Book Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre:
YA/sci-fi/fairytale retelling
Date Read: 25/03/2015 – 31/03/2015
Rating: ★★★★

Review: 

cresscoverI’m going to just come out and say it: this is by far the best book of the Lunar Chronicles so far. It is a retelling of Rapunzel, focusing on the character of Cress (short for Crescent Moon), a Lunar shell who was imprisoned on a satellite at the age of ten, and has since then been the resident hacker for Queen Levana and her thaumaturges. When a rescue attempt from Cinder and co. goes wrong, Cress and Carswell Thorne find themselves plummeting towards Earth in a powerless satellite. They survive, but this is not the end of their adventures, and tension is ramping up for the rest of the main characters as well.

In book two, Thorne was incredibly annoying. I couldn’t stand him. I already knew that a) he was the love interest in book 3 and b) that people were saying this was the best book so far, so I was sincerely hoping that he improved. Fortunately, this was the case. I was far more invested in his and Cress’ romance than I had been in either Cinder and Kai or Scarlet and Wolf’s. One of my colleagues even caught me grinning stupidly to myself because I’d been reading on my lunch break and it had left me in a really good mood.

While I continue to be impressed with how well Marissa Meyer has woven the different fairytales together, and the hints for future books in the earlier ones and all that sort of thing, the problem that is starting to emerge with this series is that it is developing quite an ensemble cast. This is not necessarily a problem, but with so many characters in so many places, it made for a fairly long book, and book four is supposedly another 250 pages longer again (going by GoodReads’ estimate). There were times when the plot did start to drag a bit, where it seemed that we just cutting to another character for the sake of checking in with them, rather than anything really relevant. When there are so many characters, it’s hard to have equal investment in all of them, and I was sometimes just waiting to get back to the characters I really cared about.

The next installment in this series isn’t out until November, so unless I want to read Fairest (Queen Levana’s backstory)or some of the short stories, this will be it for a while. While I have been enjoying it, I think I am happy to wait until then, though. I’ve been discovering lots of other fairytale retellings to tide me over.

#ROW80 Check-in and #WIPpet Wednesday – April 22

This week I had a little trouble keeping up with my goals. I’m not way behind, but I’m not quite where I would have liked to be.

  • Stay on track with Camp NaNo – ehhh, I’m a couple of days behind at the moment. I have been writing every day, but only between 100 and 200 words. I can’t give exact figures at the moment because it’s all still handwritten.
  • Write 1000 words of history essay pending response from course convener – at time of posting, I only have about 799 however, I wrote a plan last night with estimated word counts for each section and I think that will help. I’m aiming to hit 1000 tonight.
  • Write a new forum response for history – I’ve just got to finish it off and post it.
  • Read half an hour a day – I expect it averaged out. I finished Jackaby by William Ritter.
  • Visit 50% of WIPpet Wednesday posts – done!
  • Visit 5 ROW80 blogs – yes!
  • Read over lecture slides for three MUSC8017 lectures – I did this, and it didn’t enlighten me about either of the remaining assignments in the slightest. I’m just glad the next assignment is based on an external document that has nothing to do with the course, though there are aspects of that I’m also confused about.

There are still maybe eight weeks left of semester (my final assignment is due June 9) but I’m basically at a point where uni work has to take precedence. I have discovered that doing a musical where the performances are around the same time as final papers are due is a terrible idea. However, it is too late now to back out of either thing, so I’m just going to have to do the best I can. I was doing a Wednesday night casual sport thing with some friends, but I’ve told them I will rejoin in June, as I have too much on my plate at the moment and need those evenings for studying. I did have my first little Masters-related cry yesterday. It wasn’t a cry, really, just a bit of a stress out about things.

I have come to the conclusion that Camp NaNoWriMo has not been so much a month of planning but of brainstorming. The story I set out to plan has taken at least two turns and is now very different. In a good way. Good guys have become bad guys and vice versa, magical police procedural has become more the story of two characters (not police-types) out to stop the nasty magical character before everything goes completely downhill, all the while having to deal with the issues they have with each other… It’s a much more personal story for all the characters.

On that note, since my characters have all swapped their character arcs in the past few days and have new back stories, very little of what I’ve written up until now is still relevant. For today’s WIPpet, I’m going to have to take you right back to when Rosa and Frederick Merrow first met, or at least, properly interacted. I’ve got 4 paragraphs because it’s the 22nd and 2 + 2 = 4. And it’s also the fourth month and all that. It’s a hot day and Rosa thinks she’s wandered far enough from the house to not be disturbed on her afternoon off.

She had been dozing off when a crack of twigs behind her made her jump and spring awake. The figure of Frederick Merrow emerged through the trees, a large dog by his side. Rosa had taken off her shoes and stockings, and now she scrambled to try to at least replace her boots, as her skirt would possibly disguise the fact that her legs were otherwise bare.

Her movements attracted Frederick Merrow’s attention, and he stopped walking, looking over at her. His expression was initially bemused, but it quickly transformed into a grin and he chuckled at her efforts.

“Please, don’t feel you ought to cover up for my benefit.”

Rosa’s cheeks turned a dark scarlet, and she felt as though she were completely naked, not just stocking-less, in front of him.

Given that I’ve turned him into the villain, and he’s more “total jerkwad” than “roguish charmer”, this scene now feels a whole lot sleazier.

If you are wondering what on earth this WIPpet thing I keep referring to is, wonder no longer! WIPpet is a portmanteau of the acronym WIP (work in progress) and the word snippet, and every Wednesdsay, we share a snippet from our WIPs that somehow relates to the date. The linky is here; do join in! The fabulous K. L. Schwengel is our host and many thanks go to her for keeping us all in line.

Now I return to ROW80 and my goals for the coming week. I have this 2500 word history essay due Thursday of next week, and a museum significance report due the following week. Thus, I really need to get the essay out of the way this weekend. I do have a birthday party to go to on Sunday, but I’ll probably excuse myself after a couple of hours. My Fair Lady chorus members are all a little annoyed when today we were informed we now have a rehearsal on Monday, where we didn’t before. It would have been handy having that extra spare night.

  • Complete essay by Sunday night
  • Polish essay on the following couple of days
  • Write a review of Jackaby and schedule the post
  • Finish forum response
  • Decide on item for significance report. Email course convener and also have chat to people at work about it.
  • Visit 50% of WIPpet Wednesday posts
  • Visit 5 ROW80 blogs
  • Reply to comments on this post

Doesn’t seem like much, but watch me fall apart in a quivering heap in next Wednesday’s post. I’m going to leave it here, but be sure to check out other ROW80 posts. I’ll see you soon!~ Emily

#WIPpet Wednesday and #ROW80 – April 15

Okay, the weeks need to stop going by this quickly. I can’t cope anymore. I’ve got too much going on and not enough time to fit it all in. When I first started setting weekly goals for myself, I was writing the goals and then set out what I would do each day of the week to achieve them. I got lax with this second part, but I really do need to go back to it. The last few weeks I’ve kept putting things off until suddenly it’s Tuesday again and I don’t know what I’m doing.

Having said all that, how did I go this week?

  • Continue with ROW80 goal of 250 words a day/keep on track with Camp NaNo. – I am currently still on track with this.
  • Read for half an hour a day – I probably didn’t quite manage this, but I did finally finish The Book Thief today. It was beautifully written, but… (and I hate to say this), overall I liked the movie better.
  • Read uni readings for at least one hour a day – it probably averages out. I did a few hours at the library on Saturday afternoon and a little more Sunday night and last night.
  • Make a bullet-pointed plan for the essay and email it to the course convener for feedback –
    I didn’t email him a plan but I have sent through my general ideas for the essay. I’m waiting to hear back from him.
  • Reply to all comments received on this last week’s post – yes!
  • Visit at least 50% of fellow WIPpet Wednesday post – It wasn’t 50%. :( Maybe 3 or 4?
  • Visit at least 5 ROW80 posts – yeah, um…. nope. I just wasn’t in a blogging frame of mind this week.

I’ll do WIPpet Wednesday now, and then get back to the goals for the coming week. That way, people don’t have to read a million word post if they’re not here for all of that. I have four lines from my Camp NaNo document for the fourth month. Basically, this is what happens when you’re not fully in control of your magic, you’re already upset for other reasons, and then your boyfriend’s wife confronts you about the affair you’ve been having… I may have accidentally-on-purpose forgotten to mention last week that Frederick Merrow is married. The affair hadn’t actually started where last week’s excerpt left off, though, so…

Anyway. 

It was over soon enough, and a solid statue stood where Mrs Merrow had previously been. Frederick’s words from one of their earliest lessons came back to Rosa. He had warned her to be careful with her words and not leave room for her power to misinterpret them. She had done exactly what he had warned her not to.

Yep. And it continues downhill from there.

So, like, goals and stuff.

  • Stay on track with Camp NaNo
  • Write 1000 words of history essay pending response from course convener
  • Write a new forum response for history
  • Read half an hour a day
  • Visit 50% of WIPpet Wednesday posts
  • Visit 5 ROW80 blogs
  • Read over lecture slides for three MUSC8017 lectures

In order to complete these I will:

Thursday: (rehearsal)
Friday: history readings and forum responseSaturday: spend morning on blogs and afternoon at the library working on essay
Sunday: free day, or more library time if necessary
Monday: (rehearsal)
Tuesday: Read over lecture slides.

This will do for now, as it’s time for me to go to bed. I will probably revise these and make them a little more helpful when I am more awake. You can join in on WIPpet Wednesday here, or ROW80 here. Goodnight!

~ Emily

#MirthMusicMon – A Change in Me – #mondayblogs

So today I had this moment when I discovered that there was an extra song written for the Beauty and the Beast musical in 1998, when Toni Braxton joined the cast. Somehow, despite loving this musical for somewhere between fifteen and twenty years, I have missed this until now. And it’s a really pretty song, too! Here is Susan Egan, the original Broadway Belle, singing it (only audio, unfortunately):

I’m auditioning for a production of Beauty and the Beast later this year, and now I know this song, I want to play Belle even more!

In keeping with the BatB theme, this is a SNL sketch that I found. It… does kind of devolve into ass jokes, but it starts off pretty funny, and sometimes you need to just be immature, right?

You can join us for MMM over at the linky.

Book Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Title: Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre:
YA/sci-fi/fairytale retelling
Date Read: 03/03/2015 – 06/03/2015
Rating: ★★★

Review:

scarletcoverI actually had a couple of people tell me when I finished Cinder that I could probably just skip Scarlet and go straight on to Cress, the third book in the Lunar Chronicles, as Scarlet doesn’t really add a huge amount to the overall story. This was pretty true, but I have to admit thatI am finding this series pretty damn entertaining and I am still glad I read the second installment.

In book two, we meet Scarlet Benoit, a small-town French girl whose grandmother has gone missing. Between meeting a street-fighter called Wolf, who seems to know where her grandmother is, and fugitive Linh Cinder landing a space ship in her garden, Scarlet’s life takes a turn for the dramatic. She ends up in Paris as a prisoner of a Lunar thaumaturge and the wolf-Lunar hybrids created by Queen Levana to make her first attack on Earth.

Meanwhile, Cinder has escaped prison with the aide of a very annoying man called Carswell Thorne, and is beginning to learn more about her true identity. Back in New Beijing, Prince Kai still has Cinder on his mind as he continues to try to prevent a war with Lunar.

As I said, there isn’t a whole lot in this book that really contributes to the plot, apart from some more in-depth character development and their pasts. The only real action comes towards the end, though there is enough tension building up to that to keep the reader interested. I liked Scarlet as a character, though I found Wolf quite contradictory. It seemed the author was going for “tough but sensitive” but even when the reasons for his sensitivities were explained later, I still couldn’t really reconcile them with “hardened fighter”.

Having said all that, Marissa Meyer does have a very readable writing style, so in spite of everything, I was still able to knock the book over in a few days. I’ve now also read Cress, and the review for that will be up next fortnight. :)

#WIPpet Wednesday April 8

I’ve managed to be pretty productive in the last week! Hurray! I perhaps should have done a bit more studying over my time off, but I decided to enjoy the time instead. I head back to work tomorrow and I can get to work on the next essay then as well.

row80

      • Read 1 hour a day and finish A Wicked Thing – I just spent Friday reading and finished it then.
      • Complete text-to-speech run-through of AMCF (8 chapters, so maybe 2 a day?) – done! Though I did it all yesterday, because I procrastinated up until then. But this means the interiors are all done and I just to worry about the exterior. Exciting times!
      • Finish review of Scarlet by Marissa Meyer – done!
      • Write review of Cress by Marissa Meyer – done!
      • Write review of A Wicked Thing once finished reading – done!
      • Make a list of books in uni libraries that may be useful for history essay – sort of? I initially chose an essay question that was a comparative question, and I could find lots of books on one aspect of the topic but not the other. So I’ve changed topics, and stocked up on books for the new topic today.
      • Spend an hour each day doing uni readings – haha. Yeah. Well.
      • Try to dot-point an essay plan – see previous couple of points.
      • Remain on target for Camp NaNoWriMo (approx. 334 words a day = 2333 words by the end of Tuesday) – yes! More on that below.

It  would seem that no matter what I set out to write, some kind of epic and/or tragic romance always manages to make its way in there. This has happened with my Camp NaNoWriMo plans. I was supposed to be revamping and planning in more detail my WIP from last November’s NaNo (you know, the one with Armand and Bianca, and Josephine who was turned into a statue for 500 years and finally escaped?). I’ve accidentally ended up with a sympathetic antagonist, when I was going for “evil for the sake of evil” (almost – she did still have her own motivations). In her case, the romance is more on the tragic end of things.

As part of the Camp NaNo stuff, I’ve written some important scenes from this antagonist’s back story. It’s from this that I’m taking today’s WIPpet. I need you to imagine a large homestead on a farm out in middle-of-nowhere Australia, around the end of the nineteenth century. If you need an example, I have the Monte Cristo homestead, which is purportedly the most haunted house in Australia, in mind. Rosa is young and naive, and a member of the household staff. Frederick Merrow is the head of the household, and has been teaching Rosa magic in their spare time (there’s a pretty extensive back story for him as well, how he got into magic, etc, but I’ll go into that at a later date). My WIPpet maths is eight paragraphs for the 8th of April.

“It’s all about the right mind-set, you see.” Frederick put his index and middle fingers against Rosa’s temples. She felt herself blushing from the contact. “You have to believe you can do it or it won’t work.”

She glanced up at him. “I believe I can do it. It’s just… well… I still feel like I shouldn’t.”

“If God was going to smite people for performing magic, Rosa, he’d have got me years ago. You’ve got nothing to fear.”

He removed his fingers from her head, and stood, moving around to Rosa’s side of the table. He squatted down next to her and put an arm across the back of her chair to balance himself.

“You can do this,” he breathed in her ear.

smurf-vela-candleShe wanted to do this. She wanted to prove to Frederick that she was a worthy student. He believed she could do it, so she had no reason not to believe it herself. She stared at the unlit candle between them, willing it to light. In her mind, she saw the same candle, a flame flickering at its top. She closed her eyes, focusing on that image until her head was pounding.

There was a faint whooshing sound, and then Frederick’s hands clasped her shoulders. She opened her eyes and saw the flickering candlelight.

“Was that me? Did I do that?”

I haven’t actually figured out yet whether they would be on first name terms yet (particularly Rosa calling Frederick that), but given that this is unlikely to be in the actual finished work and is mostly just for my benefit, I figure it doesn’t really matter. I’m also yet to entirely figure out the magic system, so I’m just rolling with what comes to me right now.

I am actually loving Rosa more the more I write of her, and I have a feeling it’s going to be much like when I played Abigail in The Crucible last year. Everyone else was like, “Wow, what a bitch” and I was all “YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND.” Which is still how I feel about Abigail.

WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop hosted by the very fabulous K. L. Schwengel. All you need to do to participate is post an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date (eg. 8 paragraphs for the 8th of April. I went simple, but encourage creativity). Then link up with us here. And on that subject, you can learn more about ROW80 here.

Anyway, time for this week’s goals.

  • continue with ROW80 goal of 250 words a day/keep on track with Camp NaNo.
  • Read for half an hour a day
  • Read uni readings for at least one hour a day
  • Make a bullet-pointed plan for the essay and email it to the course convener for feedback
  • Reply to all comments received on this post
  • Visit at least 50% of fellow WIPpet Wednesday post
  • Visit at least 5 ROW80 posts

I think that’s all I need to work on this week. If anything else comes to mind, I’ll add it in later. I’m going to go now and consider reading about Britain’s involvement in the Seven Years War, though its more likely I’m going to watch something on Netflix. (Netflix is still new in Australia. For those of us who didn’t know there are free VPNs out there, anyway. Don’t judge.). See you later!

~ Emily

#MirthMusicMon – Happy Easter! – #mondayblogs

Happy Easter one and all. I hope you’ve all had a lovely Easter break. I’ve actually taken a few extra days off work and I’m having a fabulous time. Even though I had all of Monday off work, I somehow didn’t manage to write an MMM post (I was really busy, you know, lying about and eating chocolate and stuff). So I’m falling back on the old excuse of “It’s still Monday in a lot of parts of the world!” I have Easter-themed videos!

For this first one, well, you may want to sit down. ;)

This second one is Bach’s Easter oratorio, and it’s 42 minutes long. So you might want to open some other tabs, or have it on while you do the laundry or something. It is lovely to listen to right through.

Feel free to join us for Mirth and Music Monday at the linky. I’m going to go now and continue to intend to start work on a history essay I have due relatively soon. See you next week!

~ Emily