Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

From Goodreads: In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds. Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe. As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returns, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

My Rating: 4.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: I adore fairy tale retellings so when I heard that Stacey Jay’s Of Beast and Beauty was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I knew I had to read it. After reading Of Beast and Beauty though, I’d have to say that it’s a very loose retelling. It reminds me of Everneath in the sense that it uses ideas from a few stories to deliver an entirely new creation. In the case of Of Beast and Beauty, there are elements from Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel.

For me, the best aspect about Of Beast and Beauty was the writing. It was just so poetic and enchanting! I loved that a lot of the imagery relied on the sense of smell and touch – due to Isra’s blindness – because it really made the city of Yuan and the surrounding desert come alive in my mind.

The characters were great as well. I found both Isra and Gem to be equally complex. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that Bo wasn’t as bad as I suspected. Silly me for judging a character in a book about appearances!

Although I thought that Gem’s and Isra’s realizations that they loved each other was a bit sudden, I did like the romance. Gem and Isra had chemistry, and there was a believable transition from the two being enemies to learning that they had things in common.

Another thing I enjoyed about Of Beast and Beauty was the way it conveys its message. Not only does the book teach the reader to look past appearances and to consider the idea of beauty not being the same for each person, but it also distorts their perception of who is Beauty and who is Beast over the course of the story.

A spellbinding novel, Of Beast and Beauty was released in July 2013 by Delacorte Press. 

Comments About the Cover: I like that the cover hints at all the fairy tales that Of Beast and Beauty appears to be inspired by. You can clearly see the tower (Rapunzel) and the rose (Sleeping Beauty), and obviously, the title (Beauty and the Beast).

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mini Reviews: Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor and This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

From Goodreads: Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York’s Upper East Side - that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne couldn't care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school. When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella’s twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder.

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor was an average read. While I liked that the mystery was hard to solve, I couldn’t really understand why Anne was so invested in trying to solve her roommate’s murder herself since she only knew her roommate for a week or so. Although I found Anne initially kind of spoiled and annoying, she slowly grew on me. The same can’t be said for the secondary characters in Prep School Confidential. The love interests were dull, and everybody else wasn’t developed enough for me to care about them.

Prep School Confidential was released in July 2013 by St. Martin's Griffin. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (St. Martin's Press) for free via NetGalley. 

From Goodreads: When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds. Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Like Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, I feel as if her novel This Is What Happy Looks Like is missing something that will make it go from a cute, decent read to an amazing one. That being said, I think I enjoyed This Is What Happy Looks Like just a bit more because the dual narrations enabled me to get to know both Graham and Ellie equally well. I would have liked this story even more though if I had been able to see Graham and Ellie’s friendship develop over email. 

This is What Happy Looks Like was released by Poppy in April 2013.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Review: Losing Lila by Sarah Alderson

From Goodreads: Alex and Lila are on the run, desperately trying to stay one step ahead of the Unit, which is somehow tracking their every move. While Alex is determined to keep Lila safe and her ability secret at any cost, Lila's only thought is of finding a way back to California so she can rescue her brother and mother from the military base where they're being held. Struggling to control both her growing power and her deepening feelings for Alex, Lila decides the time has finally come to stop running and start fighting. Together with Alex, Demos, and the others she's come to think of as family, Lila plans not only to save her brother and mum, but also to completely destroy the Unit and everything it stands for. But the plan requires Lila to return to California alone, and to make friends with the enemy - and in doing so, she risks losing everything: Alex, her family … even her life. 

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Losing Lila by Sarah Alderson begins a week after the end of Hunting Lila. When the novel starts, Lila and Alex are on the run from the Unit. Jack is in a coma after having been shot. Demos’ original group has splintered and those that remain with him are trying to divide the Unit’s forces by having the Unit chase them rather than Alex and Lila. Readers dive headfirst into the action, and it’s awesome!

As a character, Lila is definitely more mature in this novel. She’s still impulsive, but her impulsivity is reined in. It’s also evident throughout the course of Losing Lila that she has become more comfortable with her power and is able to control it better. As well, I really liked that she was able to stand up for herself, especially when it came to decisions made by Alex (who shows some emotional vulnerability in this installment) or Jack as those two tended to make the decisions for her in Hunting Lila.

I continue loving the sibling dynamic between Lila and Jack! Their interactions never fail to amuse me, and I love how they know exactly what buttons to push to annoy the other person. If I could have an older brother from a YA novel, Jack would probably be on the top of my list (although his protective streak might get old after a while)!

With the return of beloved secondary characters like Nate and Suki, Losing Lila is as enjoyable as Hunting Lila. While Hunting Lila may have been more fun, Losing Lila balances that out by having more emotional depth.

Losing Lila was released in August 2012 by Simon & Schuster UK. 

Comments About the Cover: I’m not really a fan of the cover. I liked Hunting Lila’s cover better.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Review: My Ex From Hell by Tellulah Darling (and Giveaway)

From Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Sophie Bloom wishes she’d been taught the following: a) Bad boy’s presence (TrOuBlE) + teen girl’s brain (DraMa) = TrAuMa (Highly unstable and very volatile.) b) The Genus Greekulum Godissimus is notable for three traits: 1) awesome abilities, 2) grudges, and 3) hook-ups, break-ups, and in-fighting that puts cable to shame. Prior to the Halloween dance, Sophie figures her worst problems involve adolescent theatrics, bitchy teen yoga girls, and being on probation at her boarding school for mouthy behaviour. Then she meets bad boy Kai and gets the kiss that rocks her world. Literally. This breath stealing lip lock reawakens Sophie’s true identity: Persephone, Goddess of Spring. She’s key to saving humanity in the war between the Underworld and Olympus, target numero uno of Hades and Zeus, and totally screwed. Plus there’s also the little issue that Sophie’s last memory as Persephone was just before someone tried to murder her. Big picture: master her powers, get her memories back, defeat Persephone’s would be assassin, and save the world. Also, sneak into the Underworld to retrieve stolen property, battle the minions of Hades and Zeus, outwit psycho nymphs, slay a dragon, rescue a classmate, keep from getting her butt expelled from the one place designed to keep her safe … and stop kissing Kai, Prince of the Underworld. 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: My Ex From Hell by Tellulah Darling was a humorous blend of contemporary and Greek mythology. Even better, the characters were likeable and there was a strong display of friendship throughout the novel.

I think Darling did a good job of creating strong female characters. I found Sophie to be snarky and amusing, and liked that Hannah was a proud geek. Although I don’t understand why there was such a focus on Hannah’s beauty (since it wasn’t really important to the story), it’s nice that Darling made an attempt to show that beauty and brains aren’t mutually exclusive.

Another thing I liked was how obvious it was that Sophie and Hannah cared about each other. They had their very own rituals as best friends, and didn’t keep secrets from the other person. For example, when Sophie found out that she was a goddess stuck in a mortal body, she told Hannah right away. At no point was Hannah kept in the dark simply for being a human. In fact, Sophie even urges Hannah to accompany her when she goes to kill Delphyne, the dragon appointed to guard the oracle of Delphi, because she knew it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for Hannah to see a dragon.

Though it could have been a tad more serious at certain points, My Ex From Hell was a fun read overall. 

My Ex From Hell was released in April 2013 by Te Da Media. 

Comments About the Cover: It’s a bit too plain looking for me. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the author for free via Xpresso Book Tours.  

original image from

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