Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

cruel-beautyCruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is her debut effort?! Fuck me and my writerly pretensions.

The story plucks out the father bargains daughter away to monster theme from Beauty and the Beast (or La Belle et la Bete) and then turns the self-sacrificing Belle on her head and makes her MAD at the world for the unfairness of it all. It’s brilliant. Nyx has been brought up to sacrifice herself because her father made a fool’s bargain. And because the monster in her future is also the wizard who oppresses the world, her father spent years training her in hermetic magic so she can kill the beast and free her people. Nyx has submitted to it because she has no other options and duty has been drilled into her. But girl is full to the brim with anger, resentment, and guilt at being so wicked at heart. It’s hilarious and touching and heart-felt. Nyx has a LOT of suppressed anger and when she finally meets the monster who tricked her father into bartering away one of his daughters, the Prince of Demons is faced with a wife who will spit on his face sooner than tremble in fear. They clash and they fight, and slowly, they become friends. Ignifex — not his real name, but the only one he can give her — is the first person to ever see Nyx for the flawed, angry, vindictive, kind, passionate person she is and love her anyway. It doesn’t wash away the thousands he has hurt through bargains made over centuries, but it bonds them in a way that make Nyx want to help instead of kill the evil trickster. Years of brainwashing clashes against a growing love, and Nyx has to choose between saving her world and saving her husband. It’s an intense read but very satisfying. By the end, you KNOW why Nyx and Ignifex love each other. They are wicked together. =D
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Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand

9781406372021My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you know anything about British history, then you’ve heard about this queen. One who ruled for only 9 days, but was earnest, intelligent, and amazingly well-read. She was young but determined. Honest but inexperienced. And she died much too soon. In this version of history, Lady Jane lives in a world full of Effians and Verities, or as we would call them: were-beasts and humans. This alternate reality uses the linchpins of past events, but claims to tell the “true” story of how everything went down. I’ve been fascinated by Lady Jane’s story, and I loved this telling of the well known (and bloody) story because of the self-aware humour and wish fulfilment in evidence. Jane lives and is given opportunities to prove herself and find her life’s purpose. She’s loved by a man who deserves her. It’s what we would have wished for the young queen, and I have no issues with magic used to bring those ideal events about. She gets her much deserved happily ever after, and we get to laugh as she finds her way to it.

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Reviewed: Angel’s Dance by Nalini Singh

124e42e4527854e9ac1df359613ef429Angels’ Dance by Nalini Singh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My favourite short story of this series. I’ve always enjoyed Singh’s treatment of her secondary characters more than the primary couple, but this story is especially engaging because of the subversion of the usual ancient male/young female trope. The woman here is thousands of years old, while the man is only a few hundreds. I liked the way their relationship bloomed over time. Also, that a miraculous cure doesn’t magick away the heroine’s disability. Well done on that.

Upon re-reading: Yeah, I can see why I loved it the first time, but I’ve read a lot more since. Continue reading

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The Test

There was little left of Time
His death a gruesome sight,
His body butchered in a secret hour
In the waking of the night;
 
There was little left of Thought
Throttled with cool, sure hands,
No more he breathes in the crushing dark
He’s fled these living lands;
 
There was nothing left of Hope
Her destruction absolute,
Her tortured screams went long unheard
Her silence now acute;
 
A girl of ghastly deeds remains
A miserable creature is she;
That awful guilt now presses down
As she stares at question No. 3
 
 
 
(c) Paroma Chakravarty 2017
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Review: The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I waited and waited and waited for this story to get exciting…and then it just ended. Usually, if a book is going to bore me, it gives me sufficient clues within the first quarter of the story. But this one lured me in with its detailed historical setting, complex familial relationships, an interesting and conflicted heroine, but then failed to deliver on the actual plot. It failed on two out of three counts. The male love interest was dull, dull, dull. And the conflict in the story was…to be resolved in some book down the line in a series still being written. The only thing they got right was the protagonist. Helen was dealing with a revelation that didn’t just changed the story she’d always been told of her mother, the traitor to her nation, but also threatened to upend her life and relationships. She was pretty badass. But a lot of the story depended on the hero, William, whose lack of any personality — unless mopey is something you find attractive — killed the narrative dead. I’m not picking up the next one, unless a reviewer I trust swears up and down that someone taught Goodman about pacing and conflict.

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Review: A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

b01aso6jiy-01-lzzzzzzzA Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sherlock Holmes as a woman working under a man’s name. It’s brilliant in this quiet, understated way, and I loved it. It has none of the flash of recent, tv Sherlock adaptations, but feels perfect set in the original time period. Also, one of the things I loved in this (and had always disliked in tv versions) is that the police were allowed to do their job. They weren’t props to make Holmes look brilliant.

She is brilliant, but she isn’t a one woman police force, showing up Scotland Yard as incompetent despite their years of investigative experience. I love it, did I mention? =D And so, what happens when a smart mind is brought up in a woman’s body, in a family of upper class respectability? Continue reading

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Review: Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold

Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold (Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold, #1)Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold by Ellen O’Connell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cord and Anne are my favourite fictional couple. Their relationship is serious #lifegoals for me. I’ve searched high and low for a book that is as gripping, as warm, as pulsing with life as this one, but Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold remains my only find in this genre that I can read a hundred times and still feel the tug of a dozen emotions as if I’m reading every scene for the first time. Continue reading

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