Chasing Power

Posted on Wednesday, November 26th 2014 in Review

Chasing PowerTitle: Chasing Power
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Date: October 14, 2014
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Description: "Lies, secrets, and magic — three things that define Kayla's life.

Sixteen-year-old Kayla plans to spend her summer hanging out on the beach in Santa Barbara and stealing whatever she wants, whenever she wants it. Born with the ability to move things with her mind — things like credit cards, diamond rings, and buttons on cash registers — she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up a safety net, enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again. Well, that, and the thrill of using her secret talents.

But her summer plans change when she's caught stealing by a boy named Daniel — a boy who needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Daniel has a talent of his own. He can teleport, appearing anywhere in the world in an instant, but he lies as easily as he travels. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel's kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family — and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive... or survive. "

Goodreads | Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

***

This is the first novel I’ve ever read from Sarah Beth Durst and I had pretty high expectations going into it because every time I’ve mentioned how much I was looking forward to Chasing Power, I’ve received a ton of comments from people saying how much they love Durst’s books. The verdict? I really liked it! I didn’t love it as much as I expected based on all of the author fanfare, but it was a solid 4-star read nonetheless.

There are a few things I look for in a good novel: good plot, engaging writing, a solid romance, and great characters. Chasing Power has an awesome plot and some very good writing. It was very suspenseful and just had this way of drawing you in. Whenever I’d sit down to read this one, I’d find myself turning pages anxiously waiting to see what happened next. In fact the plot really makes me want to bump this up to 5 stars. So what kept me from doing so? The characters and romance.

I liked both the characters and the romance – truly. BUT I just didn’t love them. There were plenty of times when Kayla or Daniel got on my nerves a bit, as did Selena (although she was probably my favorite character). Some of the interactions between Kayla and Daniel just came off as a bit forced to me and at times juvenile. And yes, I do realize that they are teenagers, but there aren’t many times where a YA romance will cause me to literally roll my eyes. In fact, I usually do more eye rolling with adult love stories than YA since they have a tendency to be about a rich guy and a poor, insecure girl who just doesn’t realize how pretty she is.

Even though my love for this novel was tempered by my feelings for the characters and their relationships, it was still a really good book. I’d definitely like to check out more of Durst’s work based on how suspenseful I found Chasing Power. If you like your books fast based and mysterious, this one is worth checking out!

4 Stars

Tale of Treats: A Fairytale Feast

Posted on Thursday, November 20th 2014 in Tale of Treats

afairytalefeast

I have wanted to start a feature called Tale of Treats on my blog for over a year! The only thing that stopped me was I wouldn’t be able to do it regularly. How silly! I’ve decided to go ahead and do it anyway, but this will be a sporadic feature.

Since Thanksgiving is coming up, I wanted to put a bookish spin on one of my favorite holidays. I cooked up a Cinderella Pumpkin Risotto, Kimber’s hot posset (which you may remember from the Faeriewalker series), and a seriously pretty Beauty and the Beast Apple Pie Rose.

I’ll leave links below to the original recipes, but I modified them all a bit. Some of the recipes just weren’t working quite right or needed a little something extra to enhance the flavor. Here’s my take on them:

 

 

CINDERELLA’S PUMPKIN RISOTTO

I based this recipe off go Giada’s pumpkin and goat cheese risotto. I added in onion and garlic and left out the goat cheese and nutmeg. Also used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and decided to serve it a pumpkin. Because Cinderella obviously needs a real pumpkin!
 

KIMBER’S HOT POSSET

This is the original recipe from an interview I did with Jenna Black a while back. & I didn’t really make any modifications in the video (just used agave instead of honey and vanilla almond milk instead of whole milk).
 

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST APPLE PIE ROSE

I got this idea from Pinterest, but the recipe they had on there just didn’t work at all. YouTube helped me figure it out though. My recipe and process is actually very similar to the one I found in this YouTube video. The pie crust recipe I used is absolutely delicious! Highly recommend it if you’re up for making it yourself.

 

I hope you guys like this post! Making a cooking video is really tough – I have a whole new appreciation for everyone that does cooking videos on YouTube. If you recreate any of these, send me a link because I would love to see pictures! What are you’re favorite foods for Thanksgiving? Mine are pumpkin pie, stuffing, and green bean casserole. Can’t wait until next week :)

 

Glamour in Glass

Posted on Tuesday, November 18th 2014 in Review

Glamour in GlassTitle: Glamour in Glass
Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Series: Glamourist Histories #2
Publisher: Tor Books
Date: April 10, 2012
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Description: "Mary Robinette Kowal stunned readers with her charming first novel Shades of Milk and Honey , a loving tribute to the works of Jane Austen in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence. This magic comes in the form of glamour, which allows talented users to form practically any illusion they can imagine. Shades debuted to great acclaim and left readers eagerly awaiting its sequel. Glamour in Glass continues following the lives of beloved main characters Jane and Vincent, with a much deeper vein of drama and intrigue.In the tumultuous months after Napoleon abdicates his throne, Jane and Vincent go to Belgium for their honeymoon. While there, the deposed emperor escapes his exile in Elba, throwing the continent into turmoil. With no easy way back to England, Jane and Vincent’s concerns turn from enjoying their honeymoon...to escaping it. Left with no outward salvation, Jane must persevere over her trying personal circumstances and use her glamour to rescue her husband from prison...and hopefully prevent her newly built marriage from getting stranded on the shoals of another country's war. "

Goodreads | Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

***

Mary Robinette Kowal really impressed me with Shades of Milk and Honey – a very Pride & Prejudice-esque novel with a magical twist. Needless to say, I was very excited to continue the series with Glamour in Glass. While it was quite different, I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed!

Whereas Shades of Milk and Honey had a plot focused around societal pressures, family issues, and finding a husband, Glamour in Glass has themes of gender equality and political intrigue. While I wasn’t expecting such a dramatic shift, I have to say I really enjoyed it! It actually reminded me a bit of Sharon Cameron’s The Dark Unwinding (which I really enjoyed).

Now that Jane and Vincent are married, the two are under a bit of pressure to have a child. I’m sure other newly weds can relate to this! I’ve started telling people I’m not having children until I’m 50 so that they stop. asking. me. Sheesh! Jane’s sentiments toward children strike me as very modern, and therefore much more relatable than I would have expected. A pregnancy would mean she can’t practice glamour. She loves glamour so much that the idea of being cut off from it (and her work with Vincent) terrifies her. As much as I enjoyed this element of the story though, Jane’s inner dialogue did get a bit frustrating at times as she is still fairly insecure of Vincent’s feelings…even though they’re married.

There is a ton of political intrigue in this story since it takes place in Belgium just after Napoleon has abdicated his thrown. The setting actually helps Jane grow a lot as a character as she finds she prefers the way women are treated in Belgium a bit more than she does in Britain (after the culture shock wears off of course). There is a great deal of talk among the characters of whether or not Napoleon might return to power, and quite a few shocking events that stem from the Bonapartist movement in Belgium.

Glamour in Glass is a stunning sequel to Shades of Milk and Honey. It takes the characters from the first book and really expands upon them and lets them grow in new situations. While the characters have a special place in my heart, the plot was absolutely fantastic and well beyond what I was expecting. Mary Robinette Kowal has clearly grown a lot as an author after her first book and I am so excited to see how her writing, as well as Jane and Vincent, grow as the story continues.

4.5 Stars

Fairytale Fashions: Greek Gods Inspired Jewelry

Posted on Friday, November 14th 2014 in Fairytale Fashions

I’ve been at it again – browsing Etsy. I always find the coolest things on that site! I don’t end up purchasing many things because sometimes the shipping costs can be quite high, but it’s definitely fun to look. Here are a few pieces I found that bring to mind Greek mythology from ModsTheMost and applelatte.

 

Laurel Leaves

Aphrodite Necklace

The Jewel

Posted on Thursday, November 13th 2014 in Review

The JewelTitle: The Jewel
Author: Amy Ewing
Series: The Lone City #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: September 2, 2014
Pages: 358
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Description: "The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for. "

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

***

The Jewel is one of the more gritty dystopians I’ve ever read because it deals with forced surrogacy and slavery. While the novel started off a bit slowly for me, I found myself being very curious about the magical abilities the surrogates had and wanted to learn more about the world Ewing had created.

It was a pretty disturbing world, actually. While dystopians are never pleasant per se, there are varying degrees of horror when it comes to the conditions people are living in. I happen to find slavery one of the most appalling. Our main character, Violet, and several of the supporting characters are treated like pets – to the point where they are put on leashes when they go out in public. Disgusting.

I liked several of the character well enough, but didn’t love them. For the most part, we’re treated to some strong-willed, defiant individuals who want to stand up from themselves. There were certain points though where Violet, in particular, drove me a little insane with her carelessness. I have to give points for the types of characters created, but they’re actions were detractors at times.

Even though I didn’t fall in love with The Jewel, I liked it a lot and I’m really curious to see where the story goes. I feel like we’ve only started to scratch the surface on the world building and I’m expecting the following books to filled with plotting and rebellion. Now that Violet has discovered much more about the society she lives in, we can delve into some action since she’s already discovered things aren’t always how they seem. Really looking forward to book 2!

3.5 Stars

Waiting on Wednesday

Posted on Wednesday, November 12th 2014 in Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

For more books I’m looking forward to, check out the Upcoming page.

 

Fantasy

 

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (May 2015 – Bloomsbury)

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Timesbestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristen Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!” Goodreads.

 

Mythology

 

Inspire by Cora Carmack (December 2014)

Kalliope lives with one purpose.

To inspire.

As an immortal muse, she doesn’t have any other choice. It’s part of how she was made. Musicians, artists, actors—they use her to advance their art, and she uses them to survive. She moves from one artist to the next, never staying long enough to get attached. But all she wants is a different life— a normal one. She’s spent thousands of years living lie after lie, and now she’s ready for something real.

Sweet, sexy, and steady, Wilder Bell feels more real than anything else in her long existence. And most importantly… he’s not an artist. He doesn’t want her for her ability. But she can’t turn off the way she influences people, not even to save a man she might love. Because in small doses, she can help make something beautiful, but her ability has just as much capacity to destroy as it does to create. The longer she stays, the more obsessed Wilder will become. It’s happened before, and it never turns out well for the mortal.

Her presence may inspire genius.

But it breeds madness, too. ” Goodreads.

 

Dystopian with a Historical Twist

 

Rook by Sharon Cameron (April 2015 – Scholastic)

“History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

Daring intrigue, delicious romance, and spine-tingling suspense fill the pages of this extraordinary tale from award-winning author Sharon Cameron.” Goodreads.

 

 

 

I am so excited for all three of these! Sarah J. Mass is such an amazing writer – I know a lot of you will be looking forward to A Court of Thorns and Roses as well! You probably know by now that I am slightly obsessed with Greek Mythology, which is why I’m looking forward to Inspire. I haven’t read a retelling about the muses before, so I’m really looking forward to that! And then there is Rook by Sharon Cameron. Doesn’t that synopsis sound awesome? I’ve read other books from her – Dark Unwinding and  A Spark Unseen - both were great, so I’m expecting Rook to be awesome.

A Trip Through Lola and the Boy Next Door

Posted on Monday, November 10th 2014 in Book Travel

I was in San Francisco for the first time last month and decided to tour the city with my husband using Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins!

Lola 1Lola 2

The first stop was the Mission district. Lola’s boyfriend Max lives in the Mission, so it’s mentioned a few times. One of their first dates in the book is to get burritos in this neighborhood, which is known for having the best burritos in San Francisco. I had one with a chile relleno in it!

Lola 3 Lola 4 Lola 5 Lola 6

After we finished up in the Mission, we walked over to the Castro district, where Lola lives. On the way we passed a whole lot of things with the name Dolores (Lola’s real name). Lola went on for an entire paragraph about all of the things that share her name. We saw Dolores St, Mission Dolores, and  Dolores Park.

 

Lola 7

After a very long walk, we finally made it to Castro Street – the street that Lola and Cricket live on. Now I don’t know where on this street they live, but I took a picture of the pretty Victorian houses. I imagine that Lola and Cricket’s houses are further apart than these are.

 

Lola 8 Lola 9

Later in the day we headed over to the Japanese Tea Garden – which was gorgeous! Lola and Max go here for a date right after Lola finds out Cricket and Calliope are moving back home. I ordered an iced green tea and kuzumochi – which was pretty good, but I wish I’d tried the green tea cheesecake.

 

Lola 10 Lola 11

On day 2, we did a few non-Lola things, but we did make it to Lombard Street – the crookedest street in America. Aside from being incredibly crooked, it was also really beautiful! This is where Lola, Cricket, and Andy drop off pies to a very wealthy (and rude) client. I can see why they were so stressed about those pies while driving down the street! It really is gorgeous though – just look at that view from the top!

 

Lola 12 Lola 13 Lola 14

On our last day, we trekked out of the city to Muir Woods. Lola and her family go on a picnic here and Cricket ends up tagging along – a fact which Lola strategically forgets to tell Max. We didn’t have a picnic of our own, but we walked along the trails and just enjoyed being in such a beautiful place.

 

I also made a vlog of the trip if you’re interested!

Do you have a book inspired travel list? I love traveling, and there are so many times when an awesome setting makes me want to book a tick to somewhere else.

Fairytale Fashions: Holiday Dresses

Posted on Friday, November 7th 2014 in Fairytale Fashions

“Deck the halls with bows of holly, fa la la la …” Tell me that song gets stuck in your head too and it isn’t just me. I actually sing it in the summer, and not just around the holidays. Don’t judge.

We’re getting to that time of year! Forever 21 released their holiday dresses this week and what better way to celebrate than checking out which ones resemble our favorite book covers?

*click the images for links

The Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

 Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 7.48.21 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 7.48.41 PM

 

 

Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber

Forever 21 Vampire Kisses Dress

 

 

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 7.59.47 PMScreen Shot 2014-11-07 at 8.00.00 PM

 

 

Only in Your Dreams by Cecily von Ziegesar

gossip girl holiday dress

 

I’ve already picked out my dresses for this season! I have a white sheath dress and a red lace dress that I absolutely can’t wait to wear! Not sure which will be for Thanksgiving and which will be for Christmas yet though. Have you planned your holiday outfit yet? Leave me a link below – I’d love to see it!

 

A Rather Large Books and Beauty Giveaway to Celebrate Diamonds in the Rough

Posted on Thursday, November 6th 2014 in Giveaway

Have you picked up Michelle Madow’s The Secret Diamond Sisters series yet? If not, don’t worry. We can fix this!

I have a great giveaway for you that includes both of her books because this is one series you just don’t want to miss. So what makes this giveaway so awesome you ask?

Secret Diamond Sisters Giveaway

 

Yup, pictures are sometimes better than words. If you want an in depth overview of the prize pack, just check out the YouTube video – there are quite a few goodies in that makeup bag.

 

CONTEST RULES:

  • Open Internationally
  • Must be 13+ to enter
  • Everyone may enter, even if you are not a follower
  • Winner will be notified via email
  • A new winner will be chosen if a response is not received within 48 hours
  • Contest ends November 23, 2014

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Even in Paradise

Posted on Wednesday, November 5th 2014 in Review

Even in ParadiseTitle: Even in Paradise
Author: Chelsey Philpot
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: October 14, 2014
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Description: "When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator’s daughter. Most people do... or think they do.

Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger than-life-new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia’s handsome older brother, Sebastian.

But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden... until now. "

Goodreads | Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

***

I wanted to like Even in Paradise a lot more than I did. It was an average read, but I wanted something I could fly through. A big part of my problem was probably my own expectations. I was thinking I was going to get a story similar to Nantucket Blue – a fun, contemporary about enjoying summer and falling in love. There was certainly plenty of glitz and glam with Julia’s wealthy background, but it didn’t shine through quite as much as I would’ve liked.

Instead of getting sucked into the high life, the novel really focuses on wealth and how people with money tend to manipulate everyone around them and throw their cash around to get what they want. Part of what makes this an average read for me is that I am sensitive to how wealth is portrayed in novels.

People are often vilified because they have money or their parents do. I’m sad to say that Even in Paradise wasn’t an exception. Julia and her family were portrayed quite negatively throughout the novel and most of their negative actions were related to money. I do think that Charlie, however, deserves some commendation for her ability to stay grounded and (mostly) true to herself when Julia’s family throws money at her.

The plot was fine as well, but not compelling. The novel really focuses on Charlie seeing how Julia lives and doing her best to integrate into her world. There is also a bit of mystery surrounding Julia’s sister, but it was pretty predictable, so even though it was key piece to the story it ended up being underwhelming.

While I like Even in Paradise well enough, it took me longer than usual to finish because it wasn’t a page-turner. I was certainly engaged while I was reading it, but I didn’t love it. In the end, I think this is a mostly a case of poor fit. Even in Paradise is a good book, but just wasn’t really for me.

3 Stars