Review: Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5 – Levana’s Story) by Marissa Meyer

FairestIn this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Published: May 28 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Dystopian
ISBN: 9781250060556
Rating: 3.5/5

I was cautiously optimistic regarding Levana’s story. For the first three books she’s painted as an evil ruler, with no redeeming qualities, and there wasn’t much in the way of discussion regarding how she’d come to rule Luna, beyond that her sister and niece had passed away.

When the story began to unfold, I was shocked to find that Levana was actually humanized by the fact that her sister was a very vicious woman, who’d convinced Levana to burn herself – ultimately scarring her and giving reason to why she’s always veiled on Luna (and used her glamour on Earth).

The growing sympathy you come to have for Levana is, of course, later shattered by her treatment of her niece and the people she has in her inner court. The levels of manipulation and deceit that she goes to in order to remain Queen are somewhat terrifying in their own regard. Nothing is deemed ‘too far’ in the grand scheme of remaining the ruler of Luna.

A solid 4/5 stars! I wish I could go back and re-read this for the first time again.

Review: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

CressEven in the future. there are damsels in distress…

In the third installment of the Lunar chronicles, Cress, having risked everything to warn Cinder of Queen Levana’s evil plan, has a slight problem. She’s been imprisoned on a satellite since childhood and has only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress a great hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress involving Cinder, Captain Thorne, Scarlet, and Wolf goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes as a high price. Meanwhile, Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

Format: Hardcover, 552 pages
Published: Feb 4 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Dystopian
ISBN: 9780312642976

Rating:4/5

I have to admit, that I loved Cress’ story the most out of the entire series. Cress feels like the perfect Rapunzel, locked away in her ivory tower. The backstory for the main character this time around focuses on the fact that Cress is of Lunar descent, but she has no abilities – She is a shell. Throughout Cinder & Scarlet, Marissa Meyer makes a few references to the Lunar shells, and how they’re worthless to society on Luna. Parents of shells have their children taken away from them (and its assumed that they’re ‘dealt with’ – as its degrading to give birth to a shell), and they never see the child again.

Except those shells aren’t killed. They’re hidden away helping to secure Luna’s future in the universe, by any means possible, under the guise of ‘your service is valued and we will return you to Luna as a proper citizen when your time is done.”

Cress is fun and light, but not without it’s dark portions, especially when it comes to Cress’ fate as a shell and her uncertainty around the others as she grows up before the reader. I think my favourite part is how the relationship between Cress and Thorne blossoms as the novel progresses.

A solid 4/5 stars.

Movie Casting | The Darkest Minds (by Alexandra Bracken)

asIt was announced yesterday that Amandla Stenberg has been cast as 16-year-old Ruby Daly – the female protagonist in The Darkest Minds trilogy. Best known as Rue in The Hunger Games, Amandla has been gaining quite the collection of YA roles! She is set to play Maddy in ‘Everyting, Everything’ (based on the book of the same name by Nicola Yoon; Check out my review here), as well as the lead character in the movie adaptation of A.C Thomas’ ‘The Hate U Give’*, a book inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. Both movies are due out within the next 12-18 months.

Want more information on The Darkest Minds? Check out my review here! I’ll be doing a re-read later this year (or early 2017, depends on my availability) and continuing on with ‘Never Fade’ & ‘In The Afterlight’ (books 2 & 3). TDM is a 5 out of 5 star rating on Buzz On Books!

** The Hate U Give by A.C Thomas is now available for pre-order on Amazon, and is due for release in June.

Review: Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

ScarletCinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Scarlet is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles series, and introduces us to Scarlet Benoit, a young girl living with her grandmother in Rieux, France. When her grandmother suddenly disappears without a trace, Scarlet embarks on a dangerous mission to find her, no matter what the cost. The book is based on the ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ fairy tale.

When I finished Cinder and moved onto Scarlet, I have to admit that the beginning initially threw me, as I wasn’t expecting the book to be primarily about Scarlet and her adventure through the French countryside. I knew that Meyer was going to be introducing new characters along the way, but I’d expected Cinder’s tale to continue, with small portions from other characters.

Once I realized that each book would focus on new characters, with appearances from characters introduced in previous books, I fell into the book. Along the way, we meet Wolf, a shy street fighter whom saves Scarlet from herself a few times throughout the book. We follow the duo as they make their way to Paris to find her grandmother, who is believed to have important information regarding Princess Selene.

Scattered through the novel, we also catch up with Cinder, and eventually Carswell Thorne and Dr. Erland (both of which help her escape from her prison in New Beijing), as they make their way to Africa with the authorities hot on their trails, so Cinder can discover more regarding her Lunar heritage.

Throughout this book in particular, I found myself waiting for the other shoe to drop in a few instances – Wolf’s background, Cinder’s escape, the true loyalty of D. Erland and Thorne just to name a few – In some cases, the answers are provided, in others you have to wait until the next book to figure things out.

I found the book to be well-paced, but towards the end I almost found it too long in spots. I was anticipating things to happen earlier than they did, and in some cases I found that there was just too much going on, with no real progress – The book felt like it slowed down drastically about 3/4 of the way through, and never really found it’s footing again after that. There were a few key reveals near the end that lacked the build-up, because of the slow down.

Overall, I did enjoy this book, but perhaps not as much as I did Cinder. Scarlet is a fiery, strong female lead, who carries the book. She has a tendency to fly off the handle and react to things without fully thinking them through. Overall, a solid 3 out of 5 stars. This was probably my least favourite book in the series.

Review: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Cinder

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’ve known about the popularity of The Lunar Chronicles series for a long time. Frankly, I’d have to live under a rock not to know at least something about it. To my surprise, I actually had no idea that Marissa Meyer used to write Sailor Moon fanfiction, and that the entire premise behind The Lunar Chronicles, was a similar storyline to that of Sailor Moon. It was a good friend of mine who was exchanging book recommendations with me – She needed something to read when she went on mat leave, and when The Lunar Chronicles was mentioned (by her, her husband owns them as they’re both huge Sailor Moon fans), my interest was piqued.

Honestly I’m glad I picked this series up. Cinder started a bit slow for my liking, and it took a while to fully submerge myself into the world. The biggest issue I’m finding with series style books currently, is that there is a lot of world building in the first book. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it seems to detract a lot of people from wanting to read a series – Especially when you have to toss “you just need to get past the first 100 pages” into a conversation.

With that in mind, the book finds an easy pace as you do crest that 100 page mark. Cinder is a cyborg (half human, half robot/android) who was adopted by Linh Garan and brought back to New Beijing. She has an android partner named Iko who works with in the marketplace, where Cinder is known for being the best mechanic in New Beijing. When Prince Kai comes searching for help to have his personal android fixed, it thrusts Cinder on a strange path where she must contend with the fact that she is a second class citizen, due to her being part cyborg.

While Cinder tries to help to find a cure for the plague to give to her dying sister, Prince Kai must deal with the fallout of his father’s untimely death, and unyielding threats from Queen Levana of Luna, the moon colony. Cinder stumbles upon strange messages embedded in Prince Kai’s android, talking about the Lunar Princess – Princess Selene, who is believed to have died in a tragic fire when she was a child. The messages imply that the fire was a ruse, and Selene has been hiding on earth, waiting for the right moment to claim what is her birthright – the title of Queen of Luna.

Along the way, Cinder encounters Dr. Erland who opens her eyes to the lies that Levana has been feeding to not only the people of Luna, but to the people of Earth as well. His presence stirs strange feelings for Cinder as she comes to grip with the idea that her half-cyborg status, might not be the strangest thing she’s faced with.

The novel presents interesting discussion points on race and status, while weaving a complex world of intrigue and distrust. The characters are flawed, and you often find yourself questioning on which side of the impending war would they find themselves on. The writing is spectacular and you fall into the book quickly, demanding more once you turn the last page. A solid 4 out of 5 star rating.

Social Media & You

omgWhen something is released on the internet, no matter how hard you try to delete or hide it, it is there forever. Scary thought, that something you said two hours or two years ago could suddenly resurface and cause ripples in your life; you career; your friendships. But it happens. Sometimes its seemingly minor things, other times it’s something that created a lasting impact (or could if/when it resurfaces) – But chances are, if you’ve put it out on social media, someone has seen it or taken a screen-shot of the offence.

The average person can live their lives using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with little to no interaction with the larger world, and rarely run into any backlash. Authors, movie stars, reality TV stars – do not have that luxury in life.

Last May I posted about the issue regarding a 1-star review on Goodreads and how the author took it upon herself to track the reviewer down, and harass them. Even now, 14 months later, this particular incident is still making waves, and dividing authors, readers, and the publishing world.

Earlier this week, one of my favourites authors posted on Twitter about a YA author who was verbally attacking, harassing and belittling the 16-year-old author of this post. You might recognize the name of the writer, as she is the one who penned the ‘John Green, YA Authors & Rape Culture’ piece for the Huffington Post in 2015. I started reading the threads – it spawned many – with the hope that perhaps the author would see the error of her ways and apologize to the young woman for the multiple statements.

Instead, I witnessed what I can only describe as a dumpster fire of racist commentary, excuses, and an exorbitant amount of self-victimization (on the part of the YA author).

In short, I watched as this author ruined her career.

It’s a bold statement to say that she ruined her career by doing what she did, but I am not the first. Many other authors, editors, publishers, readers and reviews lashed out on Twitter for the commentary she made. What started out as commentary by the above people to defend Camryn Garrett, and the necessity of her article, turned into begging and pleading with the YA author to stop her commentary, and listen to what was being said. At one point, the author cried foul, saying her Twitter account had been hacked. At another point, she apologized to Camryn for her actions and to those following the unfolding saga, and that she would reflect on her actions.

That lasted at most, 14 hours.

The next day, the conversation continued, as people were waking up to see what had transpired overnight. I went about my life, preparing for work and accomplishing my tasks for the day. And then it all went downhill. I would assume the author got fed up with people constantly flooding her mentions about the incident, and she lashed out for a second time – crying foul that people hadn’t gotten over it; re-stating her opinions from the previous evening and generally, making things worse than they already were. The backlash, not surprisingly, was swift & harsh – to the point that the author deleted her Twitter and disappeared.

But the damage was done.

I lost count at the amount of people who were involved that also work in the writing world – publishers, editors, bloggers, other authors – who dragged and mocked the author for her behaviour, and promised her that she had made an impression on them – But not the impression she wanted. A few even went as far as to say that they would never work with her. While the threat was never outwardly stated (at least from what I saw), I’d make the assumption that this (like the author stalking the blogger incident) has made its way around the YA world, and the author will never be published.

Sometimes, especially living in an instant gratification world, we forget that our actions have consequences. Everyone says things they regret at some points in their lives – We’ve all done terrible things. It’s our responses to those terrible things that show how we learn from our mistakes. This is obviously a drastic case of how things can go terribly wrong for you, in 140 characters or less. Be conscious that there could be someone watching – especially if you have plans to delve into the publishing world.

For a further summary on the events, check out Jenny Trout’s website for more information.

Books You Surprisingly Enjoyed

I tend to be a creature of habit when it comes to my books:

  • I read (almost) anything a favourite author will publish
  • I usually scout out both positive and negative reviews to see what the general thoughts are on the book (and if the negative reviews touch on things I don’t like about particular books)
  • If an author recommends another author’s work, I will usually check their work out (this one hasn’t worked out so well for me in the past, but I still continue to do it)
  • Occasionally (aka rarely) do I rely on the recommendations of friends, unless our tastes match up to one another, and I know without a doubt that I will enjoy the book they’ve suggested.

Sometimes I’ll seek out new authors while I’m browsing in my local bookstore, and sometimes I take a chance on new novels, which turn out be better than expected! Here’s a list of a few that I honestly hadn’t been expecting to enjoy, and surprisingly ended up loving.

lunar chroniclesThe Lunar Chronicle Series by Marissa Meyer.
I’d seen Cinder sitting on the shelf at the first bookstore I worked in, and considered picking it up. I eventually did, but struggled to get into it. I later went back, and blew through the entire series in a few short weeks. I was pleasantly surprised at likeable the characters were, and how I was able to (after being advised of it) draw parallels to the Sailor Moon manga/anime. *Reviews to come*

selectionThe Selection Series by Keira Cass
A friend of mine had been collective the books over a span on time, and she mentioned how she hated that the second bookstore I worked in, never carried these titles in Hardcover. I’d purchased the 4-book set (The Selection, The Elite, The One, The Heir) on my Kobo probably a year prior (I got it for a steal of $4.99) but had yet to drum up enough interest to actually read it. A few weeks ago, while waiting for my ride at work, I opened it up and blew through the first 3 books in less than 3 days. Every waking moment, I was reading about America and Maxon. The 4th book has proven to be a struggle for me, as I miss the intrigue that made The Selection so special.*Review to come*

ACoTaRA Court of Thorns & Roses Series by Sarah J Maas
I love fantasy books, and I consider fantasy books that include Fae, to be the cream of the crop. Like most other books, I’d heard high praise for Maas’ work but it took a bit of convincing for me to actually start into the new book. A close friend of mine all but threw the book at me the night we went to a Carrie Underwood concert, and I decided to start the book the next day – with the heavy threat to said friend that if the book turned out to be garbage, I’d never accept another recommendation from her again (this is more common than you’d think, I have about 3 friends who get recommending privileges). I was not disappointed! Feyre is a strong lead who finds herself living in a strange land, under strange circumstances. The series is based off the Beauty & The Beast fairytale, which gives it a strong background to work into Fae mythos. *Review to come*

the 5th waveThe 5th Wave by Rick Yancy
This book (I have yet to finish the series, whoops!) somewhat begrudgingly gets to be on this list. Not because I didn’t like it (I throughly enjoyed it), but because of the manner in which it was initially presented. Years ago, when I worked at a bookstore in a mall, I often had to travel to the sister store to purchase my books, because it was much larger and offered a wider variety of books. While looking for the latest Rachel Caine release at the time, I encountered a sales person who mentioned that I should read the 5th wave. I said I’d take it under advisement and research it a bit more – That was apparently not good enough. Subsequent trips to that store often resulted in the same ending, and it also happened just as many times to my coworker. Needless to say, it turned me off the book. When I did eventually pick it up, nearly 2 years later, I was happily surprised that the sales person was right. The storyline is fast-paced and action packed, but also enjoyable enough that you didn’t feel like everything was rushed.

What about you? What books did you enjoy that surprised you? Hit the comments and give us some of your favourite recommendations!