Beautiful Curse by Jen McConnel Review and Blog Tour

YA Bounk Tour Buttonbeautiful curse new banner

 

Today I’m taking part in the BEAUTIFUL CURSE blog tour hosted by YA Bound Book Tours. I’ve gotten the chance to read and review Jen McConnel’s great take on one of my favorite myths – Cupid and Psyche.

The Review

Beautiful CurseTitle: Beautiful Curse

Author: Jen McConnel

Publisher: Swoon Romance

Publication Date: December 2014

Genre: YA Fantasy

Book Summary (from Goodreads)

Sixteen-year-old Mya Jones is cursed.

She is, hands down, the most beautiful creature on earth. But beauty can wound, and Mya finds herself reviled and shunned by her peers. If there is even a chance that she could start over, Mya longs to take it, no matter the risks.

So when the strange Mr. Merk offers her a new life away from home, Mya is hesitant but hopeful. Only she didn’t count on the mysterious Ross, or her feelings for him.

BEAUTIFUL CURSE is a contemporary retelling of the myth of Psyche and Cupid.

Review

If you’re a retelling fan, this is a great book for you to read! I love the Eros and Psyche myth (also related to my love of East of the Sun and West of the Moon) so this was a no brainer when I saw the chance to sign up for the blog tour and review.

The book focuses on Mya, who wakes up her first day of her junior year of high school and is suddenly freakishly gorgeous. You’d think that would make high school fantastic, but it doesn’t. The boys all want to…well, you know… and the girls hate her. Even the teachers seem to despise her, with a few exceptions (and I love the way McConnel sorts out the teachers so a few are immune to her “charms.”

She is dealing with a lot of family drama as well, and believes her beauty may be the cause of it. Just when she thinks things can’t get worse, she finds out she’s been chosen for a special school, and that’s where things get into the retelling more seriously. The palace and its occupants are quite well done and very intriguing. If anything, my complaint is that we don’t see enough of it and Mya’s time with her teachers and servants.

Ross, despite not seeing him at all, is an interesting and warm character, though he does sometimes act far older than a man you’d expect Mya to be interested in. While the romance here is sweet, it is also my only complaint with the book. Mya and Ross suffer from insta-love (IMO) and I really wanted to see their interactions and see how they could have fallen in love with words and tones of voice and such. Instead, she’s got a crush on him after meeting him only twice.

Once Mya breaks her promise not to look on him, she seeks out help and must perform some impossible feats. I love where the author has Mya meet Aphrodite, and I enjoyed their interplay. In some ways, I found the tasks too easy to perform, but they made sense with the story and the character.

Mya is a well-drawn character, as are all the supporting cast. The author has done a great job of creating a believable world for these characters to inhabit, as well as a great underlying and subtle message, and I actually liked the bittersweet undertone to the ending. If you like retellings, definitely pick this one up!

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Where to Find the Book

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20706772-beautiful-curse?ac=1

Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Curse-Jen-McConnel-ebook/dp/B00O2JKYGU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417376141&sr=8-1&keywords=Beautiful+Curse

Book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

About the Author

jen mcconnelJen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. Since then, her words have appeared in a variety of magazines and journals, including Sagewoman, PanGaia, and The Storyteller (where she won the people’s choice 3rd place award for her poem, “Luna”).

She is also a former reviewer for Voices of Youth Advocates (VOYA), and proud member of SCBWINCWN, and SCWW.

A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. A graduate of Western Michigan University, she also holds a MS in Library Science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. When she isn’t crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches college writing composition and yoga.

Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time.

Author Links:

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

 

Waiting on Wednesday: A Murder of Magpies by Sarah Bromley

17787411

Title: A Murder of Magpies
Author: Sarah Bromley
Publisher: Month9Books
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Genre: YA Fantasy

Winter in Black Orchard, Wisconsin, is long and dark, and sixteen-year-old Vayda Silver prays the snow will keep the truth and secrecy of the last two years buried. Hiding from the past with her father and twin brother, Vayda knows the rules: never return to the town of her mother’s murder, and never work a Mind Game where someone might see.

No one can know the toll emotions take on Vayda, how emotion becomes energy in her hands, or how she can’t control the destruction she causes. But it’s not long before her powers can no longer be contained. The truth is dangerously close to being exposed, placing Vayda and her family at risk.

Until someone quiets the chaos inside her.

Unwanted. That’s all Ward Ravenscroft has ever been. To cope, he numbs the pain of rejection by denying himself emotions of any kind. Yet Vayda stirs something in him. He can’t explain the hold she has on him–inspiring him with both hope and fear. He claims not to scare easily, except he doesn’t know what her powers can do. Yet.

Just as Vayda and Ward draw closer, she finds the past isn’t so easily buried. And when it follows the Silvers to Black Orchard, it has murder in mind.

 


 

This is a Waiting on Wednesday which I first saw at Breaking the Spine. The goal is to post a yet-to-be-published book that we are waiting to read. If you’d like to see more, go to http://breakingthespine.blogspot.com/to see the whole list. We’ll be posting one each week from now on, so if you have a book you think we should check out, feel free to contact us and let us know!

Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff

91mVuKxQdoLTitle: Fiendish

Author: Brenna Yovanoff

Publisher: Razorbill

Publication Date: August 2014

Pages: 341

Genre: YA Horror

Book Summary (from Goodreads)

Clementine DeVore spent ten years trapped in a cellar, pinned down by willow roots, silenced and forgotten.

Now she’s out and determined to uncover who put her in that cellar and why.

When Clementine was a child, dangerous and inexplicable things started happening in New South Bend. The townsfolk blamed the fiendish people out in the Willows and burned their homes to the ground. But magic kept Clementine alive, walled up in the cellar for ten years, until a boy named Fisher sets her free. Back in the world, Clementine sets out to discover what happened all those years ago. But the truth gets muddled in her dangerous attraction to Fisher, the politics of New South Bend, and the Hollow, a fickle and terrifying place that seems increasingly temperamental ever since Clementine reemerged.

Review

Yovanoff’s other books have been on my to-read list for awhile. But this one appeared during a trip to B&N this weekend, and I loved the cover and was in the mood for something creepy. When the first line tells you the MC has been trapped in a cellar by roots for ten years, well, it doesn’t get much creepier and intriguing than that, right?

The book was enjoyable, and while I didn’t find it scary at all, parts of it were creepy and disturbing. At least, the beginning was. I will admit that being dropped into the middle of Clementine’s world, with mention of craft and crooked families and fiends, was jarring at first. It was explained over the course of the book, but I found myself at times wishing for some more explaination. I mean, boys found a girl pinned in a burned out cellar with her eyes sewed shut. While there was some cursing and some fear, there wasn’t nearly enough for what I would have thought. It both confused me and set things up that this place was outside of “normal” reality.

The magic in the book is also not fully explained, and I ended the novel still unclear about the star and its five points and the system itself. I wished for more, because I think it would have made the whole thing better and maybe made me love the characters a little more. For most of them, I felt like it was a love them or hate them kind of thing. I liked Clementine and Shiny. Rae and Davenport and Fisher all were a little blah for me.

I also had a hard time with Clementine. She is put in the cellar when she’s 7. She comes out 10 years later. There’s a lot of talk about how she can’t fit into her skin quite right, but she never really comes out with a seven-year-old’s mentality. I mean, she’s singing Farmer in the Dell not long before being locked up and going over her numbers, and then she comes out, thinks about things, says some vague things that sound like she was “out of body” while imprisoned, and then she’s acting like a normal seventeen year old. Especially since halfway through the book she’s got a romance going. When you forgot about the beginning and the age, it works. When you really think about it, its weird.

I have to say one thing I truly adored, and that was Yovanoff’s prose. Its beautiful. The first three pages alone I went back and reread more than once. Her words just shine. Throughout the book there were little sprinkles of fantastic lines and descriptions, and that I loved. I wish I had loved it more, but I will be going to check out her other books soon! If you enjoy dark fantasy, I’d suggest you give it a try.

Ratingstarcolorunlabeledstarcolorunlabeledstarcolorunlabeled(But four stars for the prose!)

Where to Find the Book

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18667948-fiendish?from_search=true

Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1595146385/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwgoodco-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1595146385&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fiendish-brenna-yovanoff/1117163910?ean=9781595146380&itm=1&usri=9781595146380&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-GwEz7vxblVU-_-10:1&r=1,%201

Book was purchased by the reviewer.

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales


15777621Title
: This Song Will Save Your Life

Author: Leila Sales

Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Publication Date: Sept 2013

Pages: 279

Genre: YA Contemporary

Book Summary (from Goodreads)

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

Review

This is not my normal reading choice. Generally, as I work in a high school, I do not go for contemporary YA novels because I can get enough real life drama everyday. But this book had an interesting premise – a girl who saves herself with music – so I decided to give it a try.

The book is a great read. It deals with some tough issues – fitting in, losing yourself by trying to be something you aren’t, learning to trust yourself and value yourself, and suicide and bullying. It deal with these well, and I think that while Elise is at times a bit over the top, she also has some thoughts, feelings, and attitudes that most teenagers can relate to. The fact that she is bullied and takes it, and when it gets extreme still takes it without getting an adult involved is something that teenagers everywhere are dealing with.

There are times when I didn’t like Elise, and I thought that some of the behaviors would have been flags for her parents, and some things, like her nighttime walks, were a little hard to swallow. (My mother would have known. I might have gotten away with that once, but she’d have been waiting up for me the next time…) I didn’t expect so much from this book. I didn’t expect the undercurrents about cutting and suicide, or the heavy amount of bullying in the book. But I felt that it was a book that teens can relate to, and if it helps even one teen who is feeling depressed and alone and maybe thinking about harming themselves to stop and ask for help from someone, then it is definitely worth the read.

Sorry this review is a bit disjointed. The book was good, and overall I liked it, but there were parts that I didn’t care for. If you enjoy contemporary YA, this is a great book.

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Where to Find the Book

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15777621-this-song-will-save-your-life?from_search=true

Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0374351384/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwgoodco-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0374351384&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/this-song-will-save-your-life-leila-sales/1114168111?ean=9780374351380&itm=1&usri=9780374351380&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-GwEz7vxblVU-_-10:1&r=1,%201

Book was borrowed from the local library by the reviewer.

Waiting on Wednesday: Beautiful Curse by Jen McConnel

20706772

Title: Beautiful Curse
Author: Jen McConnel
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Release Date: December 2014
Genre: YA Retelling

Sixteen-year-old Mya Jones is cursed.

She is, hands down, the most beautiful creature on earth. But beauty can wound, and Mya finds herself reviled and shunned by her peers. If there is even a chance that she could start over, Mya longs to take it, no matter the risks.

So when the strange Mr. Merk offers her a new life away from home, Mya is hesitant but hopeful. Only she didn’t count on the mysterious Ross, or her feelings for him.

BEAUTIFUL CURSE is a contemporary retelling of the myth of Psyche and Cupid.

 


 

This is a Waiting on Wednesday which I first saw at Breaking the Spine. The goal is to post a yet-to-be-published book that we are waiting to read. If you’d like to see more, go to http://breakingthespine.blogspot.com/to see the whole list. We’ll be posting one each week from now on, so if you have a book you think we should check out, feel free to contact us and let us know!

Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto

19486754Title: Ghost House

Author: Alexandra Adornetto

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Publication Date: August 2014

Pages: 312

Genre: YA Horror

Book Summary (from Goodreads)

From the New York Times bestselling author of Halo comes the start of a beautiful and powerful new series.

After the loss of her mother, Chloe Kennedy starts seeing the ghosts that haunted her as a young girl again. Spending time at her grandmother’s country estate in the south of England is her chance to get away from her grief and the spirits that haunt her. Until she meets a mysterious stranger…

Alexander Reade is 157 years dead, with secrets darker than the lake surrounding Grange Hall and a lifelike presence that draws Chloe more strongly than any ghost before. But the bond between them awakens the vengeful spirit of Alexander’s past love, Isobel. And she will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who threatens to take him from her.

To stop Isobel, Chloe must push her developing abilities to their most dangerous limits, even if it means losing Alex forever… and giving the hungry dead a chance to claim her for their own

Review

This was one of the books I’ve got on my list for my Halloween read. It is, after all, October and Fall and whenever the weather finally turns a bit cool and the leaves hint at a change, I feel the need to read more horror than normal. So when I saw this in Barnes & Noble the other day, it seemed like the perfect choice!

I enjoyed the main charater, Chloe, and the fact that while she does grow over the course of the book, she never solves all her problems or resolves everything. The changes that happen in the book, from her mother’s death to the ghosts and their drama, aren’t really things that you just bounce back quickly from. I also enjoyed the feeling of being a fish out of water that she has in the end.

The storyline with Chloe and the ghosts and her family problems are good. The backstory of Alex and Isabelle are also really well done and well thought out. The author does well at explaining why they are acting they way they are, for the most part. There are some discrepancies that I wondered at – Isabelle’s reasons for taking Benjamin, for instance, are a bit much for me. While they sort of fit in with her character, there’s something about it that also seems flimsy. I also think Chloe’s jump from liking Alex to being head over heels in love is a bit sudden. I loved Joe’s character, and wanted to see more about him and his connection to everything.

Overall, the ghost story is intriguing, and I love the tidbits you’re given – the author does a great job of feeding you just enough information to keep you guessing, but not enough to get the whole picture too early. The romance is good, but I must admit, I have no idea what will happen next. This book is the first in a series, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for the others.

If you enjoy ghost stories, this is a good one to pick!

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Where to Find the Book

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19486754-ghost-house

Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0373211309/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwgoodco-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0373211309&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ghost-house-alexandra-adornetto/1117716181?ean=9780373211302&itm=1&usri=9780373211302&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-GwEz7vxblVU-_-10:1&r=1,%201

Book was purchased by the reviewer.

Thorn by Intisar Khanani

20558124Title: Thorn

Author: Intisar Khanani

Publisher: Self Published

Publication Date: May 2012

Pages: 246

Genre: YA Fantasy

Book Summary (from Goodreads)

For Princess Alyrra, choice is a luxury she’s never had … until she’s betrayed.

Princess Alyrra has never enjoyed the security or power of her rank. Between her family’s cruelty and the court’s contempt, she has spent her life in the shadows. Forced to marry a powerful foreign prince, Alyrra embarks on a journey to meet her betrothed with little hope for a better future.

But powerful men have powerful enemies–and now, so does Alyrra. Betrayed during a magical attack, her identity is switched with another woman’s, giving Alyrra the first choice she’s ever had: to start a new life for herself or fight for a prince she’s never met. But Alyrra soon finds that Prince Kestrin is not at all what she expected. While walking away will cost Kestrin his life, returning to the court may cost Alyrra her own. As Alyrra is coming to realize, sometime the hardest choice means learning to trust herself.

Thorn has received a Badge of Approval from Awesome Indies.

Review

First of all, I LOVE this cover. I also love the story of the Goose Girl, so the combination alone had me picking this up. It didn’t disappoint!

I really enjoy the backstory that the author has given Alyrra. She’s created a complete world, and her attention to detail was very well done. I liked Alyrra’s relationships and the way that the author created a life that made the reader believe she wouldn’t mind being sent to another land. I also really loved that Alyrra, while angry at first about the change in fortune, comes to see it as an opportunity rather than a curse. The way she handles the switch between handmaiden and princess also works well, as does the inclusion of the villain. It helps to carry the story further than just a jealous maid.

The prince and the supporting characters are well done, though I must admit that I wanted to know more about the Snatchers, as well as the Red Hawk and his place in Alyrra’s life. I wanted to see what she would have done in the end about the things she saw as a commoner, and I wanted to see how she handles the transition back into her own face. After all that’s happened, I imagine it would be difficult.

I had some moments where I wished for a little less whining and avoiding the subject from Alyrra as she decided what to do, esepcially since she spends most of her time professing that she doesn’t understand court politics, but she obviously does. I suppose it could be said that she learned them gradually, but it didn’t seem that way to me. First they weren’t obvious, then they were there. I also wanted to see her reach out to her friends at the stables more quickly and with more feeling than she did at the end.

If you like retellings, especially of the Goose Girl, then you’ll really enjoy this one. I look forward to seeing what else the author puts out.

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Where to Find the Book

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20558124-thorn?from_search=true

Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Thorn-Intisar-Khanani-ebook/dp/B00869SADQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412285263&sr=8-1&keywords=Thorn

Book was purchased by the reviewer.