Lazy Saturday Review: Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer

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Title: Fairest
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles
Edition: Paperback, 272 pages
Publication Details: January 27th 2015 by Feiwel & Friends
Genre(s): YA; Fairy-tale Retellings
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it!

Goodreads // Purchase

In 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.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

Review

I was reeeeeeeeeeeeally excited about this book just because I always NEED MORE LUNAR CHRONICLES, but I also wasn’t sure if I wanted Levana’s back story. She’s such a great villian, I was worried this spin-off book would endear me to her or at least feel sorry for her.

But, I glad that I didn’t. Yes, in Fairest we see Levana as a teen and the events that helped spark the madness in her, but Levana was well and truly messed up before her story starts in this book.

Fairest is a fast-paced, often uncomfortable read about a haunted, complex character who chooses to use her gifts for her own gain, to the detriment of those around her… and that’s an understatement. Levana is one batshit-crazy, evil madam, even at the age of fifteen. I loved it!

If you’ve enjoyed the series so far, I’m sure you’d love this one too. It also gives us more information on Winter, the eponymous character of book four, so I’d definitely recommend giving Fairest a go before the release of that one. Let’s face it, we have time. TOO MUCH TIME! 😦

unicorn rating 4

Fairest is available in paperback from Waterstones now.

Blood Red, White Snow by Marcus Sedgwick

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Title: Blood Red, Snow White
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 304 pages
Publication Details: July 6th 2007 by Orion Children’s Books
Genre(s): YA; Historical Fiction; Fairy-Tales
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from Dora, thanks Dora!

Goodreads // Purchase


It is 1917, and the world is tearing itself to pieces in a dreadful war, but far to the east of the trenches, another battle is breaking out – the Russian Revolution has just begun…

Blood Red, Snow White captures the mood of this huge moment in history through the adventure of one man who was in the middle of it all; Arthur Ransome, a young British journalist who had first run away to Russia to collect fairy tales.

Review


Only Marcus Sedgwick could successfully write a spy-thriller-cum-fairy-tale-cum-love story written in the Russian Revolution. I mean seriously, I don’t know how he does it.

It’s no secret that I love Sedgwick. I’m currently trying to work my way through his books that I’ve missed and Blood Red, Snow White was at the top of my agenda.

The book is told in three parts, all of which are written beautifully yet different in styles. The first, is written as a fairy-tale and depicts the early days of the revolution, using a great bear as a metaphor for Russia.

The second, is based on the real life of Arthur Ransome, a writer who went to Russia to learn more about Russian fairy-tales but who ended up working as a journalist and getting unwittingly involved in the surrounding war, and seen as a potential spy. Here, the lyrical fairy-tale style of writing gives way to a more suspenseful spy-thriller.

In the final part, Ransome falls in love with Evgenia, Trotsky’s secretary, which presents all kinds of problems, not to mention his estranged wife and daughter at home. This part of the book raises more questions as to where Ransome’s allegiances lie. Should he choose the woman he loves, and turn his back on his own country? Or should he use his position to try and keep the peace?

I’m so glad I loved this book, because I was pretty dubious about how a book could be all of these things. But it is, and the way Sedgwick adapts his writing to the different parts is what makes it a success. I’m also glad because I don’t always find historical fiction that exciting, but mix in a fairy-tale and bam! So good!

I thought Blood Red, Snow White was such a clever book; using a relatively unknown historical figure who wrote fairy-tales, and turning his life into a fairy-tale itself is a genius idea, and Marcus Sedgwick pulls it off so well.

unicorn rating

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

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Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 336 pages
Publication Details: January 13th 2015 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

Review

YES! This is what I’ve been waiting for by Holly Black.

Since absolutely loving The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, I knew I needed to read more by her. I had planned on reading her back catalogue but you know how it is…so little time. Therefore, I was pretty thrilled when I got approved for an advanced copy of this one. And rightly so!

The Darkest Part of the Forest is a fairy book with bite. It reads like a deliciously dark classic fairy tale, but it’s thoroughly modern too.

In the small town of Fairfold, humans go about their days like any average community, but there’s just one difference, faeries also exist. On the whole, faeries have come to be accepted and their magic is seen as harmless. However, many people in Fairfold continue to abide by certain rules and superstitions in order to make them immune to their magic, making you raise an eyebrow as to whether they are as harmless as everyone thinks they are.

The town has an interesting history to say the least. And at the centre of it all, is the horned boy who sleeps in the glass coffin in the middle of the forest. He’s been there for as long as anyone remembers and he never wakes up, or ages.

Protagonists Hazel and Ben have fawned over the horned boy since they were little, naming him their Prince, they both dream of kissing him and they long for him to wake up.

But then he does…. and Hazel and Ben’s lives soon start to unravel. Can they protect themselves and save their Prince, or will their secrets come between them and destroy everything ?

To show your regard, you give each other other lovely bouquets of lies.”

I’m finding it so hard to review this book, which is always a sign that I loved it! There are just so many things I liked about it, it’s hard to put into words.

For starters, I found the writing style beautiful. It’s one of those books where I just wanted to highlight passage after passage. It was honest and heartbreaking, and magical all at once.

Hazel never cried. She was forged from iron, she never broke. No one was tougher than his sister. The worst part was how quietly she wept, as if she’d taught herself how, as if she was so used to doing it that it had just become the way she cried.”

Hazel and Ben really stand out as great protagonists for me. I loved how close they were but that they had so many secrets from each other which twisted and tainted their lives. I loved that they were both in love with the horned boy, and that there was never any hoohaah about Ben being a young gay character – which is exactly how it should be – but you still rarely get gay characters in stories without their sexuality being a big issue, or the driving force of the plot.

I was blown away by how Holly Black built this world of fae but made it so modern. It felt like such a perfect juxtaposition, something I haven’t seen pulled off so well before. For example, she uses age-old folklore such as the residents of Fairfold filling their pockets with iron and oats to protect them from faery magic and in the same breath, the horned boy attracts tourists wanting to take selfies with him.

I loved that Hazel was a Knight. I loved that the kids of Fairfold seemed so normal despite living amongst faeries. I mean, they get wasted  and dance around (and on top) of the the horned boy’s coffin… so much to love.

I can’t even get started on the romances. Seriously. I’ll just stop now.

The only reason I’ve given it 4 unicorns instead of 5 is because it took me quite a few chapters to get into it. But that’s the only tiny grumble I have.

unicorn rating 4Available now in hardback!

WWW Wednesday 13.08.14

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To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

Holy Crap! How is it Wednesday again already?

That aside, here are my answers this week.

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Currently Reading:
I’m almost finished with Ever Near by Melissa MacVicar, which is a really easy and enjoyable read about a girl who is being troubled by ghosts.

Recently Finished:
Godmother by Carolyn Turgeon. I didn’t get on with it at all and gave up about 50 pages before the end. My rather grumpy review will be up tomorrow.

Up Next:
I really don’t know what I’m in the mood for, but probably either Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead, She’s Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick or Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence.

Lazy Saturday Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

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Title: Cress
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3
Author: Marissa Meyer
Edition: Paperback, 550 pages
Published: February 6th 2014 by Puffin Books
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy; Sci-Fi
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it!

Goodreads
Purchase

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen 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.

What can I say about Cress that hasn’t been said already? Very little probably! Is it amazing? YES. Is it a compelling, satisfying continuation of what I’ve already declared to be my favourite new series? YES. But is it too long? Hell YES.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved this book. I loved Meyer’s galactic take on Rapunzel, I loved the dynamics between Scarlet and Wolf, and Cress an Captain Thorne (bless her) but I do think it went on a bit in places, no?

To be fair, it might be because I was really busy at the time of reading it, so I was grabbing just a few minutes here and there to read, but sometimes I felt myself skimming parts.

However, that just makes me want to read it again in more substantial sittings because ahhhhhh, on the whole, I can’t stop fangirling over this series.

I still can’t get over how it shouldn’t work. Fairy-tale retellings meets Star Wars, with a bit of Dystopia thrown in…I mean it sounds ridiculous, but it’s just not. Cress, felt even more Star Wars-y to me than Cinder did, and that’s not a bad thing. I’m just trying to figure out who Darth Vader is, Sybil or Levana?

(Anywaaayyyyy) Towards the end of Cress, we’re introduced to Princess Winter. And wow, how batshit is she!? I’m quite upset how long we have to wait for the next book. I have no doubt in my mind that it’s going to be amazing.

I need to know what happens with Cinder and Kai RIGHT NOW!

unicorn rating 4

The Lunar Chronicles is now available in paperback from Waterstones. See how you can get 10% off here.

A Cyborg, A Red Head and Some Wolf-Men…

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

www1 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 never expected to love this series as much as I do. I am a fan of fairy tale retellings and reimaginings, but I thought the idea of Cinderella being cyborg was going a bit far. Oh how wrong was I!? It’s not too far. It’s exactly far enough, and it’s amazing.

In this, the second book, we continue where Cinder left off – with Cinder captured and imprisoned – and so naturally the first port of call is for our head-strong protagonist to escape, which she does with the help of loveable if not slightly stupid Captain Thorne (not even a captain).

I really liked the introduction of Thorne. He’s one of those hopeless rogues with a good heart, and he bounces off Cinder well. I was so glad this didn’t turn into some kind of love triangle between him, Cinder and Prince Kai as well. There’s a bit of initial flirting, but I think we can always tell his attempts are going to be futile, and it’s amusing.

At the same time we are introduced to Scarlet, a feisty, humble farm girl who’s had a bit of a rough ride. Her mother died and her father left and now her grandma has disappeared. With the help of the mysterious Wolf, she sets out to find her and discovers that her grandma is not quite the person she thought she was, and maybe Wolf isn’t either.

Oh seriously guys, I just loved this. Meyer did such a great job at intertwining these two stories. I never felt annoyed about the changing POV like I usually do with multiple perspectives, probably because I was equally as in love with both of them.

The action in Scarlet is constant, the pace is fast and it’s written beautifully, I can’t find anything bad to say about it. I thought the Wolf-Men army was genius, the relationships are all so realistic and refreshing, and Queen Lavana – even with little page space is truly, truly evil.

I wanted more Kai action, but this wasn’t his story so it made sense that he had a smaller role. I think we needed that distance between Kai and Cinder to further the plot. This book reminded me a lot of Graceling in that way. The protagonist’s relationship is not what’s important in the plot, they are their own people, working on their own agendas and without that it wouldn’t be nearly as compelling.

Meyer also continues to do an amazing job at using fairy tale elements and completely turning them on their head. Scarlet in her red hoodie, being taken in by Wolf makes you think of Little Red Riding Hood in a different light, just as cyborg Cinder does with Cinderella; it’s genius. A lot of people have tried to retell fairy tales, but I’ve read none as successful as this series.

And seriously, how awesome is Wolf!? Being a fan of his is not without its ups and downs in this book, but…I can’t help it…LOVE!

I am champing at the bit to get my hands on Cress. Scarlet ends on a ‘arrrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhh what’s going to happen now’ moment and I can’t wait to see what Cinder and Scarlet will do next! Will they stop the war? Will they save Kai from Levana? ARGH!

unicorn rating

Disclosure?: Nope, I bought it.
Title: Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2)
Author: Merissa Meyer
Details: Paperback, 452 pages
Published: February 7th 2013 by Puffin Books
My Rating: 5/5

Cinderella meets Star Wars? Err YES! (Lazy Saturday Review)

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

11235712 (1)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.

Every review I’ve read for Cinder, gushes about it, which is probably why it took me so long to get round to it. I’m weird like that. But this is another one of those books that I can’t believe I didn’t pick up sooner. STUPID, STUBBORN ME.

This review will be no different to everyone else’s out there. THERE WILL BE GUSHING.

It really shouldn’t work: A re-imagining of Cinderella set in the future? Cinderella as a Cyborg? Interplanetary crisis and impending war… starring Cinderella? It should be ridiculous, but it’s not. It’s pretty Amazing with a capital A!

I literally couldn’t find a single thing I disliked about this book. Nothing.

Cinder is an awesome protagonist. She’s feisty but vulnerable, she’s not particularly happy that she’s a cyborg, and worries about certain hot princes finding out (OK just one), but she’s not whiny, and she doesn’t let it rule her life.

Enter Prince Kai, he’s stuck in an impossible position. He’s about to become King and the only way of keeping peace between his kingdom and the powerful, menacing Lunars is to marry the sinister Luna Queen. Not only that, but a plague is striking people down left, right and center and the evil Queen has a cure. At a price, of course.

I completely fell in love with Kai. He’s not conceited, or stubborn like most princes in YA novels are. He’s afraid for his country, and afraid that he can’t rule it, but again, there’s no whiny self degradation here. He doesn’t particularly want to be a martyr either, but he’s willing to do anything to stop his people from dying.

The action was constant, the romance was a breath of fresh air, and the ties to Cinderella really fit into the narrative.

I’m going to stop here because… GUSHING.

Just get me the next book, STAT!

Cinder, have all the unicorns, take them all!

unicorn rating

Disclosure?: Nope, I bought it!
Title: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Details: Paperback, 387 pages
Published: January 5th 2012 by Puffin
My Rating: 5/5