Saturday, February 7

Mini Reviews: The Jewel & Cruel Beauty

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.

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

Click on the covers for Goodreads page. 

“If you start wondering how this house works, you'll likely go mad. That could be amusing, I suppose. Especially if it's the kind of madness that causes you to run naked through the hallways. Do feel free to indulge in that anytime.” 

Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney tale of all time so when I see a retelling of it I feel the need to read it. Whenever I'm this excited for a book I always have a little doubt afterwards, after all, I might not have loved the book this much if I hadn't been so thrilled to read it. 

I loved the plot, it was equal parts exciting and heart-breaking. The world-building was extremely well-made, I adore how Hodge described the castle and the town. However I felt a bit disappointed about the lack of information about the Kindly Ones. They were main characters of the story but I felt like what we knew about them didn't cover half of what I wanted to know. I had a bit of a problem with the ending too, I felt like too many things happened in too little time thus it was a bit rushed. Despite these I had no other problems with the novel.

The characters were completely relatable and well-made. I loved Nyx and could understand her relationship with her sister, even though I do not have any sisters or brothers. She might have been the 'wicked sister', as she said, but I'm sure we all understood where she came from. Ignifex and Shade were both awesome characters, but I have to say I guessed the mystery easily and I'm sure others will too. 

The conflicts were well-developed, as well as the relationships. I had another problem, I felt like the relationship of Nyx and Ignifex could have developed a bit more before admitting their love towards each other. Their banter was really funny, there were so many awesome quotes that I had to write out. 

“And you would know so much about women, locked up in your castle."
"Locked up with eight wives. And sometimes I make house calls for my bargainers. There's many a lovely woman desperate enough to bargain with me." 
This idea had never occurred to me before. "You touch another woman and I'll cut your hands off," I snapped.
He looked delighted. "I thought you were afraid of hurting me.” 

Recommended to anyone who loves fairy tale retellings. 

The story idea: 4/5
The realization of the story: 4/5
The characters: 5/5
The cover: 5/5
Enjoy factor: 5/5
Final rating: 5/5

Hope is a precious thing, isn't it? And yet, we don't really appreciate it until it's gone. 

I have mixed feelings towards this book. On one hand I found it enjoyable but on the other hand I had many problems with the characters and the storyline. Let's start off by saying that I love forbidden romance but in this case it simply didn't work for me. This might be thanked to the fact that I didn't feel any real connection or chemistry between Ash and Violet, who fell madly in love after days. Days! Ash appeared at around 50% of the novel so they wouldn't even had time to really get to know each other. Meh. 

The characters were nearly all terrible, I could feel for Violet but at the same time I do agree with all those who say that we didn't get to see the true dark aspects of being a surrogate. If someone chooses to write a story about a girl who has to suffer tons, then show that suffering to us without sugarcoating because we need to see it to be able to relate to Violet. While we did see a few bad things happening to her the main part of the story consisted of Violet not having to do anything. Being a surrogate is terrible but, come on tell us why! In details if possible. 

Next to all the characters being huge clichés, there was no character development whatsoever. And did I mention that every single character seemed to make the most terrible decisions? Violet and Ash were so careless that I'm surprised they didn't get caught right after starting this relationship. Violet was so immature that you would never guess that she had to meet with dark aspects of life so soon in her life. 

The world building was nothing special, it was exactly what I would expect from a weak dystopian novel. The plot could have been excited if only it hadn't been so freaking predictable. Next to this it didn't contain any real information either, it was never revealed why only the poor girls have the special abilities, and we never really get to know anything about these abilities. 

At this point I'm not sure if I want to recommend it to anyone. Let's just say, read it if you're interested. If you don't take a close look it's pretty enjoyable. I gave 4 stars to it at first soo.

The story idea: 3/5
The realization of the story: 2/5
The characters: 1/5
The cover: 5/5
Enjoy factor: 3/5
Final Rating: 3/5


  1. Both books have eye-candy covers! *u* I read CB last 2013 and I did enjoy it. I agree with you that the plot was awesome as well as the characters. It was a fantastic retelling for me, but I did have some quibbles :D Oooops, The Jewel doesn't sound that promising :/ Great reviews! <3

    1. Yes! I'm glad you enjoyed it, even though you found some faults in it. As I said even I'm not sure I'd have loved it this much if I were in a grumpy mood haha. It's really not, plus many people say it's The Hunger Games and The Selection mixed together, which is at least partly true.
      Thanks! <3

  2. I can see where you are coming from with The Jewel as it's sort of a book that can suit one person but not another. With me however, I loved loved this book, the plotline I was really intrigued with, and character didn't bother me so much as I was more interested in the story itself. Cruel Beauty however, wasn't for me at all. I seem to be very picky when it comes to retelling and sadly I DNF-d it! Which I hate doing. Great mini- reviews! :)

    1. I guess we had had the total opposite opinion on these books then. I'm glad you enjoyed The Jewel, I'll definitely continue on with the series, and I'm hoping I'll enjoy the next book more. I can't believe you hated Cruel Beauty :(. I'm usually a picky retelling reader but this really did work out for me. You must really hated it if you chose to DNF it, I know what it feels like not to want to DNF anything.
      Thanks! :D

  3. I'm glad you liked Cruel Beauty! I enjoyed it for the most part, too, but the ending was a little off for me. That, and I thought it was weird how Ignifex was kinda like, split into two people. I almost felt like it was unnecessarily complicated. But her prose was beautiful and I love Beauty and the Beast, so it was a hit for me. I can't wait for Crimson Bound!

    Brittany @

    1. Yes, the ending left me wanting more, and not exactly in a good way. I wasn't too grossed out by Ignifex being swept into two but I'm sad we never got the chance to actually see his two selves together. I mean in the end we barely had time to understand what was happening and then bumm end of the novel. Me either.

  4. YAYYY<3 Isn't Cruel Beauty soo amazing?! I'm glad you loved it too! From the cover, romance, and the plot overall is was quite good - I hope the next installment is even better than the next one. Thank you for sharing. Lovely review! x Benish | Feminist Reflections

    1. I loved it sooo much! I hope so too, I'll be so freaking disappointed if it doesn't live up to my expectations. Thanks! :)


Your comments are what keep us going so we take the time to reply to each and every one you leave for us. We'll always try our best to visit your blogs and leave a comment for you in return. :)