Thursday, October 2, 2014

Reviews from the Vault: The Beautiful & the Cursed by Page Morgan

The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan
Source: my collection- hardcover
My rating: 4 of 5 stars :star :star :star :star :tup

actual rating: 4.5 stars

This book is full of hot guys, badass ladies, and great gothic mystery. It's definitely one of my favorites of 2013.

There really is only one fault I found with this book. The first 10-15% of the book was good, not great. I was a bit confused by the mythology. I was just waiting for the inevitable moment when it all clicks into place and I can enjoy the story. It happened soon after the ten percent mark; and I dove right in. After that, I didn't come up for air once. (Translation: I read it in one day).

+ HOT GUYS. Pretty much every young male character was a total hottie, each in different ways. There were 4 of them. Yeah, you read that right-- 4 hotties (But I count the guy locked in hell as being a hottie..so that makes it 5) And they ALL flirt with either Ingrid OR Gabby. Ha, it was awesome! The guys are totally all vying for one of the girls, and I loved every bit of it. You go, girls. Werk.
It's funny because I was just recently thinking, why is there always only a 1:2 girl guy ratio? I mean...if she's that awesome or pretty or special...why not more? Oh I know it's YA, but still. Thank you Page Morgan for delivering up the cuties! And much, much more. (Think a 2:5)

Some of you may still call me a young adult (I'm 26).. BUT do the ya books all have to be so chaste?! I mean c'mon I want some make out sessions and hot and steamy ones, too! So to both of these things, Beautiful and the Cursed totally delivered. It's my perfect dreamy blend that doesn't go into the adult romance category. So get ready for some HAWT scenes.
And Luc? Aw, man...he's...*sighs*
*swoons*
*actually mimics girl on the cover*

Another one of the great things about this book are the main characters (sisters) Ingrid and Gabby. The girls are not helpless. And they're in 19th century Paris. You get Ingrid and Gabby who are both spoiled rich girls..except, they're not really spoiled rotten (in attitude, I mean). Ingrid has powers, Gabby does not-- yet Gabby is more of a fighter and can hold her own. Its exceedingly rare for a book with paranormal elements to have humans alongside the (in this case) gargoyles / demons and still look formidable. The fact that Gabby is a formidable opponent who doesn't need a guy to fight for her or rescue her? Totally gratifying. Each girl has a unique personality and I love them both! I am pretty partial to Ingrid, though. I identified with her. And, we see more of her because of the narration.

[Side note: yes, there are multiple points of view, but it won't give you a headache. It's just enough so that you care about characters that you may not have otherwise gave a flying flop about. (Seriously).]

I loved Ingrid because she reminded me of myself. She's strong and her sister described her as having a cold, iron exterior. As a reader you share Ingrid's hurt and confusion to this statement because you know her inner sadness and turmoil is anything but. However she's a strong woman; not to mention a total badass. And so is her sister, Gabby! I know, I'll give you a moment to recover from your shock that there's not only one strong female character; but two. Yup. Oh and don't worry, even though we're in 19th century France you still get some MAJOR Buffy-style fight scenes! And tons of lip locking and crazy flirtatiousness (just go with it) behind locked doors. *wink*
There's actually one part where a Gabby takes a knife and slides under a demon cutting his underbelly which she describes as being "soft as butter" while green blood sizzles on the ground where she just was. Aw man. I whooped so loud my cat got scared. I mean-- how awesome is that?!?

Finally, I have to remark upon the setting. The setting is perfect. Creepy, gothic, old world Paris. An old decrepit abbey. A missing brother. Girls going missing all over the city. I mean, it's amazing. Does it live up to all that it can be? Yes. The only reason I didn't rate it 5 stars was that first part where things that had to be established got a little choppy.

The badass heroines, steamy guys, unique mythology, and solid plot makes this novel one you do not want to miss.



View all my reviews

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September Wrap-Up!!


September was a good month for me. I am still new with my new job, and getting used to the new schedule. It's been tough finding time to read, but I started listening to audiobooks in the car and I'm enjoying that. 
- I participated in Tressa's tackle TBR read-a-thon, although I only read two books. I also decided to do a spontaneous giveaway, which I extended so you can still enter! It's INT / US, prizes are Amazon GC for a ebook of your choice and two books from my shelf. 
- I also did some jazzy things on the blog (see: sidebar Currently Reading widget courtesy of a tutorial recommended by Jess @ My Reading Dress. Also added the block quote colors so my reviews can include the blurbs in a colorific new way. I love Improving my blog! 
- I also am going to the OC Kids book Festival on the 28th. I'll do a recap post, I'm excited to meet Kiersten White and get some books. 
So here's the recap of reviews I did in September, and new books I bought and got for review! 

September Wrap-Up!

Posts:

-Spontaneous Gieaway (Amazon GC & Books INT) -Still time to enter giveaway!

Reviews

 (click on the covers to see the review)

          

            

       

Books Bought











Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Review: Hook's Revenge by Heidi Schultz

Hook's Revenge by Heidi Schulz
Source: Hardcover via Disney-Hyperion
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars :star :star :star :star 1/2

Twelve-year-old Jocelyn dreams of becoming every bit as daring as her infamous father, Captain James Hook. Her grandfather, on the other hand, intends to see her starched and pressed into a fine society lady. When she's sent to Miss Eliza Crumb-Biddlecomb's Finishing School for Young Ladies, Jocelyn's hopes of following in her father's fearsome footsteps are lost in a heap of dance lessons, white gloves, and way too much pink. So when Jocelyn receives a letter from her father challenging her to avenge his untimely demise at the jaws of the Neverland crocodile, she doesn't hesitate-here at last is the adventure she has been waiting for. But Jocelyn finds that being a pirate is a bit more difficult than she'd bargained for. As if attempting to defeat the Neverland's most fearsome beast isn't enough to deal with, she's tasked with captaining a crew of woefully untrained pirates, outwitting cannibals wild for English cuisine, and rescuing her best friend from a certain pack of lost children, not to mention that pesky Peter Pan who keeps barging in uninvited. The crocodile's clock is always ticking in Heidi Schulz's debut novel, a story told by an irascible narrator who is both dazzlingly witty and sharp as a sword. Will Jocelyn find the courage to beat the incessant monster before time runs out?


My Review [with GIFs!]


This is the tale of Jocelyn Hook. She's the 13 year old daughter of the infamous Captain Hook, whom she doesn't know. Jocelyn's mother is dead, and her father is obviously busy doing pirate-y plundering and doesn't have any interest in raising a daughter. So that responsibility falls to her grandfather, who is having an incredibly difficult time of it. After many wild encounters and "disgraceful" behaviors, her grandfather finally gives up and sends Jocelyn to Miss Eliza Crumb-Bittlecomb's Finishing School for Young Ladies.  Jocelyn has a horrible time at the finishing school. Catty girls who are snobby and completely different than her mar her days. Her only friend is the cook's boy, Roger. He loves adventures and they hole up together reading about pirates and ships and dream about having their very own adventure someday. That comes sooner than they might think, but in an altogether different manner that they imagined.

When things got really bad at the school, Jocelyn received her first letter from her father. Too bad the letter informed her of his death. He died at the jaws of the Neverland crocodile and details her inheritance in the letter: she is to kill the crocodile and avenge her father's death. With that awful news and the promise of adventure, Jocelyn flies to Neverland.
Jocelyn soon meets my favorite character of Neverland -- SMEE! I was so happy Smee was in this novel. He's just how I pictured him to be from the stories of Barrie and the Disney movie I love so much. Jocelyn entreats Smee to find the best crew available to journey and kill the crocodile. Unfortunately, only a rag-tag crew actually enlists when they find out the Captain is a girl. We have a man who wears two eye patches, a man who puts his arm under his shirt and pretends he only has one arm, and other hilarious would-be pirates with zero experience. But, Smee is happy to be serving under a Hook. Especially one who so reminds him of the late Captain (in more ways than Jocelyn suspects).
This is when the novel really gets good. I just loved how Jocelyn took charge of each situation and went along with the adventure even if it wasn't the adventure she pictured. Roger became one of the Lost Boys (yes, they're in here too!) and unfortunately doesn't remember her at all.

Tinkerbell is Peter Pan's annoying fairy, but we don't see much of her or Pan. We do see the fairy court though, and Jocelyn meets one very special fairy prince who I hope gets to reappear in the sequel. I actually loved that we see more of the secondary characters of Peter Pan. We don't meet Wendy and her brothers, but Wendy is alluded to in hysterical ways. I found Captain Hook's side of things to be more interesting, anyway.

Tiger Lily and her tribe are only one of the many groups of natives that reside in Neverland. Neverland is always changing, and people from all time periods come and go. It's a really cool concept, and I loved the exploration of that. Ever since Captain Hook died, more and more pirates have been migrating into Neverland, and staking claim. Some are trying to find Captain Hook's lost treasure. But Jocelyn Hook didn't see it in the trunk of what her dad left her. That doesn't stop an evil pirate from trying to capture Jocelyn, though.

Oh, and I can't forget the mermaids. Schultz kept them as vain, snobby, and horrible as always. There is one particular scene that I really liked that included the mermaids. I won't give it away, but if you read the book (you do plan on reading the book, right?!) you'll know which one I mean. ;)


I just can't tell you how impressed I was with this story. It's a fantastic debut. I felt like it was authentic with the original story AND the Disney adaptation. I felt like I was getting a new story, and that was important to me.
 Jocelyn is a lovable, flawed, non-girly character with a lot of moxy. I really really hope there will be a sequel, and I think there could be with how things ended. I found myself surprised, angry, and I even teared up a teeny bit at the end! This book was just so loveable.

I recommend this book to: lovers of fairy tales, lovers of Neverland, and strong female characters. I think those of you who aren't usually big on middle-grade will enjoy this novel. It definitely is middle-grade, but it's so enjoyable that if you are in the mood for a really good book that happens to be light and adventurous, you won't do wrong by picking this one up. :tup


*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


-Diamond

Friday, September 26, 2014

Let's Discuss: Is your TBR planned or do you choose books spur of the moment?

Let's Discuss is a feature I created to dish about books and anything else that pops into my head. 

Today's discussion:

Is your TBR planned or do you choose books spur of the moment? 
If it's a little of both, which do you prefer?

Do you ever get sick of having a rigid TBR? 


Here's the thing I've been having trouble with lately..
I feel like I'm entering a reading freeze. :ice I have no desire to read any of the upcoming planned books on my TBR (upcoming buddy reads, eARCs, etc.). It's not exactly a reading slump because I do feel like reading, just not what I planned. 

It's not so bad with the review books, because I do have a desire to read them. It's more that the buddy reads or other reads I scheduled aren't appealing to me AT ALL. I get excited, schedule a buddy read or plan to read it..then the day comes, I open the book and...


I'm not sure if it's because my moods have become even more changeable, or maybe it's because I just have begun to hate having every book planned way ahead of time. :@

Where's the spontaneity? The surprise? The shock?

My favorite thing in the world is having absolutely nothing to read..(or reading a review book but deciding to start another book off my TBR). And then getting up, staring at my bookshelves or looking on my kindle / iPad and just picking a book randomly. The possibilities are endless, and I really just enjoy, at that moment, how many books I've acquired (won, bought, borrowed). 
I decide what genre I want: YA, MG, Adult? Then sub-genre: Fantasy? Romance? Sci-fi? adventure?
I love doing this because I often come across books way in the back if the shelf, dusty (and almost forgotten). It makes me smile to just discover what I have and curl up with my diet coke and my cat Sasha at my feet (she keeps em warm) and just...READ. 

It's bliss.

But I'm finding I do this less and less. When was the last time I even did this little ritual of mine? I can't even remember! I'm determined to change this. 
So I cancelled all my buddy reads, and upcoming planned books. I only have my review copies list planned, more or less, based on upcoming publish date.

My plan? Read like I used to. No plan, no rush, no lists. At least for the fun books that I don't have to review (unless I want to!) I already feel better and relieved.  :e



Who knows, maybe I'll never plan my book list again? ;)

-----

Any suggestions for me? 


-Diamond



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Review: Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire

Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire
Source: eARC via Netgalley | Candlewick Press
My Rating: 1.5 of 5 stars :star 1/2
Published: September 9th, 2014

Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside. Her father has been dead for years. One of her brothers has been conscripted into the Tsar’s army, the other taken as a servant in the house of the local landowner. Her mother is dying, slowly, in their tiny cabin. And there is no food. But then a train arrives in the village, a train carrying untold wealth, a cornucopia of food, and a noble family destined to visit the Tsar in Saint Petersburg — a family that includes Ekaterina, a girl of Elena’s age. When the two girls’ lives collide, an adventure is set in motion, an escapade that includes mistaken identity, a monk locked in a tower, a prince traveling incognito, and — in a starring role only Gregory Maguire could have conjured — Baba Yaga, witch of Russian folklore, in her ambulatory house perched on chicken legs.

I'm not usually one to build books up too much before reading them. I just try not to. My opinions and views can be so different from others sometimes. I love some of the well-liked and popular series, and hate others. I guess we all do. I do have my favorite authors, usually established after years of reading and liking their books. Like Anne Rice, J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, and Gregory Maguire. Yep, Gregory Maguire is on the list of top ten authors. I have read and loved his Wicked series numerous times since I was in high school. I like how his writing creeps up on you, you suddenly find yourself crying over a character you thought you hated and didn't care about.

So when I saw he was releasing a middle grade stand alone book, I squee'd with excitement! I requested the ARC, got it, and was SO happy I couldn't wait to start. Plus, it historical fantasy based on the Russian folklore and fairy tale of Baba Yaga. I was so sure it was going to be brilliant, I hadn’t really thought of any other possibility. That’s why there's no easy way of saying this. I was extremely disappointed in this book. It didn’t live up to my expectations at all. I'm going to try to spell out why:

- The pacing was horrendous. I can’t even tell you how bad it was. The first 1/3 of the book, nothing happened. It was so boring I wanted to slam my head against the wall. Look, I read books fast. I read YA and MG books in one day if they’re good. If they’re not so good, I read them in one week. I can’t remember the last time it took me 30 days to complete a middle grade novel. I’m embarrassed that this is supposed to be one of my favorite authors.

It didn’t feel like a middle grade book. The vocabulary was incredibly advanced. I had to look up a few words. I don’t think I’ve ever had to look up words in a middle grade novel. Even in YA, it's rare. Adult novels, sure, and I look forward to learning new words when I’m reading an adult book. But when I’m in the mood for a middle grade book – it’s because I DON'T want to be reading a slow paced book. I especially don’t want to read something that has complicated and obscure words as filler.

*Examples of words I was annoyed at finding within a middle grade novel: [ proboscis, flotsam, calliope, soporific, cupola, calve, farrago]. I'm not opposed to kids looking up words in books, not at
all. But all of these combined (there were many more, I just highlighted a few) made it feel super pretentious.

When I think about the fact that kids ages 9-12+ will be reading this, it makes me wonder. I can’t help but think they won’t finish it. If I almost abandoned it for not having that levity and fresh air that is necessary in a great middle grade novel, I think a kid who is probably less patient than I am will not give it a chance.

- Baba Yaga DIDN'T GET INTRODUCED UNTIL 1/3 WAY IN. What a disappointment! She definitely livened up the novel, and should have at least been introduced earlier. I thought she was funny and a great character. One of the most redeeming facets of this novel was baba yaga and how she was portrayed.

So, with all these faults, why did I give it two stars? I think, I had to give it 1.5 stars because the ending and latter half of the book did pick up. Once the deception was brought to light, the plot became infinitely more manageable, interesting, and made more sense to me.  It felt more like a middle grade novel at that point. For me though, it was pretty much too little too late. I won’t be buying this novel. I don’t even think I’ll recommend it to any young adults.

I would maybe recommend this to an avid Maguire reader, only after assuring them this is perhaps his worst work (aside from Mirror Mirror). He should stick with adult literature, as that is where he excels. I think with better pacing, and less adult vocabulary this book could have been salvageable. As it is, it was boring and didn’t have the spontaneity and lightness that is necessary for a successful middle grade novel. Also, if it takes me 30 days to finish a novel..I can't really recommend it to many people.


*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Spontaneous Giveaway Time!


It's GIVEAWAY time! :party


Lately, I've been sort of glum regarding the blog. Seems like I just got in the groove again, whipping out tons of ARC Reviews (on or before the release date!) and having a blast. This ended all too soon though.  This past year I was barely working and looking for a job for 6+ months. I finally scored a new job *squee* but the hours are loooong. I barely have the energy to read and am falling a bit behind on review books read. I had to cancel some buddy reads too. :c 

But I'm happy. :e I mean, I love this new job, it's awesome! And I still have time to blog, which is a plus. I think I just have to lower my expectations for the amount of books I can pound out. Even though I'm a fast reader, some nights I don't even pick up a book or my iPad to read. :o

The point to all this? I think, since the last giveaway went so well, I wanna do another one! I didn't forsee this, so no hop this time. Just spontaneity. I have several books still on my shelves (ARCs and finished copies) that I don't plan on ever reading. 
Hint: some of them are on my trade list on YA Book Exchange

*I want to make this INT too, so I'm doing a small one for an INTL winner - 5$ Amazon GC if the winner is INTL. You can buy an ebook of your choice!*


So what's up for grabs?!
2 surprise books! (US)

5$ Amazon GC (INTL)

*By entering you're agreeing to my Giveaway Rules*
*If you win, I'll ask you for your top fav genres (within YA) and will choose based on what you dig*
*Books are ARCs / finished copies*

Enter the Rafflecopter below:


-Diamond

Audiobook Review: Doll Bones by Holly Black

Doll Bones by Holly Black
Source: Audiobook mp3 via LAPL library
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars :star :star :star :star


Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been friends forever. And for almost as long, they’ve been playing one continuous, ever-changing game of pirates and thieves, mermaids and warriors. Ruling over all is the Great Queen, a bone-china doll cursing those who displease her. But they are in middle school now. Zach’s father pushes him to give up make-believe, and Zach quits the game. Their friendship might be over, until Poppy declares she’s been having dreams about the Queen—and the ghost of a girl who will not rest until the bone-china doll is buried in her empty grave. 

I don't listen to audiobooks very often. I prefer to read, as it's much faster. However, I recently got a new job and I work a lot of hours and drive a lot now. So my reading time has been slashed. I put the audiobook on my phone and plugged it in so I can listen while I drive to the mp3. Man, I love technology! 

This was a great listen. The narrator was superb, and each character sounded different. I put it on 1.25 so I could listen without going crazy with how slow it was haha. Before I knew it I was done! The story was a lot of fun. I loved Zachary and his POV. The fact that three 12 year olds played dolls, and dealt with growing up...all while having a creepy atmospheric vibe?! It was great! I am definitely a huge fan of Holly Black after this. I've read some of her short stories, and I heard this was a good one. I happen to love a good creepy middle grade novel, and this definitely fit the bill. 

I can't recommend it enough. Especially the audiobook. I can't really say exactly why it's not 5 stars, except it maybe didn't have as much of a WOW factor that is necessary for me to give 5. But it was pretty damn good, nonetheless. ^_^



-Diamond

Sunday, September 21, 2014

#TackleTBR Wrap-Up!

Hosted by Tressa @ Wishful Endings.


This marks the second year of my participation in this read a thon. This year seems kind of anticlimactic since I didn't read more than usual..but I did read as much as I could with my new schedule. It was the first week at my new job, and things were bumpy. I wish I could've read more, but c'est la vie! I had already signed up by the time I realized I probably wouldn't have like any reading time. And I didn't make my goal, and it makes me kinda sad I am entering a phase where I'm not going to have time to read much. But hey, I did finish an audiobook with all that time in the car! :tup

I had fun doing the challenges too! I even visited some of the blogs participating :P

Go to my twitter @DiamondCronen to see my Cover and Color Challenge answers! (Sorry I don't have time to link them in this post). 


End of Read-a-Thon Update

Total Books Read: 3 (1 audiobook, 2 ebooks)


 


BIG thanks to Tressa for hosting! :k

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