I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's a retelling of Snow White, but the differences are subtle enough that you don't feel as if you're reading the samI thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's a retelling of Snow White, but the differences are subtle enough that you don't feel as if you're reading the same old tale again. The world-building is also fascinating--if a tad complex. I'll need to spend more time in this world before I can understand it. Lili St. Crow hints at complexities that aren't fully explored in this book. I'm really hoping that the next book (a Cinderella re-telling) expands on what we learned, rather than moving us to a new sphere. ...more
I HATED the love interest and the heroine wasn't much better, either. However, the author excelled at creating her story. I can't fault her writing, eI HATED the love interest and the heroine wasn't much better, either. However, the author excelled at creating her story. I can't fault her writing, even if I think her characters were extremely lacking. I'm hoping her next book will appeal to me more!...more
Narrator Review: Rebecca Soler did a magnificent job of narrating Scarlet, to the point that I’m thinkingThis review was first posted on Ruby's Reads.
Narrator Review: Rebecca Soler did a magnificent job of narrating Scarlet, to the point that I’m thinking of “rereading” Cinder, just to see what she did with the first book in the Lunar Chronicles. Her Cinder is brash, sarcastic and vulnerable all at once, and clearly a separate voice from Scarlet’s. Maybe it’s the slightest suggestion of a French accent in the parts of Scarlet narrated by the titular characters, but Soler nails it. She’s similarly adept at portraying Wolf, without resorting to the gruff manliness that female storytellers often use. Soler’s Prince Kai is, perhaps, the weakest of the three main portrayals, but through no fault of the narrator. I already checked to see what other books Rebecca Soler has narrated, and added some of them to my Audible wishlist.
Book Review: I crazy-loved this book. I listen to audiobooks in my car (Audible purchases being the only exception), and I frequently took the long route while I was listening to Scarlet. Or sat in my driveway, unable to turn off the radio. Or offered to be the one to go on the lunch run. Anything to get back in the car. The narrator was great, yes, but Meyer is also a talented writer. She keeps you interested in the story despite the frequent changes in perspective.
I like Marissa Meyer’s work for the same reason that I like fairy-tale retellings. I know what I’m going to get. I know the basic plot (and most likely the outcome). But knowing what’s going to happen doesn’t make the journey any less pleasurable. What I love about fairy tale retellings is the fresh exploration of a familiar tale. This is especially true in the case of the Lunar Chronicles, where we derive a great deal of joy in seeing how Meyer reinterprets fairy tale standards. How does Meyer evoke Little Red Riding Hood, and tell an old story in a new way? Delightfully, with a whole host of small details, that’s how.
On the characters, I have to say that Wolf was, hands down, my favorite. I’m sure no one is surprised by this. It’s more than just his name, though! He’s kick-butt, tortured, and smexy. Sigh. Lucky Scarlet. Speaking of whom: I liked Scarlet a lot, too. There were certainly times when I wanted to hit her upside the head in hopes of knocking some sense into her, but I liked her slightly hysterical, panicking, illogical personality given the situation. Heroines who always keep their heads and never, ever let their emotions do their thinking…well, they’re just too cool for me and I don’t want to hang out with them because they always make me feel bad about myself.
As long as the next books in the Lunar Chronicles feature Scarlet and Wolf, I’m set. Cinder got on my nerves with her constant refusal to use her Lunar powers (we get it already), but I still liked her. Prince Kai bored me. He’s completely powerless in an extremely realistic way. Principled world leaders don’t have it as easy as you’d think, which I totally buy and which is totally uninteresting from the perspective of plot. I’m definitely waiting on Cress and I’ll absolutely be holding out for the audio version!...more
My high hopes for this book were mixed with the low hopes I had after reading The BooksmugThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
My high hopes for this book were mixed with the low hopes I had after reading The Booksmugglers' review of Sisters Red. In their joint review, Ana and Thea completely convinced me not to read Sisters Red, but that didn't mean that I wasn't willing to give Jackson Pearce a try. In fact, it only made me more curious about this Hansel and Gretel rewrite, so I snapped up the chance to review Sweetly. I also want to say that I really like fairytale retellings. And I especially like it when a somewhat neglected fairytale gets the modernization treatment. Hansel and Gretel isn't exactly a neglected fairytale, though I would say that it is in the world of YA fiction. YA fairytale retellings tend to be focused on the Prince Charming stories--Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White. Which I totally love--I confess a Cinderella story gets me almost every time--but I was really intrigued to see how Pearce would recreate Hansel and Gretel, as it seemed to be rife with possibilities. Sweetly tells the story of Gretchen and her older brother Ansel. As children, Ansel and Gretchen went into the forest with their sister--and only the two of them came back out again. Their lives were ever after haunted by the loss of their sister. Ansel because he felt responsible and Gretchen because the missing sister was her twin. In the present, Ansel and Gretchen have been kicked out of their home by their stepmother because Gretchen has finally turned eighteen. Their cross-country road trip reaches an abrupt halt outside the dying Southern town of Live Oak, where they're taken in by a young woman running a chocolatier. Pearce's retelling of Hansel and Gretel messes a little bit too much with the fairytale that it's supposed to be retelling. She transforms the villain of the piece from the "witch" of the traditional story into a pack of slavering werewolves. The switch comes out of left field and made me scrunch up my face and go: "Huh-what?" I still didn't understand the where they came in, even when I closed the last page of the book. It occurs to me now that I might know if I'd read Sisters Red. Oh, well, too late for that! The primary conflict of the novel is the fact that eighteen-year-old girls keep disappearing from the town of Live Oak. Not entirely coincidentally, their disappearance happens after the girls go to a party held by Sophie the chocolatier. For me, this was the sticking point. I didn't get why every single one of the girls in the town is completely without reservation about Sophie's party. If girls are disappearing after they attend it, I don't buy that they would all be clueless enough not to connect the two events. Gretchen's denial makes more sense--she'd rather stick her head in the sand about Sophie than look a gift horse in the mouth. We've all had these moments, but this facet of her personality doesn't exactly make her a kick-butt heroine. Add to all of this that I was uninspired by the romance. Either one, frankly. And you know how important the romance is to my enjoyment of any book. I didn't, however, hate it. My reaction wasn't the vehement dislike of The Booksmugglers, but it wasn't strong in the other direction, either. Depending on the fairytale Pearce decides to take on next, I'd be willing to give her another try. In the meantime, I'd appreciate any suggestions for this theme?
3 Points: I would have coffee with this book....more
Okay, I unexpectedly loved this book. I almost didn't even want to read it, because KendraThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
Okay, I unexpectedly loved this book. I almost didn't even want to read it, because Kendra didn't seem a very interesting character to me. I tend not to enjoy fairytale retellings told from the perspective of the "fairy godperson." I don't know why. It's an unexplained prejudice, but I'm not up for any reformation, guys. Luckily for me, I read between the lines. Most of Bewitching is told from the perspective of Emma, despite the tone of the description. Kendra's story is interwoven between Emma's in a mostly entertaining way. Fortunately for me, Kendra's forays into times past were skimmable. I enjoyed the tale of the French prince, but skipped most of the mermaid and the Titanic. I don't think my overall reading experience suffered from this--but feel free to set me straight if you disagree. Emma's story is a refreshing, new take on the Cinderella story. You probably think you've seen it all, read every reinvention of Cinderella--and I don't blame you. It's definitely been overdone. Not that I'm complaining--I love a Cinderella story--but I really enjoyed what Flinn did with it. Emma is part evil stepsister, part Cinderella, and all a character to root for. There are definitely times where you might want her to act, but you end up admiring her in the end. She's smart enough not to make the mistakes that most Cinderella rehashes do--but that doesn't mean she's perfect. I just admire that her mistakes are the same-old, same-old. They're what make this retelling of the classic fairytale fresh and new. I can't say that Bewitching was one of my favorites so far this year, but I definitely enjoyed it. In fact, I will definitely be looking forward to the rest of the books in this series, and I wishlisted Beastly and Cloaked directly upon reading the last work on the last page. This is the perfect pick-me-up, the thing to read when you're in a slump, or you just want something that will flow easily from beginning to end. There's a place for these kind of books on my shelf. I treasure them almost as much as the Desert Island Keepers. 4 1/2 Points: I'd go on a second date with this book. ...more
This review was originally posted on http://www.rubysreads.com. I'd like, first of all, to tell you that I loaned this book to my dad before I read iThis review was originally posted on http://www.rubysreads.com. I'd like, first of all, to tell you that I loaned this book to my dad before I read it. When he gave it back to me he said, "I didn't get what the title was in reference to until the last third of the book." There's really no point to this anecdote except that it made me laugh and I thought it might do the same for you.
I'll be honest with you, I go through phases with Dystopians. Sometimes I really like them. At other times, I only like them when they have no magical element. Then there's the phase where I think if I never read another one, it'll be too soon. Cinder has three strong things going for it:
It's a fairytale retelling. It features a colony on the MOON. Cyborgs.
When I was a child, one of my favorite books was This Place Has No Atmosphere by Paula Danziger. In a nutshell, the book is about a teenage girl forced to move to the moon. Ever since then, I've been a fan of books that have moon colonies. We don't make it to the moon in Cinder, but I've got my fingers crossed for further installments. Oh, wait--wasn't I trying to review Cinder? Yeah, I think I was. Cinder didn't grab me at first. I think it wasn't until I was about a quarter of the way into the story that I really got into the narrative. From there, I was hooked. What's fun about fairytale retellings is that you already know the basic plot, and even most of the characters. Since you do, the game becomes discovering how the author interprets the fairytale. Frankly, I loved Cinder. All the elements of the Cinderella tale tumble and rolled together with a bit of Star Trek and a smidge of This Place Has No Atmosphere. It's no wonder that it appealed to me. It's unique world-building on top of great storytelling. The characters are complex and refreshing interpretations of characters that are practically older than time. There were a few predictable elements I'm perfectly comfortable overlooking, but on the whole this is a book I'd recommend to almost anyone, from Cinderella fans to Dystopian ones. Count me among the hordes looking forward to Scarlet when it comes out in 2013....more
While I have greatly enjoyed the various editions of Robin Hood that I've seen throughoutThis review was first posted on http://www.rubysreads.com.
While I have greatly enjoyed the various editions of Robin Hood that I've seen throughout the years, I can't say that I've ever actually read a Robin Hood-themed novel. The primary reason for this is my lack of interest in the romantic pairing. Robin Hood and Marian have never particularly compelling to me--and you know that I've gotta love romance in order to love the story. I've always seen Marian as a kind of ineffectual, inconsequential heroine. In fact, I hesitate to call her a heroine at all. Rather, she personifies the kind of woman the age of chivalry deifies. Women didn't take active roles according to the mores of the time, and that's a concept I can't get behind. All this is to preface this statement: It took a modern author to bring the legend of Robin Hood into the 21st Century. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it wasn't to me. I didn't know I loved the tale of Robin Hood until I read Scarlet. In fact, I don't think I loved Robin Hood at all until I read A.C. Gaughen's interpretation of him. For those two reasons alone, I loved this book. And the really wonderful thing is that it has so much else to offer besides. Scarlet achieves three lofty goals: One, it creates a strong, believable, admirable heroine who remains true to her time period. Two, it seamlessly weaves a new twist into a classic tale. In other words, it uses the good that the tale had to begin with, and makes it even better. Three: It tells a fantastic story. I honestly can't say enough good things about this debut. A.C. Gaughen is an author to stalk, and I sincerely hope to see more of her. Though, I must admit, that I hope she doesn't use dialect in her next book. It's the only thing that kept this book from being a perfect six. 5 1/2 Points: I would have this book's babies....more
Presenting Ruby and Small's First Ever Joint Review!
The Characters Ruby You're probably going to be sick and tired of me saying things like this, but Princess of the Wild Swans' Meriel couldn't hold a candle to Daughter of the Forest's Sorcha. She was spoiled and a bit thin on personality and character development. I know that I should expect a princess to be a bit spoiled, but I do expect spoiled characters to move, gradually toward a place where they are less spoiled. Meriel ostensibly did this, but not in any particularly interesting way. I also didn't think we got to know the brothers very well before they were turned into swans. They fell too neatly into categories (artistic brother, introspective brother, etc). I wasn't invested enough to really care that they were gone, and I didn't feel the tension when Meriel was fighting to get them back. Small Review I agree, Meriel was very spoiled. I’d even say bratty. I do think she grew as the book went on, but she annoyed me so much in the beginning that I had a hard time letting that go. The brothers were disappointing to me, too. It wasn’t even like they just fit into categories, it was like they were categories. We didn’t even get to SEE an expression of their character traits (like the artistic one being artistic, or the introspective one being introspective) we were just TOLD that those were their traits. That made them feel even less alive than if they were simple caricatures. I almost wish the story had been about Liam, Danica, and their mother—the original characters. They were easier to like and hinted at depth. I felt their family bonds a lot more clearly. The only time I really felt invested in the story was when one of them was in peril. Ruby I agree! I can't think of a single thing the brothers (aside from Cullan) did! But I didn't like Liam, Danica and company as much as you did. I felt like they were caricatures of kind-hearted villagers. The Fairy Tale Ruby: Daughters of the Forest (by JM) also retells this story. And, frankly, she does it so much better that I don't think this book is going to work for me. This is the Lite version. I literally could not stop comparing Princess of the Wild Swans to Daughter of the Forest. The fact that Meriel could communicate with Liam and Danica telepathically made me want to tell her that she had it easy compared to the things Sorcha had to go through. What I can't decide is if I would have enjoyed this story if I hadn't read Daughter of the Forest. I read MG novels occasionally because that's the age I teach (and probably the reason I don't seek out the genre), so I know the only issue wasn't the audience Zahler was writing to. I've read more sophisticated stuff geared towards younger audiences. I just didn't connect with this story. The action also flies past without real substance, and the conflict was too neatly resolved. If you've read Juliet Marillier's guest post, you know what I'm talking about. It's one of the tidiest happily ever afters I've ever encountered. The only thing it's lacking is the babies. Small Review It’s hard to look at a book objectively when you hold a similar book in such high regard. I know we’re not supposed to compare, but how can you not? I think as far as MG books go, this one will be a hit with its target audience (when I was reading this at work I had three girls ask if they could borrow it and if I would order it for the library—all in the target age group), but it likely won’t be as successful with YA or adult readers. I usually don’t mind—and even sometimes welcome—neat happily ever after endings, but for some reason this one fell flat for me. Easy peasy "trials" and then neat ending. They didn't DESERVE that ending. They didn't work for it. I also never fully connected with the characters, so I didn’t give a pass on the sappy ending when I otherwise would have (I would move mountains to give my beloved characters a saccharine sweet HEA). Ruby Good to know! I'll take my copy to my classroom and see if it draws the interest of my students. I think the question of why the saccharine ending bothered us so much is a good one. I'm a happy ending person, too. I get pissed if the main characters go through ridiculous amounts of suffering only to have medium happy endings. I agree with Small, that also you need to feel like the characters have earned their happy endings--and I didn't get that feeling here.
2 1/2 Points: I'd Glance at This Book Through a Store Window. ...more