Monday, October 27, 2014

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Image via Goodreads
Title: Cruel Beauty
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Release Date: January 28th, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Bought
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Fairy tale retelling
Purchase link: Book Depository


Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was raised to marry a monster.

Nyx was due to be married to the Gentle Lord, evil ruler of the kingdom of Arcadia and king of demons, upon reaching the age of seventeen. Her father had made a bargain with the Gentle Lord so that his wife would be able to conceive children. In return, Nyx's father promised to have one of his twin daughters married to the Gentle Lord. As her father favoured her twin sister, Astraia more, he had chosen Nyx to be the sacrifice. Since the age of 9, Nyx had been told of her fate and was trained to kill her future husband. 

Cruel Beauty is a Beauty and the Beast retelling. At some point of the story, I could see traces of other fairy tales blended into the plot. Take Rumpelstiltskin for example- the Gentle Lord informed Nyx on the first day of their marriage to call him Ignifex but would ask that she guess his real name every night. Guess it right and she would be set free from the castle, guess it wrong and she would die.

Nyx is such a real character. She's angry at her father for not loving her enough, angry and jealous of Astraia for being the favourite child and not having to go through what Nyx was fated to. Nyx is human and flawed and I like that in a character. 

Oh, Ignifex, how I fell for you! There's a love triangle going on in the story for a while. In the beginning, I was definitely rooting for Shade, the shadow but found myself falling for Ignifex as the story progresses. He leaves Nyx in peace and doesn't force her into doing anything that she's uncomfortable with. Well, there is that one time when he locked her in a room where he kept all his eight dead wives in... But, really, he's a nice guy. He loves Nyx and has accepted her for who she is as a person. 

Towards the end of the story, there's this one scene which I nearly cried reading. Nyx and Ignifex held on to each other as swarms of demons encircled and attacked them. They didn't let each other go and they know that as long as they're together, they will be fine. That is sad and beautiful at the same time.

I'm a sucker for romance and this is a well-written love story. I absolutely enjoyed it! Cruel Beauty has officially secured a spot on my favourites shelf on Goodreads. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

My first solo road trip!

After morning lecture today, I decided to take an impromptu road trip uptown. This solo road trip started out great! The radio station was playing my kind of music, the view of mountains in front of me is breathtaking and I was feeling pretty good about myself.

Took this pic while waiting for the traffic light.

Of course, the picture I took above didn't really do the mountains justice. The roads that I took were long and narrow with only a  few traffic lamps in the way. There were several times during my drive when I'm tempted to just stop my car in the middle of the road to take pictures of the mountains but knew I couldn't. It was at that moment that I had an epiphany that life doesn't stop for anyone. I just need to keep moving forward even if I'm clueless about what lies ahead for me. 

My first stop: KPG. Telaga Air.
I honestly have no idea how I reached this place but I made it here anyway! I do, however, have a vague memory of visiting this place once with my family. 

My next stop: Kubah National Park
I made a very brief stop at Kubah National Park which isn't far from my first destination. I really wanted to explore the jungle trails there but my ballet flats isn't exactly suitable for this kind of activity. Also, I don't dare go jungle trekking by myself. Oh well, there's always next time.

I then decided to drive to the beach, thinking that it would be the perfect destination to mark the end of my solo road trip. What I didn't expect was for me to get lost along the way... I pretty much had no idea how to get there. Anyway, I made some changes to my plan and drove downtown to a mall (heading back to modern civilisation) and bought myself ice-cream to celebrate this occasion before making my way home.

Driving for hours even with the company of good music is still very tiring. I am physically exhausted but I don't regret taking this road trip in whatsoever way.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody

Image via Goodreads
Title: 52 Reasons to Hate My Father
Author: Jessica Brody

Release Date: July 3rd, 2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source: Borrowed
Genre: YA
Purchase Link: Book Depository


Being America's favorite heiress is a dirty job…but someone's gotta do it.

Lexington Larrabee has never had to work a day in her life. After all, she's the heiress to the multi-billion-dollar Larrabee Media empire. And heiresses are not supposed to workBut then again, they're not supposed to crash brand-new Mercedes convertibles into convenience stores on Sunset Boulevard either.

Which is why, on Lexi's eighteenth birthday, her ever-absent, tycoon father decides to take a more proactive approach to her wayward life. Every week for the next year, she will have to take on a different low-wage job if she ever wants to receive her beloved trust fund. But if there's anything worse than working as a maid, a dishwasher, and a fast-food restaurant employee, it's dealing with Luke, the arrogant, albeit moderately attractive, college intern her father has assigned to keep tabs on her.

In Jessica Brody's hilarious "comedy of heiress" about family, forgiveness, good intentions, and best of all, second chances, Lexi learns that love can be unconditional, money can be immaterial, and regardless of age, everyone needs a little saving. And although she might have fifty-two reasons to hate her father, she only needs one reason to love him.

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

52 Reasons to Hate My Father was a fun read. But did it blow my mind away? No. I just felt that it could've been better.

Have you ever watched book trailers before? Well, lemme just say that the reason I picked up this book is because I thoroughly enjoyed watching its book trailer. I felt as if I'm watching a movie trailer instead of a book trailer. If you don't mind some spoilers, you can go check out that book trailer here.

Since I knew who Lexi's love interest was before I even started reading the book, thanks to the book trailer, (and I'm gonna spoiler you now) I was expecting Lexi and Luke to slowly form a special chemistry from the very beginning. I'm kinda disappointed actually. In my opinion, they don't really have any chemistry at all. Their first kiss left a lot to be desired since Lexi only kissed him because she was, what- drunk or just trying to distract herself from her ex-bf?

I found myself hoping that Lexi would develop feelings for Rolando- her colleague from one of the 52 jobs she had to take up over the course of a year. I like Rolando's character more than Luke's. Of course, that did not happen.

Lexi's relationship with her dad was strained. He was always working and was never home. Her dad frustrates me at times. I mean, c'mon dude! Can't you even talk to your daughter yourself instead of having someone else deliver your message for you?? Having said that, I don't buy the excuse for his behaviour- that he isolated himself from his family because of his wife's death? I just felt that he could've tried harder to be there for his kids. 

Also, I felt that Lexi's relationship with her brothers and her best friends could have been explored further.

Anyway, I still enjoy the story which was at times funny. My favourite part of it all would be reading about what happened in her jobs.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

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Title: Attachments 
Author: Rainbow Rowell

Release Date: February 2nd, 2012
Publisher: Orion            
Source: Bought
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Purchase Link: Book Depository


It's 1999 and the internet is still a novelty. At a newspaper office, two colleagues, Beth and Jennifer, e-mail back and forth, discussing their lives in hilarious details, from love troubles to family dramas. And Lincoln, a shy IT guy responsible for monitoring e-mails, spends his hours reading every exchange.

At first their e-mails offer a welcome diversion, but the more he reads, the more he finds himself falling for one of them. By the time Lincoln realises just how head-over-heels he is, it's too late to introduce himself.

After a series of close encounters, Lincoln eventually decides he must follow his heart... and find out if there is such a thing as love before first sight.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Attachments is not my favourite Rainbow Rowell novel but it was still an enjoyable read. Compared to Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, this book didn't do much for me. I mean, sure the premise of the story is really interesting. However, I got kinda bored with the slow progress of the plot development. 

I don't know if it's just me, but when I first started this book, I'd pictured Lincoln as this geeky  guy with a small frame. When Beth wrote in her email to Jennifer that Lincoln is actually this big, muscular guy, Lincoln suddenly turned into Kellan Lutz in my mind. 

[Spoilers Ahead]

I kept waiting for Lincoln to finally meet Beth and actually strike up a conversation with her. That only happened towards the VERY end of the book. Anyway, true to Rainbow Rowell's style, Attachments oozes sweetness. However, there aren't many aww-worthy moments for me. 

I find Lincoln a somewhat relatable character (not as relatable as I find Cath from Fangirl)- throughout the story, he's figuring out who he is and what he actually wants in life. When he actually started making changes in his life, I find myself cheering for him as I do want to see him succeed and be happy. 

The story ended a little abruptly for me. In fact, I actually thought my copy of Attachments was missing a couple pages. I need more pages, more evidence to convince me that Beth is in love with Lincoln.