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

“Cind13206760.jpger, 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.” – Goodreads

In this second instalment of Marissa Meyer’s “The Lunar Chronicles” series, Cinder, who has recently discovered that she is the missing Lunar Princess Selene, embarks on a journey to France in an attempt to discover more about her past. Meanwhile, we are introduced to a new character, Scarlet, a farmhand who teams up with an unusual ally in a desperate search for her missing grandmother.

The key characters in this novel are Cinder, Thorne, Scarlet and Wolf.

I enjoyed Cinder in this book, I feel that her character was very strong both in terms of depth and her personality. She took charge of a lot of situations in this book and I really enjoyed the way she acted and reacted to other characters and situations throughout. A major improvement from the first book in the series where her character was a little flat for me.

I also enjoyed Thorne’s character, I feel as though he was a brilliant character to challenge and push Cinder. He was written in a way that he complemented her extremely well without any sort of love-story intertwined. He also added a little comedy into the book, a welcome break from the rest of the characters who are all very serious and focused.

Scarlet, I loved, from the start Scarlet’s character really appealed to me. At the very beginning she was set up as a very sympathetic character in the way she reacted to pub-goers making fun of the ‘cyborg girl’ who made a fool of herself, “Scarlet rolled her eyes in disgust”. However, these sympathies did not make her a weak character in the slightest. She was also portrayed as a little bit hot headed, I very much enjoyed moments such as “Scarlet’s fingers twitched with the fantasy of chucking the sandwich as the back of his head”. However, she kind of lost this characteristic towards the end of the book, I would have loved to have seen a few more moments like these further on.

Wolf’s character for me lacked at the beginning, he felt very childlike and I’m not sure if this was intentional but it didn’t feel right. He was supposed to be this scary professional fighter who was very dangerous and the childlike demeanour given to him felt somewhat confusing and out of place. I think the aim here was to create a certain innocence to him, but it was overshot a little.

As Kai and Cinder had no contact whatsoever in this book, their romantic subplot could not be furthered. However, the romantic focus was switched instead to Scarlet and Wolf. I really liked the development of this romance, even though she started developing strong feelings for him in a short space of time, it didn’t feel too insta-lovey. Apart from one moment that felt weird to me. At one point in the book it is being drilled into us that Scarlet doesn’t completely trust Wolf and is even slightly scared/wary of him after seeing him fight but then she reaches over and puts her hand on his leg to stop him from bouncing it. I suppose that this was to start hinting towards a romance between them, but surely if you don’t trust someone and are slightly scared of them, the more natural path would be to ask them to stop bouncing their leg rather than to reach over and stop them from doing it yourself.

The main issues I had with this novel were the odd wording or grammar slip-up. I’m no expert but there were a few sentences I had to re-read a few times to fully understand what the author was trying to get across. Also there were just a few areas of personal preference where things were written in a way that I felt could have been simplified and would have sounded better simplified. For example, “His legs stayed still – for the time, at least-” For the time? For me personally this just doesn’t sound right, I would have replaced this with “for now, at least” or something similar. Again, this is me being picky, but there were a few moments in this book where I had similar thoughts.

There was also a moment where Scarlet said, “Can controlled?” which obviously makes no sense, it should have been “Can be controlled?”. Minor errors like this really annoy me but the overall story was good enough that I could overlook it.

One thing that I was happy about in this book was the descriptions, they improved so much for me from the first book and I could really feel the places the story was set in this time. I loved the descriptions of the run-down part of Paris and of the farm.

I am going to be continuing on in this series, I’ve already started actually, and am enjoying the next book even more than this one.

If you’re thinking of starting this series or if your not sure about continuing I personally recommend you do as the characters, plot and writing are all getting better and better for me with each book.

Kindle Edition | 464 pages

Goodreads rating: 4.31      Published: 05/02/2013 | Feiwel and Friends

My rating: 4

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

cinderHumans 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.” – Goodreads

In this China-based retelling of the beloved classic, Cinderella, Linh Cinder is a gifted mechanic of New Beijing who’s life starts to spiral out of control after a deadly plague reaches the market where she works. Oh, and she’s a cyborg.

This is an extremely popular series with a lot of hype surrounding it and although I am continuing on in the series, I wasn’t blown away by this book.

My favourite books are ones with extremely well-developed characters and intricate believable worlds and although this book had a lot of good ideas, it lacked details for me.

Cinder didn’t particularly excite me as a character and I didn’t really relate to her, I feel as though this is because there wasn’t a hell of a lot to her. She’s cyborg, people dislike cyborgs… for some reason. She’s earns money as a mechanic which all goes to her guardian and her only friends are her step-sister, Peony, and an android named Iko. And that’s all we really know about her in the beginning. She did grow a little by the end though and I much more enjoyed Cinder’s character in the second novel in the series.

Prince Kai (the love interest) is the same for me, and now that I think about, so are most of the characters. They started off pretty flat for me but seem to improve by book two.

As mentioned above, the book is set in the city of New Beijing, with is ruled by an emperor who has a son called Kai. And again, that’s all I can really tell you about this place because were not told much else about it or how it came to be. Once again I feel as though this improved by book two. This setting did affect the story a little bit, mainly in the sense of names. Even though the main character’s name is Cinder, she is referred to as Linh Cinder when her full name is used, as is typical in Asian countries.

The book didn’t incite any particularly strong emotions for me but the concept and plot was interesting enough to keep me reading, and I’m glad I did as I am enjoying the second book even more.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in fairy tale retellings and anyone who is looking for a fantasy book that’s a little bit different. The cyborg/lunar storyline is undeniably interesting.

Kindle Edition | 400 pages

Goodreads rating: 4.15      Published: 03/01/2012 | Feiwel and Friends

My rating: 3

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Review: Empire of Storms – Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #5)

empire-of-thrones-uk“The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?” – Goodreads

The fifth installment in the Throne of Glass series finally sees Aelin claim back her throne… or not. When Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen finally makes the journey home, she is denied the right to her throne. Determined to set the record straight and protect her people, she and her newly formed court begin a journey across the continent on a quest to defeat the evil Erawan and his army of monsters.

Aelin

OH. MY. GOD. Can we talk about Aelin? I have never come across a literary character who I love more than this one, the woman is BADASS as hell. So we already knew she was amazing, the last four books told us that, but the revelations that were made at the end of this book! Holy hell, I can’t with her. This woman figures out that she’s more than likely going to have to sacrifice herself to save her people so instead of freaking out and trying to save her own life, she assembles a freaking army to ensure the safety of all her people. Like a gigantic army led by all of the people in her life that owe her life debts.

Then we got to the final scenes in the book… Tears were shed, lots of them. So she sacrifices herself to save Elide, she refuses to bow down to Cairn, lets herself be dragged away all the while thinking that because of the plans she has set in motion no-one will come after her.

Then Rowan, comes storming into the scene, dropping the BIGGEST bombshell he could have possibly dropped. “Where is my wife?” Omigod Sarah why do you do this to us? And now we have to wait a whole YEAR for the final book in the series and I don’t know if I can cope.

I’d go through every character telling you all of the amazing things they did but this post would be the length of a novel so instead I’m just going to give you one other perfect moment in this book.

Manon

She saved Dorian’s life, already we’re like loving her for that. But she killed a witch from the Yellowlegs, and the price is to be her second, Asterin’s, life. Now can I just say that I really love Asterin as a character, I think she really is the perfect ‘right-hand-woman’ for Manon, and so when she was ordered to die I was not happy.

Then Manon does the most perfect thing that Manon could have done, just as Asterin is about to die, she turns the hell around and ATTACKS HER OWN GRANDMOTHER (who I’ve always hated btw). I can’t tell you how perfect this moment was, I literally had to put the book down and process what had just happened before I could continue reading.

Then Abraxos saves her, and I think anyone who has read Empire of Storms can admit we all want a loyal little wyvern like him in our lives.

Moving on from fan-girling over the epic moments in this book, there was a LOT of romance in this novel. The entire series had carried a little bit of romance through it to some extent but all the ships were being shipped here. We got:

  • Aelin + Rowan = Hell to the yes.
  • Dorian + Manon = Hated it at first, but I’m very much warming to it.
  • Aedion + Lysandra = I’m a little indifferent here, I don’t hate it but I’m also not dying over it.

I think I’m just so obsessed with Aelin and Rowan that I can’t physically be as excited over the others.

We also got to see a lot more of the continent in this book as Aelin and her court travelled quite a bit, and though I’m usually not a fan of reading about people just getting from A to B, Sarah utilised her time well here and inserted some killer scenes that kept the story going.

I think you can already tell how I felt about this book, it was an emotional rollercoaster. There were times that were so unbelievably epic that I had to stop reading and just compose myself, but even the happiest of times were coated with bittersweet as something terrible was always around the corner. Then the end came and the devastation and the tears were real.

Look, if you’ve made it this far, just go and read everything Sarah has ever written, because it is all the work of a genius. I for one am going to continue to read everything Sarah writes from here on out and I can not wait until ACOTAR 3 next spring!

Thank you for reading!

Go read Throne of Glass.

Right now.

Posted in review

Review: Finding Audrey -Sophie Kinsella

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“An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.” – Goodreads.

*****

 

Audrey is suffering from a severe anxiety disorder, she cannot make eye contact with anyone other than her four year-old brother and she cannot speak or hardly be in the same room as anyone other than the close circle of people she considers safe i.e. her family and her therapist. This novel tracks Audrey’s recovery process as she takes on new challenges to kick her anxiety to the curb with the help of her new friend Linus.

The key characters in this novel are Audrey, Mark, Anne, Frank, Felix, Linus and Dr Sarah.

Audrey as a character really worked for me, I felt for her, I related to her thoughts, feelings and actions and felt that she was a very real character. The only area of her that I felt may have been a little off was her snowball recovery. It may be accurate in some (rare) cases but her recovery did feel very idealised, not that I’m complaining – this is a novel and I understand that sometimes things need to be written in a certain way to keep things interesting. I do however think it is important to be aware going into this book that most anxiety recoveries (especially from an illness as severe as Audrey’s) are not usually as speedy and flowing as this.

Linus as a character I liked very much. Possibly my favourite part of the novel was him understanding Audrey’s need for space enough to simply write notes back and forth instead of forcing her to talk. I thought this was a very generous act and if more people in day to day life were as understanding it could make a lot of people’s lives that little bit easier.

Lending itself to themes such as mental illness, teenage drama and family issues; Kinsella’s depiction of anxiety, panic attacks and overwhelming thoughts feels as accurate and relatable as it gets. Every time a moment of anxiety was described I felt myself thinking, “YES! That’s exactly it!” I couldn’t have put the thoughts and feelings of an anxious mind into better words if I had tried.

I definitely found this book hard to put down, I started reading it Monday afternoon sat on the grass at Fourteen Locks, and I finished it at 12:30pm on Tuesday. I always wanted to know what was going to happen next, and what progress Audrey was going to make next, what would happen with Linus, Frank and everyone else. I definitely found it to be a page-turner and it was written well enough that even though the main character is a 14 year-old girl, the book never felt childish.

I could have done with a little more information as to what caused Audrey’s anxiety, but I came to understand that this novel is very much about the past being irrelevant and the present being important. So this missing puzzle piece could be overlooked on this occasion.

Something unique about this book was the short movie transcript excerpts that were littered throughout. I did like them as they related well to the story and was an inventive way of showing Audrey’s documentary project. However, sometimes during these moments I found myself wanting a little more information than the style of writing could allow, such as Audrey’s thoughts and feelings in that moment. I think I would have enjoyed the book with or without the small changes in style.

If you are a sufferer of anxiety who wishes to better inform those around you of what you are going through – give them this book. Obviously one novel cannot describe every in, out, up, down, inside and out of anxiety disorders. But it is a damn good start.

However, tell them to take it with a pinch of salt. The novel is very good descriptively, but the main character makes huge strides in a very small space of time and by the end she is basically cured. This is not accurate for most people. For novel purposes I understand why it was done, but remind your loved ones that in reality anxiety is not as easy to cure as a few trips to Starbucks and a new bae.

So yes, if you have anxiety and want to inform others or if you know someone with anxiety and want to better educate yourself, I highly recommend this novel. To be honest whoever you are Finding Audrey, in my opinion, is well worth the read.

Hardback | 286 pages

Goodreads rating: 3.83            Published: 09/06/2015 | Delacorte Books for Young Readers

My rating: 4.5