Book Review: Winter by Marissa Meyer

Title: Winter (Lunar Chonicles #4)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA/sci-fi/fairytale retelling
Date Read: 10/11/2015 – 14/11/2015
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

wintercoverWhen I first read Cinder, the first of the Lunar Chronicles, I wrote on my LiveJournal that it was pretty enjoyable but I wasn’t 100% sure that I was actually interested in continuing. Except then Scarlet, the second book, arrived for me at the library before I had time to cancel the hold, so I figured I might as well read it. And then I read a couple of things that I didn’t enjoy at all, and I figured the Lunar Chronicles were fun if nothing else, so I bought the e-book of Cress, and fell in love with Cress and Thorne. Kai and Cinder also grew on me a lot in that one, so I was actually very keen to see where their revolution led them in book four. While my GoodReads review is littered with snarky updates, I actually did really enjoy Winter and it was a great conclusion to the series.

While this book is long (it comes in at over 800 pages), there are nine or ten point-of-view characters, so it is hardly surprising. I had to slog through some of it, but I would be hard pressed to actually name any parts I would cut. While I was obviously interested in some characters more than others, all the storylines are woven together so well that you really need all that length for the story to conclude properly.

The characters undergo a huge amount of growth in this book, as they gear towards a revolution to depose the evil Queen Levana. They are all put a long way out of their comfort zones, and seeing them deal with this was exciting and at times, even shocking. We really saw how evil the Lunar regime was. The series wraps up really well, and I actually got a bit teary at the end, seeing how everything worked out for the characters. Apparently I got more attached to them than I ever intended to. While Marissa Meyer has other fairytale-inspired books in the works, it is always a bittersweet feeling saying goodbye to an enjoyable series. Highly recommended!

Read my reviews for Cinder, Scarlet and Cress.

#WIPpet Wednesday and #WWW Wednesday – 18 November, 2015

So I’m pretty sure I fixed the WIPpet Wednesday linky so it’ll all be all right. The advantage of living where I do is that I’ll probably be the first one to try using it, so I should know if anything goes wrong.

I officially declared the first draft of Operation: Sugarplum completed on Monday. It’s actually not entirely finished, but I was getting sick of trying to join up the bits of the ending that I had written, so I’m going to fix it later. I’m still going to use it for the next couple of WIPpets though, as I’m actually… planning my next WIP. I know, I know. Calm yourselves. I started out using the Snowflake Method, though I’m only up to Step 4 and have already broken some of the rules. It’s fine, though. It’s more planning than I’ve ever done before. Which is good. You have actually read a couple of bits from it under this category, but those two bits don’t actually exist anymore.

wednesdaybannerAnyway. You’ll hear more of that in coming weeks. For WIPpet Wednesday this week, I have added the 1 and the 8 of the 18th together and have 9 paragraphs. This is not long after last week’s excerpt; Max is persuading Clara she needs to go back to her house. The house that is full of Creelans. For extra context, Creela and Max’s country, Thelidon, have been at war for years, and Max, as the magical heir to the throne, is expected to deal with them .

“They’re not going to go away of their own free will. I’m going to have to deal with them somehow.” He looked over at Clara. “I could use your help.”

Clara shrugged. “Okay, fine.”

Max turned into a side street and used someone’s driveway to turn around. He started heading back towards Clara’s house. Clara felt her stomach knotting up the closer they got. Max parked the car around the corner from the house, and then turned to Clara again.

“Don’t do anything crazy. Try to keep the King distracted, at least, while I get inside.”

“Once you start killing off his minions, he’s not going to listen to me for much longer.”

“I know. But we’ll cross that bridge when it comes.”

“I love a man with a plan,” said Clara sarcastically.

“You’ll be fine. Just be careful.” Max leaned over and gave her a quick kiss. “Okay, go. I’ll follow in a few minutes.”

Clara sighed, and got out of the car. She gave Max a small wave and then turned to walk towards her street. A few minutes later, she found herself approaching her house with a growing sense of dread for the second time that night.

To join in on WIPpet Wednesday, simply post an excerpt from your WIP that somehow relates to the date, and then join up with us via the linky at the top-right of my blog.

Next up is WWW Wednesday, which is hosted by Sam over at A World of Words. You can join in over there by leaving a link to your own WWW Wednesday on today’s post. All you need to do is answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

  • What are you currently reading?

The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth. This is historical fiction, set in Nazi Germany, but also a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast variation, The Singing Springing Lark. I’m only a few chapters in, but I have high hopes.

I’m also listening to Looking for Alibrandi, which is a classic Australian YA that I never read as a teenager. It’s very 90s, but I’m not minding that. I am enjoying that the narrator ends half her sentences with an upper inflection. It makes her sound like such an Australian teen. (Adam Hills has an amusing routine about how we go up at the ends of our sentences).

  • What did you recently finish reading?

I finished Winter and the damn book made me cry. I loved seeing the final journey for these characters, though it always hard to let a series go when you’ve been enjoying it. I would really like for Marissa Meyer to write a new series that is about Cress and Thorne having galactic adventures, and Thorne forgetting he’s gone straight half the time, and Cress reminding him. I guess I’ll have to make do with whatever fanfiction exists. (I am blaming this book for the fact that the new story I’m planning went from “and the Princess confronts her father about his treatment of her and the people” to “and the Princess leads the people in a revolution” during early plotting stages).

And then I followed this up with another book that made me cry, A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness. This was a very beautiful book, and I listened to the audio, which was read by Jason Isaacs (if you don’t know him from anywhere else, he played Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies). His voice was perfection.

Also, two reviews went up in the past week, for Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth and  A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I also have The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth from the library, so that will be next, followed by some books I picked up at a St Vincent de Paul warehouse sale recently.

That’s it from me. I have my final astronomy class tonight, so I’ve got to head out for that soon. I’ll see you on your blogs later!

~ Emily

#WWW Wednesday and #WIPpet Wednesday – 11 November, 2015

Hello and Happy Wednesday! I apologise for not making any rounds last week, but once I got my final essay handed in, I just sat on the couch and read books when I should have been doing other things, like cleaning the house, or cooking, or blogging. I’ll try to be better this week!

wednesdaybannerFirst up on today’s post is WIPpet Wednesday. This is a blog hop wherein writers share a snippet from their WIP that somehow relates to the date. We have a linky, which you can find by clicking on the little blue guy just to the right. WIPpet Wednesday has been graciously hosted for some time by K. L. Schwengel, however starting next week, I’m going to be taking over the reigns, with a couple of other WIPpeteers acting as backup when I am detained. I apologise now if I manage to muck it up.

This week’s WIPpet takes place a little while after last week’s. Clara has managed to escape her house, and has been chased by the Creelans. Max was conveniently driving by, and has picked her up. Now they’re driving around while they try to work out their next plan. I have 11 paragraphs for the 11th of November. Don’t worry, they’re all nice and short.

Max frowned again. “The King is here?”

“That’s what they said. He certainly behaves like a royal jerk.”

Max didn’t respond to Clara’s joke. “As soon as we arrived in Thelidon, we started hearing reports that the Creelans had found a way to open the portal, but no one mentioned the King.”

“He made it sound like he only came through today. And besides, he was probably in disguise.”

“Hmm.”

“Hey, can I ask a question?”

“Sure.”

“This thing.” Clara held up the stone pendant. “The King was pretty angry about me having it. He said it was stolen from a dead Creelan soldier.”

Max shrugged. “It probably was. They wear them in battle.”

“Isn’t that kind of… disrespectful?”

“Isn’t invading an unprotected country due to some stupid dispute generations ago kind of disrespectful?” Clara flinched away. Max didn’t raise his voice very often, but she supposed this was a bit of a sore point for him. She decided not to press the point any further. The car was silent for what felt like an eternity.

Next up is WWW Wednesday, which is hosted by Sam over at A World of Words. You can join in over there by leaving a link to your own WWW Wednesday on today’s post. All you need to do is answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

  • What are you currently reading?

Winter just came out! I actually probably should have re-read Cress before this, as there are a lot of things being referred to that I’d totally forgotten. As with the other books in the Lunar Chronicles, even though it’s long (nearly twice as long as Cinder was), it’s very readable, so I’ll get through it quite quickly. Thorne and Cress still hold the keys to my heart. I still could not care less about Scarlet and Wolf. Cinder and Kai are somewhere in between those two extremes, as are Winter and Jacin.

  • What did you recently finish reading?

So many things! As I said, I just stayed on the couch and read books all weekend.

First, there was another Doctor Who audio, The Empty House. It was pretty good though I wasn’t a fan of the narrator. I’ve been rather spoiled with the narrators on the first three I listened to, so I suppose I had to run into one I didn’t like so much eventually.

I finished How To Write A Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermason. I really liked it and am really looking forward to trying this out. The book is actually in the form of an allegorical novel (with a easy-access list of all the steps at the end) and he also includes an appendix with the snowflake method planning for the book itself, which helped clear up a few questions I had about some of the later steps.

Then there was 5000 Words Per Hour and Lifelong Writing Habit by Chris Fox (these were both quite short). These had a lot of really good advice, but the tone put me off. I felt like he was saying “Unless you do exactly as I say, you’re not serious about your writing.” =\

After that, I finished Chasing Nonconformity by Michelle Proulx. This was a fun sequel, though I still think Varrin needs a good punch to the nose sometimes.

I polished off Mothers Grimm by Danielle Woods in one afternoon, even though I didn’t really like it. I’m all for deconstructing the “good mother” trope, but her way of doing that seemed to be to say “Motherhood is a godawful experience that simply ruins your life and why would you do it?” Surely you can still have some positive aspects without going into “good mother” territory. I don’t know if I would feel differently about it if I was a mother, and had experienced the sleepless nights and all of that, but as it was, it just felt like she set out to write four fairly depressing stories. Oh, and the links to the fairytales were so tenuous they might as well have not been there.

And I finally finished The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker. I recommend reading this in as few sittings as possible, as I think it was the fact that I was only managing dribs and drabs that made me take so long to get into it. Once I was able to really sit down and read 100 or pages at a time, I actually got really into it. It’s definitely one of those books where the characters stay with you for a while afterwards and you just want to go back to their world rather than doing the housework, as I had to do when I finished.

I also posted my review of The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl in the last week. Since I’m reading so much lately, I’ve decided to post two reviews a week for a little while (Fridays and Saturdays), rather than one per fortnight. It was getting to the point where I was scheduling reviews for three months after I’d read the book. So watch out for those!

I’m going to head off now and get another review or two lined up. See you later!

~ Emily

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.

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. 🙂

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1)
Author:
Marissa Meyer
Genre:
YA/sci-fi/romance
Date Read: 18/02/2015 – 24/02/2015
Rating: ★★★

Review:

Cinder_CoverAccording to GoodReads, this book was on my TBR shelf for almost exactly three years. A friend of mine started reading it and that made me think I really should get around to it myself. After all, I love fairytale retellings and who could resist cyborg Cinderella, right?

For a start, I think I maybe made the mistake of beginning this book in the wrong mindset. The book I had read immediately before this one was quite a mature, dark urban fantasy/horror novel, and maybe plunging into YA sci-fi immediately wasn’t the greatest idea. While it was very readable (I knocked it over in a couple of afternoons), it’s also quite predictable. I had worked out who certain characters were (but didn’t know they were) by about chapter three. I also didn’t feel any particular investment in any of the characters. They all had pretty awful things happening to them, and I certainly sympathised, but I didn’t feel any real investment in them.

This improved in the last quarter. The stakes got higher, characters confronted each other, and there was finally a bit of action. I actually think Queen Levana, the villain, is one of the best-crafted characters in the book, and seeing her finally interact with Cinder as well as Prince Kai, was really good.

The world-building is interesting, though I always felt it was a bit superficial. I wanted to know more about cyborg technology, about the robots they use, about New Beijing… I have read reviews written by people who know more about Chinese culture than I do, and they have also pointed out that as an Asian civilisation, New Beijing and by extension, the Eastern Commonwealth, do not ring true. I had a gut feeling as I was reading that this was the case.

Cinder and Prince Kai are pretty stock-standard YA leads. I don’t really have much to say about them, other than it is exciting to meet a female YA lead who is a mechanic by trade. We need more of that! I am going to read the next book in the series; while it is based on Red Riding Hood and I don’t generally enjoy adaptations of that story, the following two books in the series are based on Rapunzel and Snow White respectively, and I’m pretty keen on that, as neither of those are stories that get retold very often.

I can totally see why this book is so popular with the YA crowd, and I am hoping I will enjoy the subsequent books. Now that a lot of the world-building is out of the way, that allows the rest of the series room for more story, and I hope that’s what I get.