Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Review of Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

Title/Author: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross
Publisher/Date published: Delacorte Books for Young Readers, June 11th 2013
How I got this book: from the author for review, thanks!
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service — the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive.

Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect foil.

But Isabelle has no idea her new "friend" is the hired help, and Maude's very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.

The idea behind this novel fascinates me! I mean, it really is quite ingenious: make yourself look better by having a less well-looking person stand beside you and shine in comparison. It's like a theory I once read somewhere or saw on TV, how being in a group of beautiful people can transform someone from average to beautiful as well. It's really interesting to see how your perception can change because of your surrounding.

So we meet Maude, one of the so-called 'ugly' girls. She's come to Paris to escape what would have been an unhappy marriage and needs a job. She gets hired by the Durandeau Agency and soon the Countess picks her to be the companion for her daughter. But unlike usual, said daughter isn't supposed to know Maude is making her look better. So Maude tries to become friends with the somewhat difficult Isabelle and slowly they get to know each other and actually do become friends. Until Maude has to choose between keeping her secret and keeping her friend.

I liked Maude, I liked that you could feel that she wasn't worldly, being from a small town and just wanting to make her own way into the world instead of the one her father would have picked out for her. At times I was just cringing and wanting to yell at her to not be such a brat to her friends, and to stop being so UGH NAIVE! But it definitely felt like this was all in character for her, I just had this sense of foreboding you sometimes get. You know, the 'this has to go wrong SOMEWHERE' feeling.

And I really liked Isabelle, who I can truly respect for wanting to just be MORE. Learn MORE. Be a scientist. Though I thought she could have been a little less contrary at times, she knew what she wanted and wasn't afraid to go for it. She did have a healthy dose of arrogance and entitlement that sometimes rubbed me the wrong way a bit, but I liked that once she's your friend, she's a TRUE friend, that's always a good quality in my book.

It did sometimes feel a bit as if the countess was being evil just for the sake of it and didn't really seem to have her daughter's best interests at heart at one point in the story and that just felt a bit off to me. I get that she wanted to see her daughter get married, because hello, it's what having a debut and a season was all about, but you'd think she'd actually want her to get married to a decent person.

I really enjoyed Belle Epoque, I love that in the end there was a definite feeling of female empowerment and as I said at the beginning: the concept is just fascinating! Elizabeth Ross has written a strong debut and I hope we'll see more of her soon!

My rating: 3,5 stars

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Daisy Update (44)

Hi guys!

So it's been two weeks since my last update and I've just been BUSY! I went back to work after my 3 week vacation and while work itself wasn't really all that busy, I just had a LOT of things I had to do when I got home from work. We had a couple of birthday parties and graduation parties and one soccer thing and I just don't know where the time went!

Some days at work were just a bit boring because all of a sudden it's gotten all quiet and there aren't all that many consults that need to be done or people coming into the ER. So I've been bothering my colleagues who did actually have work to do and drank coffee with our secretary and the nurses and just waited around for something to do. It was kinda nice that I got to spend some time with all the people at work because next week is my last and I will miss them so much!! I'm really excited about starting my GP residency, but I just wish I could bring all the lovely people I work with at the hospital with me!

The week before this one we had a work dinner and it was nice to spend some time with my colleagues outside of the hospital and just chat about non-work related stuff. I was on call, so I got called back into the hospital at some point, but I did get to enjoy some yummy food before that :)

Monday was the boyfriend's first day at his new job and guys, I'm loving getting up together in the morning! For so long it's just been me who had to get up at all and while I don't talk a lot before I've had my breakfast and tea, I do appreciate that another person is awake with me and moving about the apartment.

Last Friday I was working the evening shift again and I'd promised my colleague who was working the night shift, that I'd stay a couple hours extra so she could go to a party and OF COURSE it was the busiest day/night of the week! It felt like I was just running around and I was going on basically adrenaline alone and when that fell away when she arrived to take over the shift, I was just TIRED.

So I spent yesterday lazing around and doing groceries. We did go to a birthday party, but we didn't stay very long because I needed SLEEP. So today will be spent lazing around as well ;) And doing all the blogging stuff, because seriously, I kinda slacked off this week because we had a tiny heat wave and our apartment was boiling hot and it made my brain turn to mush.

This week is my last week at the hospital and I'm sad to leave! All these people I work with have been a big part of my life for the past year and it's weird that it's highly probable that I'll never see some of them again. So Friday will probably be a highly emotional day for me...
I hope you're all having a relaxing Sunday!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Blog tour, review AND giveaway of Catherine by April Lindner!

I am so excited to be part of this blog tour!! Thanks for having me!
For the full tour schedule, go here.

Title/Author: Catherine by April Lindner
Publisher/Date published: Poppy, January 2nd 2013
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: A forbidden romance. A modern mystery. Wuthering Heights as you’ve never seen it before.

Catherine is tired of struggling musicians befriending her just so they can get a gig at her Dad’s famous Manhattan club, The Underground. Then she meets mysterious Hence, an unbelievably passionate and talented musician on the brink of success. As their relationship grows, both are swept away in a fiery romance. But when their love is tested by a cruel whim of fate, will pride keep them apart?

Chelsea has always believed that her mom died of a sudden illness, until she finds a letter her dad has kept from her for years — a letter from her mom, Catherine, who didn’t die: She disappeared. Driven by unanswered questions, Chelsea sets out to look for her — starting with the return address on the letter: The Underground.

Told in two voices, twenty years apart, Catherine interweaves a timeless forbidden romance with a compelling modern mystery.

Ok, confession time: I never much cared for Wuthering Heights. *hides* I can't help it, in Wuthering Heights, Catherine REALLY annoyed me and I could never truly understand what was so great about her or Heathcliff and that kinda ruined the story for me. BUT I am always up for a retelling and I have to say that I enjoyed Catherine a lot more than the original story!

I liked that the POV alternates between Catherine through her diary entries and Chelsea, Catherine's daughter. It's really interesting, cause obviously I knew the general storyline, but I like that April Lindner gave her own spin to it. It definitely had a contemporary feel instead of just feeling like it was forced into a modern jacket and that's something I really appreciate, because it can get that way sometimes.

I really liked Chelsea. Though I thought it wasn't very responsible of her to just go off without telling her dad and start looking for her mother without telling ANYONE where she's going and just putting her complete trust in total strangers, BUT she's a nice girl and I loved that she sometimes just blurted stuff out without first thinking about it. I recognized a little of myself in that quirk, and I know how you can just want to take it back, so I could relate to this part of her. I liked that she doesn't just give up and doesn't really take no for an answer when something is important to her.

I REALLY disliked Wuthering Height's Catherine, but Catherine's Catherine (lol) not so much. She did make me roll my eyes a couple of times with her thinking that 'nobody had ever loved each other as much as she and Hence', I mean SERIOUSLY?? Talk about self-absorbed. But other than that I was rooting for her even though I knew things couldn't end well.

So, SPOILER ALERT: of course Chelsea discovers what happened to her mother. And I was kinda wondering: what kind of incompetent policemen were on this case? Because really, if a 17-year-old can solve it in basically no time at all, WHAT HAVE YOU ALL BEEN DOING??? It was a bit too easy. How did they not suspect this person of killing her? And ugh, Catherine, how could you go to this person and NOT think, gee, maybe I should tell someone I'm going there? HELLO, this is how you get killed. UGH. It's like yelling at the TV and expecting the candidates of a show to hear you and get the answer right...

So rant over.

I very much liked Catherine by April Lindner and am happy to report that I liked it better than the original version. Catherine was more likable, the writing was more engaging and while I did have some minor problems with it, I was very entertained throughout reading it! I'm even more excited to read Jane soon, because that is a retelling of one of my favourite classics :)

My rating: 4 stars

April Lindner is the author of two novels, Catherine, a modernization of Wuthering Heights, and Jane, an update of Jane Eyre. She also has published two poetry collections, Skin and This Bed Our Bodies Shaped. She plays acoustic guitar badly, sees more rock concerts than she’d care to admit, travels whenever she can, cooks Italian food, and lavishes attention on her pets—two Labrador retriever mixes and two excitable guinea pigs. A professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University, April lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons.


Up for grabs is a hardcover copy op Catherine by April Lindner to 3 lucky winners!

The rules:
US only.
Must be 13 or older to enter.
Giveaway ends July 4 at 11:59 p.m.
Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter and contacted by email.

So what are you waiting for? Go enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Daisy Discussion: Book Snobbery

So it's been a while since I last did a discussion post, because really, my brain has just been so relieved when I wasn't working, it didn't really have the energy to come up with something besides ....

But today I would like to talk with you guys about book snobbery. The event that triggered this is that recently I went to my local bookstore and saw Dan Brown's latest, Inferno, lying around being pretty for a price I just couldn't justify NOT bringing it home with me.
So I went up to the counter, the guy behind it took a look at it, sneered a bit, asked 'is it a gift?' and had this sort of pitying look on his face when I told him it wasn't and didn't even say anything after he'd handed over the bag with the book after I paid for it.

So this could be a coincidence, he could have just been having a bad day/hour/life, but it seemed like he was just dismissing me because I was purchasing a book that didn't live up to his standards!
I was a bit huffy at this and only good manners held me back from telling him something like "well, you know what, I've probably read more books in the past year than you will in a lifetime". Because I also realized that would make me as much a book snob as he appears to be.

I've always been a firm believer that anyone should just read what they want and not be looked down on because it might not be the next work of a literary genius, as determined by the masses. Some people like to read classics, some like chicklit or historical romance or fantasy or any number of the amazing span that is all of the genres you could be reading. And who is anyone else to judge what qualifies as what you 'should be reading'?

I feel that you 'should be reading' what you enjoy reading, because what other point (except for required reading) is there? I do agree that there are some books that I enjoy for the time being, but I know they will probably not still be read in 10 or 20 years, some books will stand the test of time, while others may not. There are books that will BE classics in the future, but I'm just not the kind of reader who only wants to read those books, because I would surely miss out on some gems that may not become classics, but I still do love with all my heart.

I don't think anyone should be looked down upon because of what they read. Because they READ. I'm still a big fan of the Book Depository bookmark that tells me I burn 50% more calories while reading than I would while watching TV, which only burns a couple more calories than sleeping. So yeah, I don't care what you exercise your brain with, I'm just glad you're reading (not that there's anything wrong with watching TV either).

So can we just start accepting that not everyone wants to read the same thing and not look down on each other for whatever it is that floats your boat reading-wise? Anyone else had an experience like mine? What do you think on this subject?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review of Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Title/Author: Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X #1) by Richelle Mead
Publisher/Date published: Dutton Adult, June 4th 2013
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

So there's been a lot of talk about Richelle Mead's new series. Some good, some bad, a lot of it just mostly disappointed it isn't like Vampire Academy. And it's not, like Vampire Academy I mean, but for me that was pretty much ok.

I haven't yet finished her uber popular VA series (don't throw things at me, I swear I'll get to the last 3 books soon!) and though I am a fan, I knew from the summary that this would be something else. And I like that. I mean, why would an author pretty much write the same book over and over again?

I admit that it took me a while to really get into the story, mostly because there's just so much to this world you don't know and while I thought her writing style is as engaging as ever, it did take a little bit longer for me to connect to the MCs here than it did with Rose, I really liked both Justin and Mae! They are both very strong, very well fleshed out main characters, flaws and all, and I love that! They're complicated and human and just full of character and though I didn't necessarily always agree with their choices, I could root for them and for me that's really important. I loved that Mae is actually the strongest physically of the two.

This world that Richelle Mead has created in Gameboard of the Gods is fascinating! There's a whole set of rules and intrigue and I loved all the religions that were mentioned! It's fascinating that with religion pretty much being banned, all these little cults pop up and Christianity isn't really all that big anymore.

And seriously, I LOVED the paranormal twist on all this! The book definitely got more excited once that part started creeping into the storyline and I was amazed by how much I was enjoying reading it then! It was a bit slow to start, but in the end it was so worth sticking with this book! It probably helped that I had a lot of time on my hands and could just read a huge part of it at a time.

If you're expecting VA, you'll be disappointed (just like so many people were that The Casual Vacancy wasn't Harry Potter), but if you go into Gameboard of the Gods with an open mind and heart, I think you can definitely come to love this new series that Richelle Mead has crafted! It's a bit dark and mature and I really enjoyed it!

My rating: 4 stars

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Review of Of Triton by Anna Banks

Title/Author: Of Triton (Of Poseidon #2) by Anna Banks
Publisher/Date published: Feiwel & Friends, May 28th 2013
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through Net Galley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: In this sequel to OF POSEIDON, Emma has just learned that her mother is a long-lost Poseidon princess, and now struggles with an identity crisis: As a Half-Breed, she’s a freak in the human world and an abomination in the Syrena realm below. Syrena law states that all Half-Breeds should be put to death.

As if that’s not bad enough, her mother’s reappearance among the Syrena turns the two kingdoms — Poseidon and Triton — against one another. Which leaves Emma with a decision to make: Should she comply with Galen’s request to keep herself safe and just hope for the best? Or should she risk it all and reveal herself — and her Gift — to save a people she’s never known?


I really enjoyed Of Poseidon when I read it and really liked the lovestory between Emma and Galen, they really made me root for them and feel EVERYTHING. And yeah, there was pretty much a cliffhanger at the end that left me going GAH! I NEED THE NEXT BOOK! So yeah, I was pretty excited about starting Of Triton. I still haven't gotten over my Ariel-induced mermaid obsession :)

Of Triton picks up where Of Poseidon ended, or a little after that, with Emma drugged and kidnapped by her own mother. Which in all honesty, seemed a bit extreme to me. Emma's mother and I do not really hit it off and I rolled my eyes because of things she did a lot. I seriously get wanting to protect your kid, but well, it just seemed a bit off and while I thought it was nice Emma's mother and Grom were united, they seemed a bit too all over eachother at first for two people over 50. I don't know, I guess I just don't really respect her as a mom-figure, though she did redeem herself a bit in the end.

Aside from this, I really enjoyed Of Triton. I loved getting to know more about the mermaid-politics and there's enough intrigue to keep me entertained! I'm actually kinda sad that most of the novel took place on land, because, well, I KNOW land, I want to explore more of this gorgeous underwater world! I did love that we got to meet Goliath again, he is one awesome whale-pet!

I actually liked that in Of Triton, Emma adresses her grief over losing her best friend, Chloe, in the previous book. I felt that it was sort of glossed over in Of Poseidon and it seems only normal that Emma needs to deal with this and not just ogle the manfish-candy.
Emma and Galen are cute together, but I didn't feel any of the urgency I did while reading Of Poseidon, they were just comfortable together and it lacked that spark, though I'm still a Galen fan. Even if he is a bit too protective.

Anna Banks does write a compelling story and I very much enjoyed reading this out on my balcony in the sunshine. I felt the urge to read on and find out what would happen next and even though it's been a year since I read Of Poseidon, getting back to this world felt natural and I'm eager to see what will happen in Of Neptune! I'm also pretty glad this didn't end on a cliffhanger, because seriously, my heart cannot take it.

My rating: 4 stars

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review of Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare

Title/Author: Any Duchess Will Do (Spindle Cove #4) by Tessa Dare
Publisher/Date published: Avon, May 28th 2013
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: What’s a duke to do, when the girl who’s perfectly wrong becomes the woman he can’t live without?

Griffin York, the Duke of Halford, has no desire to wed this season — or any season — but his diabolical mother abducts him to “Spinster Cove” and insists he select a bride from the ladies in residence. Griff decides to teach her a lesson that will end the marriage debate forever. He chooses the serving girl.

Overworked and struggling, Pauline Simms doesn’t dream about dukes. All she wants is to hang up her barmaid apron and open a bookshop. That dream becomes a possibility when an arrogant, sinfully attractive duke offers her a small fortune for a week’s employment. Her duties are simple: submit to his mother’s “duchess training”… and fail miserably.

But in London, Pauline isn’t a miserable failure. She’s a brave, quick-witted, beguiling failure — a woman who ignites Griff’s desire and soothes the darkness in his soul. Keeping Pauline by his side won’t be easy. Even if Society could accept a serving girl duchess — can a roguish duke convince a serving girl to trust him with her heart?

Seriously you guys, Tessa Dare is fast worming her way into my top-historical-romance authors list!! Also, she has pretty hair in her author picture on Goodreads. I'm slightly jealous, my hair doesn't take well to attempts to tame it, hers does it seems.

But enough about hair and more about the splendidness that is Any Duchess Will Do.

I so, so loved Pauline! She's bookish and an amazing sister and just all in all good people. I loved that she changed her dream from owning a library to owning a library filled with naughty books, because seriously, that is just plain awesome. I loved that she stands by her sister and is just fully herself with Griffin and doesn't back down in the face of all of his dukishness.

And Griff. Wow. That is one manly man if I ever saw one. I love that he is such a well-rounded character and not just a handsome vehicle for the heroine to lay her love at. He's so much more and I loved him for it. He has hidden depths and hurts and all I wanted to do was just hug him and make all the sorrow go away.

As much as I loved these two, I ADORED Griffin's mother! She brought the funny moments and she clearly loves her son and just well, I'm a fan. We meet her just after she's drugged her son and 'kidnapped' him, on the road to Spindle Cove, though he doesn't know this yet. From the first chapter:
"Do not be alarmed," he told her.
"Oh, I wouldn't dream of it. Bad for the complexion."


And guys, THE ROMANCE! SAH-WOON! THIS is what I want from my romance novels! Tension and steamyness and a real connection and HEARTBREAK and OMG ALL OF THE GOOD STUFF! And when you combine this with laugh out loud funny moments, you've completely won my heart! There were TEARS in my eyes and sweet moments and just *sigh* It was THAT good.
So yes, if you like the genre, do yourself a favor and read this book, you won't regret it! It kept me up into the early hours of the night when I really should have been catching some beauty sleep and it was TOTALLY WORTH IT.

My rating: 5+ stars

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review of Born of Illusion by Teri Brown, Blog Tour & Giveaway!

I am so stoked to be part of the blog tour for Born of Illusion!! I've been wanting to read it for MONTHS and I even get to post on its release date :)

For the full tour schedule go here.

Title/Author: Born of Illusion (Born of Illusion #1) by Teri Brown
Publisher/Date published: Balzer & Bray, June 11th 2013
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley

Goodreads summary: Anna Van Housen has a secret. A gifted illusionist, Anna assists her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums, and mentalists in 1920’s New York. As the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini — or so Marguerite claims — sleight of hand illusions have never been a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her own gifts secret from her opportunistic mother. Because while Marguerite’s own powers may be a sham, Anna possesses a true ability to sense people’s feelings and foretell the future.

But as Anna’s powers intensify, she begins to experience frightening visions of her mother in peril, which leads her to explore the powers she’s tried so long to hide. And when a mysterious young man named Cole moves into the flat downstairs, introducing Anna to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, she is forced to confront her past and rethink everything she’s ever known. Is her mother truly in danger, or are Anna’s visions merely illusion? And could the great Houdini really be her father, or is it just another of Marguerite’s tricks?

From Teri Brown comes a world bursting with magic, with romance, and the temptations of Jazz Age New York — and the story of a girl about to become the mistress of her own destiny.

Guys, I must confess that I was obsessed with magic shows as a kid. Now with all the exposing of how tricks are done, it's kinda worn off and mostly this obsession returns when it's Hugh Jackman performing the illusions. I'm not really all that familiar with Houdini's life, but the pictures I've seen of him all look REALLY fierce, determined and he's done some really amazing things. So of course I was excited to read a book about a girl who may or may not be his daughter and seriously, the 20s is a fascinating decade no matter what kind of plot you have!

I really, really liked Anna. I love how loyal she is to her mother, though she may not exactly like her at times. But she's not afraid to stand up for herself and maybe go against her mother's wishes if it's what it takes to achieve her dream and I can respect that. She's so used to living in the shadow of her mother's beauty that she doesn't really know what to do when two attractive young men start showing interest in her. And though it easily could have been, it's not a love triangle. It's Anna getting to know both guys and trying to figure out if she likes one of them. And I really liked that she wasn't kissing both guys in the process, cause I kinda hate it when that happens.

Teri Brown really captured that sense of excitement that I used to get when watching a magic show and it was nice to see it from the other side for a change! And I loved the supernatural element and seeing Anna getting the hang of her powers and coming to terms with them. I really felt her loneliness because she thinks she's the only one and it's hard for her to make friends because of her and her mother's profession.

Anna and her mother have a VERY complicated relationship and at times I was just really confused as to whether or not Anna's mother was really trying to sabotage her daughter's success. I mean, it was just a little off and it may just have been their personalities clashing, but I had a hard time understanding it. But in the end we get an explanation, and while it made me want to scream at them to GAH! COMMUNICATE! I know not everyone can always talk about everything.

Aside from all the drama surrounding the show and Anna trying to figure out if Harry Houdini really is her father and the seances and Anna's powers, there's also a sweet little romance. There was also a major twist towards the end that I hadn't seen coming until right before it happened, which really had me turning the pages!

With Born of Illusion, Teri Brown has created a really strong historical read and I just love the time period it's set in! I'm really looking forward to reading Born of Deception, which will feature Rasputin (who I think is really creepy)!

My rating: 4,5 stars

Teri Brown is proud of her two children but coming in a close second is the fact that she parachuted out of a plane and beat the original Legend of Zelda video game.

She is a word scribbler, head banger, math hater, book reader, rule breaker, food fixer, novel writer, kitty keeper, and city slicker. Teri lives with her husband and way too many pets in Portland, Oregon.


The Giveaway:

To celebrate the launch of BORN OF ILLUSION, Teri is giving away 10 sets of BORN OF ILLUSION earth mineral eye shadow available for a limited time only from Glamour Doll Eyes. You, too, can get the glam look of the twenties!

Eye Shadow Giveaway (10 sets)

Teri will also be giving away not, one but THREE grand prizes that Cari Cucksey, (of HGTV’s Cash and Cari), picked out from her RePurpose shop especially for the BORN OF ILLUSION launch!

Grand Prize Giveaway – Vintage Spoon Bracelets

Giveaway is US/Canada adresses only.
Must be 13 or older to enter.
Giveaway winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter. Grand Prize winners will be chosen first, then the 10 standard prize winners.
Winners will be announced in the Rafflecopter and contacted by email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Daisy Update (43)

Hi guys!

So this is the last day of my 3 week vacation. And it was GLORIOUS! Seriously, I did get some workaholic twitches every now and then, but I just loved how much time I spent reading, hanging out with the boyfriend and cooking and basically just relaxing. It was awesome! I feels a bit surreal that I have to work again tomorrow ;)

I kidnapped the parents' dog for a week and we had a lot of fun together playing with his ball, going for long walks, exploring the neighbourhood and beautiful parts of the city I don't really see much of otherwise. And I just felt so fit walking him a couple of times a day! It also forced me to get up at a reasonable time, which I actually love because then you just have the whole day ahead of you! He also was a very faithfull reading/blogging buddy, I loved having him here. I so want a puppy of my own...

These are basically his favourite pastimes: playing with the ball, sleeping, reading with me and playing contortionist puppy :)

Last week from Monday till Thursday night the boyfriend and I had a mini-vacation near the beach! The weather was cooperating and it was nice and sunny and I loved it! The apartment was really nice and we could eat out on the terrace in the sun, looking out at a little port. We went to the beach one day and spent the other warm day at the poolside. We even went rollerblading one afternoon, it'd been a REALLY long time since I'd last done that, it was so much fun!
Oh, and we watched Game of Thrones episode of HORROR! UGH! I KNEW it was coming, but that still didn't prepare me and I feel really lucky that I can freak out about this with Kelly on Twitter, cause it helps. It was awful and I was just SO SAD and needed hugs... And to not go asleep for HOURS after, because holy bananas, how could I possibly sleep after that??? Seriously!

Last night I went out for dinner with some of my friends, I've known them since high school and it's fun to catch up. After dinner we had a cocktail making workshop and it was really fun! I now know how to make some cocktails myself and am going to practice them on the boyfriend soon :) Then we felt the urge to go dancing and just shook our booties till it was time to go home, so yeah, it was a good night :)

Today I've been lazing around at the parents' house were I stayed over because my high school friends live near there and I've been home for a while now, the boyfriend and I are going out for dinner later to celebrate him getting a job!! EEE! I'm so happy for him and it definitely deserves food to celebrate! :D

And after tonight it's back to the real world for a little bit! I have 3 weeks left at work before my contract ends and I'll be unemployed for the summer. And really, if you're ever unemployed, what better season than the summer? It does feel really weird to be saying goodbye to all my colleagues soon, makes me a little sad... But I'm really looking forward to my residency, so it's all good :)

I hope you're all having a relaxing sunny Sunday!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Review of Changeling by Philippa Gregory

Title/Author: Changeling (The Order of Darkness #1) by Philippa Gregory
Publisher/Date published: Simon Pulse, May 24 2012
How I got this book: bought it
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous — and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year — the end of days.

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft — and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.

Guys, I love Philippa Gregory. I have never read a book by her that I didn't enjoy very much. Until now.

I cannot help but feel that this novel was just sort of... boring. Philippa Gregory always makes history come to life for me and manages to make me be on the edge of my seat, rooting for things I know can't be, because hey, it's history and it can't be changed. And I expected this to be so for her YA series as well. But I feel pretty lukewarm about Changeling.

We meet both Isolde and Luca, and well, they are probably the least interesting characters in this novel for all of them being the main characters. Pretty boy meets pretty girl and sort of falls for her, even though he said vows of celibacy, OOPS! Beside that Luca was pretty smart, I didn't really care much for him.

Both of their 'sidekicks', Freize and Ishraq are SO MUCH MORE interesting! Freize has a way with animals that's just beautiful and he's all mysterious and funny and I totally liked him! And Ishraq is a strong, loyal woman who I'd love to have as a friend. She knows about medicine and fighting and is just a take-action kinda person. I liked it. I expect much more entertainment from them than from the main characters.

Mostly, my complaint is that nothing much happened. Or, well, their were 2 mysteries that are solved by this motly crew, but I never felt any urgency at solving the mystery and the solution to the second one was kinda lame. I mean, I know people didn't know everything we know now, but seriously, that was kinda... stupid.

I sincerely hope that this book just suffered from being the first in a series and serving as build-up and that Philippa Gregory will step up her game in the next book, like she normally does, and that there'll be intrigue and romance and just all of those good things I come to expect from her books, because frankly, this was a bit disappointing.

My rating: 2,5 stars

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Review of The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

Title/Author: The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
Publisher/Date published: Simon Pulse, May 21st 2013
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath — with candles and a contract and everything — to never have anything to do with one.

Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle — which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?

Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away — no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak… unless her sisters were wrong?

Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking.

Guys, I have to get one thing off my chest before starting this review: the summary is completely deceiving. I was expecting a cute summery book and this book is just so much more.

There's this little sentence in the summary about Jude's ailing father. Which is what this book is actually about, it's about a girl and her family dealing with this horrible thing that's happening to her father and about the summer she spends with him and the boy who supports her through it. Of course there's romance, but that's not the centre of this story. At least, to me it's not.

The Book of Broken Hearts tells us about the impact of early onset Alzheimer's on a man and his family. This is something that actually scares me. I know there are a lot of diseases I wouldn't ever want anyone I love to have, but to me there aren't a lot of things that are scarier than dementia I mean, my grandmother struggled with her health, but I'm so incredibly thankful she never had to deal with this. I've seen the destructiveness of this disease in patients and it's beyond awful.

We meet Jude, the youngest daughter of four, she's the only one living at home and looking after her father while her mom is at work. I couldn't help but immediately connect to this wonderful girl, willing to put her own life on hold to take care of others. She's working so hard and sometimes I just wanted to slap one of her sisters for not appreciating all she'd been doing.

I loved this family. Even though there's bickering and bossing around, you can feel the love. There are so many dysfunctional families in YA that this was just such a good change. They band together when things get rough and are really there for each other. I loved Jude's father for being strong, even in the face of this scary disease. You don't get to see how strong till the end of the novel, but it's amazing.

Of course there's Emilio. The Boy. Emilio is smooth and sweet and just someone Jude can count on. I totally respected him for how he was with Jude's father. There aren't many guys his age who would know how to deal with stuff like this and well, there's just all of these hidden depths with this boy and yeah, I guess I'm a fan. Though I thought they moved kinda fast from the 'oh we're kissing' to 'come with me on this epic trip' in about 5 minutes. That kinda threw me off.

It was sorta hard for me to read this book because it deals with something that terrifies me, but Sarah Ockler completely drew me in with her writing and I just couldn't put it down long (I needed small breaks sometimes). She captured all of the things I've seen families dealing with and touched my heart. Like I said at the beginning: this is so much more than a summer romance!

My rating: 4,5 stars

Monday, June 3, 2013

Review of A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long

Title/Author: A Notorious Countess Confesses (Pennyroyal Green #7) by Julie Anne Long
Publisher/Date published: Avon, October 30th 2012
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository

Goodreads summary: She rose to spectacular heights…

From Covent Garden to courtesan to countess, beautiful, fearless, shamelessly ambitious Evie Duggan has riveted London in every role she plays. But the ton never could forgive her scandalous — if shockingly short — marriage, and when her star plummets amid gleefully vicious gossip, the countess escapes to the only legacy left to her: a manor house in Pennyroyal Green.

He never expected to fall so hard…

He has the face of a fallen angel and a smolder the devil would envy, but Vicar Adam Sylvaine walks a precarious line: resisting temptation… and the wild Eversea blood in his veins. Adam’s strength is tested when scandal, aka the countess, moves to Sussex. But when a woman who fiercely guards her heart and a man entrusted with the souls of an entire town surrender to a forbidden desire, will the sweetest sin lead them to Heaven... or make outcasts of them forever?

Guys, I love this series! The Pennyroyal Green books are awesome and I completely adore Julie Anne Long's writing.

Oops, did I just give away the punchline of this review? Oh well.

This time we meet Evie, who doesn't have the noblest of parentages and has had to work hard to get where she is right now. Though of course this doesn't mean she'll be accepted by the ton, because OMG, THE SCANDAL! So she does the smart thing (in my opinion) and goes to Pennyroyal Green. Where she meets Adam Sylvaine, who also belongs to the Eversea family (how many gorgeous men do they have in this family???) and SPARKS GALORE!

I really liked Evie's spirit. Obviously she knows what people think of her, but she's determined to try and fit in and I kinda loved her for that! She really succeeds at the challenges they throw at her, which were pretty funny at times if I might say so. All except for resisting Adam. And really, I wouldn't have resisted Adam either. Though you may not have expected it in a vicar, he is pretty sexy. And the good-guy-ness in him just made me swoon! He didn't really appreciate Evie flirting with him, which was sort of odd, but I did like that he really sees her and likes her for herself.

Like I've come to expect from Julie Anne Long, she delivers the romance and the heartbreak and ALL OF THE TENSION! Seriously, there's SO much tension and they're not even touching for most of the novel! I loved it! And I liked that this is a different scene from the balls and elaborate dresses, though I do love those as well!

My rating: 4,5 stars

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Armchair BEA: Young Adult

So today we're talking about Young Adult books, which are near and dear to my heart. I still can't believe that a couple of years ago, I'd never really heard of this genre. I mean, here in Holland it's only gotten big over the last year I think, there's now a 'young adult' shelf in our local bookstore where before everything was just shelfed in 'children's' and there weren't really all that many books to choose from.

I love that there's such a big selection of books out there for this age group and I wish I'd known about it when I was a teen. At that time I wasn't really reading a lot of books. Instead, I scoured FictionPress for stories to read because the library didn't provide much of a selection (or I'd read them all a thousand times already) and well, I basically had no money to buy books. I'll be forever grateful for this though, because discovering the what was then called 'Queen of Glass' (you now know it as Throne of Glass) by Sarah J. Maas and following her blog led me to Goodreads, discovering so many books and then to blogging.
So maybe this has been a good thing.

But I'm drifting off topic.

I am one of those adults who read YA, I think I love it so much because there are just so many real and raw emotions. It's frequently a coming of age story and there's so much room for character growth! I love experiencing the first time someone falls in love with them and there are a lot of other firsts as well and I love that! And I'm not saying you can't have all these things in genres besides YA, I just come across them more often there. I love that it feels like everything's still possible and there's such a range of tough issues that are dealt with in these books!
And I love the gorgeous covers! YA has some of the best covers out there!

YA is usually fresh and new and I guess that's why I keep coming back for more.

Do you read YA? Are your reasons similar to mine? Leave me a link to your post!