Thursday, February 18, 2016

Blog Tour: Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman {Review + Playlist + Giveaway}

Release date: February 9, 2016
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 384
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward "Teach" Drummond, son of one of Bristol's richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There's just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents' deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to CuraƧao—where her mother was born—when she's stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.
Pirates! We're all fascinated--so of course I knew reading Blackhearts, an imagining of the origin of one of history's most famed pirates, Blackbeard, was a must. (I actually visited the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum this summer and it was awesome. Not cheesy, like you'd expect, and learned quite a lot! There's even an interactive cannon--and then you can cross the street to the Castillo de San Marcos and see an actual cannon demonstration. So cool, y'all. Anyway...) While there's so little pirating it's almost criminal, Blackhearts is an engaging and creative take on Blackbeard's origin that'll most definitely leave you wanting more.

We're introduced to Anne and Teach, who seem as if they couldn't be more different when they meet, but as they come to know one another, we can see just how alike they are. While Anne is of mixed race and was raised in the odd situation of not quite being recognized as her well-off merchant father's child but also not treated as a servant, she's headstrong and determined, speaking her mind when she shouldn't. But she longs for freedom--to leave behind the imposition of other's wills and to venture off and find the side of her family she's never known. Teach is the well-regarded son of another merchant, but he was raised with the expectation that he could marry into the nobility, securing his father's dream--without any regard for his own. All Teach wants to do is get away from his father, and that dream comes in the form of the open seas. When the two meet, however, priorities change as they realize they've each found their match in the other.

As I said, the pirating was only teased in Blackhearts. It's an obvious threat, but what we're treated to is how Blackbeard came to be. Why he's sailing in the first place. And why his ship is named the Queen Anne's Revenge. And because almost nothing is known about the real pirate, giving him a romantic backstory is quite a treat. While we don't ever see him being a pirate, you can totally understand where he goes from the end of the book. (And fair warning, cliffhanger ending that is likely not to be resolved, as there is no sequel contracted as of now! I didn't mind the ending, since we can go in with a lot more knowledge than your average book.)

If you're at all intrigued by the background of pirates (and who's not, really? You're lying if you say you're not. I don't accept that you might not be!), Blackhearts is going to be enjoyable. Besides seeing Teach become Blackbeard, you get to know Anne, who is everything you could hope for in a character: strong, determined, a dreamer, and a fighter. You'll love Teach. You'll love Anne. You'll love them together.

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.

I have to explain a couple of these, rather than give them to y'all without any input. I love putting together playlists for books, because I love finding connections to books I love in music I love. Nine times out of ten, the music I've selected is something I listen to regularly and only saw its relevance to the book while I was looking.

Pirates of the Caribbean music is obvious. What's less obvious is this track, because it's not the squashbuckling theme you've doubtless heard a hundred times. This is the romantic track, the one that makes me feel, the one that suggests the pain and loss of the lives those characters lead. "A Coward No Longer" is here, first, because it's beautiful. (I can admit that.) But it's also raw, and also written to evoke a certain determined feeling. To me, it seems that it takes Anne to make Teach stand up to his father--and almost rightly so, but in that, he's not afraid of him any more. And "Promise" is so perfect lyrically it's crazy: "And promise me this / You'll wait for me only", "Who am I, darling for you? / Who am I? / Could be a burden in time, lonely / Who am I, to you?". A few lines sound like they came straight from Anne's mouth.

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