Followers.”

This review has been long in coming, and I am grateful for Lydia’s patience with how long it took me to get to her book! College and life got the better of me, but I was finally able to read the review copy that Miss Redwine sent me, and I am excited to be reviewing it! In lieu of that, I just want to say ‘thank you’ to Lydia Redwine for sending me her book in trade for an honest review. In no way has this influence my opinion or review regarding “Spirit Followers.”

Lydia Redwine’s book, “Spirit Followers,” was a very good debut to what seems to be a promising career as a writer. Lydia is a talented writer, this book being a fairly complex novel for not only the first book in a series but also a debut novel. While reading “Spirit Followers,” I thought that the approach Lydia took toward the fantasy genre was fairly unique compared to some of the other books that I have read within the genre, and her world building was well done. The society and different “cultures” that Lydia introduced in “Spirit Followers” reminded me a lot of Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” series in how each teenager had to decide which magical inlet they wished to become a part of and to live in for the remainder of their lives, especially because of how each “district” was divided by certain abilities and cultural traits. Basically it was the factions renamed with a dash of magical giftings; that aspect was not particularly original feeling, but I don’t think that it was a problem or detrimental to the plot, despite the similarities between this book’s society and other dystopian novels’. Besides the differing magical enclaves, some of the other rebellion themes were reminiscent of other YA fantasy and dystopian books that have been written throughout the years, but I thought that Lydia Redwine did a good job adding different dynamics to her story that made a similar theme completely her own.

Lydia definitely started her debut off with a bang , but for me personally, I wished she had taken a bit more time to introduce her characters and the society before throwing me as a reader right into the thick of the plot. I didn’t feel like I got to know Camaria (AKA Cam) as well as I wanted to before her whole life started to implode and the drama started saturating the story. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy action-packed, fast-paced plots, but I would have liked to have had the time to get attached to Cam and the other characters before their world suddenly went up in flames in the traditional YA way. The pacing was a little problematic for me in the beginning of “Spirit Followers,” but Lydia did a really good job of keeping her plot moving by introducing new characters and having Cam and her group travel around the different “factions” throughout this book.

As with Cam, I did not feel like I got attached to any character in particular. Oliver, Cam’s friend, made an appearance just in the beginning of “Spirit Follows” only to disappear for 90% of the book, and I was a little bummed by that because I thought that he could have been a more dynamic character if he had been present in this book for longer. Riah’s story was vague, but I totally got what Lydia was going for with this character, although I wish it had been more “fleshed-out,” so to speak. I don’t go for the bad boy type where they are actually the enemy, despite their inner struggle between good and evil; that’s just not my personal taste, so Riah was the kind of character that was fairly interesting, but I was not particularly invested in him. Fiera was probably the character that I liked the most, and she reminded me a lot of Nesta from “A Court of Thorns and Roses.” Normally I don’t like the prickly, super intense female characters, but she ended up being the most dynamic character in “Spirit Followers,” and she got business done, which I totally respected.

Besides the characters, I was quite surprised by Lydia Redwine’s world building. She did a fantastic job of not just telling her readers about all of the different regions of her world, but also showing them. Cam and her group of reluctant rebels traveled to most of the little enclaves where she (and her readers) learned about the different cultures and the magic that was present in the region. Lydia did a very good job of making her world feel expansive, and I think that there is a lot of potential in the next couple of books in this series to explore in-depth the history of Cam’s world.

Overall, I thought that Lydia Redwine’s debut was well-written and creative with a fast moving plot, but I do wish that certain aspects had been more developed (like some of the characters) before you-know-what hit the fan. I did not feel as attached to the characters as I had hoped I would be, but they were still very good. I have other things that I want to talk about regarding the plot and the loops that Lydia took her characters for, but I do not want to spoil anything for those of you wanting to read this book! I feel like “Spirit Followers” would be a great book for fans of both the fantasy and dystopian genres, especially fans of the “Divergent” series, and although this book had a high body count, I think that younger readers (middle school) would like this book, too.

Les Petits Bonheurs #32…

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So, I’m late again this week with a post, but, hey, at least I’m here! So I just wanted to post this lovely fanart, which was created by a fellow blogger (readatmidnight), in celebration of having enough time to read “Crooked Kingdom” by Leigh Bardugo! I adored “Six of Crows” when it came out, and I have been anxious to find out what will happen to Leigh’s characters ever since finishing it. It has been a mild form of torture to look at that gorgeous book on my shelf for the last three weeks and to not have enough time to pick it up. But today that changes, and I am super excited to do a quick read of “Six of Crows” to freshen my memory of the events leading up to Leigh Bardugo’s explosive finale!

Thanks for visiting today! Bonne journée, tout le monde!

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

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“The Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Stedman

4 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

“Elegantly rendered…heart-wrenching…beautifully drawn” (USA TODAY), The Light Between Oceans is a gorgeous debut novel, not soon to be forgotten.'”

So, I know it’s the cardinal sin of an avid reading to decide to read a book because its movie trailer looks really good, but that is what happened in my case. I had seen a commercial for the film adaption of this novel, and when I saw that Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender were going to play the main characters, I was very curious to pick up M.L. Stedman’s novel. Normally adult novels are not on my radar, especially since I dwell in the YA community, but now and then a unique and quality book will pop up within the adult genre for me to read, and “The Light Between Oceans” was one of those exceptions to the generally formulaic genre.

“The Light Between Oceans” was a wonderful book. It took me a very short amount of time to become invested in the story and its characters despite the slightly choppy narration by M.L. Stedman. Normally I would not enjoy her particular type of writing style, but for this novel it completely worked. Besides being extremely invested in the characters, especially Tom, I really appreciated M.L. Stedman’s boldness in which she portrayed the consequences of peoples’ actions, even when they are done with good intentions. Stedman did not shy away from displaying how one action made by an individual in their in sorrow and desperation could destroy the lives of people that they had never even met, and in consequence, they could also destroy their own family. The decision in this book was not made in malice nor had anyone intended to ruin the life of someone else, but it was a choice that had massive consequences, which began to wreak havoc on everyone.

The proof of how influential one choice can be in a person’s life was displayed in full effect in “The Light Between Oceans,” and even though I instinctively knew what was going to happen to Tom and Isabel and little Lucy, I was still anxiously reading this novel. M.L. Stedman did a wonderful job of making a historical romance novel feel more like a suspense novel at times. Not only was a crying towards the end, but my heart was also racing in dread at what I knew would come next. Maybe that only happened for me, but I was kind of a wreck once I got to the halfway point in “The Light Between Oceans.”

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The situation that was the driving force of this book’s plot was intensely emotional; the concept of love, family, and the choices we make influencing both of those things made for an emotional reading experience, especially with the kinds of characters that M.L. Stedman wrote.

Tom Sherbourne was a seriously compelling character, his past with his family and his experiences in WWI making him an extremely dynamic character to read about. He was a strong, quiet, and thoughtful individual, and he was completely dedicated to his job as the light keeper, as well as being a husband. “The Light between Oceans” was a small book, but I felt that M.L. Stedman made every scene and word count concerning this character, and everything that happened to Tom in this book struck my heart. The choices that he willingly and unwillingly made during this novel were decisions that I think anyone can understand the reasoning behind, and his strong moral compass made him stand out as a character, not only in this book, but it also set him apart from other male characters in the literary world. I can’t say much else about Tom other than that without spoiling this story, but he was a truly amazing and moving character, and I completely understood the convictions and fears that drove him to make certain choices, especially the ones concerning his wife.

Isabel started out as being a feisty, vivacious young woman in the first third of this novel, and then her personality changed quite a bit. Her and Tom’s relationship was really sweet and charming to see develop, and I was happy to get a little bit of happiness and joy from their relationship before the young couple was thrown into the heart of this heavier story. The young, happy Isabel slipped away quickly after she lost two of her children, and some of the choices that she made, though I strongly disagree with them, were understandable considering everything that she and Tom had been through. What I didn’t like, though, was how she treated Tom; no matter how broken you feel or are from your experiences, you should never treat someone you love that way. (I know we all do it at times to our lovedones, but I still did not like it!) I understood the choices that Isabel made, I understand her motivation, but I think that she made some very selfish choices from the beginning of this book, and then kept making the wrong choices afterward. She mentally justified what she had done, but there was a right way to go about things, whether she wanted to see it or not. Because of the decisions that she made and how she treated Tom, I pittied her and her circumstances, but I was not a fan of her as a character.

“The Light Between Oceans” was full of many characters who all made choices that affected others, as well as themselves, but I don’t really want to talk about them because this novel was really about Tom. The heart of this story was about Tom Sherbourne and the sacrifices he made, the love he had for his family, and his view of right and wrong. “The Light Between Oceans” was an extremely moving story, and I definitely found myself struggling to read through my tears a few times, especially toward the end.

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Overall, I really enjoyed reading “The Light Between Oceans.” It was a surprisingly emotional story for me, and I loved all of the historical and geographically touches that M.L. Stedman used to make her book come to life. I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a good historical fiction novel or an emotionally gripping read, and I think that fans of “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers would really enjoy “The Light Between Oceans.” Now I just have to wait until the film adaption comes out so that I can watch it…

P.S. If my review did not convince you to give this book a try, here are all of the reasons why you should read “The Light Between Oceans” in bullit points:

  • Amazing historical setting,
  • Vivid detailing of Australia,
  • Gripping plot,
  • It’s a wonderfully introspective novel,
  • Makes you think about your own views of personal and societal morality.

And the most important reason of all: Tom Sherbourne who was:

  • Quiet,
  • Thoughtful,
  • Had an intensely strong conscience,
  • Made me cry multiple time,
  • Il était magnifique dans ce livre!
  • Part of the rare species of male characters with a strong moral compass and undying love for his wife and daughter,
  • All of the above equaled a super hot male character with an insanely moving story.

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Do yourself a favor, and give this book a try.

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (The Dark Artifices #1)

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“Lady Midnight” by Cassandra Clare

4 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“In a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?”

Alright, it is high time for a review of “Lady Midnight,” especially since I finished it a month and a half ago. *sighs* At least I am keeping up with reading, if not reviewing!

Wow, “Lady Midnight” was a big book. Personally, large books do not intimidate me, and I actually like the fact that I get more book for the same amount of money, which is the deal-seeker in me coming out. The only problem with large books (more than 500 pages) is that there is a recovery time for the hands and wrists after reading one. I was prepared for this after seeing the page count of Cassandra’s newest book, but I was personally not prepared for the C.C.H. (Cassandra Clare Hand is an acute case of carpel tunnel that only reading “Lady Midnight” can produce) that ensued after I finished reading this book. All that being said, just have a wrist brace on hand when you pick up Cassandra’s latest book, and you’ll be fine.

Dramatics aside, after having finished the monstrous beauty that is “Lady Midnight,” I had (almost) no regrets. Cassandra Clare has written another wonderful and adventurous novel, and I was so excited to get to know some of the new characters that she had written in “The Dark Artifices” trilogy. Per usual, I was just as anxious about meeting the characters as I was excited to get to know them, because sometimes I just don’t connect with the individuals in new series of a well-liked author, even though I really want to. But I shouldn’t have worried, because Emma Carstairs and all of the Blackthorns were such great characters, and I fell in love with them while reading “Lady Midnight.” I personally don’t think that any of Cassandra Clare’s other characters, past, present, or future, could ever take William Herondale’s place in my heart, and no parabatai bond is as precious to me as his and Jem’s, but I still felt myself fall a little in love with everyone in “Lady Midnight.”

I liked Emma Carstairs a lot, not just because she was a distant relation to Jem, but also because she was a fun, albeit wild, heroine who kept me interested in “Lady Midnight” as I read her parts of this book, and her past was as interesting as it was heartbreaking. I still have not read Cassandra Clare’s “The Mortal Instruments” series, so when I first started “Lady Midnight” I was a tiny bit lost with some of back stories of certain characters and with what happened in the war that went on before this book began. Emma’s background was tied closely to “The Mortal Instruments,” so it did take me a little bit of time to put the pieces of her past together, how some things went down in the other series, and how Emma ended up becoming a part of the Blackthorn family. Once I kind of deciphered those few things, I was able to follow along easily with what was going on within the Shadowhunter world, and how Emma and the Blackthorns were affected by the Cold Peace that came about as a result of the war. Cassandra did a good job of not making some of the rehearsed facts about the Shadowhunters become mundane (no pun intended!) or arduous to read, and I feel that anyone, regardless of whether they’ve read “The Mortal Instruments” or not, could easily pick up “Lady Midnight.” Oddly enough, though, I do think that reading “The Infernal Devices” could be far more helpful to readers coming into this book because of how those events people in Cassandra’s historical Shadowhunter novels are tied so closely to everything in “Lady Midnight.” It is not absolutely necessary to read “The Infernal Devices,” but it seemed like, having read that trilogy, I was able to understand the underlining tones that were going on within this book, because the history behind “The Infernal Devices” was not described or eluded to, whereas the events of “The Mortal Instruments” were broken down for readers in “Lady Midnight.” All of that being said, I felt that jumping right into Emma’s story was pretty easy, and I thought that she had a much more enjoyable and active protagonist, especially when compared to Tessa Gray.

The only thing that really saddened me about “The Infernal Devices,” other than its soul-shattering and sob-worthy ending, was that Tessa ended up being the kind of female character who felt mildly worthless and ineffective. I know the story was technically about her, but I felt like Will and Jem, as well as the other Shadowhunters, carried the story so effectively all by themselves that if Tessa had disappeared from the trilogy, I would not have felt impacted by her departure. With Emma, however, I felt like she played a truly important role in how the story of “Lady Midnight” unfolded, and despite not always agreeing with her brash behavior, I appreciated the fact that she was an active protagonist who was fairly impacting. Although I liked Emma, the characters who really stole my heart were the Blackthorn siblings, especially Julian.

Thirty pages into “Lady Midnight,” and I was in love with Julian as a character. Call it insta-love on my part, but I felt so emotionally attached to this male character only a few chapters in that I became really invested in this fiercely loyal and loving young man by the time I finished Lady Midnight.” His past and present circumstances tugged at my heartstrings, and I couldn’t help but feel the pain and weight that Julian carried around on his shoulders due to the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings his whole life. He was only seventeen or eighteen-years-old, yet he’d had to take on the immense responsibility of keeping his family together when no one else would after the Shadowhunter war ended, and his story and love for his siblings, the sacrifices he had to make in order to take car of his family, made him a truly compelling character. I liked Emma, but I loved and was rooting for Julian throughout “Lady Midnight,” and although this book was supposed to be about Emma’s parents’ murder, it really turned out to be a Blackthorn book. The summary for this book might have been slightly false advertising, but I was personally happy that “Lady Midnight” focused mostly on Julian and his family. Julian was an amazing character, and I thought that Cassandra’s choice to make him an artist was a good one because his gifting and love for it helped to make him feel even more rounded out as a protagonist and hero of this story. I fell for Julian while reading this book for a lot of reasons, but it was mostly how much he cared about his siblings and the dynamic that existed between them that made him such an interesting and compelling character.

The interactions between Julian and his family were what took “Lady Midnight” from being a good book to becoming a great one; I don’t know if any of Cassandra’s other books could capture my heart quite like the “Clockwork Angel” and the “Clockwork Prince” did, but Julian and his sisters and brothers made “Lady Midnight” come quite close to the mark. Each of the Blackthorn siblings were well-written, and I loved their relationship with each other because it felt genuine and real, and everything they went through over the years and getting their brother Mark back, while not exactly getting him back made my heart ache for all of them. Each of the Blackthorns were wonderfully written, and I adored every interaction I got between them and Julian! They were all such great secondary characters, and I loved that they added so much to the story that unfolded in “Lady Midnight.”

Although the Blackthorns made this book for me, I also ended up loving the addition of Cristina Rosales, who was a new Shadowhunter in the L.A. Institute. I thought that she was a cool and very likeable female character, and I wish that there had been a little bit more of this book told from her perspective, since it was so large. Cristina had an interesting and slightly hidden past, which I thought added another great dynamic to this book.

“Lady Midnight” was a large book, nearly reaching seven hundred pages, but I felt like it was well-paced in the fact that I kept reading and was interesting in the story and its characters, despite having my favorites. I honestly don’t have a lot of complaints about this book, but the one thing that did end up bothering me was the romance between Julian and Emma.

At first, I was really rooting for Emma and Julian as a couple, and I was quite torn up over the fact that they were both such awesome parabatai, but because of that bond, they were also allowed to pursuing a romantic relationship. One of the frustrating things in YA books, especially with a story line like “Lady Midnight,” is that miscommunication is used as a plot device most of the time. In this particular situation, I understood why Emma and Julian both kept their feelings secret, because telling each other would honestly do nothing but wreck their relationship as parabatai. I understood why they kept their feelings hidden from one another, and I was shipping them for the first half of “Lady Midnight,” enjoying the tension of untold truths, and even knowing that they both cared for each other when they were both unaware of that fact. But after about halfway through this book, the romance progressed, happening so suddenly and all at once that I was a little bit frustrated because it seemed irrational and to almost belittled what they had. There had been tension throughout the book, but once they had their moment, everything came crashing down around them because they acted without thinking. I know they had history from being friends, so it was not insta-love or anything, but it just happened so fast that it made me like their relationship less because I wanted them to have a few sweet moments, like the scene where they dance together, before it fizzled and crumbled to pieces. I felt like this relationship was over before it ever began, and that was a little disappointing to me, because I had really liked the idea of them together.

Overall, I really liked “Lady Midnight.” I thought that it was a great start to what seems like a promising trilogy, and I really enjoyed the L.A. setting mixed with the world of the Shadowhunters. I found the faerie-related things (the Cold Peace, faerie history, etc) to be quite interesting, and I, as you already know, fell in love with all of the Blackthorns. Their family dynamic and how they got their brother, Mark, back only to have to fight for him to stay was as heartbreaking as it was beautiful, and I adored all of the siblings and thought that they gave this book heart. Julian stole a little piece of my heart away in “Lady Midnight,” but I am anxious to see where Cassandra Clare is taking him after the ending of this book; it did not end on a happy note, and I just hope that he does not go to a super dark and broody place in the second book of “The Dark Artifices” trilogy. “Lady Midnight” was a great new installment to Cassandra’s Shadowhunter world, and if you liked any of her other series or fantasy novels in general, you should definitely pick up this book!