Feb 29, 2012

Gone Posting: Award Winning Reads

Award Winning Reads Challenge Guest Post banner by The Reading Housewives

Hi friends!  Today you can find me over at The Reading Housewives where I'm talking about lesser-known award winning reads.  Or, in other terms, awards for middle grade and young adult books besides the Newberry and Printz that you might (and by might I mean definitely) want to check out!  

The Award Winning Reads Challenge is hosted by Jacinda of The Reading Housewives together with Ashley at Basically Amazing Books.  Both of these ladies are absolutely lovely bloggers, and the challenge encourages you to check out Newberry and Printz award winners throughout 2012.  Please visit, and if you are so inclined, join the fun!

Waiting on Wednesday: Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcomign releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
Book cover of Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig
Blackbirds - Chuck Wendig
April 24th, 2012 - Angry Robot
Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.

But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.

No matter what she does she can't save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she'll have to try.
Blackbirds is hands down the coolest, creepiest cover I've seen this year.  Luckily, the insides sound pretty dang cool and creepy as well.  

Feb 28, 2012

Review: Partials by Dan Wells

Book cover of Partials by Dan Wells
Title: Partials [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: Dan Wells [Website|Twitter]
Standing: 1st in what I believe is a duology?
Genre: Young Adult, Sci Fi, Post Apocalyptic
Published: February 28th, 2012 by Balzer & Bray
Format: Kindle edition.
Source: ARC from publisher via NetGalley.

Humans created the Partials, human-like machines, in order to fight their wars for them.  Eleven years ago, the Partials rebelled killing off the bulk of humanity and a deadly virus was released that has kept the surviving humans from successfully reproducing.  Now, humans have retreated to Long Island where they attempt to maintain civilization and look to the future by enacting The Hope Act.  The Hope Act requires all women 18 and over to be pregnant as often as possible in the hopes that more babies will provide a chance to cure the RM virus.  When Kira’s adopted sister becomes pregnant, she feels a strong need to do something more to save the baby.  Kira determines that humanity’s best hope lies in their greatest demise, the Partials, and the best chance to cure RM is by studying the enemy.

If you’re curious about Partials, I’m fairly sure this is the book trailer:

Now, this book was good, but it could have been great if it had done a few things differently:

1) Not followed so many of the same plot lines as Battlestar Galactica.  Unfortunately, for me, this made Partials fairly wrote and predictable. I do think that Dan Wells did an excellent job of creating a very probable future with real issues (like The Hope Act) that were unique and believable, but I'm hoping the plot will deviate more from BSG in the upcoming book.

2) Have been told from a male point of view.  I get it, maybe Dan Wells was trying something new, or maybe someone suggested the female perspective because there are more female YA readers.  However, I felt like Partials would have been better suited if it’d been aimed more towards males.  With all of the military and scientific medical speak, action, and lack of gushy romance, I feel like this book could really grab some teen boys--a group that more great books need to be aimed at and written for.  I’m not saying males won’t enjoy Partials, but they will be less likely to pick it up.  I'm also not saying he didn't do a good job of writing Kira (even if I didn't much like her), he did. I’m hoping for a change of perspective in the second book (give me Samm prz).

3) Axed out about half of the dialog.  Did we need to expound on everything?  It went something like this: 5 pages-make a plan. 1 paragraph-realize plan won’t work. 3 pages-adjust for new plan. 1 paragraph-this plan goes up in flames as well.  10 pages-the action.  The action bits were good.  This is what kept me going, but the having to explain things over and over every time we run into someone new or there’s a kink in the plans got really old.  Also I didn’t need Kira’s every thought spelled out for me. This takes away my own ability to think, and I find that somewhat degrading as a reader.  The book could have probably been cut down 100 pages and been better for it.

My final complaint about Partials was that I didn’t really like the main characters, but I know others have, so that’s hardly the author’s fault so much as my personal preference.  I couldn’t stand Marcus, and I didn't like Kira much either.  Anytime anyone pulls out the phrase “If you really loved me you would/wouldn’t do this.” it sends off immediate warning bells in my head that this is a doomed relationship.  And at some point they both say this.  There was a pretty strong supporting cast (color me a Xochi/Samm fan) and since the book highlighted the story and action more than the characters themselves I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Okay!  Done with the negative, because I’d like to emphasize now that despite my complaints, there was a lot to like about Partials.  The story was action packed (you know, between all of the talking), and emotionally charged on a basic instinctual level of survival vrs. personal rights.  This book had me feeling real emotions (mostly anger and frustration), and I appreciate that both sides of arguments were presented in such a way that it was hard to really hate any given side so much as the situation itself.

Likelihood that I'll be back for more:  As annoyed with this book as I was at times, the story was good enough that I’ll check out the second installment (and I really hope this is a duology).

Recommended for:  Fans of Battlestar Gallactica, anyone who enjoys post-apocolyptic sci-fi minus the fluff, and yes, boys!

Real life repercussions of reading this book: Me to boyfriend shortly after starting the book: “If the big twist is that ____________ I’m going to throw this book against the wall.”  400 pages later: Throws book against wall.

Top Ten Tuesday: You Can't Stop the Rock

Top Ten Tuesday banner
Top Ten Tuesday is a weakly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  They love lists as much as I do, so it's only fair to tip my hat.
This week?  BEST TOP TEN TUESDAY EVAR!!!  However I'll warn you now, there will be some vulgarity, so don't read/listen if you hate the swears.  If I could assign theme songs to books (and I totally do in my head), it'd look something like this:

Book cover of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Theme: Stadium Love by Metric

Every living thing pushed into the ring, fight it out to wow the crowd.  Guess you thought you could just watch...no one's getting out without stadium love.

Sure, this song's talking about animal fighting in a stadium, but is that really so different than throwing a bunch of teens in the arena for a fight to the death for the spectator's entertainment?  I think not.  

Book cover of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Theme: Little Bit by Lykke Li

Hands down, I'm too proud for love, but with eyes shut it's you I'm thinking of.  But how we move from A to B it can't be up to me, 'cause you don't know.  Eye to eye, thigh to thigh, I let go.  I think that I'm a little bit, little bit, a little bit in love with you.  But only if you're a little bit, little bit, little bit in love with me.

This song can be interpreted several ways, but to me it comes across as a chick who's totally in love with her friend, but is too scared to move beyond friendship unless she knows first that he feels the same way.  Sound familiar Anna fans?

Book cover of The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower I) by Stephen King
The Gunslinger - Stephen King
Theme: 99 Problems by Hugo

Tip my hat to the sun in the west, feel the beat right in my chest.  At the crossroads a second time, make the devil change his mind.  It's a pound of flesh but it's really a ton,  99 problems and a bitch ain't one.  If you haven't got problems, I feel bad for you son.  I've got 99 problems, and a bitch ain't one.

This Jay Z cover is amazing, and pretty much evokes the image of Roland Deschain all over the place.  What can I say?  The man's got a lot of problems.  But a bitch ain't one.

Book cover of 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody
52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody
Theme: Rich Girl by The Bird and the Bee

You're a rich girl, but you've gone too far 'cause you know it don't matter anyway.  You can rely on the old man's money, you can rely on the old man's money.  It's a bitch girl, and it's gone too far  'cause you know it don't matter anyway.  Say money but it won't get you too far.

I haven't had the opportunity to read 52 Reasons yet, but is there any denying that this is the perfect theme?  Heck, the covers of the book and the album are even similar.  Both book and song are about rich girls who plan on relying on the old man's money, but learn the hard way it doesn't quite work like that...

Book cover of Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Theme: I Am Not a Robot by Marina and the Diamonds

I'm vulnerable, I'm vulnerable, I am not a robot.  You're lovable, so lovable, but you're just troubled.  Guess what?  I'm not a robot, a robot.

I have to hat tip Anna from Anna Reads for this one as she posted this song with her Cinder review, but it couldn't be more perfect.  A troubled but lovable guy and a vulnerable girl who wants him to think of her as a person and not a robot?  Mmmhmmm.  Besides, that much glitter and body paint is amazing whether or not you're a robot.

Book cover of The Odyssey by Homer Book cover of Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
The Odyssey by Homer | Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
So if there were a mashup of these two books I'm thinking:
Theme: Two Years Spent Before the Mast by Astronautalis

Two years spent before the mast and no one knows the secrets that we're hiding.  If word got loose, you'd face the lash and thirteen loops would hold me fast and silent.  Things are not always as they seem to be outside us.  Devil got poor Persephone, but they can't take, they can't take you from me.

People!  This song is awesome.  I want someone to write it as a full length book, but until then I'll have to dream.  Basically it tells the story of a sailor who finds a woman stowaway on board, and instead of throwing her in the brig, he cuts off her hair, dresses her as a man, and she works alongside him as a sailor.  He plans to smuggle her off ship with the opium after eight weeks, but they fall in love and she risks staying on board to stay with him.  So I think The Odyssey, for the years spent on a perilous journey at sea (and the mythology mentions), and Scarlet for the dangerous masquerade.  LOVE IT!

Book cover of The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Theme: Buried in Teeth by Mariee Sioux

Buried in arms, buried in teeth, can't tell if we're being eaten alive.

This song has a very haunting feel, and the whole arms and teeth and being eaten alive makes it pretty pitch perfect for The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

Book cover of Kick Ass by Mark Milalr and John Romita Jr.
Kick Ass by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.
Theme: Holding Out for a Hero by Bonnie Tyler

Where have all the good men gone, and where are all the gods?  Where's the street-wise Hercules to fight the rising odds?  Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed?  Late at night I toss and turn and dream of what I need.  I need a hero!  I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night.

This song is just screaming for a teen boy with misguided notions of super heroes to put on some spandex and fight crime.  Perfect for Kick Ass!  

Book cover of Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Theme:  This series is way too big for just one song.  Hell, I'd love to pick a song for all of the major families, but I'll restrict it to my last two selections.

For the Lannisters: Runaway by Kanye West

Let's have a toast for the douchebags, let's have a toast for the assholes, let's have a toast for the scumbags, every one of them that I know.  Let's have a toast for the jerkoffs that'll never take work off.  Baby I got a plan, run away fast as you can.

We all know the Lannisters are the family for douchebaggery.  Love 'em or hate 'em, they're dicks, and there's no denying it, but Song of Ice and Fire would be nothing without them, so cheers!

For the Starks: Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts by Wolf Parade

I've got a hand, so I got a fist, so I got a plan, it's the best that I can do.  Now we'll say, it's in God's hands, but God doesn't always have the best goddamn plans does he?  I ain't quite the beauty, pulls out two guns and shoots at the pretty pretty view.  Gotta keep thinking, things, hunters, and kings to block out the view.  I gotta get a new bell to ring, a new song to sing, a steady hand to ring, a readiness of things I do.  I gotta get a new plan to bring to the people, people I can trick them into anything.  Oh rust is just right in the light it's gold, it's gold.

Oh the Starks...we love them.  And their direwolves.  They're looking for a plan to iron out the jumble of things, hunters, and kings, and they're hoping the people will support them.  Plus...um, hello?  It's effing Wolf Parade!

That's it for me this week, hope you all enjoy listening to this awesomeness as much as I enjoyed allocating it.  What books did you give theme songs to?

Feb 27, 2012

Guest Author and Giveaway: Ellen Potter on Mythology in The Humming Room

Today I am lucky enough to be kicking off the blog tour for one of my favorite books of the year so far--The Humming Room by Ellen Potter!  Ellen has be lovely enough to drop by and answer one of my burning questions about the book, namely, I wanted to know more about her romantic mythological reimagining of the The Secret Garden character "Dickon" through Jack and the mythology of the Faigne.  

Book cover of The Humming Room by Ellen Potterportrait of Ellen Potter
Let's give a warm welcome to Ellen!
Who doesn’t love the character of Dickon from The Secret Garden? The guy has a wicked cute accent, is patient with cranky girls, and can tell you what a robin says. Before I typed a single sentence of my middle-grade novel The Humming Room, a re-imagining of The Secret Garden, I knew that creating a new, yet equally dreamy Dickon wasn’t going to be easy.

I agonized over this new Dickon, mentally auditioning all sorts of characters. It was only when I decided on the setting of The Humming Room—the wild and beautiful St Lawrence River in The Thousand Islands region of New York—that my Dickon emerged.

Just as the original Dickon was a child of the moors, my Dickon—named Jack—was a child of the river. I wrote about him gliding between the islands in a small canoe, a great blue heron always flying above him, like a Familiar. The more I wrote, the more I began to wonder if he was a real boy at all. He seemed so elusive and mysterious. He reminded me of the Selkie, a mythological creature who can transform from a seal to a human. That didn’t quite fit Jack, so I started to research myths of sea creatures from around the world. Nearly all of them were nasty, flesh-eating creatures. They wouldn’t do either. That was when I decided to create my own mythological creature—The Faigne. I placed the source of the legend on the island of Guernsey, in the English Channel. Why Guernsey? I haven’t the foggiest idea. It might have been the spoils of a procrastination session. I tend to Google places that I’d like to visit some day. You know . . . when I have some free time. Which is never. Anyway, I came upon a web site that said that the people of Guernsey loved a good ghost story and that tales of fairies and other supernatural creatures abounded. That was all the encouragement I needed.

In my version, the legend of the Faigne needed to be romantic. It would have to echo something that would happen between Jack and my main character, Roo, so I created a legend about a human girl who was an outcast. She was the sort of girl no one noticed. But the Faigne does notice her. He sees through her ordinariness and her bad moods and he falls for her. Falls hard. Then the two of them dive into the water and are never seen again.

Now I’ll be honest here. I’ve always had a quibble with the original Dickon. He never fell for Mary, not really. And I wanted him to. And excuse me if this is presumptuous, but I think Mary wanted him to. So in creating a new Dickon, I was also indulging in a bookworm’s ultimate fantasy: re-imagining a beloved book so that everything turns out the way you want it to.

Now if only I could re-imagine my life with a little more free time in it.

And maybe a trip to Guernsey.
I love that Ellen wasn't afraid to create her own mythological creature in The Faigne, and trust me, it works!  You can check out more about The Humming Room at Ellen Potter's webpage, as well as by visiting these other stops on The Humming Room tour:

McMillan Children's Publishing Group has been gracious enough to provide me with one copy of The Humming Room to give away to you lovely readers!  Contest is open to readers in the US/Canada.  I'm sad to say that as much as I dislike Rafflecopter, it is the easiest way to contact you when you win, so here we go:

Feb 26, 2012

In My Mailbox (7)

In My Mailbox by The Story Siren
In my mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren in which you share the books you added to your collection in the past week.

Book cover of The Iron King by Julie Kagawa Book cover of The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth Book cover of On the Day I Died by Candace Flemming

From the library:
The Iron King - Julia Kagawa
Since finishing the Wicked Lovely series, I feel like it's time to dive into another highly touted fairy series, and that would be the Iron Fey.
I've heard fantastic things about this LGBT contemp.  It takes place in Miles City, not too far from my own home stomping grounds of Wyoming, and I'm excited to read about Cameron's experience as a lesbian in small town Montana. 

For review via NetGalley:
On the Day I Died - Candace Flemming
A collection of ten ghost stories taking place in a graveyard outside Chicago from the 1860s to today.  Each story narrates a character's last day, ending in their death.
Rebel McKenzie - Candice Ransom
A Middle Grade story of a paleontology nerd who enters a beauty pageant to earn the money she needs to pay for her summer dig.  My original major in college was geosciences, and changed to archaeology...so yeah, of course I love 12 year old paleontology nerds!
Struck - Jennifer Bosworth
An apocalypse tale with an X-Men like twist?  Sign me up, this book seems freakin' awesome.
The Raft - S.A. Bodeen
I loooooove survival books, and this one seems like it'll be a more Hatchet spin on a Life of Pi situation.  I can't wait!

Book cover of Rebel McKenzie by Candice Ransom Book cover of Struck by Jennifer Bosworth Book cover of The Raft by S.A. Bodeen

That's it for me this week, what did you get in your mailbox?

Feb 24, 2012

Review: A Flight of Angels conceived and illustrated by Rebecca Guay

Book cover of A Flight of Angels Conceived and Illustrated by Rebecca Guay, written by Holly Black, Louise Hawes, Todd Mitchell, Alisa Kwitney, Bill Willingham
Title: A Flight of Angels  [Amazon|GoodReads]
Authors: Holly Black, Louise Hawes, Todd Mitchell, Alisa Kwitney, Bill Willingham
Illustrator: Rebecca Guay
Standing: Stand alone novel.
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Published: November 8th, 2011 by DC Comics
Format: Hardcover; 128 pages.  
Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Occasionally, there are battles in the sky.  One likes to imagine angels as always triumphant.  One does not like to think of the ancient and terrible scales balancing the infernal and divine as a wobbling back and forth.  Tilting freely to and fro.  

One does not like to think that sometimes it is the angel that falls.
An angel falls to ground, grievously injured and unconscious in the land of the fairies.  A lord, a maid, a hag, and a trickster sit tribunal over his fate, with a boy as judge.  Their goal is to determine what to do with the angel--to help him, to kill him, or to let him be.  Each member of the group tells a tale they know of angels, a tale they feel reveals the creature’s nature and will influence the tribunal’s outcome.

A Flight of Angels, conceived and illustrated by Rebecca Guay, is one of the most hauntingly beautiful graphic novels I have encountered to date.  Perfect for readers looking to enter or ease into the genre, the story is captured in one compact volume composed using the work of well-known young adult and graphic authors.  Holly Black has written the frame story of the fae creatures determining the angels fate, and each author tells a tale of angels therein.  In one short and breathtaking novel, questions of incredible depth and complexity are asked such as what it means to live, the value of a soul, and how do humans balance their animal instincts and angelic natures?  Heartbreaking at times, and very fist-pumpy girl power at others, A Flight of Angels is a graphic novel for any fantasy fan.  The illustrations were astoundingly gorgeous, Rebecca Guay (who’s illustrated for authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin) has a style not often seen in the graphic universe, and I for one could not get enough of it.

Likelihood that I'll be back for more: YES PLEASE do more of this collaboration goodness!

Recommended for:  Fans of fantasy graphic novels, and fantasy fans who’d be willing to try a graphic novel--this is a total gateway book!

Real life repercussions of reading this book: Um...so...I know that Laini Taylor’s totally awesome husband does amazeballs illustrations, and I love them, but Raziel from the first story of this book has totally taken over as my mental image of Akiva from Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  Can you say sexy angel crush?

Feb 23, 2012

Review: Austenland by Shannon Hale

Book review of Austenland by Shannon Hale
Title: Austenland [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: Shannon Hale [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: Stand alone, though a new companion novel, Midnight in Austenland is now on the shelves!
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Published: January 1st, 2007 by Bloomsbury USA
Format: Hardcover; 208 pages.  
Source: Borrowed from my local library.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a thirty-something woman in possession of a satisfying career and fabulous hairdo must be in want of very little, and Jane Hayes, pretty enough and clever enough, was certainly thought to have little to distress her. There was no husband, but those weren’t necessary anymore. There were boyfriends, and if they came and went in a regular stream of mutual dissatisfaction—well, that was the way of things, wasn’t it?

But Jane had a secret. By day, she bustled and luncheoned and emailed and over timed and just-in-timed, but sometimes, when she had the time to slip off her consignment store pumps and lounge on her hand-me-down sofa, she dimmed the lights, turned on her nine inch television, and acknowledged what was missing.

Sometimes, she watched Pride and Prejudice.

You know, the BBC double DVD version, starring Colin Firth as the delicious Mr. Darcy and that comely, busty English actress as the Elizabeth Bennet we had imagined all along. Jane watched and re-watched the part where Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy look at each other over the piano, and there’s that zing, and her face softens, and he smiles, his chest heaving as though he’d breathe in the sight of her, and his eyes are glistening so that you’d almost think he’d cry...Ah!

Each time, Jane’s heart banged, her skin chilled, and she clamped down on the distracting ache in her gut with a bowl of something naughty, like Cocoa Pebbles. That night she would dream of gentlemen in Abraham Lincoln hats, and then in the morning laugh at herself and toy with the idea of hauling those DVDs and all her Austen books to the second hand store.

Of course, she never did.

That pesky movie version was the culprit. Sure, Jane had first read Pride and Prejudice when she was sixteen, read it a dozen times since, and read the other Austen novels at least twice, except Northanger Abbey (of course). But it wasn’t until the BBC put a face on the story that those gentlemen in tight breeches had stepped out of her reader’s imagination and into her non-fiction hopes. Stripped of Austen’s funny, insightful, biting narrator, the movie became a pure romance. And Pride and Prejudice was the most stunning, bite-your-hand romance ever, the kind that stared straight into Jane’s soul and made her shudder.

It was embarrassing. She didn’t really want to talk about it. So let’s move on.
I don’t often read anything that could strait up be called “romance” because I do find it embarrassing.  I’m not sure why.  I mean, a lot of what I read is so focused on romantic plotlines that throwing in fantasy elements or calling it YA doesn’t really change things.  But Austenland was a real adult romance, and I loved it.  It had the Colin-Firth-loving, BBC-watching, Jane-Austen-admiring girl in me squeeing and fist pumping at all the right moments.

Jane Hayes has an unhealthy Mr. Darcy obsession.  She knows it, her friends know it, heck, her great aunt knows it.  She can’t seem to have a happy and successful relationship when no real life man can possibly measure up to her fictional crush, Mr. Darcy.  Now, who among us women can say we don’t have a total crush on Mr. Darcy?!  I certainly do.  However, unlike Jane, my fictional crushes have not seeped into my real life...for the most part...  

When Jane’s great aunt passes away, she is surprised to find her name in the will as the recipient of an all-expenses-paid, non-refundable trip to Pembrook Park in Britain.  Jane determines to go, to face Mr. Darcy and say goodbye once and for all so that she can get over him and on with her life.  Of course, Pembrook Park proves that immersion therapy is easier said than done.  Jane finds herself trussed up in corset and empire waist dresses, feeling awkward and silly, and challenged to take seriously the other women who share her experience, and the men cast to woo them in Austenesque fashion.

The existence of Pembrook Park was, sadly, completely believable to me.  I can imagine wealthy women paying exorbitant amounts to be woven into the world of Jane Austen and courted by charming young men therein.  But isn’t this a wee bit like hiring prostitutes?  Emotional prostitutes maybe, but prostitutes nonetheless.  Ah well, to each their own.  It’s easy to root for Jane, because unlike other guests, she is in no financial situation to live out her fantasies repeatedly, and is looking for a bit of therapeutic resolve.  I love love loved Mr. Nobley, and found his character more-or-less the perfect Mr. Darcy (was he the spitting image of Colin Firth in my head?  You know it.).  It’s so charming to me how Jane despises him for his irritability thinking him nothing like Darcy, failing to acknowledge that Elizabeth Bennet felt the same way.  

All in all, Austenland was no more surprising than any romcom I’ve ever seen, but I still enjoyed it quite thoroughly.  I appreciate that it wasn’t all about romance, it was about Jane finding herself and learning the power she has over her own life. The writing was very whimsical and fun, and Austenesque in a nudge-nudge, wink-wink sort of way that had me smiling more often than not.

Likelihood that I'll be back for more:  Yes!  I was lucky enough to receive an ARC copy of Midnight in Austenland and will certainly be reading it soon.

Recommended for: Um...pretty much anyone who’s stared longingly at Colin Firth in a wet shirt.  You know who you are.  Also fans of Bridget Jones, this is very much in the same vein, but more fun to me because of the Pembrook Park setting.

Real life repercussions of reading this book: You mean other than watching the BBC Pride and Prejudice for the upteenth time and watching certain scenes over and over again?  I suppose I should stand up and admit: My name’s Heidi, and sometimes, I like to read romance.

Feb 22, 2012

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Book cover of Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Title: Cinder [Amazon|GoodReads]
Author: Marissa Meyer [Website|Twitter|Facebook]
Standing: First in the new Lunar Chronicles quartet.
Genre: Young Adult, Sci Fi, Retelling
Published: January 3rd, 2012 by Feiwel and Friends
Format: Hardcover; 390 pages.  
Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Challenge: Debut author challenge.

Cinder has spent her years since becoming a cyborg (and an orphan, and a second-rate citizen) laboring to provide for her overbearing stepmother and stepsisters.  Her stepmother never wanted to accept Cinder into their home; she feels Cinder is to blame for her husband’s exposure to the plague that caused his death, and only keeps her around as a source of income.  Cinder is, after all, the most talented mechanic in all of New Beijing.  While working, Cinder finds herself approached by an ‘inconspicuous’ Prince Kai, asking her to fix an outdated android that holds some important information.  She’s happy to be of assistance, but helping the Prince becomes increasingly difficult when her younger stepsister, Peony, is infected with the plague and her stepmother opts to volunteer Cinder for treatment research.   
The cyborg draft had been started by some royal research team a year ago.  Every morning, a new ID number was drawn from the pool of so many thousand cyborgs who resided in the Eastern Commonwealth.  Subjects had been carted in from provinces as far-reaching as Mumbai and Singapore to act as guinea pigs for the antidote testing.  It was made out to be some sort of honor, giving your life for the good of humanity, but it was really just a reminder that cyborgs were not like everyone else.  Many of them had been given a second chance at life by the generous hand of scientists and therefore owed their very existence to those who had created them.  They were lucky to have lived this long, many thought.  It’s only right that they should be the first to give up their lives in search for the cure.
I have to admit that Cinder was so much more than I was expecting.  I feel books rarely live up to their hype, and to me, Cinder was one of the most hyped up YA titles of the new year.  So I lowered my expectations, but I have to say, for me this one totally lived up to the hype.  Cinder had all of the elements of a great retelling.  It was true to the structure of the well-known Cinderella, but managed to completely reimagine the details flowing into that structure to support it, and to do so in a way that was completely unique.  

Cinder lives in a future after WWIV, where the world has divided into large territories whose leaders work together regularly.  The moon, colonized hundreds of years previously, has become Earth’s biggest threat where Queen Levana sits the throne as a powerful and manipulative dictator hungering for more.  Prince Kai must deal with dangerous negotiations to maintain peace, while at the same time desperately searching for a cure for the plague, lumotosis, that has ravaged the Earth for around fifteen years.

Cinder made an excellent example of the issue of prejudice.  Cinder finds herself the victim of being considered less than human because of her cyborg status.  She struggles to be accepted into society, insistent on her humanity, while at the same time harboring incredible prejudice against Lunars (those people who inhabit the moon).

I also very much enjoyed the treatment of emotions in Cinder.  This was not an overly emotional book.  There’s no pining, no insta-love, but still the characters come across as very real.  I wish more books out there would realize you don't have to be melodramatic to be genuine! Prince Kai is very kind and down to earth, yet very aware of his duties and sense of responsibility to his people even (or especially) with the trying reality of plague in his own family.  Cinder is, quite frankly, the coolest mechanic since Kaylee of Firefly.  She’s a tough chick who has to wade through pools of crap, but doesn’t sit around moping or even sharing her hardships with those around her.  This definitely can be a fault when it comes to her friendship with Kai, but I still respect the girl for it. And the bad guys? Man...they are evil! You get not only your evil stepmother but also your evil queen, and both have my all encompassing hate in the best way possible.

Cinder's ‘major twist’ was predictable, but in a way that I appreciated.  I don’t feel as if readers were written down to in this case, we’re supposed to get it, and for once I wasn’t banging my head against the wall wondering when the characters were going to figure it out already.  I did have a slight problem with some of the dialog.  It occasionally felt a little off-kilter given the setting, but this was fairly minor.  Finally, some of the sci-fi aspects of the book seemed to be dipping over into fantasy a bit. As the story states, it is not magic, but the explanation still seemed a bit fanciful to me. This aspect didn't reduce my enjoyment though. Overall, I loved this book, and it’s certainly one of my favorites of 2012 thus far.
You can read the first 5 chapters of Cinder free!

Likelihood that I'll be back for more:  Absofreakinlutely!  This is the first book I’ve read this year that I closed and immediately starting bouncing my legs in ancy anticipation for the next installment.  

Recommended for:  Firefly fans. It's not just the Kaylee thing either, with its mixture of Chinese and English influences, Cinder could take place in a similar environment. Anyone who loves a good fairy tale retelling, and chicks that aren’t delicate and won’t apologize for it dammit!

Real life repercussions of reading this book: Omg I can’t decide which of Cinder’s awesome abilities I want most, can you?  I do really like the whole lie detector bit...At any rate, who didn't have this song in their head with all the Iko love?


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