Tag: awesome heroine

Cruel Beauty

Cruel Beauty

best book EVAH

Well, I didn’t end up reviewing Deathless, mainly because it was so beautifully flawed that it defied description (I feel like people wouldn’t have had much time for BDSM and two-timing during the Siege of St. Petersburg. Too cold. Too hungry. But I wasn’t there, so what do I know?). Also, college fried my brain, so yeah. There never was a promise I could keep.

However, post-finals, I was looking for subpar brain candy to destress, and I found it in Cruel Beauty, courtesy of Rosamund Hodge–except it wasn’t subpar! Who says brain candy can’t also be art?

Lots of kitties

First of all, the setting is gorgeous. I adore gorgeous settings, probably because I can’t write them at all. Nyx Triskelion (cool name) lives in Arcadia, which is…a dome? made of parchment? I was never really clear on how to picture it (notoriously bad at following descriptive details, sorry), but it sounded cool.

The wavy, golden rays of the sun looked like a gilt illumination in one of Father’s old manuscripts; they glinted, but their light was less painful than a candle. Once the main body of the sun was risen over the hillside, it would be uncomfortable to look upon, but no more so than the frosted glass of a Hermetic lamp. For most of the light came from the sky itself, a dome of cream veined with darker cream, like parchment, through which light shone as if from a distant fire. Dawn was no more than the brighter zone of the sky rising above the hills, the light colder than at noon but otherwise the same.

Arcadia (land Nyx lives in) has been closed off from the world, seemingly forever, with only a Gentle Lord in a ruined castle to rule it. Many have theories as to why. Unfortunately, the Gentle Lord is excellent at making bargains, but they don’t always work out so well for the bargainers. There’s always a misinterpreted clause, like the one Nyx’s father falls prey to. Wife will give birth to two healthy daughters? Excellent. Wife will die in the process? Oh.

So Arcadians hate the Gentle Lord because he’s a ruthless haggler who tells tons of lies by omission. Also Nyx’s dad promised him one of his daughters. OH. Instead of beating himself up over not totally owning his Dad of the Year award, like maybe he should, he spends Nyx’s entire childhood training her as a magical weapon so that she can take her future husband down. No, really. DAD OF THE YEEEEEAAARRR.

why junshan why
Me whenever Nyx’s daddy was remotely mentioned in any way.

To make matters worse, the Gentle Lord’s hotness is in dispute.

I knew that the Gentle Lord was different enough from other demons that people could look on him and not go mad. But some said he had the mouth of a snake, the eyes of a goat, and the tusks of a boar, so that even the bravest could not refuse his bargains. Others said he was inhumanly beautiful, so that even the wisest were beguiled by him. Either way, I couldn’t imagine letting him touch me.

*checks genre* Yeah, let’s go with inhumanly beautiful. I know that it can be hard to marry an evil demon Prince, but I think I’ve read so much of this genre that I’ve gotten a bit jaded. Honestly, I was just waiting for Nyx to fall in love with him so that we could all go home already. However. Elements kept surprising me.

For one thing, Ignifex, the demon prince in question, was more of an asshole than I expected. Also, almost zero angst over what a douchecanoe he was being, which I personally found refreshing. Maybe I’m tired of cheap angst, which is something I never thought I’d say. I don’t like cheap assholery either, but Ignifex’s reasons for acting out, if not exactly laudable, are at least understandable…ish? No spoilers, though. Also, he gets better. 🙂

Maybe what surprised me most, though, was Nyx herself. I’m sad to say that in YA, I sometimes end up reading for the hot dude of the week because heroines can be a little subpar, and I hate doing it. On the other hand, I also hate reading solely for the heroine because the hero’s terrible. Not the case here! I was able to read for both. Nyx is a QUEEN, and I cannot emphasize this enough. She doesn’t take the fate handed to her lying down, but she also doesn’t waste time on pointless rebellion or wilting sacrifice. Instead, she is quietly and murderously furious, clever enough to realize that something is horribly wrong with her family, but socially conditioned too well to reject the future planned for her. She is her people’s only hope of breaking the curse, so she meets her fate gracefully.

Fortunately, her new husband is way more interested in building card towers and eating bon-bons than being, you know, absolutely terrible. In fact, he offers something that no one else in Arcadia can give her: unconditional acceptance and love. Awww. See, not that much of an asshole. More and more, Nyx starts to doubt her mission and whether her father really knows what he’s doing (obviously not). Before this book, I never wondered what would happen if the protagonist got sick of the hero gig and kicked back with the villain for some nice bonding time and snacks, but now I guess I know.

Actual footage of Nyx and Ignifex.

Actually, if I have one criticism of this book, it’s that it briefly flirted with the abandonment of the heroic role, only to veer back in a more traditional direction. Not that the ending I got wasn’t satisfying–honestly, I probably cried a little (POST FINALS-EMOTIONS, THAT’S ALL), but I would have loved to see a world where curses aren’t broken, villains aren’t defeated, and heroines aren’t sacrificed. Oh, well. Maybe I’ll have to write one.


Siamese Mayhem finally finishes a series, or, a review of the Chemical Garden Trilogy

Chemical Garden Trilogy

One of the great tragedies of reviewing is that bad books always give me more to say. When I have an actual good book, I just can’t find the snark. Hopefully, it is possible for me to be interesting without making fun of something. However, I promise nothing. The Chemical Garden Trilogy is one of these happy few; they are the sort of books I have only good things to say about. Continue reading “Siamese Mayhem finally finishes a series, or, a review of the Chemical Garden Trilogy”

Shakespeare tramp stamps, or, a review of Unravel Me

Surprisingly, Unravel Me, by Tahereh Mafi, is…Dare I say it? Better than Shatter Me. We have less annoying makeouts with Adam, Juliette works out some of the issues she struggled with in the first book, and there’s more Warner. Who has a Shakespeare tramp stamp. And a tattoo proclaiming IGNITE, which just happens to be half the title of the third book. Adam doesn’t stand a chance. For spoilers, click on.

Continue reading “Shakespeare tramp stamps, or, a review of Unravel Me”

Fashionista dictators and the women who love….er, hate them, or, a review of Shatter Me

Now. Before we begin, you need to click here. It’s a thoughtful, tasteful song that fits one of the male leads really well (I am lying). I will let you guess which one. Ready? Okay, here we go. Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi, is a tale of Juliette, a girl with a number obsession and an inability to touch people without hurting them, Warner, a boy with a Juliette obsession and a taste for tyranny and fashion, and Adam, who’s…interesting, I guess? He has lots of symbolic tattoos. As always, spoilers ahoy.

Continue reading “Fashionista dictators and the women who love….er, hate them, or, a review of Shatter Me”

Douchelords ruin everything, or, a review of The Summoning

I was and have been in a bit of a reading slump this year, so my friend kindly lent me Kelley Armstrong’s The Summoning. All I knew going in was the main character is a friendly necromancer, and I was ready to be pleased. And I was. But also a little disappointed. Spoilers ahead.

Things that made SiameseMayhem happy

Chloe. Just Chloe. This girl is logical, she treats life like her own personal screenplay, and she wants to be a director when she grows up. It is SO nice to have a well-rounded heroine with goals who doesn’t immediately flop over when she meets her hero who may or may not have sparkly abs (not that there’s anything wrong with that. Boys have every right to sparkle). Really, this girl is amazing. Did I mention that she outlogics the annoyingly smug and stoic Derek, our hero and completely owns him? More on Derek later.

The worldbuilding and writing are excellent. The horrifying conclusion comes slowly, but enough hints are dropped to let us know that something is definitely wrong with Lyle House, the mental asylum Chloe is temporarily staying at after her mental breakdown. Or rather, what everyone thinks is a mental breakdown. In reality, Chloe’s necromancy is surfacing, and the ghosts all want a piece of the only girl who can talk to them and give their souls rest. Naturally, Chloe screams a lot, as would anyone, and is forced into a two week stay at Lyle House or the incident will go on her record. At Lyle House, she meets many interesting people, who may also have supernatural abilities.

I love this premise, because of course people’s reaction to kids who have telekinesis and sorcery and necromancy would be to lock them up. Each of the kids at Lyle House have their own stories and secrets that Chloe and the reader slowly uncover. Each character is respected by the narrative.

Things that made SiameseMayhem’s heart black with kitty rage

One word. Derek. And yes, I know, it’s a controversial opinion. But hear me out. Derek basically spends the whole book trying to tell Chloe that her ability to see ghosts is necromancy and should be embraced, not suppressed. Okay, fine. But do it in a less douchey way. Also, please don’t throw her across a room. Like, yeah, I get it, you wanted to keep her from leaving so you could tell her more about her Secret Powers TM, but if you have a history of underestimating your strength, maybe you shouldn’t grab people in the first place. Also, if you’re really going to wristgrab people, I’m sure K-drama heroes would be more than willing to teach you a few pointers, in between saving heroines and corporate takeovers.

Yes, I know you’re a werewolf with hygiene issues who just can’t heeeeelp himself. And I would consider forgiving you if you offered a better apology than

“No, excuse, like you said. You want me to stay away from you? Wish granted.”


“…Now run along and take your meds and be a good girl. Don’t worry, I’ll stay out of your way from now on. Seems like I made a mistake. A big mistake.”

Yes, Derek, I know you had an offscreen freakout, but you could show a little more respect to the person you injured. Because you’re not really apologizing to Chloe. You’re making this all about you. To provide some background, Chloe accidentally lets slip to her aunt that Derek assaulted her; Aunt is understandably furious and tells a nurse. Derek feels betrayed by this. Yes, really. I appreciate that several characters take Chloe’s assault seriously. Unfortunately, this solidarity is undermined when one of those characters turns out not-so-trustworthy.

Moreover, an indirect connection is made between Chloe and Derek’s abilities. When defending his brother, Simon’s response is,

 “…He didn’t mean to. If you saw how freaked out he was last night, you’d know that.”

Later, Chloe accidentally places dead souls back in their rotting corpses, which creates a thoroughly awful situation dead and living alike. Chloe and the ghost’s conversation goes like this:

 “I didn’t mean–”

“Oh, do you hear that, Michael? She didn’t mean it….So if I accidentally unleash a storm of hellfire on your head, it’ll be all right, as long as I didn’t really mean it?”

Chloe is now in Derek’s place, having used her powers to harm someone, except not really. Chloe literally had no idea what would happen and was trying to contact a ghost who wanted to be contacted, only to get way more contact than she intended. Derek grabbed someone despite having multiple experiences proving that this was a bad idea. Chloe, even if she did use the “I didn’t mean it” excuse, reacted with contrition, not bitterness towards her victim.

Meh. I always did like vampires better.

However, I did like one thing about Derek. He wasn’t pretty, unlike all the other Edward-clones currently running around in YA. He had acne. He had to shower a lot. I just wish he could have showed some decent remorse, instead of ruining this for me with his douchey tendencies.

Worth a read?

Yes, absolutely. The plot and characterization are top-notch, and, despite Derek mucking everything up, this remains one of my best reads of 2014 (I only read three books this year? SHHHH). With that said, I probably won’t be reading any of the next books because I’m just that petty and if there’s one thing I remember, it is a hero’s sins.

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