25 January 2016

Review: Mystic City

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Theo Lawrence
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 397
Rating: 5 out of 10

Summary (Goodreads rules): Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City's two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents' sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud - and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths.

But Aria doesn't remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can't conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place.

Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection - and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city - including herself.

What I Think: This book was given a five out of 10 because it was pretty convenient and predictable. There weren't too many surprises in this one. I figured the plot out almost right away. It was a very basic young adult novel. Hero girl, hero guy. Falling in love. You know how it goes. I would say that it firmly belongs in the YA section due to its ease of reading and language. It was well written but didn't make me think about anything at all. I wasn't considering the schemes or the characters. I didn't have to read deeper into any of the conversations or anything like that.

That said, I thought this novel was a decent one. I enjoyed reading it and there were a lot of cute moments in it. I struggled with my anger over what was happening to this girl and the situation she was in but I didn't relate very well to her. It claims to be a Romeo and Juliette novel but that is a very superficial description since she is forced into that role and it has nothing to do with her choice. So don't pick up this novel because of that description (and don't get me started on how wrong Romeo and Juliette "romances" are, okay, because they are always a disaster...PEOPLE DIED, OKAY?! Sorry...it makes me mad). 

It was interesting enough. It was a fast enough read. It was just unique enough. It was just enough. Not outstanding, not horrible. I enjoyed it and would consider finishing the series but I'm not going to put this on the top of the reread pile. If you really enjoy YA than you will enjoy this book but I can see you it could be too young for many readers.

20 January 2016

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

Reviewer: Kristen
Author: Stephanie Perkins 
Pages: 338
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 7 out of 10 

Summary (you rock my world, Goodreads): Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. 

My Thoughts: So, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve written a review and I’m not even sure how to start it right now. Awkward. How’ve you been? Good? Glad to hear it.

I read Anna and the French Kiss back when it still had the pastel cover with the people on it, and I absolutely looooved it. That love, my friends, stems from one Etienne St. Clair; the amazing specimen that is the American boy with the British accent and the French name all wrapped up in a very respectable 5 foot 4 frame. He was hilarious, and swoon-y and everything that a girl looks for when choosing a fictional boyfriend. I mean, he makes the list with Peeta Mellark and Prince Eric, need I say more? Now, the reason that I’m talking about this is because I think a lot of the magic of the first book was wrapped up in Etienne. And Paris. Let’s not forget Paris.

Did I like Lola and the Boy Next Door? I did. Did I love Lola and the Boy Next Door? No, I definitely didn’t love it. A lot of my not-loving feelings toward it is because I didn’t click with the characters. I didn’t really understand Lola or why she was acting the way she was half the time (especially with the weird older boyfriend who I hated so much I’ve promptly forgotten his name). But, she was eccentric and herself, and I kind of loved that about her. She was unapologetic (most the time) and wild and very much a teen. I still don’t know how I felt about Cricket. He was just kind of there? I don’t know, there was a lot of pining and a lot of miscommunication and if they would have just talked to each other and sorted things out when they first ran into each other, the novel wouldn’t be necessary. I hate it when that happens. Miscommunication is one of my biggest pet peeves.

The writing was fantastic; it was simple and elegant and easy to follow. I picked this book up and finished it in the same sitting, and immediately dived into Isla, so I clearly like the series. It’s just not my absolute favourite. That place is saved for Etienne.

 Final Thoughts: If you're in the mood for contemporary, look no further. Stephanie Perkins is the queen of contemporary. 

18 January 2016

Review: Kalahari (Corpus #3)

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Jessica Khoury
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 368
Rating: 6 out of 10

Summary (Thanks, Goodreads): Deep in the Kalahari Desert, a Corpus lab protects a dangerous secret…
But what happens when that secret takes on a life of its own?
When an educational safari goes wrong, five teens find themselves stranded in the Kalahari Desert without a guide. It’s up to Sarah, the daughter of zoologists, to keep them alive and lead them to safety, calling on survival know-how from years of growing up in remote and exotic locales. Battling dehydration, starvation and the pangs of first love, she does her best to hold it together, even as their circumstances grow increasingly desperate.
But soon a terrifying encounter makes Sarah question everything she’s ever known about the natural world. A silver lion, as though made of mercury, makes a vicious, unprovoked attack on the group. After a narrow escape, they uncover the chilling truth behind the lion’s silver sheen: a highly contagious and deadly virus that threatens to ravage the entire area—and eliminate life as they know it.
In this breathtaking new novel by the acclaimed author of Origin and Vitro, Sarah and the others must not only outrun the virus, but its creators, who will stop at nothing to wipe every trace of it.

My Thoughts: Side note: this is the third in a series but the other novels only provide basic background information. They aren't actually important to this novel at all. New characters, new plot, new location. I'm assuming that eventually all the novels will tie together but it wasn't an issue here.

ANYWAY, this novel was full of twists and turns. Surprises were around every corner. The beginning worried me because I wasn't sure that I could get into a novel that was full of whiney teenagers (I didn't read the summary before I began, to be honest with you; I just like the author) but it turned out to be fine. The various characters ended up rounding out the novel very well. The cast was necessary for all the twists and turns, for the excitement. I thought that they oddly worked well together and they seemed like real people in many ways. Their priorities were a little messed up, even for spoiled rich kids, but it was fine, I suppose.

I was a little disappointed in the major "plot twist" that was built up to be much larger than it actually was. Even so, I wanted the kids to survive, to make it through. I thought that Sarah was a genius and was constantly impressed with the survival skills. Obviously she had to have some but I am a city kid and know nothing of surviving in the wilderness (not that I want to after reading this novel). I lived a unique life through the reading of this novel.

The bad guys were an interesting sort. It was further away from the corporation that the rest of the series was but that was okay. The bad guys were still bad enough and you didn't know enough about them to think you had everything figured out. I believed that they were horrible people that would do whatever it took. 

Basically, the survival skills taught you something and that plot was kept busy and moving at a fast pace with enough near misses and character development to keep everyone happy. I enjoyed this novel quite a lot. I almost wish that it was a little bit longer. Check it out.

15 January 2016

Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Reviewer: Kayla
Author: Susan Dennard
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 8/10

Summary (Goodreads. Da real MVP):

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

My Thoughts:

"I’ll always follow you, Safi, and you’ll always follow me. Threadsisters to the end."

What a fantastic way to start off the reading year! Honestly this book, story, and world has so much potential to be a memorable and riveting trilogy/series/idk what the plans for this book is. While I took immense pleasure in the story, as it really was a wild ride, I had some large problems which I couldn't get past, which is why I couldn't commit to a 5/5 stars. But I will happily start with why I loved this book.

I'm going to start right out by saying that it was so utterly refreshing to read about the relationship between the two main girls in the story. I was expecting much from the friendship bond between them and I was not disappointed! The idea of the Thread-family bonds between people is an interesting and relatable concept that I really appreciated and had was completely on board with! I liked the lack of romance (even though romance was inevitably there, but I will get to that later), and it was clear the thriving relationship that could bend and break their world is through the Threadsisters. Susan Dennard made the main relationship not one of romance, but of friendship and sisterhood, but she didn't do it in a blatant way that screamed "My book is different than others because of this". It was lovely and inspiring and I liked it very much.

The characters in this story are all wonderful. There was not one I blatantly hated, which is saying much because I usually hate at least one character in a novel, usually because we are supposed to hate them. In this novel, there is no one "evil mastermind" the reader is supposed to feel hatred towards. Safi is witty and hilarious, and she has just the right amount of snarky sarcasm that I am wholly on board with. She went through such a character development in this book, and I was surprised of that. And it didn't move too quickly. The development happened in due time and went well with the plot of the story. Safi and her carelessness is a perfect contrast to Iseult, her Threadsister, who is calculating and "timid". I use that term lightly because there were moments where she seemed to be a tad timid, but her kickassery proved her to be otherwise. I loved their relationship as it seemed so natural and I WANT TO BE THEIR FRIEND.
I LOVED AEDUAN! Like, from the get go I knew he was going to be important, and I loved getting an insight into his character. There is so much more to learn about him and his past and he was probably my favourite character. His interactions between Iseult, Evrane, and Prince Leopold were memorable and quite important into learning about him as a person/character ... Speaking of Leopold I also loved him he was fantastic.
Prince Merik... I liked him as a character and I truly admire his leadership skills and coming into position. It's clear he's inexperienced and just trying to tdo the best he can and really that's all I can ask for. I want him to strive.

As previously stated, there were things I didn't care for and couldn't get past. The most prominent problem being the world-building. While I became accustomed to it by the end, there were so many things in this world that were not explained and I didn't understand; so many things were not established SO IF YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THESE THINGS ARE PLEASE EXPLAIN THEM TO ME BECAUSE AFTER READING 415 PAGES I STILL DONT UNDERSTAND: the origin wells and their history, wtf is the cahr awen, what are hell-bards & marstoki adders, how the truce came about and why it is ending (i'm assuming because it's a 20-year truce and 20 years is up?), how a person comes to cleave, how severed threads come to sever, why Nomatsis are hated, why there's another war, the politics, what happened with the interaction between Merik and Vivia between stolen ships? Clearly there were a lot of aspects to the story and plot line that were not explained, therefore I didn't understand. And that made the story hard to follow at times. So yes, if someone can explain these things to me I would greatly appreciate it.
The other thing I can't get on board with is the romance between Merik and Safiya. While she was on his ship, he treated her as a prisoner and while he shows meager ounces of respect and dignity toward her, ultimately he sees her as a piece in his contract. She is objectified by him as a bargaining chip, yet he's falling in love with her? Rather than tying her up, taking her food after offering it, and then mocking her, he could show some respect to her as a person and not assume the worst about her? I just feel as though he always hated her and made her "rage", but then he loves her at the same time and I just couldn't get on board with it or fathom how he could fall in love with someone who he hates and is rude to at the same time.
Also there were a few things that I definitely saw coming and were quite predictable. Still, the story kept me on my toes.

Final Thoughts: Other than that, though (lol), I did enjoy this book and the wild ride it sent me on. The characters were honestly so great, and the story was compelling and unique! While, again, I did have some problems, I'm hoping things will get cleared out in the next book, and I'm so excited to see where on Earth this adventure could go from here! Highly recommend!

11 January 2016

Review: The Killing Woods

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Lucy Christopher
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
Rating: 8 out of 10

Summary (Goodreads kills me): Ashlee Parker is dead, and Emily Shepherd's dad is accused of the crime. A former soldier suffering from PTSD, he emerges from the woods carrying the girl's broken body. "Gone," he says, then retreats into silence.

What really happened that wild night? Emily knows in her bones that her father is innocent -- isn't he? Before he's convicted, she's got to find out the truth. Does Damon Hilary, Ashlee's charismatic boyfriend, have the answers? Or is he only playing games with her -- the kinds of games that can kill?

My Thoughts: Look, it's a book with another beautiful cover. 

I read Stolen a very long time ago but I loved it. Nothing in it was quite how it seemed and it was impossible to guess what would happen next. This book was similar in that way. I found myself surprised frequently. How the characters were feeling was so believable (okay, the romance stuff was a little strange but when is it not, right?). They were having a melt down right in front of me. It was the kind of melt down that friends watch and don't know what to do to fix, that affects everyone around you. It was perfect because that's exactly what this novel needed for me to believe it. I could believe that horrible things happened in the woods and that people would avoid someone whose father probably committed a murder. It was the psychologist stuff that made this novel what it was. It was marvellous.

Of course, that said, teenagers are stupid sometimes. Yes, let's go wandering in the woods with people we barely know or worse, alone. Let's just run off on your own and do stupid things while you are clearly unstable. Let's antagonize people that clearly hate you. Sure, it all needed to happen to get to the end but a few times I felt like I was in the audience of a horror movie, yelling at the screen and blood girl #6 to stop going up the stairs while when the crazy neighbour keeps calling the house and hanging up. No, you shouldn't run into the garage with all the chainsaws. Yes, it's a fantastic idea to let your phone die on Friday the 13th, while you are home alone but supposed to be out of town in the middle of the storm of the century. What is wrong with you people? 

...On another note, although I understood why it was important to the story, alternating points of view have to be done very carefully. At times, I thought that it was too heavy on one side of the story while the other was just being used to move forward. Yes, sometimes a character needs help figuring things out but would these characters have interacted as much as they did? I doubt it. I would have stayed the hell away from them, but that's me. I did enjoy watching them both fall apart and watching both of them ask questions, however.

So, I thought that this novel was really great. It's creepy and a good mystery. I enjoyed watching the characters fall to pieces but was mad at many of their decisions. This was a very easy to read story that had you rushing to figure out what happened. I needed to know how it would end. I was more than satisfied with how it ended. This novel was very well done.

5 January 2016

Review: Winter by Marissa Meyer

Reviewer: Kayla
Author: Marissa Meyer
Pages: 826
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 8.75/10

Summary (Goodreads. Da real MVP):

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

My Thoughts:

"Yeah, but broken isn't the same as unfixable

I apologize now, this review is not going to be spoiler free, as I can’t discuss this book in any reasonable semblance without talking about the actual happenings of it. The only non-spoilery thing I can say were it ended wonderfully and it really was a roller coaster. It’s also going to be quite lengthy.

This book was such a satisfying conclusion for the series. All questions were answered, there were happily ever afters, and OTPs were sailed! I’m going to admit, I did have some problems with it in terms of the pacing and characters, but that is to be expected in a 826 page book.

I need to start with Thorne. Like I have to there’s no going around it. I love Thorne, and my love for him exploded in this book! I honestly wish we could have gotten more Cress & Thorne moments than what we did, but still. He is Captain Carswell Thorne, as imaginably charming, sarcastic, witty, stammering, blubbering idiot I have fallen hard for since Scarlet. He kicked major butt and was such an amazing asset to the team/crew and the story as a whole. The scenes centring around him were my favourite. Again, he proved to be the comic relief and found the humour in every single situation, even when he was literally about to die, he was amusing, through his words or facial expressions. He was comedic but also so brave and did anything he could to help his friends and Cress, anything he could do he did relentlessly and without a second thought. Let me just look at a few of my favourite moments of his (hence, spoilers):

“Did you see any rice in there? Maybe we could fill Cinder’s head with it…You know to…absorb the moisture, or something

“Scarlet and i are going to start a missing-fingers club. We might let Cinder be an honorary member. Plus, I’m thinking of getting some cyborg replacements. You know how Cinder’s hand does all sorts of tricks? I thought it might be nice to always have a toothpick handy. Or maybe a comb

And finally, probably my favourite…

“This assignment will take us all over the Republic. Not that we’ll be doing much sightseeing, but there’ll be…um. Forests. And mountains. And all sorts of things. And when we’re done, if there’s anything you want to go back to, we could do that. And stay for a while. Or I could take you…anywhere. Anywhere you want to see.” That one literally brought me to tears.

And obviously, Cress. There was so much development with her character in this book from start to finish, and her bravery trumped everyone’s, because it came from a place that was rooted with fear. She wasn’t just heroic for Thorne, but also for her friends and the cause she was fighting for and I was so proud of her when she pretty much sacrificed herself and demonstrated strength and power despite being totally out of her comfort zone.

AND FINALLY! FINALLY THRESS … oh my god I don’t like that ship name it reminds me of Thresh from The Hunger Games… Crorne? Oh my god that’s worse. Okay you know how I mean. CRESS AND THORNE CRESS AND THORNE!!!! The chapter at the end where they finally got together, I WAS GIDDY I WAS HAPPY EVERYTHING ELSE COULD GO TO HELL FOR ALL I CARED. that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but they’re both so different but the same at the same time I knew it was going to happen but it was SOLIDIFIED and I REJOICE.

Now, trying to move on from my two favourite characters in this damn series, let’s move on to my next favourite character, Winter. I grew to absolutely love her in this book. I loved reading about her “craziness” and her psychological state, and this may sound bad but her final episode of psychoticness was one of my favourite scenes. It was so raw and emotional and I got very emotional reading from her point of view and the way everything cost her. It literally costed her her sanity, and it added such depth to the story and showed not only the way the Lunar society was run, but how good and strong of a person Winter is to withstand using her glamour and manipulation, even though it was driving her mad. I was so proud of her throughout the entire book and I rooted for her the entire way through.

Jacin, I easily could have taken or left. I liked him and what he did for Winter and their relationship, but I thought he was rather dry. While the complexity in his character was evident, I didn’t see his character individually as anything special other than to help Winter.

I’m sorry, I’m going to take this opportunity to make a negative turn. Cinder inconsistently annoyed me. This is going to get spoilery. What first triggered my anger toward her was when they left Cress for dead. They let Cress simply sacrifice her life for their cause and Cinder didn’t think twice about going back and even TRYING to rescue her. While I can understand her motives and logic won out, she turned without looking back. And yes, she did mention how she wished Cress was there, but she did not long for her like Thorne did, but for her skill. She would say “If Cress was here, she could have done this faster”. It just endlessly pissed me off that they left Cress for dead and only thought of her when it would have been convenient for her to be there for her technological mastermind. AND THEN, she did so many things without even thinking of the consequences? Like she stepped out in the midst of a crowd and tried to be the voice of reason, as if Levana wasn’t going to find her there? Like really? By the end I was happy for her and the conclusion, but Cinder just irked me throughout the book. She did have some redeeming moments, but overall things like that stuck with me and bugged me.

Now let’s discuss Scarlet and Wolf. What a whirlwind they have been through. Scarlet is so tough and strong and stubborn and blatantly tells it like it is and I love her for that. I loved her defiance with the wolf soldiers, I loved her sacrificing and unwillingness to bow down to anyone. She was such a strong sidekick/leader in the cause and she made more of a “leader” impression on me than Cinder. Wolf. Poor, poor Wolf. I kind of expected more from him after he was captured and changed into more of a “monster”, and I wish his predatory instincts would have kicked in a bit more to show how the genetic changes changed him, but in the end I’m actually glad his humanity and alpha-mate relationship thing with Scarlet won out.

Another thing that I didn’t particularly like in this story was the pacing. Some things were dragged out and many happenings in the story could have been cut out completely and it wouldn’t have made any difference to the plot or revolution at all. I just feel like things were thrown in randomly to prolong the story or add unnecessary details that didn’t contribute to anything in the end -- AH I REMEMBERED ONE -- when Kai randomly decided he was going to bomb the dome and sacrifice himself to make sure Levana was dead? Like okay I understand the sentiment and his self-righteousness as his rule and yadda yadda, but that didn't even end up happening? What was the point in bringing that thought or idea up at all if it wasn't going to end that way? I don't know I just thought it was extra information or thought processes that weren't well thought out and had no relation to the actual unfolding of the story's events.

ANOTHER THING! -- sorry I keep remembering stuff -- there was a part, Chapter 36, to be exact -- where I kept thinking that Cinder's speech and movement and the way the revolution unfolded reminded me of a weak reenactment of The Hunger Games? I felt that it lacked originality, and it may be because The Hunger Games have been burned into my brain, curtesy of my friend Kristen who is an advocate for the books. It just seemed very Katniss-esque to me, but less impactful and more of a letdown in terms of fighting against the Queen/President/Ruler/Dictator/Whatever.

I do have some more insignificant little things that bothered me about the book but honestly my brain is all muddled I can’t distinctly remember what those things are. Which is kind of bad on my part as a reviewer but my New Year’s resolution for book reviewing is to make notes while reading the book so I can remember and write better reviews lol

Final Thoughts: While some parts of the book did irk me, I felt that this conclusion was gripping and very well done. It satisfied everything it needed to and all questions were answered. All the ships sailed and I’m kind of hoping Marissa Meyer will write another novella giving us a glimpse of Cinder’s reign on Luna, Cress and Thorne travelling forests and mountains, Scarlet and Wolf eating tomatoes on the farm, and Winter and Jacin’s tackling the chip that stops hallucinations/glamour/the whole thing that chip was supposed to do. Anyways, fantastic, loved it, so action packed and had me reeling!

4 January 2016

Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Reviewer: Kayla
Author: Marissa Meyer
Pages: 550
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 10/10

Summary (Goodreads. Da real MVP):

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

My Thoughts:

So far, the absolute best in the series, hands down! The next book will have to be pretty impeccable to beat this instalment 

Cress is a retelling of Rapunzel, and wow. Just wow. This book honestly blew me away. Absolutely everything about it was on point. Cress was an amazing addition to this team, so different from both Cinder and Scarlet, and I see a new OTP on the horizon… Oh who am I kidding I have gone down with this ship.

Okay, okay, back to the basics. The parallels between the original Rapunzel story and this were actually amazing and one of the things I appreciated the most out of the story. I won’t say which parallels in particular for spoilery sake, but as a fan of literature, I appreciate the authenticity woven in the sci-fi twist (would we still classify this genre as sci-fi? agh for arguments sake, we will).

Okay, Cress. I loved her character, honestly so much more than Cinder or Scarlet. She was so cute and all she wanted to do was blend into the background because she was so shy and not used to socializing and it was so obvious how uncomfortable big crowds made her and I don't know why but I loved that about her. It really exemplified how seven years of isolation and lack of social interactions affected her. Even so, her character was so fitting into the story. Scarlet and Cinder are such tough, kick ass characters and having Cress being literally that damsel in distress she saw herself as was refreshing. She kicked ass in the background by doing her own inconspicuous hacking and it was still AWESOME AS HELL MAN.

We have to talk about Thorne again. He still remains to be my favourite character in this series, Cress close behind! Then Iko cause let's be real Iko is just the best. But anyways (I'm about to rant and this may be considered spoilery so you may wanna jump down to the next paragraph sorry) I loved the relationship that was built between Cress and Thorne and how they needed each other to survive and they literally couldn't have done it without each other and tHEY WERE SO CUTE! And the way Cress romanticized Thorne as being this hero that did bad things for a good reason and him just downright rejecting all these things she thought about him but it didn't even matter because he was still her hero! Like Thorne protected Cress and it was like he felt such a strong connection to her and it was so easy for them and Thorne was always making sure Cress was okay and there for her and mAN THIS SHIP.

Okay. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT PLEASE? All through Scarlet, Cinder was always second guessing her actions and acting on impulse and making decisions before thinking them through, which was frustrating for me because I'm like MAN GET IT TOGETHER USE YOUR BRAIN LADY. but like i mean i totally get it too. HELLA SPOILER JUMP DOWN I'M SORRY I CAN'T TALK ABOUT THIS WITHOUT SPOILING I would be too if i found out i was the freaking lost princess of an entire planet and I was the only one who could stop the wrath of a murderous ruler. But all that aside, cINDER KICKED ASS. SHE WAS ALL OVER THE PLACE DOING SHIT AND BEATING PEOPLE UP AND SHE WAS JUST LIKE "YEAH IT'S FOR THE GREATER GOOD GUYS". Now she's literally all like, "let's go let's kill the queen yeah go team let's go!" like she is all in now. During Cinder, she totally was just this mechanic that blended into the background, and now she's standing up and out and doing what she knows is right, no matter what other people are saying and advising and i LOVE THAT.

Okay, this was my problem with this book. I had two problems k. This whole thing is a spoiler so if u have read the book and wanna read this it's hear. If you haven't I highly recommend jumping down. Again, sorry.
Number one, Kai. For God's sake, Kai. Firstly, he did not make the connection that Cinder was Princess Selene, which was infuriating. Even when she was saying "oh she's a cyborg..." he was still like "....waahhhhh" KAI LIKE R U KIDDING ME? And when he couldn't think for himself?! Like he knew Cinder was doing things for the right reasons, that she wasn't evil and what everyone was saying about her wasn't right. BUT NO. rather than come up with his own conclusions about Cinder and what he knew about her, he allowed EVERYONE to get into his freaking head and literally told him what he thought. He couldn't come up with a solid opinion of Cinder that was his own, either the Queen or Torin or someone always made up his mind for him, and he just let it happen and man that frustrated me. like seriously get it together Kai you're not an idiot.
Also, Wolf. The separation of Wolf and Scarlet. Okay, I had a problem with this, Wolf was virtually comatose emotionally. It was like his entire being shut down because Scarlet was gone, and I just wanted to shake him and be like MOPING ISN'T GONNA DO YOU OR HER ANY GOOD SO WHY DON'T YOU DO SOMETHING MAN. like i understood his concern about Scarlet being stuck on Luna and how torturous it could be (which we surely got a glimpse of), but his lack of motivation for ANYTHING was so frustrating it made me like him less as a character. And I loved him in Scarlet.

We also get a glimpse of Winter at the novel’s conclusion and MY OH MY ARE WE IN FOR AN ABSOLUTE TREAT.

Final Thoughts: Anyway, I know I missed a shit ton of important stuff like Sybil and Levana and the romance of Cinder and Kai and a whole bunch of other stuff I'll probably remember while laying in bed at 3 am, but that's the major stuff I needed to rant about. anyway..


Review: Once (Once Upon a Time #11, #9, #15)

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Cameron Dokey
Format: Paperback
Pages: 193
Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Etienne de Brabant is brokenhearted. His wife has died in childbirth, leaving him alone with an infant daughter he cannot bear to name. But before he abandons her for king and court, he brings a second child to be raised alongside her, a boy whose identity he does not reveal.

The girl, La Cendrillon, and the boy, Raoul, pass sixteen years in the servants' care until one day a very fine lady arrives with her two daughters. The lady has married La Cendrillon's father, and her arrival changes their lives. 

When an invitation to a great ball reaches the family, La Cendrillon's new stepmother will make a decision with far-reaching effects. Her choice will lead La Cendrillon and Raoul toward their destiny -- a choice that will challenge their understanding of family, test their loyalty and courage, and, ultimately, teach them who they are.

My Thoughts: You have to go into this series with fewer expectations than other novels, I think. When I picked up this novel, I thought it would be like other fairytale retellings that I had read before. I was very wrong because these aren't full length novels, they are fairytales told in fairytale format. They have the mythological happenings and the fast-paced feel of fairytales. They skip ahead in time without concern for the minute details of the story. These novellas don't need to go into deeper detail, they tell the story. That is all they set out to do. They stick more to the feel of original fairytales than other retellings...and I loved it.

This was the first of the bunch that I read. It did the most work to break down my expectations. It accomplished this wonderfully. I found myself interested in the story very quickly. It was different enough from the original fairytale (and the Disney versions) to keep me interested in what was happening. Plus, despite my attempts to guess what was going to come next, I only ever managed to get things half right. I absolutely love the message of this story and was happy with the fairytale ending. 

This was a very good fairytale retelling. I loved how true it was but that it still had a unique twist.

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Cameron Dokey
Format: Paperback
Pages: 179
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Summary: Before Rapunzel's birth, her mother made a dangerous deal with the sorceress Melisande: If she could not love newborn Rapunzel just as she appeared, she would surrender the child to Melisande. When Rapunzel was born completely bald and without hope of ever growing hair, her horrified mother sent her away with the sorceress to an uncertain future.

After sixteen years of raising Rapunzel as her own child, Melisande reveals that she has another daughter, Rue, who was cursed by a wizard years ago and needs Rapunzel's help. Rue and Rapunzel have precisely "two nights and the day that falls between" to break the enchantment. But bitterness and envy come between the girls, and if they fail to work together, Rue will remain cursed...forever.

My Thoughts: This is the opposite of what you think of when you think of Rapunzel and I LOVE IT. The twist in this book was fantastic. Melisande made me very mad during this novel. I did not like some of the choices she made. Rue was annoying but understandably so. I was very happy with the ending. This ending was my favourite of the three in this anthology. I thought that it was unique...wow, the ending is hard to talk about without giving away spoilers. I'm sorry this is less than informative. If you only read one of these retellings, make it this one.

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Cameron Dokey
Format: Paperback
Pages: 224
Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Wielding a sword as deftly as an embroidery needle, Mulan is unlike any other girl in China. When the emperor summons a great army, each family must send a male to fight, tom-boyish Mulan is determined to spare her aging father and bring her family honour  so she disguises herself and answers the call.But Mulan never expects to find a friend, let alone a soul mate, in the commander of her division, Prince Jian. For all of Mulan's courage with a bow and arrow, is she brave enough to share her true identity and feelings with Prince Jian?

What I Think: The best thing about this novel was that it had so much more to the story than the other two retellings I read by this author. There was so much more to love. It was closer to a full length novel and that made me happy. I enjoyed hearing more about Mulan's childhood and how she became who she was. This became the majority of the story. Her growing into herself and her family was the most important part of this story. It wrote it as if her being a hero was just a side note. It was great to read a story where there was more to the hero than just the fact that they were a hero. I loved watching her grow with her friends, her caretakers, and her father. I only wish that we would have seen more of Prince Jian's reaction to...you know, her being a girl. Not that Disney is the rule for retellings but that was an important part of the movie and should have been a big deal in this story. I guess he had some time to come to grips with it but I expected more from that. The battle seemed to go very fast but I suppose it wasn't the most important aspect of the novel anyway so it didn't bother me too much. I really enjoyed this story and loved getting backstory on Mulan. 

1 January 2016

Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Reviewer: Kayla
Author: Marissa Meyer
Pages: 452
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 8/10

Summary (Goodreads. Da real MVP):

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.

My Thoughts:

I’ve seen many mixed reviews about how this book fell flat for so many people. While I can understand how some would feel like this, I personally loved it. However, I did love Cinder just a bit more. 

We get introduced to so many characters that bring a lot of dynamic and life into the story. I also find it so interesting how both books have been interwoven, creating connections between the characters in so many distinct ways (if you read Scarlet you know exactly what I mean)

We need to talk about Thorne. Can we talk about Thorne? He was the absolute highlight of this story, for me anyway but I’m sure for many others too. I’m going to be completely honest, our very very VERY initial introduction of Thorne, I wasn’t sure what to expect from him. But believe me, incredibly soon after I realized how much I was going to come to LOVE him! He is a sarcastic, witty GENIUS and he brought so much life and humour and animation to the story of heroic battles and political intrigue. He was the comedic relief the first novel was missing, even though I did like that one more. I also love his relationship with Cinder and how they developed into such a kickass team. Their love-hate relationship is hilariously relatable, being friends with someone you cannot stand, yet needing them all the same. It was so great, honestly.

The introduction of Scarlet was interesting, both positively and negatively. I enjoyed her, yet she bugged me at times. Like listen lady it's your fault you're stubborn and don't listen to reason. Nevertheless, I admire her courage and determination to save someone so special to her (wow look at the alliteration). Speaking of Wolf, his complex nature was gripping and his protective manner toward Scarlet was admirable, yet creepy and weird at times. I wasn’t sure, and still am not sure, what to make of his little relationship with Scarlet; while the romance wasn’t as overpowering as i’ve seen in other fantasy/sci-fi/non-romance books, it just seemed to instalovey. I mean, it's been to weeks, kids.

I did think his character was interesting though. He was the mysterious, shy stranger with a past I was very intrigued in discovering.

Final Thoughts: The unfolding of Cinder and her escapades just keep getting wilder and wilder and I don’t want to ruin too much more of the happenings of this book beyond this point. I will say, though, that for me Thorne and Iko are my favourite characters thus far. They both compliment the story’s intensity so well with their nonchalance and comedic relief and camaraderie they show our main character.  All in all I enjoyed this book immensely and I'm so ready to tackle the rest of this series
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