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Cinder

Cinder.jpg Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Read Date: January 11, 2017

Series: The Lunar Chronicles
Book #1

Amazon, Goodreads

Forgive me for bringing up Heartless again, but after reading that, I felt the need to devour everything Marissa Meyer has ever written. It was my personal goal to finish this book in one sitting, and that I did. I don’t regret one single minute. I loved this whole concept, fairy tale story meets The Terminator meets Star Wars. Inititally, when I first heard about the series, it didn’t sound too great to me. Sci-fi isn’t the easiest genre to get into, but this was perfect.

Cinder is a cyborg. What’s crazy is the struggle to fit in with a society that looks down on them while being perfectly fine with using the technology for their own benefit. Cyborgs just happen to have that technology inside of them as well as in the products they use. I would think that being a cyborg would make you cooler than your peers. Don’t feel like bringing a purse? I’ll just throw my lip gloss in my calf for when I need a touch up. Where did I leave that screwdriver? Oh, that’s OK, I have a spare in my palm. On top of all that usefulness, her user interface connected to her brain can show her news feeds, comms (text messages), and it can tell when someone is lying. She doesn’t even need to wear the Samsung VR for that. Yet this whole package of awesomeness is considered inferior. These people need a reality check. These robot parts have either saved humans’ lives or are making their lives easier (no more amputees), it doesn’t make them less human (just more robot/awesome).

“I think I have some oil in my calf if you’d like me to fix that wheel.” So thoughtful.

Cinder’s wit was right on point with the sense of humor I adore.

“I don’t actually remember anything from before the surgery.”
…”The cybernetic operation?”
“No, the sex change.”

“Speaking of eye surgery, do you realize you’re missing tear ducts?”
“What? Really? And I thought I was just emotionally withdrawn.”

Prince Kai was definitely adorable to me. I was excited whenever he showed up because I adored how assertive he is. Like when trying to get Cinder to go to the ball with him:

“Maybe you would change your mind? Because I am, you know.”
“The prince.”
“Not bragging,” he said quickly. “Just a fact.”

Swoon.

A complaint I had read prior to reading this was the lack of world building in a place that sounds absolutely fantastic. I can see that point of view. Marissa Meyer has actually grown in her writing skills because the world building in Heartless, her most recent novel, is superb (here I am, bringing up that novel again). Regardless, this book is clearly a series, it looks like the world will continue to be built amongst the books, which is nice because I am not a fan of information dumping. I can only handle so much before I need to go back and reread whatever the heck I just read.

This is an awesome spin on a fairy tale with a heroine who is very self-sufficient and is growing to become bad ass. There’s nothing like a heroine who decides to save the man, instead of being the damsel in distress. You go, girl.

five-stars

Six of Crows

six-of-crows Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Publication Date: September 29, 2015
Read Date: January 10, 2017

Amazon, Goodreads

First off, I do want to say that it was tough for me to get over the Heartless hangover and I thought that a book that actually got 5-star reviews from ALL of my favorite reviewers would be the perfect way to move on.

I was wrong. I’m actually still not over Heartless, but I don’t think that that was a reason for my thoughts about this book.

I do want to acknowledge that I am VERY MUCH in the minority on how I felt about this. Everyone raved and said it’s one of their favorite books. It was almost like an Ocean’s Eleven with this incredible heist but with a team of six. There’s magic, there’s wit, there’s a heist. Sounds absolutely perfect. Except I found that I could have put the book down at any time and not ever cared if I picked it back up or not. It just never really grabbed my attention.

I understand that there was a trilogy that had come out previous to this book that would have helped me understand the whole “Grisha-verse” but not having read that, this was very confusing in the beginning. There is a lot of terminology that I didn’t understand, nor was it ever explained. I wish there was a glossary in the back so that way when I forget whatever made up word I had come across, I wouldn’t be completely in the dark. That’s what is tough when creating a different language, making it to where it won’t be too confusing. But the purpose is defeated when you use that language on a character who doesn’t understand that particular language and then it isn’t explained. So now that character is in the dark as well as the reader. It just gets confusing.

The strongest aspect of this book is definitely the dialogue.

There was rage on his face when he turned back to Kaz. “Always one step ahead, aren’t you?”
“Geels, when it comes to you, I’d say I have a running start.”

Nina crossed her arms. “I’m mad at you too.”
“Me? Why?”
“I don’t know yet. I just am.”

“You came back for me.”
“I protect my investments.”

Investments. “I’m glad I’m bleeding all over your shirt.”

My favorite:

“If Pekka Rollins kills us all, I’m going to get Wylan’s ghost to teach my ghost how to play the flute just so that I can annoy the hell out of your ghost.”
Brekker’s lips quirked. “I’ll just hire Matthias’ ghost to kick your ghost’s ass.”

“My ghost won’t associate with your ghost,” Matthias said primly.

I did enjoy the characterization to a point. Nina was definitely my favorite, I love how assertive she is, especially when it comes to Matthias. One thing that threw me off was when Jesper all of a sudden thought that Wylan was cute late into the book. We had had previous chapters from Jesper’s perspective discussing Wylan, but never did he mention he thought he was cute. It should have been talked about it earlier. Teasing is something friends do to each other. That doesn’t always mean that the person “like” likes another person. So when it was brought up that Jesper liked Wylan, I was like…where the hell did this come from?

I also found it hard to believe that these characters are kids (teens) pulling off running a gang and breaking into two prisons. If they were older, I think I would have found it easier to believe. But being the mastermind of a gang and masterfully plotting every step at such a young age was a little ridiculous. I understand how in a place where they grew up, they would have to grow up fast. Look at Carl, from The Walking Dead. We’ve watched his character grow up on screen over the years. He’s had to grow up fast, and I think he’s grown into a bit of a badass. But do I think he would be capable of being a mastermind like the teens in this book? No. If they were a little older, maybe, but the suspension of disbelief was tough for me here.

I’m also not a fan of flashback scenes in the middle of the action. Which ended up happening a lot during the main action. It completely strips away the adrenaline from the scene.

Ultimately, this book just wasn’t for me. I’ve tried thinking back on it to see if maybe I was being too hard, but I just didn’t care for it. The cover is gorgeous though, and the dip-dyed pages in black is stunning. I’d honestly pick up the sequel because it’s only getting the one other book and that one is gorgeous too. Those pages are red!

two-and-a-half-stars

Heartless

heartless Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Publication Date: November 8, 2016
Read Date: January 5, 2017

Amazon, Goodreads

I haven’t had a book hangover quite like this one gave me in…I don’t even know how long. Too long. I couldn’t even think about picking anything else up when all I wanted to do was to be transported back to Wonderland.

My exact thoughts that I wrote down after reading the book were: I am so profoundly sad. Heartbroken; though my heart is more than broken, it’s actually gone. Which is eerily similar to what happened in the book.

I’m pretty sure I cried a couple of days after finishing this because it was just so good that I kept thinking back on it and then ended up becoming really sad all over again.

I know that so far all I’ve done is make you think that this book is sad, and that you probably don’t want to be sad when finishing a book, but that’s where you’re wrong. This made me feel so much emotion that I 100% plan on reading it again.

I purposefully went into this book without knowing too much about it. I knew it was a book in Wonderland, but I, shockingly, did not realize it was an origin story for how the Queen of Hearts came to be. I was perfectly content without having that information until I screwed it up for myself halfway through when I went on Goodreads to see if everyone else loved it as much as I was loving it. I tried to distance myself from the work then, knowing that it couldn’t have a happy ending, but I wouldn’t have ended it any other way. It was perfect. I wish it wasn’t a standalone book so I could get more from Wonderland and all of the awesome characters.

The Cheshire cat is awesome! Please allow me to share my favorite quotes from the book… all of which so happen to be from the Cheshire cat. Don’t worry, they’re not spoilers–they’re just incentive to read this.

Abigail told me that once she dreamed about a big glowing crescent shape hovering in the sky…and the next morning Cheshire showed up, all grinning teeth hovering in the air and begging for a saucer of milk. Years later and we still can’t seem to get rid of him.”

Cheshire’s head spun upside down. “How slow you are tonight. I was speaking of the rumors surrounding the new court joker.”
She perked up. “No. I haven’t heard anything about him.”
“Neither have I.”
She furrowed her brow. “Cheshire, that is the opposite of a rumor.”

“It is a dangerous thing to unbelieve something only because it frightens you.”

“Why, yes, I would enjoy a cup of tea. I take mine with lots of cream, and no tea. Thank you.”

“I’m only saying that you might be the King’s wife, but who is to say you couldn’t also have more clandestine relations with the Joker?” (This in particular is what I had been wondering for myself throughout the whole book–it would kind of be a way to solve the problem. It’s not like kings and queens have never done it before!)

Unashamedly, almost all of the quotes I marked were Cheshire quotes. Such a clever cat. Here’s another quote (not from Cheshire!) that specifically speaks to me as an editor.

“Sir Hare?” asked Catherine.
“Haigha,” said the March Hare. “Rhymes with mayor, but spelled with a g.”
She stared, not sure how Hare could be spelled with a g. Before she could ask again, Jest settled a hand on her shoulder and whispered, “I’ll spell it for you later.”

Moving on, I loved watching how Cath went from the girl who could dream up six impossible things before breakfast to being all “Off with its head!” I thought it was perfect. Instead of thinking of the Queen of Hearts as this awful character, I will forever think of her as the girl who only ever wanted to open up a bakery with her best friend. She never stood a chance. Also, I loved how we learn just why she hates white roses–I would too.

In my notes, I wrote heavily about how perfect this was through my tears. I’ll just leave this at bringing up how clever it was to throw it other stories, such as “The Raven” from Poe, and “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater.”

I just read this…but after writing this review, I think I might just read it all over again.

five-stars

The River at Night

the-river-at-night The River at Night by Erica Ferencik

Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Read Date: January 4, 2017

Amazon, Goodreads

Winifred is lonely. Her husband has left her for a grad student, and her beloved brother has taken his own life. But every year, her and her three best friends go on a vacation adventure to get away from all of the worries of the world and to catch up with each other. The latest trip idea though is worrisome. White water rafting on a river that has only ever been navigated by a 20 year old who is also going to be their guide? No way. But Wini doesn’t want to be left behind, the one who chickens out while the others end up having a blast and she’s left alone. The adventure ends up taking a turn for the worst, and not only are their friendships tested, but Wini has to dig deep and see what she’s made of to survive.

This is a suspenseful thriller that kept me captivated by the truthfulness and realness of their friendships with each other. I could picture my friends in each of those roles and would know that we would have acted very similarly to these characters. It felt like I was almost testing myself, that I was in Wini’s shoes and would have made similar choices.

There’s a similarity between Wini and her brother and a later character, Dean, that I really enjoyed. I think those scenes in particular are what really makes Wini have her own voice and it’s awesome.

Ultimately, in this was a suspenseful thriller, I felt like we were really watching Wini accept herself and to not be so afraid of the world, to be welcoming of whatever comes next because nothing can be as fearful as the river at night.

Many thanks to NetGalley for an advanced reader copy of this book!

four-stars

Right Behind You

right-behind-you Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner

Publication Date: January 23, 2017
Read Date: January 3, 2017

Series: FBI Profiler (Quincy & Rainie) Series
Book #7

Amazon, Goodreads

Retired FBI profilers Quincy and Rainie are in the process of adopting their foster daughter, Sharlah. Meanwhile, tragedy strikes the town and it’s looking like Sharlah’s brother Telly Ray Nash, whom she hasn’t seen in eight years, is the shooter. What does this mean for Sharlah and why is he killing again after beating his drunken father to death with a baseball bat years before?

This crime procedural is part of a series but it’s also a stand alone. I didn’t have any issues wondering what I was missing. With that out of the way, it took me a long time to get into this. I would read a chapter, then put it down and read something else. It took me a full month before I finally had read enough chapters to get me interested and then I couldn’t put it down.

What made it hard for me to get interested in the story was how much telling was going on versus showing. Especially in Sharlah’s perspective. She just explains everything and that’s not really the writing style I am interested in. It was really her and Shelly the Sheriff’s perspectives at the beginning that caused me to not keep reading this faster; I just didn’t really care. Shelly made a big deal about electronics being difficult too, which is just ridiculous, we’re not in the stone ages anymore.

Anyways, after pushing myself past the telling versus showing aspect, I started to get into the story. Both Telly and Sharlah have been bounced around the foster care system, Sharlah getting lucky and finding her forever home, and Telly finding a place that wanted to prepare him for the world. It was interesting to see the two different takes on foster care families, one who wanted a daughter to call their own and the other wanting to be mentors to really help a troubled teen find his way.

There are twists and turns, every law enforcement officer and volunteer after Telly, yet mayhem still ensues.  How can a 17 year old be so intelligent and stay out of sight and several steps ahead of everyone? It’s cool to see how he learned everything he knows whenever we were in his perspective. I liked Telly’s story-being able to understand him with each new chapter on him.

This was a fast read after getting into it, even if it’s 400 pages. If you’re a fan of the Quincy and Rainie series, I’m sure you’ll love it. Having never read the series before, I’m not sure this sold me on going back to find out more about the characters. One more note, I love how Gardner gets the names for her book. She holds little contests and offers up literacy infamy to those that donate to the animal shelter in her area-genius!

I received this advanced reader copy courtesy of the Penguin First to Read program.

three-stars

Different

different Different by Alicia Linwood

Tainted Element Series:
Book 1

Moira is an elemental, along with many other people in this world. There are people with pure elements, which are considered strong, and sub-elements, which are considered weak. Moira is starting to develop a second pure element: fire. It’s kind of freaking her out because that’s supposed to be unheard of. After traveling to an island where her mom might be able to help find answers, help finds Moira instead. Noah appears out of thin air to tell her there are others like her and that he can help. And so starts the adventure.

With so much to understand about this world, it was tough to figure it out when I had to keep rereading confusing sentences, such as:

“…I could feel myself reaching for it, but I couldn’t feel fire, which obviously didn’t mean I didn’t have it.”

There are many of these sentences with negative contractions throughout the sentence. It just makes it more difficult to read, because I have to keep going back to see that I’m thinking what it means to tell me. It’s just unnecessary when a simpler sentence would do. Also, everyone seems to be licking their lips before they say anything. Is the air dry there? On an island? I don’t think so. I don’t want to keep reading about every single person licking their lips before they need to speak.

Timing was off whenever cooking was involved with dialogue. In one scene, someone starts making pancakes (or french toast in another scene), and dialogue goes back and forth twice and all of a sudden the pancakes (or french toast) is done. What? Not even 30 seconds have gone by! That’s a bit too much liberty with the time there.

So the above issues coupled with the grammar and editing issues left much to be desired. I didn’t even care about the cliffhanger because I just didn’t really care about anyone. I do have to say that I loved the loyalty and trust Moira had towards her parents; that was really commendable and it made her a stronger heroine. But the start of what was looking like a weird love triangle despite the lack of romance amidst the mind control and elementals hunting other elementals, just isn’t really interesting me.

However, because of how much rereading I had to do to make sure I understood this world, it’s tempting to continue on with the series in the hopes it gets stronger. I invested myself enough to understand the world, I might as well give it one more book to see if I’ll really stick around.

two-stars

Wicked

wicked Wicked by Joanne Fluke

In this modern adaptation of Agatha Christine’s Ten Little Indians, we have a group of college kids staying in this old mansion for a writing workshop. Things start to go very wrong when they’re stuck on the property and fellow peers start getting picked off one by one, eerily like one student’s thriller, “Ten Little Writers.”

When starting this book, I was confused because I had no idea these were going to be college students, and then I had no idea what year of college they were even in. One girl, Angela, was going to be a freshman, but that’s all I got for deciding what age they were. It kind of read more like a young adult novel in that sense.

There wasn’t too much character development aside from our main girl, Eve. She went from being the mean girl who was going to reign the sorority and the school to being relaxed and caring. Because she was the only one who was fully developed, understandably as the MC, I didn’t care when a fellow student was picked off. There was no reason for me to care other than  “Oooo I wonder who is going to be killed next and when they’re going to start accusing each other.”

My biggest issue, and I don’t really recall it being explained, was WHY does NO ONE have a cell phone? The phone lines are disconnected to the house so they can’t call for help. You’re telling me that none of these college kids brought a cell phone with them? Yeah freaking right. College students are attached at the hip with their cell phones; I know, I used to be one. Even if the workshop had said that cell phones weren’t allowed, they still would have snuck them in to at least have them at night or during downtime. So that was wholly unrealistic to me.

I was able to figure out who the killer is pretty simply; the red herrings thrown in never detracted from who I knew it would be. There were some spelling errors, but other than that, it was still a fun and fast read.

three-stars