To Best the Boys – Mary Weber [BOOK REVIEW]

to best the boys mary weber book review blog diary of difference diaryofdifference netgalley goodreads bookshelf reader love women

Synopsis:

Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port receive a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. The poorer residents look to see that their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.

In the province of Caldon, where women train in wifely duties and men pursue collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.

With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone’s ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the deadly maze.

Welcome to the Labyrinth.

Purchase links: Amazon  🌟 Barnes & Noble

My Review:

★★

I love Mary Weber as much as her food recipes she shares with us every single month! I don’t usually decide whether to read a certain book by its cover, but this cover made me want to find out more about it. When I read the synopsis, I had to read it, as it captures women fighting for their rights in a young-adult format, and it simply was something I couldn’t miss.

I will be honest with you and say that this book didn’t deliver. Maybe it was my expectations, after all, that got me too excited for my own good.

Let’s start with Rhen. She is a girl that loves science, and her father has taught her everything he knows. They are poor family and don’t have all the equipment in the world, but that doesn’t stop them to keep discovering and learning every day. In their kingdom, an unknown disease comes around, and Rhen’s mum is ill, with no cure yet. Rhen wants desperately to find a cure, and a rich boy wanting to marry her might promise her all the equipment she needs, but now it’s time that she lacks.

When the men’s annual tournament is about to begin, with boys fighting for the science scholarship, Rhen knows that she has no choice but to enter, disguised as a boy, and try to win this – for her, for her dad, and most importantly, for her mum.

The book flows really slowly. We get to about half of the book when Rhen decides to enter the tournament. I expected this to happen in the first couple of chapters, and to then have the adventure from within the labyrinth. For me, it was quite a slow beginning, but some of you might enjoy that. The writing is beautiful throughout.

I loved the fighter within Rhen. She is a fierce person, determined to fight for what she wants. Even though throughout the book she has trouble with realising what is it that she really wants, we can see a bit of character development in her.

As a book that is supposed to cover gender equality, and women fighting for the same rights as men, this book didn’t really deliver. The letter states that every gentleperson – not gentleman. Which means, that inequality never truly exists at all. Women could have entered this competition, but they just chose not to.

The whole competition, the labyrinth and the scholarship lacks details and has enormous loopholes: one scholarship is given to one person – the one that wins the labyrinth. And after the winner is chosen, we have a scene where they all take a test, including the winner?

The disguise was a huge and important part of this book, as Rhen and her friend are pretending to be boys. Rhen cuts her hair, and her friend just pins it and ties it with a hat. They both wear boy clothes and barely remember to lower their voices. And that is all they do to not get recognised. And somehow, the people that know them their whole life fail to recognise them. A bit unbelievable…

I wish I loved this book, because I truly fell in love with the cover and the synopsis. But the whole labyrinth set-up seemed to be a side-story, with the illness being the main story, and the realisation of what Rhen actually wants to achieve. Random characters were introduced, that didn’t drive the story one bit, and the author also happened to throw in an inconsistent romance and a love triangle.

I hate to say this, but the book seems like an unfinished draft. It seemed so promising, and all I thought I would get out of this was non-existent.

I am not sure if I would want to recommend this book to you guys. If you want to give it a try, I encourage you, and would love to talk about it and hear what you think, but if you are here because you loved the synopsis, this book will probably not satisfy you.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson and Netgalley, for giving me a complimentary ARC e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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February 2019 – Monthly Book Wrap Up

monthly wrap up - january book blog diary of difference children of blood and bone nicholas sparks tomi adeyemi leigh bardugo holly smale happy girl lucky girl with a pearl earring court of thorns and roses sarah j maas

February was a very hard month for me. I was away for two weeks, and even though I tried to catch up as much as I could with my reading, I haven’t read as much books as I wanted to. See the books I have read below – as usual, click on the book title for a link to my book review.

I focused on my TBR and all the books that I have recently received by authors and publishers. Thank you to all of you, for sending me your books, and don’t worry – I haven’t forgotten about you – I will continue to read your books in March and finish off my never-ending reading list.

I have also continued with my Down The TBR Hole Tag and I am excited to see what progress I will make this year. Below are all four posts I did this month:

🌟TBR Hole #17 🌟 TBR Hole #18  🌟 TBR Hole #19 🌟 TBR Hole #20 🌟

Books I read: 

Happy Girl Lucky (The Valentines #1) by Holly Smale – ★★★★★

| ReviewAmazon | Harper Collins |

 

The Visitor by Ti Ca – ★★

| Review Amazon |

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier – ★★★★★

| Review | Amazon | Barnes & Noble|

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – ★★★★★

| ReviewAmazon |  Barnes & Noble |

How did your February went? How many books did you read and what was your book of the month?

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A Court Of Thorns And Roses (A Court Of Thorns And Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas [BOOK REVIEW

a court of thorns and roses sarah j maas author goodreads netgalley bestseller novel series faerie love romance book review diary of difference

★★★★★

Here I am people! I can hang out with the cool kids now that I’ve read the book. It felt like I was hiding in a cave until now, refusing to read Sarah J. Maas, thinking the hype is too forced. But to be honest, this book surprised me a lot. I enjoyed it with all my heart, and even though I wouldn’t cry and scream over it, I am very pleased that I read it, and I just can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

Purchase links: Amazon  🌟 Barnes & Noble

A Court of Thorns And Roses is a story about a young lady, Feyre, who is a huntress and goes out in the woods to hunt food. The more she hunts, the better her family can eat. And when one day she kills a wolf, she learns the hard way that killing a magical creature has its price…

She is imprisoned in an enchanted court and she is free to walk around, but not allowed to escape. The creature that captures her is a beast with fighting skills, with a mask on his face and piercing eyes that make her heart beat fast.

As Feyre starts to grow warmer about Tamlin, danger lies nearby and secrets are all over the place, and Tamlin and his kind might not be who she thought they were.

Fighting to break a curse that might make her lose her true love forever, Feyre must fight with all her forces, but she is just a weak human in this faerie world. Will she be able to make it?

I have to start with mentioning that the beginning was extremely slow and I was almost on the point of asking all of these people why they love this book so much. But once the plot started revealing itself, and a few twists happened straight away, I was glued to my sofa, reading page after page.

It gives us a slight resemblance of the Beauty and the Beast, even though the plot is quite different. There is a powerful beast who locks the girl, and they fall in love, but there is so much more twists, adventures and danger that I can’t compare them beyond that.

I loved Feyre, for the fierce woman she is. I loved the fight she had in herself, despite being a tiny human in a world of powerful magical creatures. I loved the fact that she would stand up for what she believes in, no matter the consequences, though sometimes, quite recklessly done.

I loved Tamlin, and his warmth despite his cold appearance. The way he cared for Feyre was so heartwarming and cute. The love they feel for each other, and those scenes that made me cry – I will cherish that!  

I am not sure how I felt about the ending – it was a bit forced, and too soppy, but it opened a space for another book, which I will be reading soon.

A wonderful magical tale, a fierce woman, a fiercer love, and even fiercer danger, this one won’t let you sleep at night, and it will haunt you to find answers. A true masterpiece!

Purchase links: Amazon  🌟 Barnes & Noble

Let’s talk – Have you read A Court of Thorns and Roses? Did you enjoy it? Have you read anything else from Sarah J. Maas?

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Girl with a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier [BOOK REVIEW]

girl with a pearl earring tracy chevalier diary of difference book review books vermeer johannes art painting

★★★★★

I have read this book so many times. And even after re-reading this book so many times, it is and will always remain one of my favourite books, a story that is evergreen and has such an emotional story worth retelling.

Tracy Chevalier has been inspired by the artwork of Johannes Vermeer, and his most famous painting, the Girl with a Pearl Earring, that she decided to write a story of what she believes might have happened behind that painting. For me, when looking at paintings, this is one of the things that cross my mind – what is the actual story behind it, what was the relationship between the painter and the people on the painting, what were they all thinking and what did their lives look like… In this book, we are able to enter this world, where we see a story of what might have happened here, and this story is a wonderful experience.

Purchase links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

This is a story about Griet’s life. Griet lives in a house with her poor family, a blind dad who worked all his life to gather a bit of money for them, and a mother that always fought for the family. With their money running low, Griet has to go and work as a maid in the house of Vermeer, who is a famous painter. Even though quite young, Griet quickly knows her tasks, to iron, to cook, to grab groceries from the market, and the most important bit – to stay out of everyone’s way and do her job.

In the house, things are not easy. Griet is not treated with respect, her family is worried about her, the plague kills her sister and the butcher’s boy wants to marry her. Griet doesn’t feel anything for this boy, but having meat on the table every day for her and her family is too big of an advantage to be just thrown away. I personally never liked the butcher boy, because he knew very well what his advantage was, and he kept reminding Griet how she depends on him to feed her family.

 

‘’Her words surprised me, but when I looked in her eyes and saw there the hunger for meat that a butcher’s son could provide, I understood why she had set aside her pride.’’

But Griet has a secret crush on Mr. Vermeer, and a great admiration for his work. And Mr. Vermeer notices Griet’s curiosity and gives her tasks around the studio, which in the end, results in him painting her. Griet gets to be involved in his world, learning what he does, and working for him in secret, while his wife is bearing another child of his. Even though Griet secretly feels like she is betraying the wife, she can’t help but feel joj when Vermeer pays attention to her.

‘’ The clothes soaking in the kitchen went cold, the water grey. Tanneke clattered in the kitchen, the girls shouted outside, and we behind closed door sat and looked at each other. And he painted.’’

Now, in the 21st century, it is normal for ladies to pose, and be painted, but in that time, it was a disgrace for a maid to be painted. Men didn’t have the respect towards women as they do now (some of them). And when Griet finds herself being painted, she knows the consequences, but as a maid, she has no voice to object. She knows this quite well.

In the end, the story is very powerful and heartwarming. While we read about how Griet sees and thinks, we will start to love her, watch her grow, and learn so much. I am forever grateful I have found this book.

Purchase links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

I have read the 20th Anniversary Edition of this amazing book, which was kindly sent to me by the publishers, The Borough Press, and Love Reading UK, in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read the Girl with a Pearl Earring?

The Visitor – Ti Ca [BOOK REVIEW]

the visitor ti ca book review diary of difference book blog books netgalley goodreads amazon free buy

★★

An interesting and complex piece of work that covers memory loss and family love tightly together. A short read, but also a missed opportunity of what could be a lovely novel, if developed in a better way.

It is Christmas Eve, but the furnace has gone out, the breaker needs to be reset and the cupboards are empty. In her cold house, Mrs. Langstrum is waiting for her husband to arrive from his quick trip to the store. As a snowstorm is approaching, Mrs. Langstrum gets worried. But just as she decides to get help, someone knocks on her door. A visitor. A stranger. But before she can tell him to go, he says he has news about her husband.

The blurb was the main reason I picked up this book. You sort of get the idea of what this book might be about. A mystery person arrives, and he has a story. The woman has a story, and the setting makes you curious about how this will continue to unravel.

The plot is complex, and even though it’s a very short book, the story went incredibly slow. The plot twist happened at the begging, and knowing this, I expected another one, as the beginning was obvious. In the end, when no other plot twists happen, and the book ends exactly how you thought it would end at the beginning, you are felt disappointed and unsatisfied.

I really loved the idea of the woman who has a memory loss, and a person that reveals information bit by bit. Going from other perspectives and back in time, it was a nice concept. I also really enjoyed the family relationships captured, and all the challenges openly discussed. We have some big taboo subjects here, and not many people are brave enough to openly talk about this.

However, this whole concept, and idea, was not delivered as it should’ve been, as it had the capacity to. There was room for more development, more work, and more plot twists.

Some parts are confusing, and it was nice that the story was so short and you could go back to it and re-read it, but is that really a good thing? Would we go back and re-read a 300-page book if it was confusing? I wouldn’t.

Purchase links: Amazon 

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January 2019 – Monthly Book Wrap Up

monthly wrap up - january book blog diary of difference children of blood and bone nicholas sparks tomi adeyemi leigh bardugo

January was a great start of the year, I made my goal to read 60 books (last year I read 70, and I think that I will read more, but I wanted to not be under pressure throughout the year, as I will be doing a lot of travels with my daily job).

I focused on the upcoming ARCs that are being published soon and a lot of books that I was sent by authors, but I also found time to read a few pleasure reads, of which some I loved, but some left me quite disappointed.

I have also continued with my Down The TBR Hole Tag and I am excited to see what progress I will make this year. Below are all four posts I did this month:

🌟TBR Hole #13 🌟 TBR Hole #14  🌟 TBR Hole #15 🌟 TBR Hole #16 🌟

Books I read this month:

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – ★★★★

🌟 Review 🌟 Amazon 🌟 Barnes & Noble 🌟

Awaken (Northern Witch #2) by K.S. Marsden – ★★★

🌟 Review 🌟 Amazon 🌟 Barnes & Noble 🌟

The New Power Eating by Susan Kleiner – ★★★★

🌟 Review  🌟 Amazon🌟 Barnes & Noble 🌟

Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks – ★★★

🌟 Review 🌟 Amazon 🌟Barnes & Noble 🌟

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi – ★★★★★

🌟 Review  🌟Amazon 🌟 Barnes & Noble 🌟

 

Pretty in Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton – ★★★

🌟Review🌟Amazon🌟Barnes & Noble 🌟

 

Curses of Scale by S.D. Reeves – ★★★

🌟 Review  🌟 Amazon 🌟 Barnes & Noble 🌟

 

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo – ★★★★

🌟 Review  🌟 Amazon 🌟 Barnes & Noble 🌟

 

How did your January went? How many books did you read and what was your book of the month?

 

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January TBR 2019

Hello, lovely people!

As soon as the year started, I realised I have to get on reading quickly, as most of the ARCs I have are out in February. I also have a few books sent to me by authors and publishers that I need to get to, and there’s also the library trip, where I always return two books and come back with three. I am hopeless. And this month, I will probably be busy reading and hiding in my imaginary cave.

Here is the list of books I am hoping to read in January:

january TBR list books book review blog diaryofdifference diary of difference

ARCs:

 

Sent by Authors:

 

Pleasure Reads:

 

Extras – I might not get to them this month:

befunky-collage (1)

 

What are your planned books for January?

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My 2018 Reading Year in Review

Hello Lovelies!

2018 was an amazing year for me, as I managed to read 74 books, which is triple of what I read last year. This year I completely dedicated myself to this blog and this amazing community, and I want to thank you all for being here, for reading my reviews and for suggesting me books that I absolutely loved. Here’s to another amazing year ahead of us! 

goodreads my books in review 2018 book books blog diaryofdifference


Best books I have read in 2018 (in no particular order):

🌟 Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

🌟 My Name is Anna – Lizzy Barber

🌟 Day Of The Accident – Nuala Ellwood

🌟 Fawkes – Nadine Brandes

🌟 A Game of Thrones (A Song Of Ice and Fire #1) – George R. R. Martin

🌟 City Of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) – Cassandra Clare 

🌟 The Cruel Prince (The Folk of The Air #1) – Holly Black

🌟 Uglies (Uglies #1) – Scott Westerfeld

🌟 Warcross (Warcross #1) – Marie Lu

🌟 The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides

 

Book that disappointed me:

Books of The Month:

🌟 January:

Moonlight Over Manhattan – Sarah Morgan

🌟 February:

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

🌟 March:

The Night Raid – Clare Harvey

🌟 April:

Coming Home – Fern Britton

🌟 May:

Now You See Her – Heidi Perks

🌟 June:

Quidditch Through the Ages – J.K. Rowling

🌟 July:

Fawkes – Nadine Brandes

🌟 August:

Never Forgotten (Never Forgotten #1) – Kelly Risser

🌟 September:

7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

🌟 October:

A Game of Thrones (A Song Of Ice and Fire #1) – George R. R. Martin

🌟 November:

Uglies (Uglies #1) – Scott Westerfeld

🌟 December:

Warcross (Warcross #1) – Marie Lu

 

Happy New Year!

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Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead [BOOK REVIEW]

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★★★

It happened, people. I finally did it. I have officially read Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, and I have mixed feelings about it.

After years of you guys begging me to read this book, I have finally managed to dig into this vampire world with Lissa – the Moroi (mortal) vampire and Rose – her guardian, sworn to protect her.

These two best friends are on the run, after Lissa’s family has been killed. Now, they unwillingly return to the Vampire Academy, and try to live their normal lives, but danger is on their doorstep.

I loved the plot, and the idea of the world building, even though, I have to admit, I wish we had more pages of the Vampire Academy description. Or maybe this is just me screaming – ”I want a vampire Hogwarts description right here, right now!”

I loved their friendship, and I loved how both of them would sacrifice so much for each other. It is a character quality we rarely see, and it was so well delivered that it gave me shivers for a few scenes.

However, the characters themselves weren’t much likeable. Lissa, well, we hardly get to really know her. She is mostly a shadow of Rose’s opinions of herself. And as of Rose, as much as I admired her bravery and wisdom, sometimes she was just so dumb for her own good.

I loved the plot twists, and the cliffhangers, especially the few ones right at the very end, but it took so long for them to come. Despite that, this book was still such a fast read, and you can’t take your hands off it.

”For they (women) are strange and mysterious creatures,” he continued in his scholarly voice, ”and a man must be a mind reader if he ever wishes to make them happy.”

I wanted to not mention the romance bit of the novel, but I have to stay honest to myself and do it. Unrealistic romances will happen that will make you cringe. I won’t spoil it for you, but I happened to love these two people together, even though their so called love happened instantly.

”And sometimes, if I was really, really lucky, he’d smile at me. A real smile too – not the dry one that accompanied the sarcasm we tossed around so often.”

A typical high-school fantasy novel, with vampires included, this will be a great addition to your shelves if you love this genre. I greatly enjoyed it, but being older I think these things stuck a bit to me.

If you haven’t read this, I do recommend it. Even though it had a few weak points, I would definitely read the second book of the series.

Purchase links:

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Have you read Vampire Academy? Is it on your TBR?        I would love to see what you think! 

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WWW Wednesday Tag #3

WWW Wednesdays (3)

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly tag revived by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. It’s quite simple. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The Three W’s are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

flower-divider-flower-dividers-clip-art-flowers-line-divider-stock-vector-illustration-of-elegant

What are you currently reading?


I am currently reading The Psychology Of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas. It is an ARC copy I received from Netgalley and the publishing date is in February 2019. I am excited to share my thoughts with you on this one.

Purchase links:

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

What did you recently finish reading?

I just finished Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, and I really enjoyed it. I haven’t written my review yet, so watch this space, but I am so so so happy that I finally managed to get if off from my TBR list, after a few years of procrastinating.

Purchase links:

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

What do you think you’ll read next?

Same as last week, I am planning to read a few book that I have been sent by some authors, a great promising books that I can’t wait to share more of with you.

The first one being Awaken by K.S. Marsden. This is the sequel of Winter Trials and you can find my review of the first book HERE. It is a story about high-school, magic and LGBT relationship. The first book gave me an incredible Christmassy feeling, and I can’t wait to dive into the next one.

The second book I plan on finishing before the end of 2018 is Curses of Scale by S.D. Reeves. The cover is so gorgeous. I mean – look at it! It reminds me of Christmas, and also of Hearthstone ( A Blizzard game). It also features a young girl, and dragons and fairies and a fantasy world. I can’t wait to hop into this adventure!

Purchase links:

Awaken by K.S. Marsden
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Curses of Scale by S.D. Reeves
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

flower-divider-flower-dividers-clip-art-flowers-line-divider-stock-vector-illustration-of-elegant

How does your WWW Wednesday looks like?

Follow me on all the social media (see links below), and don’t forget to leave a comment with your link. As always, I love reading your posts.

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