Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Stars Above: A Review (Lunar Chronicles #4.5)

Goodreads Description:

The enchantment continues....

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

The Little Android: A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles.
Glitches: In this prequel to Cinder, we see the results of the plague play out, and the emotional toll it takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch….
The Queen’s Army: In this prequel to Scarlet, we’re introduced to the army Queen Levana is building, and one soldier in particular who will do anything to keep from becoming the monster they want him to be.
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky: Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.
The Keeper: A prequel to the Lunar Chronicles, showing a young Scarlet and how Princess Selene came into the care of Michelle Benoit.
After Sunshine Passes By: In this prequel to Cress, we see how a nine-year-old Cress ended up alone on a satellite, spying on Earth for Luna.
The Princess and the Guard: In this prequel to Winter, we see a game called The Princess
The Mechanic: In this prequel to Cinder, we see Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective.
Something Old, Something New: In this epilogue to Winter, friends gather for the wedding of the century...

My Review:

Stars Above is a wonderful collection of Lunar Chronicle stories. I fell in love with it the moment I started reading it. Marissa Meyer actually came to Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, AZ, so my family drove out to go see her and get our books signed (yes the picture shows Cinder and not Stars Above, because we wanted the book shown that made us fall in love with the series). Meyer is a wonderful person and you can just see her love for reading and writing glowing in her face. She actually told us the original Little Mermaid story, and man, she's a fantastic story teller! I definitely think story telling is an art, and she excels.

Me, Mom (aka Paij Slater here), Marissa Meyer

Anyways, this collection of stories was so much fun. It was great to see the lives of some minor characters that we didn't get to see very much. We also got to see what they were thinking, which answered some curious questions I've had throughout reading the series.

Most of the stories were about what happened before the series started, and the last story is an epilogue of the series. Oh, it was so much fun! I was given everything I have wanted since the beginning of the series. If you love this series, I highly suggest you read it. And definitely read it after you have the entire series, or there will be major spoilers.

Meyer is by far one of my favorite authors and she is just as wonderful in person. I am so glad I got to meet her and read this great series.

I give all these little stories a 5 out of 5!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Breakaway: A Review (The Breakaway #1)

Goodreads Description:

When Naomi Jensen is kidnapped, it takes her parents two days to realize she's missing. Escape isn't high on her list of priorities when all she has to return to is an abusive boyfriend and parents who never paid much attention to her. For the first time in her life she's part of a family-even if it is a family of criminals. But she's still a captive. In a desperate attempt to regain some control in her life, Naomi embarks on a dangerous plan to make one of her kidnappers think she's falling in love with him. The plan works too well, and when faced with the chance to escape, Naomi isn't sure she wants to take it

My Review:

As you can see, this is another book about a kidnapping, and it's a kidnapping that includes Stockholm Syndrome. Which in and of itself is pretty scary and incredibly mind tripping. I had actually first heard this series when my mom, sister, and cousin were listening to it on audiobook on a fun road trip we took years back (I was reading my own book, but my interest had been peaked). Only now, however, have I actually read it.

So, our main character is Naomi Jensen. She is perhaps the biggest idiot I've ever read about. I kept thinking she would be smarter, but no. She failed, just about every time. Still, I was enraptured about the dynamics of her relationship with her captors. That's what kept me reading.

Naomi doesn't know how to have a functional relationship. She had an abusive boy friend before, who I very much hated, and parents who didn't know how to be parents. Essentially, Naomi was never taught what love really was or how to find someone who actually loved her, and didn't use her for her body or for her parents' connections. Which, I think just made her so incredibly naive that when she got kidnapped, she didn't have the capability to think like a normal human being.

Because I would have tried to escape so many times.

She only tried once.

I won't give too much away, but needless to say, I obviously don't understand how Stockholm Syndrome works very much. I can't comprehend how you can come to love someone who is keeping you locked in a house, away from everything that you have known and loved. Which I believe is another reason why I kept reading. I just had to know how this was all going to work out.

One of her kidnappers, Jesse, is made out to be such a great guy, but how can you be a great guy when you could have saved a girl a year earlier, and only did so now because it benefited you? Just...crazy stuff that actually happens that I can't even imagine (and am incredibly grateful that it hasn't happened to me).

The ending was happy for me, but not so much for Naomi, which once again, weirded me out. There's a second book, of which I am excited for. Yes, Naomi is pretty stupid, but I can't stop reading the effects of her capture. It's such a train wreck, but it's fabulous and terrifying.

Argyle is a beautiful writer, and I enjoyed her writing style. It's another reason why I kept reading. She dives so well into Naomi's naive-ness and her strange way of thinking, that I'm completely drawn in. Sure, I can't connect with Naomi's airheaded-ness, but her story is interesting and Argyle keeps on surprising me.

I give this a 4 out of 5!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Clockwork Three: A Review (Standalone)

Goodreads (Description)

Three ordinary children are brought together by extraordinary events. . . .

Giuseppe is an orphaned street musician who sees no way to escape from his ruthless master, until the day he finds an enchanted violin.

Frederick is an apprentice clockmaker with a past he cannot remember, who secretly works to build the most magnificent clockwork man the world has ever seen.

Hannah is a maid in a grand hotel, whose life is one of endless drudgery, until she encounters a mystifying new guest and learns of a hidden treasure.

As mysterious circumstances bring them together, the lives of these three children soon interlock, and they realize that each one holds the key to the others’ puzzles. Together, the three discover they have phenomenal power when they team up as friends, and that they can overcome even the darkest of fears.

My Review:

This was a beautiful book about three kids who are trying to discover who they are.

Giuseppie is an Italian boy who was taken from his home and forced to play music on American streets to supply Stephano with money. His life has been horrible, and it got even worse after he discovered the green violin.

Frederick is a clock-maker determined to become a journeyman no matter what the cost, even if that means seeking help from the one who has taken him in.

Hannah is only trying to keep her dearest father alive and healthy. She works hard each and every day to put food in her family's bellies and afford healthcare for her father.

These three kids, through incredible circumstances are brought together to help each other in their quests. Nothing goes the way they want, and things always got worse before they started getting better. They nearly lose everything, only to discover that together they are stronger and can overcome anything that's thrown their way. I love the friendship that is created between the three. They lived in a time where young children were sent to work and could nearly be slave labor. And yet, by their example, someone very unlikely helps them.

This was a great book about kids learning how to fight for what they want. Each of the three had to learn hard lessons, and they made pretty bad mistakes, but they grew. They learned and moved on, climbing the ladder to success. If there were to be a book about these three in the future, I know they would be teaching their own children about the trials they faced and how to do the right thing, even when doing the wrong thing is easier.

I give this book a 4.5 out of 5!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: A Review (Harry Potter #8)

Description (Goodreads):
Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

My Review:

I love Harry Potter.

I will say though, that it was so odd to see Harry as a father. It was so interesting to see the trio in their adult lives and the kind of parents and adults they are. Needless to say, I'm not surprised about what some of them are doing as professions.

One thing I wish I had was more of the world around. I feel that since this was a play, I missed out on so much else that was going on. Still, it was a wonderful book.

Can I say that Scorpius Malfoy was my favorite in this series. By far. He was so good and so kind and so unlike his father. I LOVED HIM. Albus kind of annoyed me at times. It was surprising to me that I liked a Malfoy more than a Potter. Haha. Albus was a good friend after he realized how selfish he was being. Scorpius was only good and kind to him and Albus was kind of a jerk a lot of the time.

But, Albus and Scorpius had the chance to grow so much in this short little story. I loved it.

There were many things that made me want to cry, but it was a beautiful story and I hope to one day see the actual play.

4.5 out of 5!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Shade of Vampire: A Review (A Shade of Vampire #1)

Goodreads (Description):

On the evening of Sofia Claremont's seventeenth birthday, she is sucked into a nightmare from which she cannot wake.

A quiet evening walk along a beach brings her face to face with a dangerous pale creature that craves much more than her blood.

She is kidnapped to an island where the sun is eternally forbidden to shine.
An island uncharted by any map and ruled by the most powerful vampire coven on the planet. She wakes here as a slave, a captive in chains.

Sofia's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn when she is the one selected out of hundreds of girls to join the harem of Derek Novak, the dark royal Prince.

Despite his addiction to power and obsessive thirst for her blood, Sofia soon realizes that the safest place on the island is within his quarters, and she must do all within her power to win him over if she is to survive even one more night.

Will she succeed? ...or is she destined to the same fate that all other girls have met at the hands of the Novaks?

My Review:

If you want a sappy, quick, vampire romance, this is the book series for you.

Oh my, it's so incredibly cheesy and full of cliches, and yet I still like it.

Sophia is a bit of a push over and kind of an airhead, but she is kind and compasionate. Granted, if I were in her situation, I would not have let Derick, prince of the vampires, in as quickly, but you know...cliche.

Derick's heart is centered in the right place, he just doesn’t act on it all the time, and only really when Sophia is around. Which, kinda makes me not like him a whole lot, but he does have his shining moments. And I like him way more than the other jerks in the book. Ben, gah. Who cares if he is Sophia's best friend, he's kind of a pig. And Derick's brother, yeah no. Let him burn in the sunlight please.

This story is interesting by how the vampires have survived over the years. There are witches on their side and hunters trying to destroy them. You know, the typical eternal enemy story. Yet, even though this is like nearly every other vampire story I've read, I'm still listening to it.

The narrators aren't my favorite, but they're pretty good.

I give this book a 3 out of 5.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

In The After Light: A Review (The Darkest Minds #3)

Goodreads (Description):

Ruby can't look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government's attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. Only Ruby has any power over him, and just one slip could lead to Clancy wreaking havoc on their minds.

They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IAAN, the disease that has killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others like her with powers the government will kill to keep contained. But internal strife may destroy their only chance to free the "rehabilitation camps" housing thousands of other Psi kids.

Meanwhile, reunited with Liam, the boy she would-and did-sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the intense training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.

My Review:
(Once again, if you haven't read the previous books, there will be spoilers)

I will say, this is definitely the darkest out of all three books.

It's all down to the nitty gritty now. Ruby now must confide in others beyond Liam to get what she wants. She must learn to really fight and really control and manipulate others with her mind. She must push herself to her limits, no matter how bad it gets. She must walk with purpose and determination, even if all her energy is gone.

She must discover how and why kids gained these special powers.

And she accomplishes this. Liam and his older brother Cole, help Ruby grow into the strong leader she needs to be as she sacrifices herself for the greater good. As she makes painful decisions that will help all others around her.

Ruby truly shows her bravery and love in this book. She shows her selflessness and sacrifice as she gives her everything for the freedom and bettering of kids lives.

Her relationship with Liam was rough in this book, but I love how they survived the worst together. I love how Liam stayed true to what he believed, even if it didn't necessarily go along with what Ruby did. So despite their arguments, they both did the right thing, in different ways.

Cole was interesting to meet. Needless to say, it was nice to see Liam's older brother and learn a bit about their family life.

I will say, this series had a beautiful, realistic ending.

Once again, there was loads of language.

I give this a 4 out of 5!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Never Fade: A Review (The Darkest Minds #2)

Goodreads (Description):

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

My Review:

(If you haven't read the first book, there will be spoilers here)

Well, if you thought this series couldn't get any darker, you were wrong.

Here, Ruby had become the Leader in a special ops team within the Children's League. She has become a darker version of herself as she tries to fight for kids just like her. She is forced to once again face horrors no kid should have to face and learn how to hone her ability so that she doesn’t unintentionally mess with other's minds.

Yet, once again fate brings her back to Liam and the crew. Although Liam doesn't remember her, he has a vague familiarity with her that he just can't place. He also has the key to how all these mutations came about the kids.

As Liam, Ruby and the gang try to discover what caused their abilities, they are forced to battle with adults and find refuge over and over again as they try to discover what happened those fateful years ago.

I honestly like Ruby. I wouldn't say she's the strongest female lead I've read about, but she's up there. She lives in a crappy world where what's right and what's wrong can be very hard to distinguish, but I believe she does well.

Liam too. I love how headstrong he is about doing things in ways that lead to less death. He really is a great leader.

Once again, there's a lot of language in this book. Otherwise, it is clean.

I give this a 4 out of 5!