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The Gist: Following the aftermaths of her sister’s death, we find Lennie—clarinettist, poem- and lasagna-maker, and Heathcliff-obsessed—still in sorrow. Enter Toby—her sister’s boyfriend and still grieving. With him, Lennie feels an overwhelmingly sense of completeness she lost when her sister died. Enter Joe Fontaine—musical genius, eyelash-batter, and grin-abundant. With him, she feels happy and new, and makes her believe she could start again.

As she struggles to continue living after her sister’s demise, Lennie will often do wrong things, sometimes right ones, and always commit both passionately.

Thoughts:  

1. Writing was… extraordinary! It was remarkably raw and gut-wrenching. Nelson writes in a way that the reader would feel the character’s sentiments even ten times more than them.  I want to quote the whole book.

2. I liked Lennie Walker’s character. I liked how sometimes perceptive and open-minded she was and other times selfish. Perhaps even her overthinking I like. I liked how she was the right amount of messed up and the right amount of sane. At first, I actually thought she was mentally ill and it almost put me off. But then, as I stayed in her head a little longer, I started to understand her and even wholly admired her line of thought. 

3. The only thing I disliked was how the story’s pacing was slow-going at first. (The book is divided in two parts). In the first part, I felt the story dragging. Reading it felt tedious, and I couldn’t even feel the romance. But as it progressed and things became more tricky, I couldn’t stop reading. Things started spiralling out of control, and maybe that’s just how I liked it. I identified with Lennie and became engrossed with the romance. Believe me, the love’s contagious. I became eager to know how it’ll end up. And bam! There was no other way to end it that magnificently and perfect than how Jandy Nelson did.

4. The format of the novel was also nice. I enjoyed reading the poems/journal-like entries that were squeezed in between chapters. They were so deep and reflective and thought-provoking.

Overall: The Sky is Everywhere is a riddle of sorts: hard to decipher in the beginning, profound in the end. The Sky is Everywhere is as heart-breaking as it is hilarious.
 

Favorite quote: “And then he smiles, and in all the places around the globe where it's night, day breaks.” 
Rating: 4 stars


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31 January 2014

Cruel Beauty
by Rosamund Hodge
Genre: Young Adult - Fantasy
Published: January 28, 2014 by Balzer + Bray
Source: ARC from HarperCollins
Author's website | Goodreads
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.


A dark, gritty retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a stroke of genius that confronts the true nature of love, family, and the things one is willing to sacrifice for both.

The book’s plot was utterly irresistible, and I have no shame in saying that I fell in love with it. It was mind-blowing. Cruel Beauty was a fruit of careful and painstaking plotting. The whole story itself was a labyrinth filled with mystery, secrets, lies, and deceit. There was no scarcity of twists and revelations that would leave your mind shredded into pieces—because of how brilliant it was structured. I really couldn’t say much without giving away something, and this is one book you can’t afford to be spoiled.

Another good thing about this book: it wasn’t pretentious. I love the dark and sinister mood of the story, and how it tackled the evil nature of humans. Nyx, the main character, wasn’t the goody-goody kind. There was hatred and malice in her heart. But so what? The author still developed her character into someone who was able to love—and selflessly at that—despite the stain of malevolence that poisoned her heart. Same goes for Ignifex, the Gentle Lord, who proved himself a very complex character. I think the best thing the author did was bring out the good within these two characters who started off as spiteful and vindictive.

The romance was so affecting and heart-rending. It almost got me to tears because of the unconditional love the characters showed for each other. I’ve never seen a love that raw and selfless and valiant. It broke my heart just reading the scene when
,
and all the other scenes following that as well.

I also admire the underlying themes in the book. How much (and what things) are you willing to bargain to attain your desires? Is sin truly evil if it was done for good? Is love still love if it’s selfish? Where does being evil begin and where does it end? Where do you draw the line between love and morality? What is more wrong: to love someone you hated or to hate someone you loved? What is the true price of redemption?

Cruel Beauty isn’t a fairytale. It’s a stark portrayal of what evil lies inside our souls, and what we must do to defeat it.

Fusing favorite bedtime stories—Beauty and the Beast, Bluebeard, Rumplestiltskin—and the rich history of Greece and its lush mythology, Cruel Beauty is a daring debut novel that crosses the line of conventional YA lit. Rosamund Hodge is an author to look out for. 

Favorite quote: "If you desired someone, if he comforted you, if you thought he might leech the poison out of your heart, was that love? Or only desperation?
Rating: 5 stars
Links: Amazon / The Book Depository






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