Tag Archives: Demons

Cruel Beauty – Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty – Rosamund HodgeTitle: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Publishing Info: January 28, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 12, 2013

    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.

bookreview1

cruelbeauty

Firstly, the cover of CRUEL BEAUTY may easily be one of my favorites. I would say favorites this year, but we’re barely into it… I still think it’ll take the cake! And secondly, people should REALLY not make comparisons to other books like that. It’s definitely an interesting adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, but I couldn’t see the Graceling comparison at all. That was a bit of a disappointment for me… But that wasn’t the reason why I was disappointed with the book.

Yep. I said it. CRUEL BEAUTY was not quite all I had hoped it to be. I know so many people ended up loving this book, but I was one of the ones who enjoyed it, but still had quite a few issues. CRUEL BEAUTY kicks off with Nyx before her wedding day, doomed to wed The Gentle Lord — a demon who has taken control of the kingdom. She’s trained to defeat him all of her life but still may not come out of this marriage alive. I was really very caught by surprise of all of the mythology in this book and… well, mythology really isn’t quite my thing or what I was expecting. Of all of the mythology retellings or mythology-heavy books I’ve read lately, I’ve only really enjoyed one and even that didn’t knock me off my feet so I was nervous right off the bat. I really don’t connect with mythology and I’m not familiar with all of the stories and deities so that tended to get confusing and uninteresting for me.

The other thing that really bothered me throughout the book was sadly Nyx herself. The first half of the book was very repetitive for me, Nyx griping about her plight to marry the Gentle Lord and then once married, to destroy him, but all the while, she’s extremely bitter about it. Nyx is bitter about her father having arranged this marriage for her to be the one essentially sentenced to die instead of her twin sister. She’s bitter with her sister for being the one her parents loved. She’s bitter with her sister for getting their mother’s looks while Nyx resembles her father. She’s bitter with her aunt for stepping in in her mother’s absence and stealing her father’s affections. It was a lot of bitterness and a lot of complaining and when I’m first meeting a character, heavy negative connotations tend to turn me off. It was very hard for me to find Nyx to be a likeable character in the first half of the book and it was really difficult to read things from her point of view.

I’m not going to lie… I almost put down this book and didn’t pick it up again. The combination of my aversion to Nyx and a slow start (something that I continue to struggle with) made me almost DNF this book. I turned to my fellow bloggers who assured me that it did pick up and I really didn’t want to DNF only 30-40 pages in so I continued through and did find that to be true. Once Nyx ventures into the Gentle Lord’s castle, things really do start to pick up and I was definitely captivated by the mysteries that this castle holds. The moving staircases and doors reminded me of Harry Potter and we know that’s always a good thing! The rooms themselves were mysterious and I was definitely interested to see how much the house itself was alive, curious, and dangerous. But… (yep, there is a but) …. It just didn’t quite seem to fit together. There were questions left unanswered, mysteries that didn’t seem to serve any purpose, and the different aspects of the castle just didn’t seem to gel as one giant puzzle. I’m not sure what it was but I kept waiting for some big reveal or for all of these pieces to snap together and it just didn’t really happen for me.

I really enjoyed Ignifex (that would be The Gentle Lord) and his character development. I appreciated that at first glance, he’s just the big, bad demon lord, but like all good villains/antagonists, he has his own story that turns the tables a bit. At the same time, I would have loved to see so much more character development for him. I wanted more evil, more snark, more indecision as to whether Nyx should trust him or not. I wanted to fall in love with him and hate him at the same time. It just didn’t seem strong enough for what I was hoping.

Oh! I can’t believe I almost forgot about the love triangle. I mean, the sort of love triangle…? Let’s just say it’s a bit confusing and either way you put it, I was not really a fan. Both sides of this love triangle seemed a bit insta-lovey. I don’t really like using that term since I do believe in the whole attraction-but-not-quite-love-at-first-sight things, but it really did feel like Nyx fell for both of these parties way too quickly. Or not even quickly, implying that it happened early in the book, but just rapidly — a sudden change. Obviously I was rooting for Nyx and Ignifex to get over their whole death match thing and fall in love, just like Beauty and the Beast! You know it’s coming but the switch just seemed too abrupt. To go from STRONGLY loathing someone all your life to feel affection… I just didn’t get it.

The plot and general idea of the book could have also been awesome too but I felt like the book was written in pieces and somehow these pieces just didn’t quite all fit perfectly together. They all came back to create one story, but they didn’t seem like they fit well, and I’m also upset with the ending. Everything seemed to happen so fast and yet not. It was not a satisfying ending and just didn’t seem to work with how the rest of the book went.

I think overall, the book just felt very pieced together. The characters didn’t feel very developed. The world building could have totally blown me away but it felt very unfinished. Nothing felt cohesive. It was still an interesting read but this should have been a book that totally wowed me and it just didn’t do that much at all. I don’t think I’ve ever been so torn about a rating or a review because there was so much I had hoped for and did get some, but just not enough to really “wow” me.

character_breakdown1

Nyx // Character Obsessions: Defeating the Gentle Lord, staying alive, figuring out secrets.
Nyx was really hard to get along with for me… I just felt like she was too negative for the majority of the first half of the book and it took too long for her to sort of soften. By the end of the book, I had a better opinion of her but it still wasn’t good.
Ignifex // Character Obsessions: Maintaining the castle, imprisoning and yet romancing Nyx, general demon duties.
really liked Ignifex when I first met him. He was evil. He was a demon lord. He had that crooked smile and easy snark. *fans self* But.. as the story went along, his character didn’t really get developed like I had hoped. He did get more layers to his story but I didn’t feel that emanate through his personality. I felt like we were told that this is his history but I didn’t really feel like his character really jumped off the pages like I wanted it to.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Magic Castles. How amazing are magic castles? That was by far one of my favorite things about the book. The castle almost felt like a character itself (although even that “character” wasn’t as developed as I hoped).
Left Me Wanting More: Cohesiveness. My biggest issue with this book is that I felt like nothing really came together. There were plenty of interesting story lines, character possibilities, and sets of magic to explore, but nothing really felt like it came together. This book felt like it was written in large chunks and when those chunks were all merged into one book, they didn’t really quite work together.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

I feel like I’m the minority here who was somewhat disappointed in it. A lot of people totally fell in love with this world so I would say definitely give it a shot if you were as excited for it as I was. Just BE AWARE that there is a lot of mythology! That totally caught me by surprise and it kind of turned me off in its own way.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE CRUEL BEAUTY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

          Crewel        Everneath

Possess – Gretchen McNeil

Possess – Gretchen McNeilTitle: Possess by Gretchen McNeil
Publishing Info: August 23, 2011 by HarperCollins
Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: October 27, 2013
Related Posts: Ten

    Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.
    Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.

bookreview1

Many thanks to Amy who bought this book for me for All Hallow’s Read! I’d heard a lot of positive reactions to the book and having only read one other book by Gretchen McNeil, I had high hopes that I would enjoy it too! I’m actually really glad she got it for me because I probably wouldn’t have ever picked it up for myself. We’ve talked several times how I’m a big, big chicken and I do NOT read books about ghosts or demons. And what does POSSESS have? Ghosts and demons. But I put my faith in Amy and rest assured that all turned out well! She just knows! 🙂

At first, I was just a tiiiiny bit skeptical. I’m not big on books who focus a lot on religion and right away we meet Bridget who goes to a Catholic school and meets with Monsignor Renault and Father Santos. Priests? I was worried. But I carried on through the first few chapters and once we started getting into the meat and potatoes of the religious history and the mythology surrounding angels and demons, I immediately became sucked in! Things really started coming together and I saw that as much as I wasn’t a huge fan, religion definitely needed to be involved in this story and everything really fell into place.

I loved how delightfully creepy POSSESS was! I was a little scared that possessions, demons, and the like would be a little too much for me, but it was just the perfect amount to creep me out and not have me sticking the book in the freezer. (Points for understanding the reference!) What really made it enjoyable for a scaredy cat like me was the combination of creepy, funny, and yes, even romance! I can definitely say that without the humor and sarcasm that I love from Gretchen McNeil, it might not have been enjoyable and I really liked those moments when I was pulled out of the fear and given time to shake it off.

I had some minor issues here and there with characters but this was one of those books where I didn’t read too far into it. I was definitely reading for fun and for the horror factor so it was a really enjoyable book for me! There were definitely some SUPER creepy moments (don’t worry, it’s not clowns, but it was worse than that for me haha) and some really great sort of religious mythology. I really liked how the book came together and it was a really fun read!

character_breakdown1

Bridget // Character Obsessions: Taming her “gift”, protecting her family, fighting demons.
Bridget just exorcises demons, NBD. Except that she doesn’t consider her “gift” a gift at all. I liked her tough as nails attitude, but at times it was juuuust a bit much for me. I really enjoy seeing un-girly girls (I guess tomboys?) but silly things like steel-toed boots were a bit over the top for my taste. I took well to her sarcasm though (I usually do!) which is good because I did have a couple moments where I feared it was going to cross over the line and become irritating. I did like her character overall and I think her tough attitude was definitely necessary to battle these demons!
Matt // Character Obsessions: Sports, his family, typical teenager things.
You know what… Looking back at Matt, he wasn’t as memorable after finishing as he was while reading. I really liked his relationship with Bridget, their back and forth and banter (I always enjoy banter) and how he genuinely seemed to care about her… But after finishing, I just can’t pick out things that I really liked about his character. I appreciated that they had history, but I think I would have liked just a little bit more from him. Hard to say what though.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Horror. I am not a horror person but this book totally worked for me! I think it’s a fun read and if you’re looking for a mild (or a good) scare, this could be a really great choice!
Left Me Wanting More: Connection. I enjoyed reading POSSESS, but it didn’t quite blow me out of the water. I think I wanted to connect with the characters just a bit more but there was really more focus on the developing story line than personal connections, which seems entirely appropriate and natural! It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly was missing but there was just a little something I didn’t connect with. Very minor though!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

POSSESS was a fun paranormal/horror read! It had me shaking in my boots when I was reading at home. Alone. In the dark. (Not smart, huh?) It was perfect for reading around Halloween and I’m glad I got this from Amy so I could give a book about demons a shot!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE POSSESS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

          Sweet Evil   First Grave on the Right

Sweet Peril (Sweet Evil #2) – Wendy Higgins

Sweet Peril (Sweet Evil #2) – Wendy HigginsTitle: Sweet Peril (The Sweet Trilogy #2) by Wendy Higgins
Publishing Info: April 30, 2013 by HarperCollins
Genres: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 15, 2013
Related Posts: Sweet Evil (The Sweet Trilogy #1)

    Anna Whitt, the daughter of a guardian angel and a demon, promised herself she’d never do the work of her father—polluting souls. She’d been naive to make such a vow. She’d been naive about a lot of things.
Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school’s party girl. Her life has never looked more bleak. And all the while there’s Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind.
When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time. It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaidan must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: is loving someone worth risking their life?

bookreview1

This is a spoiler-free review for SWEET PERIL but if you have not read SWEET EVIL yet, beware that there may be some spoilers for book one!

It’s no secret that I fangirled over SWEET EVIL pretty hard when I first read it last summer. I was allll about Kaidan and he truly made the book for me (ALL THE SWOONS) so when we left Sweet Evil with Anna and Kaidan separated, I had a great fear building up until I finally got my hands on SWEET PERIL that we would suffer from one of the common occurrences in the second in a series in which the two lovebirds are apart the whole book. Well, I feel it’s important to warn you (and there’s no way I can talk about the first half of the book) to say that… It happened.

I can’t. Get. Kupono. Out of my head.

First: I liked the book. I really did. Despite my wariness for angel/demon books, I really love how Wendy Higgins creates this other world and mythology and legends… But Kaidan, my main reason for loving the book, was gone the whole first half. There was tons of Kopano (which I’m sorry, as a SYTYCD fan, I keep wanting to say Kupono haha) but really, he just doesn’t do it for me. I actually didn’t really like him that much in the first book as a friend and here we go turning a slight love triangle and I just really felt let down. I was actually pretty disappointed with the direction that took. Then I run into another second in a series issue in which the characters are on a mission and traveling. The road trip in book one did not bother me at all because it was more road trip and not mission. The road trip was low-stress and we got to see a lot of character interaction between Anna and Kaidan there. The trips in book two are all over the world and pretty much are the only things we get in the first half of the book. They felt rushed and pieced together instead of a flowing story.

The second half of the book was where the magic really happened for me. It was back to the old times! The good times! Just like in Sweet Evil. We finally get to see Kaidan again for more than two seconds and he returns to all his steamy glory!! Anna finally seems a little more confident because I really felt like she was a bit passive and naïve (well, she’s always going to be naïve) in the first half. After what I felt like was travel, travel, more travel and introducing new characters, we get to know a bit more about the other Dukes, Neph, and angels in the second half. More pieces to the puzzle! More interesting facts!! YAYYY. It was a relief because I got really scared for a while in the beginning.

The second half definitely felt more like the “home” that I found in Sweet Evil so I was thankful we finally got back to that! The only thing I was a bit confused with is Anna’s character is kind of back and forth. She’s been learning how to defend herself but half the time she’s still the sweet, little naïve girl and the other half she’s badass and ready to wield weapons. I’m just not sure which Anna we should be expecting or if we truly should expect both in one. Clearly Anna’s going through a lot of personal changes throughout this whole discovery of her true ancestry and truth be told, I kind of enjoy the badass Anna BUT I also want her to stay true to her character so it’s kind of a toss up for me!

Overall, I did enjoy a lot from SWEET PERIL but it was a slow start for me. Superfans of the series will love it, I’m sure, and I’ve seen tons of five star ratings already!

character_breakdown1

Anna Whitt: For some reason when I read Sweet Evil, I didn’t think Anna was that naive (and Wendy Higgins herself said to me, “Really? I think she’s incredibly naive!” but for some reason it just didn’t come across to me that way in book one. Book two, however, gave me a lot of that feeling and it bothered me at times. I think I was just in a different place when I read book two and it totally change my outlook on Anna’s character. Regardless, I’m happy that she’s learning how to defend herself but still hasn’t lost her morals or beliefs. I hope she stays true to her character in book three!!
Kaidan Rowe: Kaidan, why were you hiding in LA half of the book!?! Don’t do that to me!!! Once Kai finally shows back up in the picture in full force, the book really took off for me. I needed that tension between Anna and Kai for the book to work for me, I think, because that was what I loved so much about Sweet Evil!
Kopano: Eh. Kope just doesn’t do it for me. I wasn’t really a fan of his character in Sweet Evil — nothing personal, but he just didn’t stand out for me — so his major presence in Sweet Peril brought me down a little, to be honest!
Characters I loved seeing so much more of: Blake makes a strong appearance in this book and I loved him! Loved seeing more of Marnie and Ginger as well as Baleil/Anna’s father.

addiction_factor1

Try it

I didn’t like this one as much… and I’m afraid my love for this series is starting to die! It was still a fun read but I feel like that magic is gone.

book_recommendations1

     Sweet Evil      PIvot Point