Wrap Up: January 2017

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I didn’t really have a great start to the year in terms of reading. I was feeling a bit burnt out after reading 22 books in December to finish off my Goodreads reading challenge. I just needed a bit of a break and as a result didn’t really read as many books as I usually do. But I still managed to read 11 books and I’m happy with that for now.

My Goodreads reading goal for this year is currently set at 100. I’m anticipating that I’ll read more than that but we’ll see how I go for now.

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Reading summary header

1. Every Last Word – Tamara Ireland Stone  4 stars

This novel features a character with OCD and I had some issues with the OCD elements in this book. My full review is linked if you’re interested in my thoughts on that. However, I thought the rest of the book was beautifully written and really sweet and, ultimately, I enjoyed the reading experience.

2. Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates  4 stars

I really, really liked this non-fiction book. It’s a collection of essays written in the form of a letter from Ta-Nehisi Coates to his son, detailing the struggles of growing up and living as a black person in America. It’s a great book about race and violence and I found it to be impactful and poignant.

3. An Improper Ever After – Nadia Lee  4 stars

This is the third part and conclusion to Elliot and Annabelle’s story that started with An Improper Bride and continued with An Improper Ever After. While I enjoyed this third installment and liked how their story ended, I’m still very disappointed with the author’s choice to split one story into three sections. I’ve said this about Nadia Lee’s recent books many times before, but it just feels like she’s trying to profit more from splitting what could be one book, into three. And this also ruins the reading experience for many readers because of the cliffhangers at the end of Books 1 and 2. Not sure that I’m going to continue to read her books if she continues to do this.

4. Wayfarer – Alexandra Bracken  4 stars

Wayfarer is the sequel to Passenger and I absolutely loved it. I loved being reunited with Nicholas and Etta, and learning about new characters as well. I did have a bit of confusion as I was reading the book but I loved how the duology wrapped up and thought it was a great novel.

5. Windwitch – Susan Dennard  4 stars

Windwitch is the sequel to Truthwitch and I liked them both equally. Windwitch is a little bit less action-packed and is more character-driven, which I didn’t really mind. At times, I wished there was a bit more plot but the character development that we saw in this sequel was absolutely brilliant.

6. Us – Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy  4 stars

Us is a sequel to Him, but could probably be read as a standalone. I really loved Him and didn’t think Us was as good, but I still really enjoyed my read of the novel and being reunited with the characters again.

7. Freeks – Amanda Hocking  35 stars

I am part of the blog tour for this novel and my post, along with a short Q&A will be up on the blog on Sunday. It’s a slightly creepy and eerie carnival story and I thought it was a fast-paced and thrilling read. There were some parts that I wasn’t a big fan of, especially the way that the book ended, but I still thought it was a great read.

8. Cruel Beauty – Rosamund Hodge  3 stars

This is a Beauty and the Beast-inspired story and I found it to be kind of disappointing. I found a lot of it to be very confusing and lacking in plot and I was not a fan of the main character. There was also a strange love triangle going on in the book that I found to be frustrating and, as a whole, I just wasn’t very impressed with Cruel Beauty.

9. Crimson Bound – Rosamund Hodge  35 stars

Crimson Bound is a standalone novel that is loosely inspired by Little Red Riding Hood, and I enjoyed it slightly more than Cruel Beauty. However, most of the problems that I had with Cruel Beauty, I also had with this book. The story felt very dragged out and I absolutely hated the love triangle in this book. I did like the main character but found her to be frustrating at times too.

10. The Billionaire’s Holiday Bride – Nadia Lee  4 stars

This is a novella that should be read after five books in The Pryce Family series. It allows readers to be reunited with the five couples from the books in the series, but also develops the backstory and romance of a different couple from the series at the same time. I really enjoyed it and it brought a smile to my face.

11. Lisette’s Paris Notebook – Catherine Bateson  2 stars

I was not very impressed with this contemporary novel at all. It sounded like a really cute and fluffy story but I found it to be extremely dull and it lacked substance and plot. The main character was frustrating to read about and I found the characters and the writing to be lacklustre.

Review: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

crimson-boundPublisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: May 5, 2015
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 464
Goodreads || Book Depository

When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village. But she was also reckless—straying from the forest path in pursuit 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 a vain effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her hunt for the legendary sword that might save their world. Together, they navigate the opulent world of the courtly elite, where beauty and power reign and no one can be trusted. And as they become unexpected allies, they discover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. Within a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

MY THOUGHTS

35 stars

If you read my Cruel Beauty review, you’ll know that I wasn’t very impressed with Rosamund Hodge’s debut novel. I have to say that I felt similarly about Crimson Bound, though I did think that it was significantly better executed than Cruel Beauty.

Crimson Bound is a very loose Little Red Riding Hood retelling. The Little Red Riding Hood elements are present in the novel but Rosamund Hodge takes it to a new level and makes the story original and her own. As far as taking someone else’s story and making it her own goes, Hodge gets top marks for her efforts. However, I was not really a fan of the plot or the story. As intriguing and intense as the synopsis sounds, I found the novel to be only a fraction as exciting as what was advertised. I couldn’t connect with what was happening and found the plot to be too slow in pacing. Much like Cruel Beauty, there wasn’t a lot that happened in the book and I felt that it dragged on and on. I couldn’t really get into the book until well past the halfway mark and even then, I was a bit apathetic about everything. There were some twists and turns in the book that I appreciated and I also thought that the novel had a much clearer story/plot progression than Cruel Beauty did. However, the pacing of it and some of the confusion that I felt made for a subpar reading experience.

I also was not a fan of the romance in the book. There is a strange love triangle that I was not a fan of, especially considering there was a weird love triangle in Cruel Beauty as well. But love triangle aside, I didn’t really feel any chemistry between the main character and her love interests. It all felt extremely clinical to me and came across as forced. I was looking forward to the enemies to lovers aspect of it because that’s one of my favourite romance tropes and the novel didn’t really deliver on that front. One of my biggest criticisms when it came to the romance was that the romance seemed to come out of nowhere. One minute the characters were trotting along like normal, and then the next they were realizing and proclaiming their love for each other? Not a fan.

However, Rachelle’s character saved the book for me. I loved the complexities of her character and that she wasn’t really like any other character that I had read before. I liked her good and her evil sides and her strength was really appealing to me. I loved learning about her backstory and it made me appreciate her even more.

Overall, while I did end up liking the book, I haven’t been too impressed with the two Rosamund Hodge books that I’ve read. Needless to say, I won’t be trying out any of her other releases.

Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

cruel-beautyPublisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: April 7, 2015 (originally January 28, 2014)
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Pages: 368
Goodreads || Book Depository

The romance of Beauty and the Beast meets the adventure of Graceling in a dazzling fantasy novel about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

For fans of bestselling An Ember in the Ashes and A Court of Thorns and Roses, this gorgeously written debut infuses the classic fairy tale with glittering magic, a feisty heroine, and a romance sure to take your breath away.

Betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom, Nyx has always known that her fate was to marry him, kill him, and free her people from his tyranny. But on her seventeenth birthday when she moves into his castle high on the kingdom’s mountaintop, nothing is what she expected—particularly her charming and beguiling new husband. Nyx knows she must save her homeland at all costs, yet she can’t resist the pull of her sworn enemy—who’s gotten in her way by stealing her heart.

MY THOUGHTS

3 stars

Cruel Beauty started off on a really high note but started going downhill pretty quickly for me, unfortunately. I found a lot of the book to be confusing and I wasn’t into the plot or some of the romance elements too much either.

I really loved the concept of the book but like some other reviewers, I thought the execution could have been better. I really liked the first 75 pages of the book and was really keen to see where the story was going to go but it quickly started to become kind of disappointing. There’s actually not a lot that happens in this book and I felt like I was just waiting and waiting for something to happen. There was a bit too much explanation about not much at all and I just wanted more plot. I also felt like there were some things that were kind of repetitive and I was just disappointed with how slow-moving the book was. I wasn’t a big fan of the ending and I was confused about some of the explanations, so I finished the book without really feeling like I fully understood everything. I did like that the story incorporated Greek mythology and magic into it and it was nice to be able to recognise and understand some of the references. However, I felt like there was a bit too much of it and it started to get confusing because of how much information was being thrown at me.

However, I did like the characters for the most part. I enjoyed Nyx as the main character and thought she was really interesting. I loved that she had a darker side to her and wasn’t the typical pure and kindhearted heroine, especially given that this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling. I liked her bitterness at her situation that her family have put her in and that she wasn’t afraid to show her feistiness. And I really enjoyed her relationship with Ignifex. I found myself shipping them for most of the book and I really liked the scenes that they had together. However, I can’t say that I was a big fan of how the romance played out. I didn’t like the weird love triangle situation and there was also insta-love that I didn’t really appreciate.

As a whole, the book wasn’t very enjoyable to read. It was very wordy and long-winded for what actually happened and I was disappointed with the lack of plot and the execution of what I thought was a great concept. There were too many elements that I didn’t really like and it ruined the reading experience for me even though I did power through the novel.