Thursday, February 13, 2014

Candace Reviews Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published: January 28th, 2014 by Balzer + Bray
Source: Amazon Vine
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.
This review was also posted at Candace's Book Blog.
Lately I have felt a bit underwhelmed by many of the YA books I've been reading.  It just seems like they fail to really suck me in.  The romances are often rather bleh and I just always want MORE.  Well, Cruel Beauty delivered on that, though I could say I still want more, but that's only because I'm greedy and I loved it so much I didn't want it to end.

This is a Beauty and the Beast re-telling. I'm not a big fan of re-tellings.  I sometimes like them okay, but I don't seek them out and I hadn't read one yet that really worked well for me.  So I think I went in feeling a bit unsure.  The story pulled me in immediately.  I had some tell me the beginning was slow, but it wasn't slow for me.  I was liking it right away and didn't want to put the book down.  Nyx starts out as a good girl who obeys her family's wishes.  But once we really see in her head we see how much anger she has.  She's angry at her family, she's angry at the Gentle Lord and even though she knows what she needs to do, you can see she just wants something for herself.  Nyx has FIRE.  I mean, words fly out of her mouth before she can stop them, all that anger she felt for years finally pours out when she's wedded to the Gentle Lord and in his castle. It's not this constant rage though, it's balanced with fear and even at times, happiness.  I really enjoyed this balance in her and felt bad for all that she had gone through in her life.

Once I met the Gentle Lord, also known as Ignifex (not his real name), I wanted more, more, MORE!  This is the kind of love interest that I love!  So he's suppose to be this evil guy and everything.  And yeah, maybe he is.  But anyone who knows the Beauty and the Beast story is going to figure that there's probably more to him, or to his story.  So I guess any 'evilness' was easy for me to overlook.  He just had such a strong presence and something vibrant about him.  I will say that there's more to this love story.  It involves a Shade (which is called 'Shade').  Some could say it's a love triangle, but I'm not one of them.  I'm not sure if it could fit in that category and it's too easy to slip spoilers, so I'm moving on.  I will say that the way the romance developed felt lovely to me.  The moments together were precious and wonderful. Even when Nyx was trying to trick Ignifex, it was just so entertaining. 

This story is unique and strange and at times felt a bit confusing.  It was almost hard to just wrap my head around everything.  It got more complicated toward the end and you have to slow down and focus to really understand everything that happens.  I wish it had maybe slowed down a bit and had more careful explanations, but that's really the only gripe I might have.  When I finished this book I had this huge grin on my face.  I actually wanted to go back and reread the scenes with Nyx and Ignifex because they were so perfect.  I didn't want the book to end!  It did have a full conclusion and I believe this is a series of companion novels in the same world, so I'm not sure if we'll see them again, but I really hope so!

  I loved it!

Disclosure: I received this book for review purposes, all opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.

About this author

I love mythology, Hello Kitty, and T. S. Eliot. My debut novel, CRUEL BEAUTY (a YA fairytale fantasy, where Greek mythology meets Beauty and the Beast), is due out from Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins in Winter 2014.Visit her website
Follow her on Twitter

About the Reviewer:
Candace is a wife and mother to two. She’s blogged at Candace’s Book Blog since November 2008. She enjoys a variety of genres including anything and everything young adult, some adult urban fantasy, a little bit of adult paranormal romance, some historical fiction and reads lots of childrens books. You can find her on her blog at http://www.candacesbookblog.com, twitter @candacemom2two and on goodreads.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Candace Reviews The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe

The Sound of Letting go by Stasia Ward Kehoe
Hardcover, 400 pages
Publishes: Feb. 6th, 2014 by Viking Children's
Source: Gift? (Was given at a book festival the author was suppose to attend)
For sixteen years, Daisy has been good. A good daughter, helping out with her autistic younger brother uncomplainingly. A good friend, even when her best friend makes her feel like a third wheel. When her parents announce they’re sending her brother to an institution—without consulting her—Daisy’s furious, and decides the best way to be a good sister is to start being bad. She quits jazz band and orchestra, slacks in school, and falls for bad-boy Dave.

But one person won’t let Daisy forget who she used to be: Irish exchange student and brilliant musician Cal. Does she want the bad boy or the prodigy? Should she side with her parents or protect her brother? How can she know when to hold on and when—and how—to let go?
This review was also posted on Candace's Book Blog.
Author Stasia Ward Kehoe writes about teens that feel even more real then usual.  They aren't always likable because of the mistakes they make, the thoughts they have, the things they do.  But when you put yourself in your own teen shoes, would you like your teen self?  Remember the crazy things you thought about?  All those insane emotions going through you?  Once I placed myself back in teen me, I had a much stronger connection to Daisy.  I could understand much of what she had going through her head because I was the oldest of 5 kids, the next one younger being 5 years younger.  I often felt more like their second mom because my mom worked.  I had to baby-sit them all the time.  On top of that, we lived on a ranch and when both parents work full time, it means the kids run the ranch (at least much of the time).  Not having time for myself and feeling a lot of anger and resentment was something I understood with Daisy.  And when she made stupid choices, or maybe overreacted to things, I got it.  I did the same thing.  In some cases, I did EXACTLY the same thing.

Daisy's brother, who is 13, is autistic.  Severe autistic, where he can't do anything on his own (without guidance) and has started injuring himself and others.  This is a huge strain on her family.  Her mother needs her breaks (which as a mom, I get) and her father, while helpful with Steven, is short on patience.  Daisy is expected to help watch him while her parents need to be away, but the biggest strain on her is not that she doesn't get much time with her friends or on her own, but that her parents don't have time for her.  When her parents break some big news I was surprised by Daisy's reaction, it was different then I had thought. But when we got an idea of why, and the guilt she felt, it made more sense.

Through the book is a touch of romance.  This isn't falling in love and all 'I love you's' and everything is good.  Daisy is rebelling and I felt like the romance partially came from that rebelliousness.  I knew she'd liked him before, but now that he's paying her attention, is he everything she had thought?  We see the different angles of this one, and it's definitely different. It was a romance I wasn't sure was real, or just a diversion.  I was pretty surprised how it all ended, but I'm pretty happy.

This is a music themed book in the sense that Daisy is a musician and it's something that has always been important to her.  It's a common theme through the book as it's the one thing that's always been a constant.  But it's not such a strong theme that non- musician like me can't understand or connect.

The book is in verse, like her previous book, and I really like her style.  Verse is all bare bones, get-to-the -important stuff, and I like that a lot.  Her style is simple and not the sort that is jerky, nearly filling the page in some cases.

I definitely recommend this book.  It's a bit emotional, but not the 'bawl your eyes out' kind, just that whole understanding that life isn't all peaches.
 
 Disclosure: I received this book for review purposes, all opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.
 
About the author:
Stasia Ward Kehoe dreamed of becoming a professional ballerina but she didn’t grow quite enough (she is 5’4”) or have sufficiently good knees (they are peppered with surgery scars). Instead, she went to Georgetown University from which she received a BA in English along with discovering (thank you, Hoya professors) a profound love for writing. After working at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and Random House Publishing in New York, and receiving her MA in Performance Studies from New York University, she took a long hiatus to marry a dude who looks just like Clark Kent (the hot geek who turns into Superman), have four awesome sons, and move to the Pacific Northwest where she now lives. She then started writing with a vengeance, publishing her first young adult novel, AUDITION, in 2011. She highly advises not being too specific with your long-term goals however, if you decide to write a book, sit on your backside and don’t get up until you have (a) died of starvation or (b) written the words “the end.” THE SOUND OF LETTING GO is her second novel and her short-term plan is to write another so, as you read this bio, she's likely got her fingers glued to a keyboard. Stasia also enjoys artichokes, chocolate (but, come on, who doesn’t?), parentheticals (obviously) and turning on her car to an explosion of pop music because the last person to drive it was one of her teenagers--especially if the song is about heartache and healing and has a good dance beat.
Find Stasia on...
  

About the Reviewer:
Candace is a wife and mother to two. She’s blogged at Candace’s Book Blog since November 2008. She enjoys a variety of genres including anything and everything young adult, some adult urban fantasy, a little bit of adult paranormal romance, some historical fiction and reads lots of childrens books. You can find her on her blog at http://www.candacesbookblog.com, twitter @candacemom2two and on goodreads.