Monday, January 25, 2016

Mark These Books Monday: ARC Reviews Blackhearts & Beyond The Red!!

Hello there guys!

Last week I totally failed on the blogging front! I only had my Monday reviews up and then I was distracted reading, working, feeling rather crappy and completely stuck on review writing... so I'm gonna be upping it up this week and I hope to get as many reviews up as possible! Also, finally got to the ever ellusive 80% ratio on Netgalley, so YAY!! Now, the hardest part... to keep it!!

Starting the week right with another edition of Mark These Books Monday, I have two 2016 debuts, but only one of them will count towards my 2016 Debut Author Challenge as well as my NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge, because one of them I read in Dec'15 and I had failed to review it till now!

Beyond the RedBeyond the Red by Ava Jae

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fantastic debut indeed! I really got a "classic science fiction" feel from this one, and although it was more focused on the plot and the action than the world building, the author did a really great job with establishing the setting.

The books is told in dual POV from halfbreed Eros, that lives with the human refugees, and queen Kora, the first female ruler of her territory in many generations. The book starts with them in very different places and situations but soon they cross paths and change each other's lives.

We can easily picture ourselves in the red desert camp, among the humans that are making their life there as best as they can, and we can easily picture ourselves into the city that Kora rules, feeling quite intrigued about the kind of society that she lives in, and the kind of political war she finds herself involved in. I kept on wishing for a bit more of in-depth explanations about the past history, because we get some lil bits here and there, with legends and stories and snippets, but I wanted more!

Humans & aliens, although technically the humans should be the aliens since they're the ones not indigenous to the planet (and no, it is not Mars, even if the Red bit of the title made me think it'd be) with an us vs them relationship based on discrimination, hate and political power plays. The resentment was clear but the fact that Eros as a halfbreed existed also made me wonder about how different both species could be and if there might not be closer ties than the ones we know about?

The relationship between Kora and Eros moves from the only way out of a really bad situation for Eros to a reluctant alliance to a more solid one, and there's attraction quite clear there. Eros sees that a position of power isn't exactly free of pain, hurdles or doubts, and sees that despite his anger & pain, helping Kora might very well be the lesser of two evils. Kora finds an ally with no political designs that she feels she can trust and one that shows her a different light on her situation as a ruler and what she thought she knew about humans too. Part forbidden relationship, part unbalance of power, their interactions & the way the relationship changes and progresses is great.

I already said the action is quite non-stop and we also get quite a few revelations, although some of them were easier to suspect than others. Once the main one happened, there others were easier to see coming, although after that ending, I'm not really sure what will come next and I really hope there will be a next! It could be a rather open ending and be left at that, but I'm really hoping that we'll get a sequel and with it more answers to questions about the past!

Well deserved 4 stars to this science fiction debut!

BlackheartsBlackhearts by Nicole Castroman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blackhearts was initially not one of my most awaited debuts of the year, I cannot pinpoint why because I like stories about pirates but for some reason I was a bit undecided. But then I saw a few super positive reviews for it and Sarah (The YA Book Traveller) made her book trailer and I was absolutely pumped for the book!

Being approved after being not approved for it my Simon Pulse on EW seemed like a sign that I had to read the book ASAP, and so I did! And guess what? Another fantastic debut that I'm beyond glad I didn't miss!

Just keep one thing in mind, Blackhearts is not a story about pirate adventures, pillage and battles. Blackhearts is all about the unknown and untold backstory of Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard.

Blackhearts is a character driven novel, told in dual POV from both Teach and Anne Barrett. Anne is mixed race and is employed as a maid at Teach's father's house, but she's got too much spirit for a maid and her looks set her apart and make people suspicious or underestimate her. At first that makes her clash with Teach but soon enough that changes.

Teach has just returned from spending a year at sea and he doesn't want to go back to fold into his father's expectations and society's norms. He wants to return to be the man he was on the ship, where he was valued for himself and the choices he made, not the choices others make for him, or climbing the social ladder.

Teach and Anne first meetings are rather clashing and quite fun to read about too. And the way their relationship progressed from Anne hitting him (not on him) to them finding they understand each other much better than they could ever expect given their different backgrounds.

I loved the setting and how very much immersed into the story and the time I was. And I was so very easily drawn to both Teach and Anne and their budding relationship. I really appreciated Anne's fierceness and determination and Teach's open mindness and the way he looked at people's worth as themselves and not their social status or connections.

The ending was quite open and rather cruel too, and I'm really hoping there will be a sequel so we'll get a bit more on the story of Teach and Anne, and a bit more of pirate adventures too! Still, very much deserved 4 stars for this debut! Don't miss it!!

View all my reviews


  1. THE CONE OF SHAME!!!! I tried putting the Cone of Shame on Gracie once to keep her from licking her paws raw (she has allergies) and it was a disaster. She freaked out. No Cone of Shame for Miss Gracie ;-)

    I'm loving the sound of the relationship between Eros and Kora in the first book, and I was so excited to read Blackhearts but I think now that you mention that ending I'm going to wait until the next book is out. Or at the very least until I know there will in fact be a sequel!!!

    1. Poor Miss Gracie! The cone of shame must be no fun for them...
      And yeah, Blackhearts is quite the awesome book but the ending demands a sequel, and I really hope we'll get it!

  2. I wondered where you were! :) But you got a lot done it seems! Are you feeling better now? I've heard that Blackhearts ending is a bit killer! I do hope it has a sequel then! I'm really looking forward to it!

    Beyond the Red sounds good too! I'll be keeping my eye on that one!

    1. It was a combo of being tired and a crappy case of PSM, thankfully I'm feeling much better now, thank you Jess!!

  3. Slaaaaaay, you are killing it on NetGalley! Don't hang your head at all, you've been posting double reviews every time you DO post on your blog! *huggles*

    Both of these were three-star reads for me! It's funny how they both don't have contracted sequel(s) but both books NEED them. I'd read a sequel of Blackhearts for sure!

    Welcome back, Pili! And lovely reviews. :)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. Yep, I really hope both books get sequels!!
      Thank you dear!

  4. Aw, don't feel bad about not blogging. <3 Taking a break is always good :D Yay. Hope you are having an awesome week so far Pili :) And gorgeous reviews sweetie. <3 I am curious about Blackhearts.. but only reading it after a book two is out, lol, if it will come. Cause I have heard that historically it does not end well. And I'm not reading a book that won't end happy :p But anyway :D So glad you liked both books so much :)

    1. Thank you dear! I do hope Blackhearts will get a sequel too!

  5. I'm still unsure about Beyond The Red, but Blackhearts sounds amazing! I didn't know it was this good!
    Great reviews, Pili!

  6. I don't usually read about pirates, but Blackhearts will probably be one of those books I will see on sale one day and read it later. :)

    1. It's not really about pirates per se, it's more about how a pirate can become one!


¡Muchas gracias por vuestros comentarios, leerlos me alegra el día!/ Thanks a lot for all your comments, reading them brightens my day!!