Saturday, May 3, 2014

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Review by Tempest.


Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

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I loved this book. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales, and this retelling didn't disappoint. It took the classic and without a doubt made it it's own. Hodge has a great way with words, and describes the different rooms of the castle so well it's like I'm standing in them myself. The characters also all have distinct personalities, right down to the demon Ignifex and his shadow, Shade. The whole things feels just as dark as the original classic, or really just as dark as some of the similar classics are (there's really more than one version of Beauty and the Beast--classic stories from different cultures that are too similar to consider them anything but). For starters, her dad made a deal before they were born that he'd give one of them to Ignifex to be his bride. That's terrible enough as it is, but he also forgets to include in the deal that he wants his wife to survive labor. Stupid. Throughout the story you're not too fond of her father, which gives you somewhere to direct your anger when you find yourself oddly smitten by Ignifex, the demon who you're sure you should dislike. Of course you don't, or you can't, for me it was the latter. He's quirky and mysterious and intelligent. Somehow whenever he wasn't on the page I was sad and wondered where he was. Though, none of those points were ever boring. I was just as pleased to follow Nyx throughout her journey around the castle. She's got an inquisitive mind and she's tough, which I really liked about her being a female lead. The ending was sweet, if not a bit rushed, which is really one of the only reasons I couldn't force myself to give this book a full five stars instead of four. The ending seems way to convenient, and it happens far to fast for me to buy into it without a little grumbling. Another issue, is that insta-love factor. I hate when books do this, as do a lot of other people. I'm glad that it didn't really happen with her and all of the characters, but it was upsetting that right off she was like oh I love this character (I won't give away who) and he loves me. That's ridiculous, even if we're told at the start of either that chapter of the previous one that she's been there for five weeks that we just haven't seen. That may be, but to us, it's still only been the turn of a page. There needs to be more involved then a few conversations and the two of them sitting really close for love to come into play. And I understand that she's obviously been starved from it, given her whole family is terrible (more on that in a moment) but really? She's far to strong a character to fall for that, "this must be love" in a second crap. Onto her family, which was the last point that made me deduct a star: her sister. Her sister convinces her to turn on Ignifex far too easily. It's a handful of words and the whole thing is done, and then Nyx is stupidly going off and doing exactly what she was told. Again. She has this sense of obligation, sure, but even she was thinking what she should have told her sister in that moment. She's reminded who killed their mother, and that they need revenge. Hello, remember how your dad is the idiot who forgot to ensure your mom was safe? Yeah. Him. That's the guy who actually killed her. Everyone knows making a deal with Ignifex comes with more consequences then just the spoken ones. If their dad really cared, he would have remembered this and thought to add he wanted his wife to survive as well. But he didn't. So, really, sure, Ignifex sucks because he makes these terrible deals and bad things happen, but he's not secretive about that. He warns everyone, in fact. Everyone knows, and yet they come to him anyway. Call me a cynic, but to me, that makes them the bad guys, not him. I mean, he's no knight in shining armor or anything, he's still pretty bad, but after everything that he and Nyx have been through by that point, you'd think being the strong female lead she's been, she'd make these realizations herself and stand up to her family. But she doesn't. It's the same old story from the first few chapters of the book, where she's following their orders like the dutiful little daughter. I would have preferred at least some resistance beforehand. Even a little. Still, because of the colorful characters and the eventual happy ending (as farfetched as it may be) I still highly recommend this book! It's also not a trilogy, so there's no waiting for the next one, being left unsatisfied, and dreading that the second book will be a flop like so many others that will ruin the whole thing for you. Among all of those, this book is a breath of fresh air, and I most definitely plan on reading more of Hodge's work in the future!

Fever (The Chemical Garden, #2) by Lauren DeStefano

Review by Tempest.

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever.

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I loved Wither, loved it so much in fact, that I even read the book twice. When Fever first came out, however, I wasn't even interested by the blurb on the slip cover, so I put it off. Part of me is glad that I did, the other part is upset that I didn't put it off even longer. As much as I loved the first book is probably how much I hated the second. Fever can almost be considered a waste of space. Almost nothing important really happens, other than her brother not being where she last saw him. For the first hundred pages, they're captures all over again, and it's like I'm reading a worse version of Wither. I just wish something else could have happened in the beginning to draw us in, something that didn't include such a similar concept. Yes, I like the character Maddie, and I'm glad she's in and she is a vital piece of it all, but the rest....seriously? Rhine came off stuck up and a know-it-all, but not in a good way, and I didn't like the way she treated Gabriel, who literally just gave up everything for her. She isn't open or honest with him, and it just seems like if he were any boy she'd react the same around him. It was also a bit vague in the tent scenes when they're "birds" being displayed at the carnival. Did they sleep together there, did they not? It dropped off so that it could be implied that they did, but I'm just not sure. I somehow doubt it, which means Rhine got off super lucky. Again. And again, she somehow reminds her captor of a dead loved one. It's Rose all over again. Linden doesn't come in until the very end, and while I always liked Gabriel more, I would have liked to have more of him in the story. There was just a lot of wandering for nothing, learning nothing, and then a big "reveal" at the end which isn't even all that big. She could have figured that out halfway through the book in fact, and the next half could have been used in convincing Linden. That would have been so much better. This book could have really been condensed, and maybe mixed with the last book, though I haven't read Sever and honestly, after this, I don't plan to. I want to know how this trilogy ends, but I think I'm just going to check some of the reviews for the last book and piece it together myself so I don't actually have to sit through another one. The thing is I love Lauren DeStefano's writing. She's got great prose with lovely descriptions that always draw me right in. But the plot of this book...terrible. I wouldn't recommend it, unless you really really want to see for yourself.