Book Review

ARC Blog Tour and Book Review: The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba (The Cuba Saga #4) by Chanel Cleeton

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Historical fiction + Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 4th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

At the end of the nineteenth century, three revolutionary women fight for freedom in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s captivating new novel inspired by real-life events and the true story of a legendary Cuban woman–Evangelina Cisneros–who changed the course of history.

A feud rages in Gilded Age New York City between newspaper tycoons William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. When Grace Harrington lands a job at Hearst’s newspaper in 1896, she’s caught in a cutthroat world where one scoop can make or break your career, but it’s a story emerging from Cuba that changes her life.

Unjustly imprisoned in a notorious Havana women’s jail, eighteen-year-old Evangelina Cisneros dreams of a Cuba free from Spanish oppression. When Hearst learns of her plight and splashes her image on the front page of his paper, proclaiming her, “The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba,” she becomes a rallying cry for American intervention in the battle for Cuban independence.

With the help of Marina Perez, a courier secretly working for the Cuban revolutionaries in Havana, Grace and Hearst’s staff attempt to free Evangelina. But when Cuban civilians are forced into reconcentration camps and the explosion of the USS Maine propels the United States and Spain toward war, the three women must risk everything in their fight for freedom.

Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for an eARC in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own!

BEAUTIFUL STORY.

I have continually enjoyed reading Cleeton’s historical fiction books. They take me into a time of history that I know little about and add a dash of romance that I appreciate. This was another solid combination of both.

There’s three points-of-view in this story (as in her previous). Sometimes I wish the novel as a whole was longer so that I could get more of each woman’s story. The backgrounds and nuances of each character are remarkedly different and it’s easy to get caught up in what’s happening.

This time period of Cuba trying to break away from Spain was really great to learn more about. I hope to research some more because I feel like this only skimmed some of the surface. I had no idea about the dominating world of journalism at the time and the truly terrible conditions Cubans were facing from Spain. One of my favorite parts of the historical fiction genre is the inspiration to further gain knowledge on the time period and people brought to life.

Not to mention, I always love the subtle romances that work their way into my heart. They aren’t generally a heavy part of the plot, but it gives some hope and angst to the book. It’s the best little touch that I think always fits well.

My only major complaint was the pacing. I would get into one story line then jump too quickly to a different one. Or things would be too slow for too long which had me begging for some more action segments. Besides this, a really beautiful novel. I look forward to continue reading Cleeton’s books!

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses, closed door scenes
  • Violence: battles, wars, physical altercations, gun violence, kidnappings, ship explosions
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: being jailed without cause, reconcentration camps, losing loved ones, having to give up a child for a time (her child does come home eventually!), attempted sexual assault/rape, lewd remarks to women

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction + romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: June 16th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In 1935 three women are forever changed when one of the most powerful hurricanes in history barrels toward the Florida Keys in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s captivating new novel.

Everyone journeys to Key West searching for something. For the tourists traveling on Henry Flagler’s legendary Overseas Railroad, Labor Day weekend is an opportunity to forget the economic depression gripping the nation. But one person’s paradise can be another’s prison, and Key West-native Helen Berner yearns to escape.

The Cuban Revolution of 1933 left Mirta Perez’s family in a precarious position. After an arranged wedding in Havana, Mirta arrives in the Keys on her honeymoon. While she can’t deny the growing attraction to the stranger she’s married, her new husband’s illicit business interests may threaten not only her relationship, but her life.

Elizabeth Preston’s trip from New York to Key West is a chance to save her once-wealthy family from their troubles as a result of the Wall Street crash. Her quest takes her to the camps occupied by veterans of the Great War and pairs her with an unlikely ally on a treacherous hunt of his own.

Over the course of the holiday weekend, the women’s paths cross unexpectedly, and the danger swirling around them is matched only by the terrifying force of the deadly storm threatening the Keys.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own!

FOREVER A CLEETON FAN.

This is the third historical fiction book I’ve read of Cleeton’s and I am HOOKED. I love the story set-up and strength of the women in her books. It’s all captivating and I have a hard time putting them down.

I initially wasn’t sure where this book was going with the length + three different women’s stories together. While I still felt like a direct plot was missing, the three women’s stories moved me each in their own way.

What’s incredible impressive to me is how easy I fall for the romance plot lines in Cleeton’s works. Her writing makes the love story seem magical and real all together. This book literally happens over 3 days (with some increased time differences towards the end) and I was shipping every single couple with all that I was worth. I wanted their happiness, and their choices to matter. I wanted Helen, Mirta and Elizabeth to get the ending they wanted and it was delivered.

I love the way each women’s story also had connections between them. It’s an interesting thought to consider how small interactions with those around us may influence and effect our entire lives. I was also smitten with the men of this book too. How could I not mention them? I just love how each character stood out. I was never confused as to what chapter I was reading and who was speaking. Everything flowed and wove together beautifully and I will sit here and impatiently wait for Cleeton’s next book.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction + romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, some closed door scenes with little detail
  • Violence: guns, murder, hurricane, physical
  • Trigger warnings: a physically abusive husband, an incredibly destructive hurricane, attempted assault and robbery, brief mentions of a characters two family members committing suicide

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2020

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

Putting this list together made me all the more excited for the great books I’m excited for this year. It’s going to be an amazing first half of 2020.

WHO’S EXCITED?

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J. Maas

Release date: March 3rd

OH MY GOODNESS I CAN’T WAIT TO HAVE SJM’S NEXT BOOK IN MY HANDS.


The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

Release date: February 25th

I love everything Levenseller writes (no really). This book sounds so crazy good I can’t even stand waiting one more month.


The Empire of Gold (The Daevabad Trilogy #3) by S.A. Chakraborty

Release date: June 30th

This finale is sure to be epic. It’s been a fantastic series and I’m stoked to finish it this year!


Dark Skies (Dark Shores #2) by Danielle L. Jensen

Release date: May 5th

I adored book one in this series and helped with the cover reveal for this one. I’m definitely a fan!


All the Stars and Teeth (All the Stars and Teeth #1) by Adalyn Grace

Release date: February 4th

Did someone say mermaids? I’LL BE RIGHT THERE.


Wild at Heart (Wild #2) by K.A. Tucker

Release date: March 3rd

The Simple Wild was one of my top books of 2019, I clearly have flippin’ high hopes for BOOK TWO!


Tiem of Our Lives by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Release date: April 21st

I absolutely ADORED If I’m Being Honest. If that was their sophomore book I am on edge waiting to see what their junior book will be like!


Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club #2) by Lyssa Kay Adams

Release date: March 10th

I’m apparently all about sequels this year. This is another sequel I’m excited for after loving The Bromance Book Club. I’m curious how this story will develop with a new main character!


Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Release date: May 5th

LOOK AT MY BABE ON THE COVER. AHHHHHHH, this book will probably destroy me. I welcome it.


The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

One of my favorite “series” of historical fiction books! I was so happy when I saw that there was going to be another one from Cleeton. YAY!

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Book Review

Book Review: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Historical fiction + Romance
Length: 346 pages
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: April 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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…

SOPHOMORE BOOK IS EVEN BETTER.

Oooooh, I loved this even more than Next Year in Havana. Let me also say, I love the Audible narrator: Kyla Garcia. She did another amazing job and kept me completely entranced in this book.

I love Beatriz Perez so stinkin’ much. She was an amazing MC and brought out all of the feels. I love how strong and independent. Beatriz has so much loyalty and love for her family and her country. This control and defines all of her decisions. And even when I wanted to shout out her, I also understood her choices.

THIS ROMANCE THOUGH. Okay, didn’t start out in the best light (trigger: cheating), but guys. I will firmly stand by that this might be the only case where I accepted and was okay with it. Her relationship with Nicholas made me swoooooon. Oh, it was so good. And also destroyed me, but I’ve already accepted that this is how Cleeton likes to torture us. I was happy with the resolution and felt relieved at how it all came to a conclusion.

My reasoning for being 4.5 stars vs. 5 stars was that, at times, it was too political (for me personally). It would cause some scenes to drag on a little long when I had already gotten the point.

BUT, what was really cool was having Beatriz work with the CIA. It was really interesting to have that plot line and her relationships with the agent was intriguing and intense. I loved watching Beatriz navigate the crisis in Cuba, the JFK assassination and the beginnings of the Cold War. History was woven perfectly into the timeline.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses, and a handful of light detailed FTB scenes
  • Violence: guns, murder, threats of warfare, mentions of the JFK assassination
  • Trigger warnings: cheating (while engaged)

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