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review 2017-01-11 09:14
Gilded Ashes: A Cruel Beauty Novella - Rosamund Hodge

Now that I’m familiar with the gods and goddesses that are in this world, I can say that I get to appreciate the story better than the first. Everything about this book is likable to me. The plot is interesting, well Cinderella is one of my favorite fairy tales so there’s no doubt that I enjoyed this book. Then, add the creepiness of Maia’s mother with demonic spirit is another thumbs up for me. The characters, Maia and Anax are such a cute couple, yes they aren’t unique but there’s something about them that worked for me.  Also the author’s writing style which I had a hard time adjusting the first time reading Ms Hodge’s book “Cruel Beauty” didn’t overwhelmed me this time.

 

This novella is a wonderful spin-off to the first book “Cruel Beauty”, so if you wanted to know more about this particular world and can’t get enough of reading dark fairy tales retelling, I definitely recommend you to read this too.

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review 2017-01-11 09:12
Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge

This one is a unique read for me. I haven’t read anything like it. Apart from the beginning where it gave me the same feels I had with “The Wrath and the Dawn” and of course “Beauty and the Beast”, the rest of the story was quite a unique plot for me. I appreciated that it kept me guessing on what would happen next. 

 

Though the “seduce the enemy and get his trust” trope makes me roll my eyes, gag and cringe, it wasn’t really the case in this book so if that bothers you do not fret.    

 

I could really see where Nyx hatred to her father came from, dang I myself hated him until the last page, and her Aunt Telomache annoyed me too, grrrr. I could also understand her guilt on how she felt for her twin sister Astraia, to me that was believable. Ignifex, I mean he was supposed to be a demon but aside from doing (cheating) bargains with other people to me it felt as if he wasn’t cruel enough.

 

That cover though, is so pretty. It was one of the reasons why I picked this up (Yup.  I’m a sucker for pretty book covers). I couldn’t see the relevance of the title “Cruel Beauty” in the story (Someone please enlighten me). The writing sometimes overwhelms me, maybe because I’m not well-versed of the gods and goddesses that played a huge part in this book. So I suppose those who are like me (ignorant about gods and goddesses) would also feel the same way as I felt with this book.    

 

Despite some of my issues with this book, I still ended up liking the story. This book was a bit dark but unique and unpredictable, plus a cute love story with it. If these things I mentioned appeals to you, then do yourselves a favor and read this!  

 

 

Actual rating: 3.9/5 stars

 

#How was I able to graduate high school without knowing much about Greek and Roman gods and goddesses?  I have no idea

 

#Or maybe I was asleep when my teacher lectured this in my class

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review 2016-09-19 23:49
#CBR8 Book 104: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Crimson Bound - Rosamund Hodge

From Goodreads, because I'm lazy and it's mostly a pretty good summary (I will point out the ways in which is it not afterwards):

 

When Rachelle was fifteen, she was good - apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless - straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

 

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand - the man she hates most - Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

 

Inspired by the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, Crimson Bound is an exhilarating tale of darkness, love and redemption.

 

Rachelle lives in a world where there are evil things lurking in the Forest and they believe that three thousand years ago, an evil entity known as the Devourer, god of the forestborn, swallowed the sun and the moon. A brave pair of siblings, known as Zisa and Tyr managed to recover the sun and the moon, and bind the Devourer in sleep for millennia. But soon, Rachelle's aunt, the village wood-wife (wise women trained to protect people against the evil of the forestborn) announces, the Devourer will awaken, to swallow the sun and moon once more. 

 

With the foolish impulsiveness of youth, Rachelle decides to try to figure out a way to subdue the Devourer once more, should he really return. She starts walking in the woods, attracting one of the dangerous servants of the dark forces. She keeps courting danger, until one day, he persuades her to remove her protective charms, and (naturally) attacks her. Once marked by a forestborn, an individual has only two choices. Kill someone before three days are up, or die. Rachelle fights the compulsion, but ends up killing her aunt. She does discover, from the sinister and seductive forestborn who marked her, that the only way to defeat the Devourer, is with Zisa's legendary bone swords, believed lost forever. 

 

Three years later, Rachelle is living in the capital, and is one of the king's order of penitent bloodbound. She was marked by the Forest and killed to stay alive, but has not fully submitted to the call of the Forest and become fully forestborn yet. Instead, she spends every waking hour hunting down the wicked creatures that threaten innocent civilians. She has a semi-flirtatious relationship with Eric D'Anjou, the Captain of the King's bloodbound, but refuses to give into his attempts at seduction, refusing to become another notch on his belt. 

 

After foiling an assassination attempt at the King's bastard son, Armand, she is ordered to be his bodyguard. As Rachelle has only just gotten word from the shadowy forestborn who changed her that the Devourer will be rising as soon as the next Solstice, she has only a few weeks to try to locate Joyeuse, one of the bone-swords the legendary Zisa used to free the sun and the moon. Stories say it is hidden "below the moon, above the sun". She certainly does not have time to baby-sit one of the King's many illegitimate sons, especially one who has been proclaimed a saint by the populace after he was allegedly marked by a forestborn, refused to kill, but still survived after three days. He did lose both his hands, and now has silver ones he wears instead. The blurb claims he is the man she hates the most, this is wildly exaggerated. She despises him, believes he is a liar and a fraud - as there is just no proven instance of anyone surviving three days after encountering a forestborn, unless they kill someone, like she did. 

 

As the assassination attempt on Armand that Rachelle foiled is not the first, she is told to accompany him to one of the King's sumptuous country estates. Rachelle is persuaded to bring her fully human friend Amelie, who wants to basically be Rachelle's stylist, now that she has to appear at court functions. Armand tells Rachelle a legend from his region of the country, that makes her believe that the sword she is looking for, may in fact be hidden somewhere in the palace they will be staying. As it is impossible for her to be on guard duty and keep on searching, she reluctantly enlists Armand's help. She is still convinced he is lying about how he lost his hands, but the more she observes him, the more unlikely it seems that he wants any kind of glory or fame, and he is clearly deeply uncomfortable being venerated by the general populace.

 

The return of the Devourer draws ever closer. Rachelle and Armand are running out of time and the closer to the solstice they get, the more the sinister Forest seems to be encroaching on the royal residence, even though protective spells are supposed to be all over the grounds. Will Rachelle find the legendary sword and stop the Devourer, before it's too late?

 

What I liked:

- I absolutely adored the dark fairy tale told at the beginning of many of the chapters, relating the story of Zisa and Tyr. There were clearly elements of Hansel and Gretel, but with much darker undertones throughout, and there are clearly other folkloric tales mixed in there too. The horror that the siblings go through and what Zisa is willing to sacrifice to rescue her brother is lovely. Creepy and fantastic as all the best fairy tales are.

- The various folklore elements woven throughout the story. 

- The sinister creeping dread of the Forest, and the almost vampire-like forestborn. The bargain the marked have to make to continue living and the ever-present threat that they submit fully to the call of the Forest, and become fully inhumane.

- I liked Rachelle's complexity, even though I didn't always like her. She made an incredibly stupid mistake in her youth (some TSTL behaviour right there), but strove so hard to atone for it. Working to fight the threats from the Forest and saving innocents, even as she believed herself wholly damned. 

- The sweet and genuine friendship between Rachelle and Amelie.

- I liked Armand as a character. His cut-off hands and his silver replacements (that burn him when the metal gets too hot) was suitably gruesome. I was also impressed when it was finally revealed what actually happened to him - the full extent was both cool and horrible. 

- The concept of the wood-wives, local wise-women who could weave various charms to protect the populace against the creeping evil of the Forest. Zisa was apparently the first of the wood-wives and they pass down the knowledge through the generations.

- I mostly liked the decadent Renaissance French court setting. 

- I liked the monsters Rachelle had to defeat, both in her everyday fight against the encroaching Forest and when looking for Joyeuse.  

- The plot wasn't entirely predictable (for all that some things were pretty obvious to me from early on). There were a lot of cool reveals along the way.

 

Did not like:

- Erec D'Anjou. He gave me the creeps from the moment he showed up. He was an arrogant creep and the way he treated Rachelle was condescending and appalling. The fact that he was presented as charming, handsome and a supposed third in the love triangle of the story was baffling to me. He was pond scum.

- Rachelle's initial aversion to Armand really did seem very extreme and was really never well explained. 

- Nor was her sudden change of heart, where she pretty much out of the blue loves him. Not at all sure at what point her feelings changed from distrust, disdain and slight loathing to true love. 

- Absolutely and utterly hated the whole love triangle. 

- The structure of the story was a bit messy and the book could have been tighter plotted. The ending seemed a bit confused and rushed.

- The Little Red Riding Hood inspiration was tenuous, at best. 

 

This is Rosamund Hodge's second book, and from what I can see from various reviews, a lot of people don't think it's as good as her first book, Cruel Beauty. As there was a lot that I really liked about this book, I'm now even more excited that I have the supposedly better book still to read. As some reviews also say that the plots are a bit reminiscent of each other, I think I'm going to wait a bit, so the books don't suffer too much in comparison.

 

Judging a book by its cover: I've seen some people complaining that the cover of this book is too close to Rosamund Hodge's debut novel, Cruel Beauty, but I honestly don't see why this is problematic. The books are published by the same company, they probably wanted to make it more obvious the books were by the same author. The spiralling stair motif is a cool one (even though it has very little to do with anything in the actual book), whilst the black and white, with the bright green of the trees and the splash of red of Rachelle's cloak are lovely contrasts. The way the trees seem to be moving ever closer to the stairs is a nice call-back to the encroaching Forest in the book.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/09/cbr8-book-104-crimson-bound-by-rosamund.html
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review 2016-08-23 04:00
Review: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Crimson Bound - Rosamund Hodge

Initial reaction: I feel about this book the same way I felt about "Cruel Beauty". Wonderful ideas, action, and intriguing characterization, but the execution of it feels a bit flawed. This book dragged for me much longer than I thought it would, sadly, though I liked parts of it.

Full review:

Full confession: I feel bad about not being completely enamored by Rosamund Hodge's fairy tale universes: first with the alternate take of Beauty and the Beast with "Cruel Beauty" and now the smorgasbord tale of Little Red Riding Hood blended with The Girl With No Hands and other stories that was shown in "Crimson Bound". "Crimson Bound" had the kind of story that should've swept me off my feet and fully immersed me, yet there were times it did and others that left me cold.

The story revolves around Rachelle, a young woman who used to be an apprentice under her aunt, training to protect her village from the dark forces of the forest beyond. Yet after a series of events, Rachelle becomes cursed - a murderess cursed to die by the hands of the Devourer. She tries to right her wrongs by becoming a hand of the King, swearing to kill the Devourer in a quest of vengeance. Yet, as Rachelle becomes tasked to protect the King's son Armand, she ends up being swept into another journey that's intricately tied to her own, whether she realizes it or not.

I liked the fact that Rachelle was a dark heroine with a balance of moments where you could root for her and others where she was completely ruthless, but there was something missing to her character that didn't make me fully sink my teeth into her experience. Same with the side characters - I saw how they were constructed and their role in the story, but they didn't make strong impressions on me. There were some nice twists and scenes of action in this tale, but I felt the whole of the novel, despite a bit stronger building of the world and realm than "Cruel Beauty", really didn't make as much of an impression on me as I'd hoped. The plot dragged on for far too long, leaving me having to muscle through the book in points where it meandered just as thickly as the forests the text described in the illusions. I definitely appreciated moments of it, but others I kept wondering when it would hit the ground running to the reveals. The romance never struck me that well (and I could argue that I was more taken by the fantasy realm in this series of books by Hodge than I ever was with the romances, because they lacked depth for me).

It's hard to say, because I like the illusionary world and dark tones of Hodge's works (and ultimately, that's what keeps me wanting to read her books), but I wish there were more root and streamlined focus in the works themselves, to smooth over some of the rough edges of what are otherwise fascinating tales. Good audio reading and intrigue, but still lacking that spark to fully draw me into the tale, unfortunately.

Overall score: 3/5 stars.

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review 2016-08-15 00:24
Review: Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe #1) by Rosamund Hodge
Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge

Quick review for a quick read. As epic of a retelling of Beauty and the Beast as this was in places, I still feel pretty baffled (and more than a little gutted) by the transpiring of events towards the last quarter of the book and that ending. So I'm torn on my reaction. I thought the narrative captured strong odes to B&tB very well. Nyx is a young woman who's fated to be married to the Gentle Lord, the ruler to all in her kingdom of Archadia. Archadia is overrun by demons and the Gentle Lord is said to be the ruler and harbringer of them all. Nyx's tasked with destroying the Gentle Lord to avenge her mother, though she's bitter about being sent to what may ultimately be her death despite her sister Astraia continuing to live and her father having made a bargain to sacrifice her. I definitely liked Nyx initially, even with the bit of darkness in her heart and actions, I could see why she was bitter.

But upon thinking about the events of the book, I couldn't help but notice that the actual progression of the plot was very convoluted. Nyx is basically torn between her loyalties to Shade, noted to be the true lost prince of the kingdom trapped under the rule of the Gentle Lord, and the Gentle Lord himself, whom Nyx develops a fondness for over time despite his cruelty. There are some wonderful scenes of darkness and tension that I enjoyed reading about through the work, but at the same time, I felt like Nyx's focal role as a fighter or quest for true revenge really got lost in this book in places. Then the ending really threw a curveball and I didn't know what to think after that. Was it a happy ending? Yes and no - I honestly felt after reading this that there was no true lead in to the events that were marching towards that conclusion, and I had a hard time matching Nyx's motivations with her actions and the scheme of events that happened in the last quarter of the book. I suppose that's a potential set up for the following stories set in this universe, but despite all the cool descriptions and nice scenes of tension that Nyx faces (with good odes to the conflicts in the Beauty and the Beast tale) - I'm left with an odd emotional void after finishing the book. I'm definitely planning on reading the sequel, but I felt "Cruel Beauty" ultimately suffered through a number of progressive flaws that didn't fully sell me on the story. Entertaining and engaging in places, but disorganized and meandering in others.

Overall score: 3/5 stars.

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