Saturday, April 25, 2015

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Published:  February 5, 2013
Synopsis from Goodreads: Cinder, 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.
I'm taking a forced break from Cress to finally write this review. And when I say "forced" I mean, if I don't write this now, this review is never going to get written because all the things just happened and I need to keep reading.

Scarlet takes place right where Cinder left off except with the addition of new characters and a split point of view. The book alternates between being in Scarlet's perspective then going back to Cinder. Scarlet is one of the many new characters that we get in this sequel.To be perfectly honest, though I really liked Scarlet, I definitely liked Cinder more. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that after a whole book of reading just about Cinder, I was much more interested in her story rather than needing to start fresh with Scarlet's. Though Scarlet is pretty interesting herself and if you're intuitive enough, it becomes clear, fairly quickly why she's important. (I was not intuitive enough and didn't catch the hint in the beginning. I blame that entirely on reading too quickly.)

The book begins in Scarlet's point of view. Her grandmother has gone missing and though the French police have stopped searching for her, Scarlet doesn't believe her grandmother would just leave unexpectedly. One thing that wasn't very explained is why the people of Rieux, the town where Scarlet and her grandmother lived, believed her grandmother was crazy. She was an ex-military pilot who now ran a farming business. There doesn't really seem to be much off about that but the townspeople believed she was crazy and therefore told the police thus ending the search. We then meet Wolf who is a fighter in an illegal fight ring but who knows more about Scarlet's grandmother's disappearance than he first puts off. Generally speaking, I really like Scarlet. She's a feisty little redhead who pairs nicely with Wolf's generally quiet and held back demeanor.

(Every time Thorne wanted to be called "Captain," this is all I pictured.)

We don't get back to Cinder until chapter four just as she's escaping prison. She literally falls into the cell of "Captain" Carswell Thorne who has easily become my absolute favorite character of the series. If you crossed Jack Sparrow, Starlord, and Flynn Rider, you would end up with Thorne and his hilarious amazingness. Together Thorne and Cinder escape from the prison of the Eastern Commonwealth and become the most wanted criminals in the Earthen Union. They steal back Thorne's already stolen ship and instead of following the advice Dr. Erland gave Cinder at the end of book one, they go on a hunt to dig up more clues about Cinder's lost past. Meanwhile, back in the Commonwealth, Kai is dealing with the repercussions of losing Cinder and needing to appease Queen Levana.

Several spoiler-y things that I enjoyed:

- I thought the Red Riding Hood story was incorporated excellently. Especially, with the Lunar glamor and using it to trick Scarlet into thinking she was talking to her grandmother. Honestly, I was so invested in what was happening that I didn't even catch the whole "my grandma, what big teeth you have" moment until after it happened and I was like mindblown. Marissa Meyer just did such a good job with everything that I forgot that I was reading a retelling.

- Iko's the Rampion!! Aww I was so sad when Adri destroyed Iko in the first book but I am so so happy she's back and adorably hating that she's huge ship. But then again, Thorne is there to flatter her and I love how the lights brighten or the temperature rising when Iko blushes.

- Wolf is so cute. I love how awkward he is. But then at the same time, he can be pretty terrifying. I really thought that he really considered rejoining the Order again once he was under Jael's influence.

- I loved learning about Cinder's past and how Michelle Benoit kept her in stasis for so long in the barn. Just how all the puzzle pieces of Cinder's past started to come together was fun to read about. Though, I get this feeling that Lihn Garan is alive somewhere. Like, somehow, he needs to be alive so that he can mass produce his invention and give the Earthens a fighting chance at winning against Levana.

One thing that did bother me a bit about this book is that it took a long time for Scarlet and Cinder's storylines to meet up. I honestly thought that it would happen much much sooner rather than almost three-fourths of the way into the book. But at the same time, the storylines individually were interesting and action-y enough for me to not get annoyed with skipping back and forth like I usually do with dual point of views. All in all, this was an excellent follow up to Cinder and already, I really, really, really need November to roll around quickly so I can get my hands on Winter.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Published:  January 3, 2012
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
My initial thought upon finishing:

This book has been sitting on my shelf for almost a year now. I bought it when I first discovered the glory that is BookOutlet then I continued to push it further and further back on my TBR. And now, I can't think of any reason why I thought that would be a good idea. Afterall: Cinderella + Fairytale Retelling + Cyborgs = Freaking Amazing Story.

For anyone out there who might be thinking, 'Well, sci-fi isn't really my thing', let me just say that it's not really mine either. I'm not even really into Star Wars even though I've seen all the movies. But, Marissa Meyer has crafted such a fascinating world with creative characters that are all blended seamlessly into the classic Cinderella story that it's easy to forget that you're not all that into sci-fi. Unlike Throne of Glass, which is just loosely inspired by Cinderella, Cinder has ALL the elements from the original story including a wicked stepmother, step sisters, Prince Charming, a ball, and a glass slipper (or cyborg foot, rather). However, it's not just a reiteration of the same storyline, Marissa Meyer takes all the original elements and weaves them into a story much bigger than the original tale could have ever achieved.

Cinder takes place 126 years after World War IV and all the countries of Earth have banned together in an alliance against the Lunars and their queen, Levana. A plague has weakened the Earthen's economy and has left them weakened against the everlasting threat of war that the Lunars present. The story itself takes place in New Beijing - something that is amazing all in itself. When like 98% of YA novels take place strictly in America, it's refreshing and fascinating to read a book that is set in a different country. I loved the little cultural aspects that Meyer included in her writing. Though I'm not Chinese (I'm Filipino), it was fun to read about the little tidbits of Asian influence that I recognized from my own culture or learn about whenever I looked up something I didn't understand. For example, I had to look up "Lihn" - I thought it was a title or term of respect but I found out that a person's family name is sometimes spoken first in China rather than after their first name like I'm used to. Also, I looked up the suffixes that are used a lot and discovered that they're comparable to the honorifics used in Filipino dialects.

I absolutely loved the characters in this book. I loved how Cinder's cyborg-ness was easily included in her narration. (I know it's written in third person but it was basically through Cinder's POV.) I thought it would have been distracting but it was actually kind of cool. I also liked how she wasn't a typical girly girl. She's constantly dirty from her job as a mechanic and she wasn't fangirling over Kai like it seemed was common among teenage girls. Kai was a cool and charming as well though he's not the most swoon-worthy love interest I've read about. (Sorry, I'm still stuck on Chaol... that's a topic for another conversation though.) Peony and Iko are by far the most adorable characters ever and I want to hug them. Adri is as horrifying as an wicked stepmother should be. Queen Levana, though, is an amazing villain and I cannot wait to read Fairest.

I'm currently in the middle of reading Scarlet and I'm already hooked. So if you haven't picked up this series yet, it's really a must read. It's a fast-paced, I-can't-stop-reading kind of book and you definitely won't regret it.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

March Wrap Up

I sort of basically failed at getting through my March TBR. I had six books on last month's list and I only read two out of the five plus one that wasn't even on it. It was actually my first time choosing books ahead of time for the whole month and I'm not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, I liked knowing that I had a set stack of books that I wanted to get through. I generally don't know what to read next when I finish a book (provided, of course, that the book isn't a series - in which case, marathoning is always my thing.) So, I spend days starting books from my piles and trying to figure out which one I feel like reading. This usually results in a reading slump which I proceed to procrastinate working through. But, with a monthly TBR, I had a much smaller set of books to choose from which made it easier to pick what to read next. However, my problem with choosing books ahead of time is new books come out every day and I work at Barnes and Noble. I want to read all the new books! That's how I ended up reading The Haunting of Sunshine Girl which was not at all on my list.

Anyway, now onto the wrap- up:

I started March by finishing Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas which I began reading February. I didn't write a review on this one because I was in Virginia when I finished it and I didn't bother to bring my laptop just for a weekend trip. All in all, I LOVED this book. I knew going into it that my feels were going to break (because SAM CORTLAND) but holy crap I wasn't prepared. I just wasn't. And learning the history behind the line "I Am Celaena Sardothien and I will not be afraid" nearly broke me. Also, I have serious hate for Arobynn. By the way, is it just me or does Sarah J. Maas have a sincerely cinematic way of writing? By which I mean, when I'm reading her books, I can almost hear an epic musical score playing in the background and visualize what the camera angles would be to make the scene as amazing and dramatic as possible. She's just amazing all around. This was a 5 out of 5 read for sure.

I also read:
Click the covers to read my reviews.

Fairytale Reading Challenge 2015: Beastkeeper is a Beauty and the Beast retelling making it the second out of my 16-20 books for my Wise Princess goal.

Also in March, my new blog design from Livia went live which brought with it a new rating system. You'll notice my ratings at the bottoms of all of my March reviews. They look like this:
or this  
When I was discussing them with Livia, we were hoping they wouldn't be confusing. Hopefully they aren't but just in case: each pair of shoes is a one full star while any single slipper is a half star. So the first image would be 3.5 stars and the second would be 4 stars. Is that confusing? I'm hoping it's not but do tell me your thoughts.

For April, I'm putting myself on a DNF quest as Lisa from Bookish Broads puts it. The reason I didn't get through as many books as I wanted to in March is because I forced myself to finish books that I just really wasn't into. Though both Beastkeeper and The Scorpio Races were short, they took me forever to read. I hate not finishing a book but if I'm really not feeling it, what's the point right? So, for April, I'll take on Lisa's quest and if I'm not really into a book by page 100, I'll DNF it with no guilt and simply move on to the next.

I'm probably not going to do an April TBR post but since I'm currently reading Cinder by Marissa Meyer and loving it even though I'm only on chapter two, it's a pretty good bet that Scarlet, Cress, and Fairest will be next on my list.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie

The Haunting of a Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie
Published:  March 24, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Based on the wildly popular YouTube channel, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl has been described as “ Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity for the new media age.” YA fans new and old will learn the secrets behind Sunshine—the adorkable girl living in a haunted house—a story that is much bigger, and runs much deeper, than even the most devoted viewer can imagine…
Since the Goodreads synopsis doesn't really tell you anything, here's the book trailer which gives you a much better gist of the storyline:

This book was so so fun to read!! It was just quick and entertaining and I couldn't put down. It's set in Ridgemont, Washington where sixteen year old Sunshine has just moved when her mother Kat got a new job. Sunshine was always different - from being adopted to having a taste for vintage clothes and her taxidermied owl. Her new home isn't at all like the warm, sunny city of Austin, Texas where she had lived all her life. Rather, Ridgemont is constantly rainy or foggy and her new house is the epitome of creepy - with lights that are never bright enough, old mildewy smells, and of course, a resident ghosts. Along with Nolan - a nerdy but cute boy from her visual arts class - it's up to Sunshine to find out what the ghosts want from her before they become too much of a danger to her mom and herself.

Before I read this book, I had never heard of Paige McKenzie's YouTube webseries. The only reason I foudn out about it was because it was a featured article on the bookseller insiders page at my job. But as soon as I read about it, I knew I had to get my hands on it. Plus, I just fell in love with the cover. Like I would buy this book just  because I love the cover. Normally, I'm not into ghosts and scary things. I absolutely hate scary movies. But every once in a while, I get in the mood for a scary-ish book to read and this exactly fit my mood. The creep-factor isn't too high though. Actually, considering this is a YA book, it's pretty mild. It's sort of reminiscent of R. L. Stine's Goosebumps at first but it goes a little beyond that. I can definitely see middle-grade readers enjoying this. There's basically no romance though it's hinted at for future books. My only problem with this book is Sunshine has a really strange habit of saying things like "good golly" and "Jesus Louiseezus." I kid you not, she said Jesus Louiseezus. It was just so jarring to read such old fashioned phrases. Considering I think Paige McKenzie is still a teen herself, I don't think any modern teenager would ever say either of those things. It was just so strange. I mean, the book gives a reason for why Sunshine likes old fashioned things but really now, "Jesus Louiseezus"???

All in all, I definitely liked this book. It's not a book that's going to really wow you with amazing writing and unexpected plot twists but it's definitely entertaining and I'm rating it 4 out of 5 just because it was entertaining. If you're looking for a quick, fun read definitely check it out. So far, a second book is due to come out October 2015 and there may be more after that!

In the mean time, what are some of your favorite scary reads? 
Have you ever seen a ghost? Do you live in a haunted house? 
Tell me your stories - or rather don't because they'll probably just freak me out.  
Except, I really want to know if you do because I'm contradicting like that.
Also, have you ever uttered the phrase "Jesus Louiseezus"?

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