BOOK REVIEW : EYES OF SILVER, EYES OF GOLD

Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold is a story of family conflicts set in Colorado in 1885. Anne Wells has embarrassed her rigidly proper family since she was a child with occasional but grievous lapses from ladylike behavior. They blame those lapses for the disgraceful fact that she is a spinster at 28. Cord Bennett, the son of his father’s second marriage to a Cheyenne woman, is more than an embarrassment to his well-to-do family of ranchers and lawyers – they are ashamed and afraid of their black sheep. When Anne and Cord are found alone together, her father’s fury leads to violence. Cord’s family is more than willing to believe that the fault is his. Can Anne and Cord use the freedom of being condemned for sins they didn’t commit to make a life together? Or will their disapproving, interfering families tear them apart?


review

My love for historical romance + My love for Ellen O’Connell’s previous book Dancing on Coals + My love for “forced/arranged marriage” trope = My love for Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold.

This was one of the most satisfying reads for me this year. My heart is actually full.

I’ve rarely ever read a “Arranged/Forced marriage” trope done so beautifully and organically. There was a perfect balance between action and romance that did enough to make it to the top of my favorite reads of the year.

28 year old Anne has run from her parents to escape a forced marriage to a man twice her age. In the night of storm, she seeks refuge in a barn only to wake up to find out the owner staring at her. It’s Cord, a man considered almost a pariah by her town, for his half-Indian blood and infamous temper. But Anne isn’t scared of him. Before she can convince him to help her escape the town, her father along with a mob finds her in what they believe is an compromising situation. They leave after beating them up until Cord is half-dead and Anne bleeding, with the local priest forcibly marrying them off.

After Anne nurses Cord back to health, they decide to make their sham of a marriage real. Nobody is happy. Anne’s father and the people in the mob thought Cord would be dead and Anne would go crawling back to her father. The townspeople including Cord’s own family are led to easily believe that Cord forced himself on her. Cord himself doesn’t believe that this marriage will last and is mentally prepared for Anne to leave him for a king she deserves. But Anne finds herself happy being a wife of Cord, and tending to his household and barn. 

Anne and Cord’s relationship progress was organic and delightful to read about. Anne is probably the first woman who doesn’t fear him, and he’s the first person who respects her. The way they slowly grow to understand, support and stand up for each other was delightful. We’re talking about a relationship that progresses from an expressionless Cord reminding Anne that she’ll probably leave him soon, to teasing her about having enough money to escape to Paris without him. I loved every step of it. My heart melted right with Anne’s when Cord calls her Annie for the first time.

Anne’s my favorite kind of heroine with the perfect blend of warmth and strength. Even when the mob is forcing her to repeat wedding vows in distress, she omits ‘to disobey’. From her fear of spiders, to her belief that horses can be cured of any aliment with oodles of sugar and sweet-talking, I found everything about her endearing.

But my heart bled a little more for Cord. This is a man who’s resigned to his own family’s mistrust of him, because of his Indian blood. Who can blame him for thinking Anne to be too good for him? He is a kind and gentle soul, with a brittle exterior. I loved every moment of his layers being peeled off.

Cord’s brothers love him. But some past events have forced them to believe the worst of him. Cord is the child of a second marriage of his white father to an Indian marriage. After his parents’ death, his elder half-brothers raised him as their own. But they could never understand his plight, being white themselves. I was so annoyed by Ephraim and Frank’s mistrust of his brother at first. But I also respected how they never lost a chance to let Anne know that she could always come to them if she wanted to escape what they felt was a marriage of abuse. Eventually, my annoyance turned into amusement over their refusal to see Cord’s love for Anne.

I also love how the author can so masterfully paint a perfect portrait of the racial prejudice that people of Indian blood had to face, that even the thought of having a child with Indian blood is unacceptable.

You know how much I loved this novel by the length of my review. I would wax poetry about this heartwarming romance if I could!


ratings★★★★★

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TOP TEN TUESDAY : FAVORITE CHARACTER REDEMPTION ARCS

Happy Tuesday everyone! I’m doing a Top Ten Tuesday after a while. This week’s topic is a Character Freebie. I’m gonna list my favorite characters with redemption arcs. Now, I’ve read more character redemption arcs than I can count. But these are the ones which I loved more than the others.

FYI, the brilliant fanarts featured here are certainly not mine!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.


1. Boromir (Lord Of The Rings) : How can any list about redemption be complete without Boromir? He’s one of my most favorite characters from the series.

2. Scar (Full Metal Alchemist) : Boromir could be considered harmless when compared to scar. He killed too many good people for that. But empathizing with him becomes easier once you get to know his story.

3. Minya (Strange The Dreamer) : For a large part of the duology, I felt an immense hatred for Minya. I knew why she became the way she did, but it just could not justify what she did. But by the end, she made a solid place in my heart.

4. Thyon (Strange The Dreamer) : Is it cheating if I list two characters from the same series? But how can I help it? They had the most satisfying character arcs and I couldn’t just chose between these two.

5. Akiva (Daughter of Smoke and Bones) : I know. I used three characters by one author. Am I lazy or what? But, she just writes redemptive arcs so well! And Akiva more than redeemed himself for the chaos he struck out of vengeance for losing his love.

6. Hugh d’Ambray (Kate Daniels & Iron Covenant) : Hugh d’Ambray had a satisfying redemption in his own series Iron Covenant after being abandoned by the man he considered everything. He was a grade A evil a’hole initially and it was great to see his fall from grace and find his feet.

7. Froi (Lumatere Chronicles) : We’re talking about a character who tries to force himself on the protagonist in the first book and then goes on to have his own book. He doesn’t go through an overnight transformation. It’s not an easy journey. He doesn’t become perfect. But he goes on to make you care for him. So freaking much.

8. Rhysand (A Court of Thorns and Roses) : Is it a redemption arc when a character is not a misguided evil to start with? Rhys was a misunderstood hero, to be honest. But when you think about it, this is a character that does a lot of evil things just to keep his people alive and safe, for the greater good. And Sara Mass does a brilliant job in crafting the journey of his extremely flawed and yet well-meaning character. In the end, it’s clear that he’s a marshmallow.

9. Severus Snape (Harry Potter) : Another character without whom any redemption list is incomplete. Snape wasn’t perfect. He was a bully. But he protected a lot of people over the series, even all the while treating then like crap. I don’t love him as much as certain Potterheads do. But he’s definitely one of the best written characters I’ve personally read.

10. Regulas Black (Harry Potter) : Regulas Black is such an underrated character! His arc was so minor and unacknowledged in the books. He died without the world knowing his redemption. It still makes me sob thinking how even to his last breath, he would rather sacrifice his own life than have his servant – a house-elf – be hurt, unknown to the world.

BOOK REVIEW : NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA

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.


review

Even after all the raving reviews about the book, I felt a little reluctant in starting it. Mostly because I’ve read more stories with present storyline with granddaugther and past storyline with grandmother, and they’ve disappointed.

Next Year in Havana definitely didn’t disappoint me. It however gave me bittersweet feelings. It left me feeling a little forlorn, to be honest.

I was invested in the story right from the beginning. The author takes very little time to set up the story both in the present and the past timeline. In 2017, Marisol is visiting Cuba for the first time in her life, only ever having heard stories about it from her grandmother Elisa. She’s there to spread the ashes of the grandmother who could not have her wish of returning to her homeland fulfilled. But once in Cuba, she finds that there was more to the grandmother who raised her as a daughter, than she knew.

In 1958, Marisol is experiencing her first love with revolution engulfing her country. A sugar heiress, she could pretend until recently that there weren’t big changes happening outside the walls of her high society life. But then her brother decided to become a revolutionary, and she herself fell drawn to a man who himself is a revolutionary.

I am not a fan of the ‘love at first sight’ trope. But I am a sucker for ‘the sparks at first sight’ as long as it’s not all elementary physical lust that many contemporary romances have reduced it to. I like my romances to have some slow burn and longing. Both the love stories in this one had them in spades. While Marisol thinks Luis is off-limits, Elisa’s feelings for Pablo have barely any future. Her father is a sympathizer of the ruling president, Pablo is a friend and a supporter of Castro, the revolutionary.

I was more invested in the past timeline with Elisa. I also liked her romance with Pablo. Both of them are as opposites as can be. And yet, these two managed to make it work. It had tragedy written all over it, and I guess that made me even more invested in them. The author managed to keep me curious and wondering about their fate. Which isn’t an easy thing to do. The mystery only made the story even more enjoyable. I also enjoyed Marisol and Luis’s parts but by the end I felt that there was more to tell as far as these two are concerned.

The author does really well to paint a beautiful and nostalgic portrait of Cuba then and now. I have very few ideas about Cuba’s history so I can’t judge about the accuracy, though. But this book certainly made me more curious to find more on this fascinating piece of history.

The last third of the book was not satisfactory to read, to be honest. The twists, and the reveals only left me feeling frustrated over the “what ifs”. It makes me even sadder that things like these could’ve easily been a reality for many Cubans back then.

I am not ready to read the sequel yet. I need to read a cute story before I can go back to this world. I would also like a sequel on Luis and Marisol. Even a novella would be welcome.


ratings★★★★☆

RE(AR)VIEW : THE START OF ME AND YOU

Hello all! I’ve found in my life that the best way to cure a reading slump is rereading old favorites. So I thought of starting a new corner where I could discuss my favorite books after rereading them. First book to be featured here – Emery Lord’s The Start of Me and You!

Also, good news! I’m officially over my reading slump. Thanks to this book!


rearview



It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

 


The Start of Me and You has created a place in my heart as one of my most favorite YAs. And I loved it even more when I reread it on perhaps my 3rd reread.

Let’s discuss my favorite parts about the book!

  • Mr. Bingley and Jane – Paige and Max are characters you’d usually see as the best friends of main characters in other books. In fact, the more you read, the more you feel that Ryan and Tessa (Paige and Max’s best friends) are the characters you’re used to seeing as protagonists. There is a running comparison even to Jane and Mr. Bennett. At the very beginning, Paige rejects a comparison to Jane and calls herself Elizabeth. After that Max calls her Jane. It was adorable. Their friendship was adorable.
  • The unlikely pair – Paige is the quiet girl who just wants to fit in. Max is the resident geek who’s been bullied in the past. I was so used to seeing characters like Paige being paired with jocks like Ryan, Max being paired with the likes of beautiful and popular Tessa, that I enjoyed the novelty a lot!
  • The friendships – The friendships in the book was my favorite thing! Be it Paige’s strong friendship with Tessa, Morgan and Kaeleigh, or Max’s friendship with his cousin Ryan. Then Paige’s growing friendship with Max was also endearing to read. I loved how Paige slowly embraced her inner geek, hanging out with Max. I wanted to be part of Max and Paige’s gang by the end. Whatever struggles each of the characters had, none of it was because of their friendships. There were no jealousies or insecurities. And all the characters did have their own distinctive arcs that I enjoyed as a reader.
  • Miscellaneous – Altogether, there’s a lot to love about the book. There are small moments and distinctive character traits that make that endear you to the story. Like Max’s love for airplanes, Max and Tessa’s common taste of music, Max and Paige’s Quizbowl, Paige’s well intention-ed crush on Ryan, the realistic sibling love-hate relationship between Paige and Cameron. It was all just so cute!

And you know what else I love about this book? There was a surprise announcement (three years after the release of the first one) of a sequel this year! And it’s got a release date for January next year. I’m so excited! I plan to reread this one again when the release date for the sequel is nearer. Aaaaa!

Would you look at the cover for the sequel? ADORABLE!

 

ARC REVIEW : VALENCIA AND VALENTINE

Wrapping Up June ‘2019

June Reviews:

ARCs :


The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows★★★☆☆
Last Summer ★★★☆☆
Coldhearted Boss ★★★☆☆

Non- ARCs :

Passion on Park Avenue ★★★☆☆
Method ★★★★☆
Jersey Six ★★☆☆☆
Fix Her Up ★★★★☆


Non – Review Posts

Top Ten Tuesday :
Most Anticipated Releases of Second Half of 2019

Tags :
20 Questions Book Tag


I’ve had such a lousy June month! I’ve read the least number of books on June this year. All thanks to my new frenemy – Thesis. But I plan to read a lot more books and be more regular. Fingers crossed I can live up to this resolution!

TAG : 20 QUESTIONS BOOK TAG

Tag Time! Brianna tagged me to do this a while ago. I’ve been meaning to do this but just couldn’t find the time! I miss doing tags and really enjoyed doing this one. The questions were really creative!

Untitled


1. How many books are too many in a series?

I’ve read series with 10 books and wanted more. I’ve also read duets which I felt would’ve been better off as a single book. If there’s a story to tell, I am fine with as many books needed to wrap it up nicely.

As long as I don’t feel that the writer is just churning out new books in a series just for commercial reasons, and doesn’t take ages between each book *cough* GRRM *cough*, I don’t mind.

2. How do you feel about cliffhanger endings?

I think if a book can wrap up its own solitary arc, and a cliffhanger is there just to give a glimpse of what’s waiting for us in the next book, I’m fine with it. But if it leaves you with none of your initial questions for the book answered, then it’s a big no.

3. Hardback or paperback?

Both! I have a weakness for hardbacks. But paperbacks are easy to carry when I’m traveling. And I always feel  like something’s missing if I don’t carry a book with me when I’m holidaying!

4. Favorite book?

How do you even answer that? But if I had to really choose one, I’d just choose the Harry Potter series because they’re what started it all for me!

5.  Least Favorite book?

Veronica Roth’s Allegient, maybe?

6. Love triangles : yes or no?

No. Unless they’re written really compellingly. And that rarely happens.

7. The most recent book you couldn’t finish?

Well, I did lose my interest through one-third of Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez. Although I plan to get back to it, I’m still a little disappointed because I was looking forward to it and wasn’t as taken by it as I thought I’d be.

8. A book you’re currently reading?

Valencia and Valentine.

9. Last book you recommended?

All the pretty monsters.

10. Oldest book you’ve read?

The only book I can think of is The Quran.

11. Newest book you’ve read?

Fix Her Up.

12. Favorite author?

There are many. But I’ve been craving Jane Austen recently. So I’ll say her name!

13. Buying books or borrowing?

I prefer buying. Borrowing can be stressful. And yet the easy option.

14. A book that you disliked that everyone seems to love?

Any book by John Green or Colleen Hoover.

15. Bookmarks or dog ears?

The blasphemy! Bookmarks. Although I’m pretty good at remembering the page I’m in and don’t need either of these.

16. A book that you always reread?

Harry Potter. But I have a knack for rereading any book that I like.

17. Can you read while listening to music?

Yep.

18. One POV or multiple POVs?

One POV. Because if I happen to dislike the character with another POV, I tend to not pay as much attention to the story when they’re narrating. And sometimes, I like to be kept guessing about the intentions of the other characters. It keeps things interesting.

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

One sitting. In fact, I rarely start a new book if I don’t have the time at hand to finish it soon.

20. Who do you tag?

Sara, Alyssa, Mogsy, and anyone who’s interested to do it!