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!

Ratingstarcolorunlabeledstarcolorunlabeledstarcolorunlabeledstarcolorunlabeled

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

 

Advertisements

Waiting on Wednesday: Shadows Fall Away by Kit Forbes

20703642

 

Title: Shadows Fall Away
Author: Kit Forbes
Publisher: Month9Books
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Genre: YA Fantasy
Blurb (from Goodreads):

Mark Stewart is one incident away from becoming a juvenile delinquent, and his parents have had enough. They ship Mark off to London England to stay with his eccentric aunt Agatha who is obsessed with all things Jack the Ripper. After a strange twist of luck, Mark is struck by lightning, and he wakes to find himself in 1888 Victorian London.

His interest in a string of murders Scotland Yard has yet to solve make him a likely suspect. After all, why would a young boy like Mark know so much about the murders? Could he be the ripper they’ve been searching for? Convinced the only way to get back home is to solve the murders, Mark dives headfirst into uncovering the truth.

Mark’s only distraction comes in the form of the beautiful Genie Trembly, a girl who is totally out of his league and who may have already caught the attention of the infamous ripper. To save her, he’ll endanger both their lives, and risk being trapped in the past forever.

 


 

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!

 

Waiting On Wednesday: Atlantia by Ally Condie

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!

Title: Atlantia
Author: Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton Childrens
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Genre: YA Fantasy

17731926

Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.

 

 

 

The Murmurings by Carly Anne West

13260536Title: The Murmurings

Author: Carly Anne West

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication Date: March 2013

Pages: 384

Genre: YA Paranormal

Book Summary (from Goodreads)

Everyone thinks Sophie’s sister, Nell, went crazy. After all, she heard strange voices that drove her to commit suicide. But Sophie doesn’t believe that Nell would take her own life, and she’s convinced that Nell’s doctor knows more than he’s letting on.

As Sophie starts to piece together Nell’s last days, every lead ends in a web of lies. And the deeper Sophie digs, the more danger she’s in—because now she’s hearing the same haunting whispers. Sophie’s starting to think she’s going crazy too. Or worse, that maybe she’s not…

Review

I’ve said it before – I frequently judge books by their covers. Especially horror novels – if it doesn’t look creepy enough, I’m not as likely to pick it up. That being said, the cover was the main reason I picked this up in the bookstore. It was staring at me from the shelf and screamed “I”m creepy! Read me!”

I want to tell you that it was a fright-inducing read and I couldn’t sleep without a light on at night. That wasn’t quite how things worked out. The book starts out with Sophie mourning her sister’s death, and wondering about the circumstances that caused it. You know that her sister had been in a mental institution, and you know that there’s a lot of guilt in Sophie about it. You begin to understand why when it comes out that Nell saw and heard things and Sophie might have the same ability, though she doesn’t want to admit it. The potential creep factor was there. It had all the earmarks for some really weird and frightening things to go on. Without giving too much away, Sophie finds out that her abilities make her able to see Takers, and that’s not a good thing. But for me, the brief glimpses we get at first of the Takers – in mirrors or reflections of Sophie – are more scary than the actual Takers. When one finally comes out, they’re just…  meh.

I really enjoyed the mystery portion of the whole thing and the way that West has plotted out the details. There were times when the book dragged for me, and Sophie visited the hospital far too many times before being held there for my taste. I like the way that West makes us question the motives of those around Sophie, just as Sophie does.

The ending was a bit anti-climatic for me, and I still don’t fully understand exactly why things worked out they way they did. I would have liked more of an explanaition for that, because I was left with more questions than anything about the Takers and Sophie and how it was going to affect her life. But if you enjoy mildly creepy books and don’t mind a bit of slow movement in the middle, the book isn’t too bad.

Ratingstarcolorunlabeledstarcolorunlabeledstarcolorunlabeled

Where to Find the Book

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13260536-the-murmurings?ac=1

Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1442441798/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwgoodco-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1442441798&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-murmurings-carly-anne-west/1107394057?ean=9781442441798&itm=1&usri=9781442441798&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-GwEz7vxblVU-_-10:1&r=1,%201

Book was purchased by the reviewer.

At The House Of The Magician by Mary Hooper

1463307Title: At The House Of The Magician

Author: Mary Hooper

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Publication Date: August 2007

Pages: 240

Genre: YA Historical

Book Summary (from Goodreads)

A poor runaway during the Elizabethan period, Lucy does not have many options. Her luck turns around when she is taken on as a maid in the household of Dr. Dee, a real-life figure who was court magician to Queen Elizabeth I. The household is strange and sinister, and Lucy has a nose for intrigue. So when she stumbled across a plot to assassinate the queen, Lucy must find means to warn her . . . before it’s too late.

Review

This novel is about Lucy, who runs away from home and her drunk, abusive father. In the process, she rescues two children from drowning, takes them home and manages to secure a position as a nanny in their house. Turns out, they are the children of Dr. John Dee, who is Queen Elizabeth I’s magician. That’s the short version anyway.

Lucy is a likeable cahracter, even though there are times when I wanted to shake her, or point out some of the sillier things she did. Most of it stems from a certain amount of immaturity that the character has. For instance, she wanders through Dr. Dee’s home before she’s actually been offered the position. She’s just staying overnight, hoping for a position and wanders the house without permission. After the cook spends some time wondering about her motives and whether she’s out to steal in the first place. It seemed a stupid and unlikely thing to do. Her lack of fear of anything is slightly strange as well, especially considering her upbringing. We know her father was abusive, but she lacks any of the fear and forced maturity I expected.

The story itself is entertaining. Lucy is a devoted subject of Queen Elizabeth I and has always dreamed of seeing her. Working for her magician is a dream come true because she might get that chance. Dr. Dee is sufficiently mysterious, and many comments are made about how Lucy doubts his authenticity. I was surprised when there was a paranormal element introduced, but I enjoyed it. It isn’t overbearing and it helps to add to the story, rather than taking over.

The secondary characters are interesting, and while there were some parts I found hard to believe, the book is a quick and entertaining read, so I chose to let them slide. The author has done her homework, but I do sometimes wish for a little more of the history and setting.

If you enjoy Tudor and Elizabethan era fiction, this will be good. Its a quick, fun read and is the first in a series. I liked it well enough that I’ll probably read the other two at some point.

Ratingstarcolorunlabeledstarcolorunlabeledstarcolorunlabeled

Where to Find the Book

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1463307.At_the_House_of_the_Magician

Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0747588864/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwgoodco-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0747588864&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/at-the-house-of-the-magician-mary-hooper/1008728012?ean=9780747588863&itm=1&usri=9780747588863&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-GwEz7vxblVU-_-10:1&r=1,%201

Book was purchased by the reviewer.

Book Highlight: Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee

Book Highlight!

Gates-cover-FINAL-med

In the Labyrinth, we had a saying: keep silent, keep still, keep safe.

In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn’t know where her ability comes from—or where she came from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her.

Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.

Praise for Gates of Thread and Stone

“Lori M. Lee excels in building a world of intrigue, oppression, and magic amidst a Labyrinth setting as twisted and winding as the secrets hidden inside her characters’ hearts. Fans of strong heroines who don’t need a boy to hold their hands, action-packed fighting scenes, and whispers of steampunk and mythology, will find themselves wishing they, too, could manipulate the threads of time, if only to stay inside the story a little longer.”-A.G. Howard, the SPLINTERED series

“Inventive, romantic, and gripping. I was hooked from the first page!”-Amy Tintera, REBOOT and REBEL

 

About the Author

lori_small

Lori is the author of young adult fantasy Gates of Thread and Stone, coming August 5, 2014 from Skyscape. She has a borderline obsessive fascination with unicorns, is fond of talking in capslock, and loves to write about magic, manipulation, and family. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, kids, and a friendly pitbull.

Links:

Preorder Links:
 

Brazen by Katherine Longshore

brazen by longshoreTitle: Brazen

Author: Katherine Longshore

Publisher: Viking Juvenile

Publication Date: June 12, 2014

Pages: 528

Genre: Young Adult Historical

Book Summary (from Goodreads)

Mary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed…but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?

Review

Brazen, by Katherine LOngshore, is a novel set in Tudor England, in one of the most written about time periods around. That being said, I’m a sucker for a novel about Tudor England. But while I love them, they have the potential to be tired before you even begin. Mainly because people choose to write about the same people over and over. Longshore manages to choose a character here that few people ever even remember existed. That’s really what made me want to pick up the book in the first place.

Few books ever get around to writing about Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s bastard son. No one that I know of has ever bothered to remember that he had a wife. This novel is told from Mary Fitzroy’s point of view, and I enjoyed it. Mary is an oddity in court. Her parents are at odds, physically at times, and she is uncertain and easily led at the beginning, even when she doesn’t want to be. She’s honest, sometimes when she shouldn’t be, but learns how to cover that as well in a way that doesn’t deviate from herself, but isn’t going to get her into trouble either.

The author also includes a peculiar character trait that I loved. LOVED. Mary is a synesthete – to her, words (or at least some words) have a taste. Her descriptions of them are lovely, and often hold their own meaning in regards to what Mary is thinking or what is going on around her. Her character growth from beginning to end is really well done. It isn’t unbelievable and is actually pretty subtle. Only when you really think about the beginning do you realize that she did make some serious personal growth and choices.

Her relationship with Henry Fitzroy is a major running thread, and it is an important one, but it isn’t the whole story. To me, her relationship with him is a secondary plot line to her finding her own way in the world. That being said, I loved their relationship. The beginning was rocky and exactly like you think it might have been. Henry is a likeable character, though I must admit that I was having some issues with becoming too involved, because I knew what was going to happen to him. (I won’t say, just in case someone doesn’t know)

The book and its twisting relationships and its weaving of history and fiction are really well done. The author’s notes in the back explain how the author has modified and filled in history for the story, and I really think she did a great job. I especially enjoyed the note about Mary’s book and how it was based on a real manuscript. I found that really surprising and interesting and will be looking into more information about it.

My only complaint, and the reason this book received three stars instead of four, was because there were times when I had to force myself to continue reading. It wasn’t boring – it just couldn’t quite keep my attention until well into the second half. Part of that is the nature of the beast. Tudor historical fiction set in the court has a large cast of characters and all have a part to play. You have to know some of what’s going on, and the secondary characters of Hal, Madge, Margaret, and even Anne Boleyn and King Henry have parts that weave in and out of Mary’s own history. Some of this may also be due to the timing of my reading the book – as I have some big events going on in my life at the moment and it’s hard to concentrate, so take that for what it’s worth.

The last scene between Henry and Mary made me cry, which is rare, and I really think the author did a fabulous job of conveying emotion in this book – not just here but throughout. I really got to know Mary and I really wanted her to win. I wanted to see her happy and to succeed.

So – If you’re a fan of Tudor historicals, this is a good book to try. You may get a little bogged down in the middle, but the book is a good one overall.

Ratingstarcolorunlabeledstarcolorunlabeledstarcolorunlabeled

Where to Find the Book

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18668016-brazen?from_search=true

Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/067001401X/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwgoodco-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=067001401X&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2=

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/brazen-katherine-longshore/1116402533?ean=9780670014019&itm=1&usri=9780670014019&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-GwEz7vxblVU-_-10:1&r=1,%201

Book was purchased by reviewer.