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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Book Review

Book Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction + Contemporary + Romance
Length: 361 pages
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Penguin/Berkley
Release Date: February 6th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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.

OKAY, THIS BOOK HURT.

When Audible has a two for one sale using your credits, you use them. I had a Bookstagram friend help me decide on this one and y’all, not disappointed. I definitely recommend as an audiobook too. The voices of the two POVs are soothing and it’s easy to imagine everything they’re describing.

The intense passion and love for Cuba that I could feel radiating off the book was astounding. I felt this. It made me so conflicted myself because I understood both sides of the the characters stories and how desperately everyone was searching for peace, even when two poor choices stood before them. Everything that happened/is happening to the nation they love really had me emotionally wrecked.

The stories themselves, whoa. I didn’t realize how much the romances were going to play a part in this book. They brought out so many more layers that had me gasp and yell as I heard what was happening and couldn’t believe it. Some truly devastating moments that I’m still upset about. The whole concept of life isn’t fair is driven home.

I loved the flip back and forth in time and getting to know Elisa and Marisol on new levels. It goes to show you don’t always know everything about your own family. The connections and lasting relationships brought in side-characters that I could get behind as well. A lot of love between family, friends, care-givers, and relationships and how this love carries over a lifetime.

The historical aspects of this book brought Cuba to life and I was swept off my feet by this tale. I am definitely going to be checking out Cleeton’s next book!

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction + romance + contemporary
  • Language: sh* used once
  • Romance: a few kisses, two fade to black scenes (with really no description prior)
  • Violence: guns, physical, off-screen torture, mentions and depictions of war

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Monthly Wrap-Up

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: May 2019

Y’ALL.

WHAT A MONTH.

I didn’t even realize I had read 16 books. I am still stunned. And everything got such a great ratings I couldn’t believe it. I promise I’m not a easy reviewer. I have been trying to choose books that I think will bring me joy rather than wasting my time on reading a book for the sake of it.

Read what makes you happy, my TED Talk for the summer.


  • The Gilded Wolves (The GIlded Wolves #1) by Roshani Chockshi
  • The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles #1) by Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Traitor’s Ruin (The Traitor’s Circle #2) by Erin Beaty
  • Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M. McManus
  • Finale (Caraval #3) by Stephanie Garber
  • The Kingdom of Copper (The Daevabad Trilogy #2) by S.A. Chakraborty
  • The Thousandth Floor (The Thousandth Floor #1) by Katharine McGee – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle #1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers – (RTC – ☆☆☆)
  • The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Descendant of the Crane by Joan He – (RTC – ☆☆ 1/2)
  • Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Jackaby (Jackaby #1) by William Ritter – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)

Favorites of the month: Finale, The Unhoneymooners, and Aurora Rising

Least favorite: Descendant of the Crane


Have you read any of these? What do you have on your TBR? Lets talk in the comments!

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