Book Review: Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound by Rosamond Hodge

Review News

First order of business:  Next book review will feature Trial by Fire (Book 1 in The Worldwalker Trilogy) by Josephine Angelini.  Firewalker (Book 2) is out on September 1st.  Hence I want to get the review of the first book out and quickly spit out the review of the second.

Second order of business:  I will not be reviewing the Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas.  While I did manage to get through the first book, and I liked it immensely, I quickly lost interest in the second book.  It wasn’t that the second book was bad.  I was half way through the second book when it occurred to me that the story line might keep going without end, which seemed tedious.  The failure to read these books is entirely on me and has nothing to do with story quality.  Call me disenchanted with the length of the series.  People who like Terry Goodkind will like the Throne of Glass Series.

Third order of business:  My check list for reviewing books.  In case, some of my fabulous readers were wondering.

When I review books, I always scrutinize the heroine.  Expectations of women may have changed over the years.  Yet, I still see room for improvement.  A woman’s roll in society is so ingrained in the minds of Americans that most of my country people are unconsciously discouraging girls at impressionable ages.  Let girls create their science experiments, fix cars, and build robots (all with the proper adult supervision as it should be for all kids).  Tell girls they can be anyone they want to be.

Since I’m reviewing Young Adult books (I love the imagination of the authors), I always look for a strong female character.  Then I look for a male counterpart that is equal to the female.  I believe that women and men are equal.  Strong women shouldn’t “settle” for men who are inferior to them, and they shouldn’t be dominated or bullied by a man’s enormous ego (or lack of).

Then I look at the storyline.  This is what draws a reader in and keeps them turning the page till the very end.  If I can predict everything that’s going to happen, it’s a boring book.  If it’s the Young Adult version of a British Victorian novel (they loved their excruciatingly mundane details), it’ll put me to sleep.  Any type of media that puts me to sleep is not very good.  An awesome book would have me up for as long as it takes to complete the book.  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – the longest book in the series – had me up for forty-eight hours strait because it was that good.

Writing style is last.  Most people could care less if the prose are beautiful.  The only people truly interested in prose are writers and scholars.  Otherwise, everyone else is looking for entertainment value.  Case in point for writing style are the books I’m reviewing in this post.

These books are not part of a series.  They are stand alone stories.

Cruel Beauty

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Barnes and Noble

Welcome to a world where Beauty and the Beast meets Greek Mythology.  We are introduced to our heroine Nyx who lives in a strange world slightly different from our world.  Her world is ruled by a cruel master who grants wishes that always come with a devastating price.

Because of a wish her father made before she was born, Nyx’s engagement to the master is the price.  Nyx grew up to be a smart and loving girl with the possibility of dying young.  She’s perhaps sporadically fatalistic, yet I think we can give her a pass.  Her father prepared her for the day she would marry the Master and have the opportunity to kill him.

This is a world where not all is what it seems and Nyx learns the Master’s truth.

Nyx is an incredibly strong young woman.  She’s had to be with an impersonal father, unappealing Aunt, and sweet seemingly oblivious sister.  The household is based on avoidance.  They avoid the truth, but the truth is always staring them in the face.

Basically, the father messed up, Nyx must fix it and shoulder all the burden.  No one wants to talk about her inevitable unhappy marriage and the parental figures dote on Nyx’s sister since, as far as they’re concerned, the sister will inevitably be an only daughter.  Why waste time on poor Nyx when they’ll presumably never see her again after the wedding?

Nyx tries her best not to hate her family.  Though no one can really blame her.

Nyx’s strength lies in her ability to shoulder a tremendous burden and not go psycho.  Also, She’s able to keep her cool in a scary situation and the odds seem overwhelmingly stacked against her.

As far as her beastly husband and his secrets, he’s decidedly not her equal.  In fact, he makes me so angry I want to spit.  I can’t go into further detail without giving away the story.  Trust me on this one.

The writing is beautiful and above par when it comes to the average YA novel.  At times, I almost felt like I was reading classic literature.

For the average reader, it’s not a smooth, fast read.  The book makes a reader think.  I find most readers want the book to think for them.  If that’s the preferred book, Cruel Beauty is not for those readers.

For the discerning literature lover, it’s the perfect book to read in a comfortable coffee house on a lazy Sunday.  I whole heartedly recommend this book and, if it’s any help, it definitely has a permanent place on my lofty bookshelf.

Crimson Bound

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Barnes and Noble

Welcome to a darker version of Little Red Riding Hood.  Where the forest is alive with sinister secrets and Red isn’t a black and white simplistic character.  We live in a colorful world.  Why not have the same color in our literature?

Rachelle was an apprentice to her Aunt learning the wise ways of protecting the village from dark magic.  One day, her curiosity, and naive good intentions changes everything.

Years later, Rachelle is still a protector only less weaving charms and more swordplay.  She’s an elite protector for the king who is suddenly commanded to guard the king’s son.  While she doesn’t like the son, she finds a use for him in an effort to stop the dark forest from taking over.

If it’s not abundantly clear, Rachelle is a strong character.  Where Nyx was strong in personality and intelligence, Rachelle’s talents lay with her intelligence and cursed strength.  I love that she doesn’t huddle into a ball in the corner of a room and wait for the curse to completely take her.  She fights the curse and uses it for her own purposes.

When I first met the King’s son Armand, I thought he was a pansy opportunistic jerk.  Yet, there’s more under the surface than what the reader is initially presented.

However captain of the King’s elite guard, Erec, is a strong fighter and a true politician – anything for power.  He’s a womanizer above equal with an eye for Rachelle.  Is there more under the character’s surface?

Again, I can’t go deep into Armand and Erec without giving away the ending.  They’re both her equal, but only one is an evil jerk that gets his tuchus kicked.

This book was action packed, full of suspense, and a true page turner.  It has the literary scope of Cruel Beauty.  While the structure of the story is geared more toward general readers, the writing style still contains the subtle complication of classic literature.

Again, if people are looking for a mindless read, this book is not for them.  If they want a little action with their leisurely Sunday coffee, I highly recommend this book.  This one also has a coveted place on my bookshelf.

Future Book Reviews

***Will not be reviewed in this order.Books-2-icon

  • Goddess Test Series by Aimee Carter
  • Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
  • Firewalker by Josephine Angelini
  • Suspicion by Alexandra Monir
  • Untamed: A Splintered Companion by A. G. Howard

Want to see what I’m currently reading or curious about past book reviews?  

Go to my Reading Common Sense page.

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