Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

BLOG“They said that love was terrifying and tender, wild and sweet, and none of it made any sense. But now I knew that every mad word was true.”

Nyx has lived for many years knowing her fate. Betrothed to the evil ruler of the kingdom, once she turns seventeen she is to marry and move into his castle, far from her family and everything she holds dear. She is intent on carrying out a plan to kill him and free the kingdom once and for all. But once she is behind the castle walls nothing is as she had imagined. The mysteries of the kingdom begin to compound and more questions arise. Most perplexing of all is her charming new husband and fairly soon she is uncertain of what the truth is and who she can trust. She knows that her kingdom depends on her defeating the sworn enemy she can’t help but be drawn to. And the longer she stays, the more difficult her mission becomes.

“If one of us had to die, it ought to be the one with poison in her heart.”

I love fairy tale retellings, Greek myth retellings, basically any new spin on a well-told tale. Cruel Beauty is a blend of a Beauty and the Beast retelling and Greek mythology, which I found intriguing. The novel creates a magical yet eerie atmosphere that is compelling. As the main character, Nyx is strong and complex while the villain proves to be witty and beguiling. Initially I was drawn to the story, however as it progressed it started to feel somewhat meandering and difficult to follow. I love the idea of what the novel tries to achieve but much of it was confusing, particularly the ending, but by then I was truly disconnected from what was happening. Thinking about it, I feel that the writing style is perhaps just not for me. Absolutely a good option for fans of Beauty and the Beast retellings, unfortunately it did not work for me.

The Many Reading Moods of Isolation

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“The first thing that reading teaches us is how to be alone.” – Jonathan Franzen

As far back as I can remember, one of my favourite ways to spend time was reading. I could happily sit for hours at a time, on my own, immersed in a new adventure, a different world. As an adult, reading became a relaxing pastime, a break from the demands and worries of the day, a calming exercise for a busy mind. A couple of months ago when the world shifted, and the foundation of the things in my life I believed to be solid altered, I was left with a great deal of spare time. Many hours of the day to be filled. In theory, this would seem pretty ideal to a fairly introverted bookworm, but that has not been the case. Everyday has been different and everyday has brought a new mix of emotions that act as a reminder of the uncertainty and fragility of this time we live in. So there have been days when reading has been relaxing, when it has been entertaining and fun, providing a much needed blurring of reality. And there have been days where it has felt impossible to focus. Continue reading “The Many Reading Moods of Isolation”

The Hercule Poirot Reading List: Five Little Pigs

BLOG“What are you going to do?”
“I am going to visit these five people – and from each one I am going to get his or her own story.”
Superintendent Hale sighed with a deep melancholy.
He said: “Man, you’re nuts! None of their stories are going to agree! Don’t you grasp that elementary fact? No two people remember a thing in the same order anyway. And after all this time! Why, you’ll hear five accounts of five separate murders!
“That,” said Poirot, “is what I am counting upon. It will be very instructive.”

Anytime I have trouble focusing on reading, I grab an Agatha Christie mystery to get back in the swing of things. This time around I picked up Five Little Pigs, and it was the perfect book and the perfect time to read it. I quickly became immersed in the mystery and could not put it down until all the answers were revealed.

In Five Little Pigs, the daughter of a woman convicted of murder asks Hercule Poirot to find out the truth regarding her deceased mother’s case. It is sixteen years after the fact, and having been just a child when the crime occurred, she remembers little and wants the facts set straight as she embarks on her own future. Poirot decides to take on the case, carefully interviewing those involved, with the focus on five main suspects who bring to mind an old nursery rhyme:

Philip Blake (the stockbroker) who went to market; Meredith Blake (the amateur herbalist) who stayed at home; Elsa Greer (the three-time divorcee) who had roast beef; Cecilia Williams (the devoted governess) who had none; and Angela Warren (the sister) who cried ‘wee wee wee’ all the way home. Continue reading “The Hercule Poirot Reading List: Five Little Pigs”

The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

BLOG“Kaz leaned back. ‘What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?’
‘Knife to the throat?’ asked Inej.
‘Gun to the back?’ said Jesper.
‘Poison in his cup?’ suggested Nina.
‘You’re all horrible,’ said Matthias.”

Six of Crows was one of those books that sat on my bookshelf for a while. Purchased amidst the praise and rave reviews, and even though I was eager to experience the story for myself, the reading mood was never quite right. Recently, however, when I saw that a friend was going to read it, I finally grabbed it off my bookshelf and dove in. I do love a good heist story, so the premise of this one completely had my attention: Kaz, a leader of one of gangs of the city of Ketterdam is offered an opportunity that would bring him immense wealth, but the deadly and near impossible heist requires a skilled crew of individuals. Being a skilled and resourceful criminal himself, he knows just the people he will need to achieve the impossible. What we get is a team of compelling characters that makes this such a page-turning read:

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. Continue reading “The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo”

The Future Is Bright: Five Books I Am Looking Forward To

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I am not usually one to have lists of upcoming books or do intensive research into yearly releases. However, I do like to keep an eye on new books by authors that I have read and enjoyed in the past. And from time to time I get swept up in the hype of a new release that I am all too eager to read. This past week I kept coming across announcements for books that made me so happy I felt the need to share my excitement, all in a tidy little list. 🙂 These are my top five most anticipated releases (in order of release date): Continue reading “The Future Is Bright: Five Books I Am Looking Forward To”