Cinder – Cyborg Cinderella Retelling

I love fairytale re-tellings. The idea of a Cinderella Cyborg was just too good to pass up! (And bonus points because it’s first draft was written during NaNoWriMo!)

11235712GOODREADS SUMMARY: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

I loved this book! The setting was fascinating, and I loved how it deviated from the original Cinderella story we all know and love and put a whole new twist on every single detail (the carriage, the dress, the shoe).

I loved the character of Cinder (and Iko was too cute!). She was so rebellious, but she cared so much about Peony (one of her stepsisters). Cinder’s transformation during the course of the book was subtle, but she redefined her entire reason for being. I did see the big reveal at the end coming (it’s YA, it’s kinda predictable), but the lead-up was mind-blowing.

Let’s take a moment to look at Leveena. She’s the Lunar Queen/Ultimate Evil Villain in this series. Her powers are terrifying! She can make you see whatever she wants, do whatever she orders of you and generally just control everything (though it doesn’t work through computers/TV screens, etc.). I’m so excited to learn more about her and her evil plans to control all of Earth.

It’s refreshing to find a book that isn’t centered in the USA and uses a well known location like Beijing as it’s backdrop. I found that the world worked so well with that backdrop and the architecture and general feel for the world really made the story come alive.

5stars

About the Author: Marissa Meyer – I live in Tacoma, Washington, with my fiancé and our two cats. In addition to my slight obsession with books and writing, I’m big on road-tripping, wine-tasting, and hunting for antiques. I’m represented by Jill Grinberg.

CINDER, my debut novel, is a futuristic re-envisioning of Cinderella in which Cinder is a cyborg mechanic.

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

I was so ridiculously excited to read this book! Red Queen was amazing, though I may have set my expectations a little high for it’s sequel.

Glass Sword.jpgNOTE: This review will probably contain spoilers from Red Queen. If you have not read the first book in this series, you should consider reading Red Queen first, then reading my review of Glass Sword.

The book starts exactly where Red Queen ended, and includes a fast paced escape/chase. Maybe it was because I hadn’t had a chance to reread Red Queen before I picked up Glass Sword, but it seemed slow and somewhat lagging for the first quarter. I enjoyed it, but ultimately that first quarter/third seemed like a lot of exposition on basic information and generally reminding me that everything in this world is going wrong.

Mare was probably my least favorite character in this book, which is surprising because I liked her in Red Queen. She was so… wishy-washy. She was strong, but she wasn’t. She was weak, but she wasn’t. She’d come up with a plan, but she’d just be swept along by whatever everyone else was doing. She was a walking, talking contradiction and I just couldn’t bring myself to care very much.

I’m not sure what was going on with Cal and Mare. They would be going for a few paragraphs towards strengthening their relationship, or even just being friends and then BOOM they hate each other and aren’t speaking to each other. It was also frustrating that they didn’t care what anyone else thought of their relationship, but didn’t bother to argue when people made major (though from their prospective, logical) assumptions about them.

The last quarter when they finally break into the prison and release everyone was by far the best part of the book. I flew through it and it felt like an entirely different book. That was what I thought all of Glass Sword would be, but alas, it seems to suffer from the sagging middle. Though can we just take a moment to appreciate the ending scene? Talk about leaving it on a cliff hanger.

Overall, not nearly as good as Red Queen, but still a worthwhile read. I’m looking forward to the sequel, which is supposed to come up next year. I’ll still give it three stars because it’s still a great sequel, but I’m just not feeling these character arcs.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Victoria Aveyard – I’m a writer repped by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. I split my time between my hometown East Longmeadow, Massachusetts and Los Angeles. After graduating with a BFA in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California, I decided to try my hand at writing a novel. My debut RED QUEEN came out of the terrifying, unemployed year after college.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

This is one of those books I had a lot of trouble getting into, but on a recent cross country flight with no Internet, I managed to get through it. I’m glad I finally did read it, but it just felt like it was missing something…

61wU6cEFq6L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I felt a little cheated at the end of the novel, because this was TOTALLY not a stand alone novel as it was marketed. The final ‘resolution’ only caused more problems and did little to nothing to tie up all the loose ends flying around.

The pacing was a bit slow in paces, and I felt like I spent a little too much time watching our two main characters, Laia and Elias, debate the same things over and over in their mind without coming to any kind of resolution. Whatever shape that romance was in (not a triangle, more like a really bent line?) it felt really forced.

The characters were interesting. Laia had great potential and I was really expecting her to become this warrior by the end of the novel. Elias was a warrior/but not at the begining of the novel, but I couldn’t quite track his character development either. Their relationships to the various characters of their world was very complex, and I did enjoy that. I would have preferred to have a few of their perspectives thrown into the story as well, because I think that would have helped provide some of the alternating perspective/back story I felt it needed at times.

Can we talk about the world these characters live in for a moment? That was beautiful. I love that it had an ancient Rome vibe to it, and I could really see some of the places and culture come to life. Especially the moon festival, that was great! The divide between the Scholars and Martials was so clear cut to me and I would have loved to get more time to explore their anger towards each other and especially more about the Resistance. The creatures (Jinn, Nightbringer, etc) were INCREDIBLE. They felt so perfect in the world, and were so much more interesting than the standard fantasy novel’s dragon or witch. I think the author excelled in the world building department.

3stars

If my library gets the second book in and I’m not reading anything, I may pick it up. It left on such a huge cliff hanger, part of me is hoping that the second book holds the resolution and answers I was looking for from this one. Ultimately, I wasn’t terribly impressed by the story or characters, just the world they lived in.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

Throne of Glass – Pure Awesomeness

I have a slight confession. I read all four Throne of Glass books in three days, and I regret none of it. 🙂 WARNING: There are a few ‘spoilers’ sprinkled throughout this review. They aren’t glaring spoilers about who lives/dies/loves/falls/etc. They’re very vague comments that would probably be guessed by those familiar with the basics of a YA novel (love triangles, plot points, etc.)

Throne of GlassThrone of Glass follows Celaena Sardonith as she is selected by Prince Dorian to serve as the King’s Champion. Celaena (formerly known as a lot of things, including Adarlan’s Greatest Assassin) reluctantly agrees to enter a competition to win the position from a King she hates. This is the start of the first book.

There are so many funny and sweet moments sprinkled throughout this book. Just the right amount of action as we discover secrets about the Kingdom, and throughout the series, secrets about Celaena’s identity. (SPOILER: She has a great destiny.) Be warned, there is some graphic violence as the assassin… er, assassinates? There’s blood and gore throughout the series, and obviously, several murders/deaths. It was a little startling at first since I’ve never really read something with lots of blood, but it wasn’t too bad.

The supporting characters are amazing. Let’s talk about the guys first:

Prince Dorian and Captain Choal Westfall (I thought it was pronounced Cole, but turns out it’s Kale?) have been friends for a long time, and have some great backstory. I don’t agree with the results of the would-be love-triangle until about book three, when we add at least one, possibly two and make it a love square or pentagon. Both are not only great individuals, but their personalities work really well together.

Nehemia is a visiting Princess who soon discovers some of Celaena’s many secrets. I wish she had more time within the series (SPOILER: She is not in the third or fourth for reasons made clear in book two) because she is such a good friend to Celaena. #BBFGoals

The plot spins itself into more than just a simple competition, leaving all the characters completely different, and the world changed forever (I’m not even kidding), spanning across all corners of their world, and stumbling upon some of the most amazing and coolest stuff ever.

Just go read it. You’ll love it!

5stars

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Sarah J. Maas is the author of the New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling Throne of Glass series–Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, and the series’ prequel, The Assassin’s Blade–as well as the New York Times and USA Today bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses. She wrote the first incarnation of the Throne of Glass series when she was just sixteen, and it has now sold in twenty-three languages. A Court of Mist and Fury, the second book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, will release on May 3rd, 2016.

A New York native, Sarah currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hamilton College in 2008 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Religious Studies.

 

Star Wars: Lost Stars – Hope for Star Wars is Found!

So everyone kinda knows that I’ve had a pretty bad time finding some good Star Wars books since the release of the new books… The MG books wasn’t bad, but they were short and left me wanting more.Lost-Stars-Cover.jpg Aftermath was a disaster. Heir to the Jedi wasn’t much better. Then I heard about Lost Stars. A YA novel that takes place across about fifteen of the most important years of the Rebellion. Sure, I could get on board with that. I am very happy to say that Lost Stars is TOTALLY worth being a part of Star Wars cannon.

This books follows two main characters (with alternating view points). Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree. The book covers a large portion of their life, from when they first met Grand Admiral Tarkin as children, to training together to be Imperial Pilots. After graduating from the Academy, they split in different directions, and everything starts spiraling out of control. They lose close friends with the destruction of Alderaan and the Death Star. Thane chooses to difect and eventually finds himself a member of the Rebel Alliance. Ciena becomes a Commander in the Imperial Starfleet. Yes, this is a romance, and they struggle with their feelings to each other and their commitments, but this is so much more. This is what every Star Wars novel should be… Fun. Continue reading “Star Wars: Lost Stars – Hope for Star Wars is Found!”

Illusions of Fate: A Historical Fantasy

Illusions of FateI found this book, and was excited because I thought it was just a fantasy book. Then after reading about a page, I realized it was a historical fantasy book. Mind = blown.

Jessamin, our heroine, moves to the country of Albion to attend college. She works at a hotel while she struggles to survive and assure her mother that she’s doing just fine on her own. One night, she runs into our hero, Finn, and things only get awesome from there. Finn’s a magician, but can use real magic to transport, heal, and fight against evil. Jessamin’s been marked though by the mysterious and dangerous Lord Downpike, and is in real danger that not even Finn can save her from. Continue reading “Illusions of Fate: A Historical Fantasy”

Star Wars: Weapon of a Jedi

Weapon of a JediYou know, I’m starting to think that the fate of Star Wars books really lies in the YA and middle grade books. This one was fantastic, and part of a series of three, focusing on Han Solo, Princess Leia and of course, Luke Skywalker.

In this book, Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, and C-3PO are sent on a mission by Mon Mothma. Along the way, they are forced to land on a mysterious world called Devaron. But the planet isn’t all it appears to be, and Luke can sense the call of the Force from some nearby ruins. This book does an excellent job of bridging the gap between episodes IV and V, giving us a glimpse into how Luke Skywalker began his journey as a Jedi, and of course, his first lightsaber battle. Continue reading “Star Wars: Weapon of a Jedi”

Star Wars: Smugler’s Run A Han Solo And Chewbacca Adventure

Star-Wars-Smugglers-RunYou know, I’m starting to think that the fate of Star Wars books really lies in the YA and middle grade books. This one was fantastic, and part of a series of three, focusing on Han Solo, Princess Leia and of course, Luke Skywalker.

In this book, Han Solo and his faithful sidekick Chewbacca are on a mission for the Rebel Alliance. Han still isn’t thrilled with the Rebel’s, but Chewie seems to convince Han to help them out. Their mission is to extract a Rebel Operative who is being hunted by the Imperials. Needless to say Han and Chewie find themselves in a few scuffles with the Imperials where their whit and blasters are required. Continue reading “Star Wars: Smugler’s Run A Han Solo And Chewbacca Adventure”

Star Wars: Moving Target A Princess Leia Adventure

Moving TargetYou know, I’m starting to think that the fate of Star Wars books really lies in the YA and middle grade books. This one was fantastic, and part of a series of three, focusing on Han Solo, Princess Leia and of course, Luke Skywalker.

In this book, Princess Leia still struggles with her own desires and the fate of the Rebel Alliance after the events of Episode V. Luke Skywalker makes a brief appearance, but this is really about Leia. Since she is such a well-known member of the Rebel Alliance, she’s forced to constantly move and hide from the Imperials. She comes up with a plan for a decoy mission to draw the Empire’s attention so the Rebel Fleet can target the second Death Star.

Meanwhile, Leia is struggling with her own desires to go after Han and rescue him. She’s torn because of her duty to the Rebel Alliance, and can’t exactly abandon them to go save him. Ultimately, we realize what a force Mon Mothma has been in her life to help her understand her duty.

The book is meant for Middle Graders, but I think it has enough to hold the attention of Adults as well. The book was short, and was mostly character driven. I really enjoyed Leia’s team. I knew that she would make it through their trials, but there were some nail biting moments for the rest of them.

4stars

I don’t think I’ll be returning to the ‘adult side’ of the Star Wars publishing world any time soon. I like it here with the YA and MG books where characters are genuine, stories are filled with adventure and suspense, and I never feel like the story is forced.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cecil Castellucci. Small Girl. Big Party. Author of the novels Stone in the Sky, Tin Star, Odd Duck, The Year of the Beasts, First Day on Earth, Rose Sees Red, Grandma’s Gloves, Boy Proof, The Queen of Cool, Beige and The Plain Janes/Janes in Love. Former indie rocker known as Nerdy Girl and Cecil Seaskull. DIY filmmaker. enfant terrible. modern 21st century flapper.

My 2016 TBR

So it’s that time of year when I usually get into a reading slump wondering what I’m going to read this year, and thinking about all the books I should have finished/read in 2015 (or the ones that I STILL haven’t gotten around to!)

Here are ten books on my TBR that I haven’t read, and feel really insanely guilty about not having read… and for some, not finishing.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwaab – So many people have been talking about what a wonderful fantasy novel this is, but I haven’t even picked it up yet. So many people have been praising the world building and leading characters, moving it pretty high on my TBR list.

Throne Of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – I know. I know. I started this book at the beginning of the year in the middle of a slump, got about half way through the first chapter and just stopped. I just couldn’t get into it for whatever reason, and feel insanely guilty that I didn’t push through. This will be the year that I finish (at least) the first book.

An Ember in The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – Another one I read during a short slump, that expired from my device before I could finish. It’s back on hold (there’s like a dozen people ahead of me though), and I wanna read it. I was in the second or third chapter and just starting to understand the world and story.

Legend by Marie Lu – I have all three books on my bookshelf and have barely opened it. (I skimmed the back cover description, and said “I should read this next” and didn’t. Shame on me.) Someone described it as Les Miserables (I love the movie/play) set in a dystopian world which got me very excited.

Percy Jackson and the Heros of Olympus by Rick Riordan – Watched both of the movies, but never bothered to read the books. I don’t know why, but this bothers me slightly. Somehow, not reading any of the books in this series is more disturbing to me than the fact that I never read..

Harry Potter by JK Rowling – I’m like half way through the first book! I promise, it’s on my TBR. But having watched the movies first, it’s really hard because I know what’s coming and somehow find it impossible to be surprised.

Alligent by Veronica Roth – I read the first two in the Divergent Trilogy, but I just can’t seem to get through the third book (that may have something to do with the fact that it was spoiled for me, but I digress…). With the movie coming out this year, I’m determined to have read it before I see the movie.

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch – I accidentally got Ice Like Fire, opened the book and realized it was the second book in the series. Whoops. Anyway, the other is now on hold and I am itching to get it in. It sounds very similar to Red Queen (which was AMAZING) so I can’t wait to read it!

Papertowns by John Green – I’m about a third through this one! I remember really enjoying it, but when I got back from the trip I was reading it on, it kinda got misplaced. I recently found it with the bookmark still in it. I plan to finish it this year.

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer – I’ve been looking forward to this one for almost a year, but strangely enough haven’t read it yet. I mean really, who can resist a Cinderella story with cyborgs?

That’s a peek at my TBR for 2016. What about you? What books are you planning on reading in 2016, or need to finally get around to? Tell me in the comments below!