Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

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Before her birth, Nyx’ father made a deal with the evil ruler of their land, Ignifex: his beloved wife would have children, but a daughter would be become the lord’s wife. In a wicked twist to the deal, Nyx’ mother dies in childbirth, leaving her and her twin sister to be raised by a vengeful, grieving father. Instead of enjoying a normal childhood, Nyx is trained to find a way to destroy the evil lord once she marries him. But, once Nyx becomes Ignifex’ wife, she discovers that her mission is not as simple as she once thought it. She may not be able to destroy the lord after all…and, most importantly, she may not want to.

If you’re looking for a weird dark romance/fairy tale retelling, this is it. While it wasn’t my favorite book I’ve read recently, it was certainly interesting. I enjoyed the mixing of fairy tales and mythology, and I think there is a lot of room for the discussion of the relationship between Ignifex and Nyx. I do think, though, that there’s just too much happening at the end of the book, and I would have liked to see the author split some events up over multiple books.

Rating: 3.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here. 

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City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

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The lengthy finale to the Mortal Instruments series pits Clary and the gang in a final battle against their ultimate nemesis, Sebastian. Armed with the Infernal Cup, Sebastian has created a demon race of Turned Shadowhunters — all bent on destroying the Nephilim. Sebastian’s trick is a clever one, as the Shadowhunters hesitate to completely obliterate their Turned brethren, resulting in a dilemma that may end the Nephilim (and human) race. Clary et al. must find a way to stop Sebastian and (FINALLY) bring peace to the lives of Nephilim, Downworlders, and humans alike.

While I appreciate that Clare took her time wrapping things up, this book is SO LONG. I felt a little discouraged when I had reached over 200 pages and felt like I hadn’t even made a dent in the book. But, it was worth it. There are some super creative twists in this one, and Clare does a nice job of leaving things open for the companion series, Dark Artifices. I have to say, I’m pretty excited to see where Lady Midnight goes after finishing this series. So many possibilities!

Rating: 4.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

 

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

If you think you know Grimm’s fairy tale stories, you’re wrong. Modern fairy tales have been sugar-coated and given happy endings, but Gidwitz tells you the real stories. First off, Hansel and Gretel are actually royal siblings, fleeing from their parents (after an unfortunate beheading event). Hoping to find a safer life, the pair weaves their way through the tales of other storybook characters, connecting the stories in new and unique ways. Be warned, though, these are not tales for the faint of heart. They’re not called “Grimm” for nothing.

So I LOVE fairy tales and fractured fairy tales, but this book was meh for me. Gidwitz has some interesting and entertaining retellings of the classic tales, so I enjoyed reading them, but I still found the piece to be overall boring. One thing that really annoyed me was how the author kept breaking in to talk to the reader. The first couple of times it happened was fine, but it because annoying quickly. However, you may love this book, so give it a shot if you’re a fan of fairy tales.

*SLJ Best Book of the Year, 2010

Rating: 3/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Matched by Ally Condie

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Finally seventeen, Cassia is able to find out who her match is — the person the Society has decided is the perfect person for her. Surprisingly (perhaps relievingly so), Cassia is matched with her longtime friend, Xander. Cassia is overjoyed that her match is someone she already knows so well. But, when Cassia looks at the data the Society officials gave her about her match, another face appears before her eyes — Ky Markham, an outsider new to the Society. Cassia knows that it’s impossible to have two matches, and she’s told that the match with Ky is a horrible joke. But, now that the seed is planted, Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, the mistake, and whether the Society’s rules are truly the right way to live.

Aside from this book basically being The Giver, it’s a decent read. If you’re a fan of dystopian/evil society books, Matched is a solid choice (and I heard it gets better as the series progresses). While there’s not a lot of action, there is a good amount of personal drama/suspense, romantic tension, and the book ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger. If you’re looking for a new sci-fi series, give Matched a try — if only to wonder how Condie didn’t get sued.

Rating: 3/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

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The fifth book of Clare’s Mortal Instruments series find Jace and and Sebastian irrevocably bound to each other, much to Clary and co.’s misery. Though the Clave has promised to find Jace, other matters arise and the intensity surrounding Jace’s search is lessened. Unsatisfied, Clary (unsurprisingly) sets out to find Jace on her own. Meanwhile, the rest of the Lightwoods, Frays, etc. frantically search for a weapon that will sever the bond between Jace and Sebastian without killing Jace. While it seems that there will be no way to separate the two, Clary learns more about Sebastian’s demonic plans and must find a way to save Jace, get back to her family, and stop Sebastian before the Nephilim world is forever changed.

Wow! So much better than the fourth book. The Jace/Sebastian drama is intense, and I loved how the author thought to pair the good guy with the bad guy instead of just putting them at constant odds with each other. Very unique. I also thought some good points were raised about the health of the Jace/Clary relationship. Maybe not popular points, but points worth talking about. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the conclusion.

Rating: 4/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

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At just 17, Darcy Patel has written a novel and secured a book deal. Now the only problem is convincing her parents to let her move to New York and write for a year instead of going to college. In New York, Darcy is nearly lost in the city and the world of writing, desperately trying to find her inspiration and write the next of the three novels she promised. Along with Darcy’s story, readers also get to read Darcy’s book, the story of Lizzie, her brush with death, and her romance with a mysterious death god.

I was surprised that I liked this book, but I did! The organization is extremely unique, but it may be a bit confusing when you first start reading. Keep going, though, because things really start to pick up as the book progresses. This book is interesting because you get realistic fiction drama with Darcy in New York and fantasy/supernatural drama and suspense when you read Darcy’s book. Pick this book up if you’re looking for a new and different read!

Rating: 4/5 

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Cress by Marissa Meyer

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The third installment in Meyer’s re-imagined fairy tale series finds Cinder united with allies Scarlett and Wolf, still a fugitive from Earth and desperately trying to stop Queen Levana’s plans. This time, Cinder seeks help from a Lunar programmer, Cress, who has been trapped in an orbiting satellite for most of her life. But Cinder’s and Cress’ plans for escape and rebellion take a deadly turn, leaving the group in shambles. The rebels must find their way back to one another and rescue Emperor Kai before Levana’s plans come to fruition.

I LOVED this book! I wasn’t super enthused with the second book, Scarlet (mostly because I didn’t care for Scarlet that much), but this one was SO much better. Cress is just amazing! She’s funny, smart, and her lovesick obsession with Thorne is heartbreaking and cute at the same time. Definitely don’t miss this one if you’re a fan of the series!

Rating: 4.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.