You know when a sequel just blows your ever-lovin' mind, leaves you screaming and angry and in ruins? Lady Thief is that kind of sequel. I don't know how the author managed to make me fall even harder for these characters, but she did. And now my poor heart is in tatters after that ending.
Okay, so, if you know the story of Robin Hood fairly well, a lot of what happens in Scarlet and Lady Thief won't come as a surprise to you, but the way that events unfold is sure to. You might think for a second that in this one instance, Gaughen's going to go the traditional route and orchestrate the same sequence of events you've come to know as the history of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. But you'd be wrong. Though I've had many of my theories pan out over the course of these two books, I still feel like the story is remarkably fresh. I think the fact that I'm able to foresee a lot of what's to come is actually one of my shortcomings, not the author's.
I am still so in love with the fact that Scarlet is who she is, that she's survived what she has, and she still manages to persevere, to fight and love and do what she can for the people of Nottingham. Scarlet's narrative is sparse but that doesn't keep her from painting a very brutal picture for us. She doesn't hide her feelings nearly as well as she once did, though, and with what's going on now, it's no surprise. I had so hoped that she'd finally get her chance at happiness, but it looks like it wasn't meant to be, at least not yet.
Robin is a bit broken after what he suffered in the first book, and Scarlet bears the brunt of his inability to cope. As such, she's forced to make a decision that will change the course of her and Robin's future, though not as either of them expected. Neither of them knows of the stratagems already at play when Scarlet accepts a bargain from Lord Gisbourne, and when Prince John involves himself in her affairs, all hell breaks loose for Scarlet.
Fortunately for Scarlet and Rob, they find -- or rather, make -- time for romance along the way. Because of their honor and devotion to each other, I feared we'd go another book without so much as a single kiss between them, but they put that aside to bask in each other while they can. Nothing about their future is set in stone, and if the past is any indication, they have a long road to travel before they can truly seek solace in each other's arms. So it was nice to see them give in to their hearts and take a moment or two for themselves, even if doing so was technically wrong. (I'm not here to judge, but Scarlet is a married woman. Just sayin'.) Their love story is raw and achingly painful, but deliciously so, and despite all odds, I'm still betting on them.
The other characters' stories have all become compelling in their own rights. [Little] John may finally be over his roguish ways, which is quite the change from the first book. Much is showing just how capable he is and is full of worthy advice for Scarlet. Even Gisbourne's story arc proves quite intriguing. He may be pure evil incarnate, but in the beginning, he was such an enigma and as much as I loathed him, I still wanted to know how he came to be the man he was. I got more than I bargained for in that respect, but it's fitting and makes the story that much more captivating.
As I said, if you know anything of the lore surrounding Robin the Hood and his entourage, you can guess where the story is headed for both him and Scarlet, especially with the death of the sheriff and Prince John's political machinations while his brother is away. But the ways in which the end result was achieved were still shocking and at times, utterly heartbreaking. Guard your heart, folks...you're in for a bumpy ride. And if you're waiting until the third book is out because you've heard about the tear-inducing cliffy at the end of Lady Thief...well, that's all well and good, but it's still going to be there whether you wait or not, and you can't change what happens, much as you'll want to. So, what I'm saying is, hurry up and read it so we can discuss and be miserable together while we wait for book three. ;0)
GIF it to me straight: I won't be able to wait another year...I won't...iwontiwontiwont.(less)
This novella, which comes in at 125 pages, was far longer than it needed to be...moreThis review, and others like it, can be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue.
This novella, which comes in at 125 pages, was far longer than it needed to be and took me much longer than any novella before it to complete. I was just so bored. I get why this story was released now and why it's important to the series, but all it did was make me question whether I wanted to continue on with the series.
Essentially, here's what I took away from this story: Dorothy desperately yearns for her adventures in Oz, she gets the opportunity to return, finds that she can wield magic on her own, and lets said magic go to her head, turning her into what she once sought to destroy. That all sounds well and good, right, but most of that happens in the last 30% or so. I really could have done without the first 2/3 of the story.
Except that it does help to illustrate that the author is going back to the original story with her retelling and not just focusing on what most people know from the major motion picture. That aspect did impress me somewhat, as did the imagery, even as overdone as it was at times. However, I think that a flashback sequence in the forthcoming full-length novel could have served the same purpose as this novella, which is to show that Oz's one-time savior has succumbed to power and is now a tyrant in her own right and must now be destroyed as those before her were.
I hadn't planned on reading the excerpt from Dorothy Must Die at the end of the novella, having already decided not to read any more of this series, but my curiosity got the better of me. And if it hadn't been for that excerpt, I wouldn't be picking up the full-length novel in April. But as it stands, I'm quite intrigued by Amy's character and her hardships and how her situation compares to Dorothy's from the first time she visited Oz. Also, the tone of the novel, at least what I gathered from the excerpt, is completely different from that of the novella, which is a good thing in my opinion.
This novella is necessary for one reason and one alone: to change the reader's opinion of Dorothy, such that they might actually feel that she deserves to die when the time comes. Dorothy is a beloved character to many people, and I think most would have a difficult time turning against her. But this short story does an excellent job of that. I can't stand her now and if I find out that her perspective is included in Dorothy Must Die, I still may pass on it because I took no enjoyment from reading from her point-of-view. So, if you think you're going to have a hard time despising Dorothy, I'd say this novella would be a good jumping off point for you. Otherwise, save your money for when the real fun begins.
I just finished Unhinged, and I wasn't quite ready to leave this world yet, so I downloaded this novella. I'm aware that it should have been read prio...moreI just finished Unhinged, and I wasn't quite ready to leave this world yet, so I downloaded this novella. I'm aware that it should have been read prior to Unhinged, and I completely concur, but it didn't impede my enjoyment of either story any that I didn't read them in order. I should also point out that it's not necessary to read this novella before you pick up Unhinged and that a lot of what's covered in both Splintered and Unhinged is present in this story, just from a different perspective.
With that said, I have to admit that my loyalties have changed with each installment of this story. I love both boys for different reasons, and it's clear that both boys care very deeply for Alyssa, though I think it's clearest in this novella. For that reason alone, I think it's a worthy read. Worth $1.99? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on how much you love this series, I suppose. My other sister -- the one who's the hardcore Alice fan -- begged me for my advanced copy of Unhinged, and so I'm sure she'll be purchasing this short. But if the rivalry between Jeb and Morpheus doesn't have you excited yet, this story might not be essential for your continuation of the series.
Because The Moth in the Mirror is an exploration of the relationship each boy has with Alyssa and what each is hoping for...and what they're willing to give up. Honestly, if you read Unhinged, you'll already have read some of this, just not in the same context. Morpheus wants to know exactly what he's up against when it comes to Jeb, what his motivations, his strengths and his weaknesses are, especially when it comes to Al. So, he takes a ride on the train of lost memories, experiencing pivotal moments from Jeb's point-of-view.
Does this change anything for Morpheus? I'll let you be the judge, either based on your reading of this story or when you get to Unhinged. Either way, the truth is there, in his words but mostly in his actions. Morpheus may not be mortal, but he desires what one mortal has above all else. And despite his single-mindedness, his sheer arrogance, I still want Morpheus to come out on top.
Confession time: I'm a huge fan of Beauty and the Beast. I could rewatch the Disney version with my daughter a hundred times and never grow tired of it. "Gaston, you are positively primeval." But since it's confession time, I feel like I should admit that I haven't read all that many retellings of the tale. And with all the buzz this book has inspired, I was a little skeptical when I first picked this one up.
I really shouldn't have worried, though, because this novel is only loosely based on the original story and focuses a lot of its attention on Greek mythology, much to my delight. If there's one thing I like more than Beauty and the Beast, it's Greek mythology, so naturally I loved seeing it infused into this gorgeous story, dark as it may be. Also, faeries...there are faeries in this retelling, though they're not called that outright. It's seriously like the author said "What three [awesome] things have no business being in a story together?" and made it work.
And it soooo works. The story starts out slow, with the author spending quite a bit of time introducing the reader to the kingdom of Arcadia, the residents essentially trapped under a dome, not one of them ever having seen the true sun. Even so, Hodge's writing evoked a sense of romance, just in the way Nyx's situation is described, the tragic yet beautiful way her circumstances unfold. The day has come for her to live up to her life's mission, and it's both heartbreaking and empowering.
"Death is always interesting to you, isn't it?" He advanced on me like a cat stalking a bird. "You want me to worry more about my own demise?" "Oh, no, I couldn't possibly bother you. Do go ahead and rest in comfortable ignorance." "The better to kill me in my sleep?" "It would be rude to wake you first."
Nyx is perhaps my favorite type of protagonist. She's strong and capable, yet the author allows us to see her vulnerability, even when she shows it to know one else. And I don't just mean her sorrow at being married off to a monster so that she might destroy him. I'm also referring to her anger at her situation, at the fact that her father is sacrificing her to make amends for his own mistakes. I think a person who finds herself in this situation should be allowed her anger, should be given time to wallow in self-pity and doubt before being sent off to complete her task.
Pretty much all of the characters in this novel have questionable morals and intentions, and though that will likely be off-putting for many readers, I reveled in it. If characters can't be relatable or likable, I at least want them to be genuine with hints at their darker natures. And none of the characters in Cruel Beauty are particularly likable.
Except maybe Shade, but considering the dark and deceitful natures of everyone else Nyx encounters, I decided immediately that I wouldn't trust him. Ignifex, on the other hand, never hid the fact that he was evil and leaned toward being brutally honest and forthright with Nyx by comparison. I tend to fancy a villain who straddles the line between good and evil, who sees things in shades of grey rather than in black and white. Which means I was over the moon happy when Nyx felt a pull towards him.
"But you know what you are, and what you deserve. You lie to me but not to yourself. That's why I love you."
I will probably always ship the villain who can be redeemed. Or at least has the potential to be redeemed, i.e. Warner (from Shatter Me) and River (from Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea -- which I was reminded of time and again while reading this novel). Ignifex isn't pure evil per se, but he doesn't exactly have a heart of gold. Yet, he can see Nyx for all her faults, can see past what her father has forced her to become and see the girl beneath the cool exterior. For a girl who's only purpose in this life seems to be that she is to be used by everyone, this is epic. Even Shade, for all his sweet and tender gestures, wants something from her. Is it any wonder that she should feel something for Ignifex, even if it goes against everything she's been taught? Making it forbidden just makes it that much hotter to me.
I was warned about the love triangle way in advance of reading this novel. I think it either desensitized me to the situation, or the manner in which the triangle was resolved itself was just so stunning that I can forgive it anything. Honestly, I saw it coming -- how everything would end -- pretty much from the moment Nyx met Shade, but sometimes it's all in the execution, not the outcome, as in this case.
I found everything about this story to be captivating: the nature of Ignifex's curse, the castle that seemed almost to be sentient, the death threats and banter between Nyx and Ignifex that bordered on coquettish. I loved every second of this strange, beautiful story. This may be a "tale as old as time" but it's been made completely new again in the capable hands of Rosamund Hodge. I want more from this author, and I want it now.
I would be fine if we never encountered the Lunar queen again in this series, but I know that's not going to happen. Having the ability to compel othe...moreI would be fine if we never encountered the Lunar queen again in this series, but I know that's not going to happen. Having the ability to compel others to bend to one's will makes a person a very worthy adversary, and so I know we have much more of Levana's presence to tolerate. Though, I do hope she gets her comeuppance, especially now that I know the full extent of the atrocities she is willing to commit.
I did like the introduction to Z in this short story, and I hope that his character is featured prominently in the upcoming Scarlet. Possibly as Wolf? Scarlet is a retelling of Red Riding Hood, so it would make sense. And after reading this short story, it seems totally possible that Z becomes known as Wolf, who is described in the synopsis of Scarlet as "a street fighter" who "clearly has a few dark secrets of his own".
Short and sweet, this prequel story shows us Cinder's introduction to her new family and not only her reaction but their reaction to her. I think it w...moreShort and sweet, this prequel story shows us Cinder's introduction to her new family and not only her reaction but their reaction to her. I think it was pretty evident in Cinder that Adri was not happy with Cinder's addition to her family, but Glitches presents a little more background as to why.
I thought it was rather endearing to see how Cinder was acclimating not only to her new role in a family that mostly objected to her presence but also to her new status as a cyborg. She can't remember the accident or much of anything of her life before coming to New Beijing, but it's obvious to her how very different she is now. I loved Cinder's character in the first full-length novel in this series, and it hurts my heart to see how her situation in that novel came about.
This short story set in the Grisha world is a Hansel & Gretel retelling that is equal parts dark and creepy and terribly enthralling. It's been a...moreThis short story set in the Grisha world is a Hansel & Gretel retelling that is equal parts dark and creepy and terribly enthralling. It's been a while since I read Shadow and Bone so I can't really comment on how this short ties into that storyline without going back for a re-read -- which I will totally be doing soon in preparation for Siege and Storm -- but as a re-imagining of the old Hansel & Gretel fairy tale, it is fantastic.
The Witch of Duva isn't what I expected at all. I was continuously surprised and completely flabbergasted by the turn the story took, but I also really enjoyed the realizations I was left with concerning character motivations and discerning true danger from that which is perceived.
I loved Leigh Bardugo's writing in Shadow and Bone and I once again found myself fascinated and utterly captivated with it in this short story. And now I'm kind of hoping that she'll write a book featuring only her versions of folk tales...her spin on this one was incredible!
So, after listening to the Alice in Zombielandaudiobook at the end of last year and discovering it wasn't a retelling of one of my favorite childhood...moreSo, after listening to the Alice in Zombieland audiobook at the end of last year and discovering it wasn't a retelling of one of my favorite childhood stories in the least bit as I'd hoped, I was reluctant to read Splintered. For obvious reasons. And for not so obvious reasons. Like the fact that this cover kind of freaked me out a bit. I know practically everyone is enthralled with it's vividness, but even so, it was a little...shocking to me. It's so intense and vibrant. I don't know...I can't explain why it turned me off at first. I just know it did. But as I learned with my last audiobook experience, sometimes a really fantastic book is hiding behind an unusual cover...a cover that, after reading the book, really does capture the essence of the story.
I actually also received a copy for review from the publisher via Netgalley, but as you've read, I was a bit leery of working it into my review schedule. But then all of those fabulous reviews came rolling in and assuaged some of my doubts, and so I decided to give the audio a try. I'm sure sitting down to read this novel would have been great, but I loved the audio, and I don't regret going that route for a second. I just adore finding new narrators who make the listening experience every bit as exciting as it should be, and that's just what I discovered with this audiobook. Rebecca Gibel's narrative was pitch-perfect, no matter which character she was voicing. She's performed a few other young adult novels, but this is the first time I've actually come across her narration, though I will definitely be seeking it out in the future. Rebecca Gibel owned this narration, from her plucky representation of the heroine to the English accent she lent to the mysteriously sexy Morpheus.
Yeah, yeah, yeah...I loved the audio. But you want to know if the story was worth it, right? Trust me, friends, I would not recommend the audio if the story itself was not up to par. As far as retellings go, this one was phenomenal. Imagine a whole world as brilliant and stunning as that cover. I know, I know...it scared me off at first, but the way Wonderland is brought to life through the eyes of Alyssa is just...magical. The world-building in this book is so rich and captivating that I found myself listening to this book when I was supposed to be reading other things. If you were entranced by Tim Burton's version of Wonderland, you will love this one.
And, oh, how clever this author is, weaving the story the way she did! Maybe it was because I expected that I already knew how things would play out or maybe it's just because the author is a clever little minx, but I was surprised at nearly every turn. And my alliances changed just about as often. In a place full of magic such as this, I think it would be nearly impossible to truly know who to trust.
So, I guess it's a good thing that the spirited Alyssa has level-headed, slightly untrusting Jeb along for her adventure. He's good for comedic relief, too. The problem is, Morpheus is a sweet-talking moth-man who is the splitting image of Brandon Lee from The Crow. Morpheus acts as Alyssa's guide to Wonderland, much as the Caterpillar does in the original story, but I really liked the updates to this character, especially how central his role is in the story.
I found it really easy to relate to and connect with these more modern characters, but I also felt like the characters stayed somewhat true to their original roles, which I appreciated on every level. I can't believe I almost passed on this book, simply because I judged it on looks alone. I'm making a promise right now to try more books with covers that are out of my comfort zone. (Except those bodice rippers with half-naked peeps on the front. To each his own, but those will never be for me.)
Splintered left me with a bookish high, one I had to keep going, which is why I immediately started a different audiobook upon finishing this one...which is also why I'm just now reviewing it, even though I finished it a week ago. The conclusion of the story was a little open-ended, so I'm hoping the author has more of Alyssa's story to tell. A.G. Howard completely reinvented this world that I've come to love, and I want to see more of it. Prepare for Alice-sized tears until my demands are met!
"I've been collecting bugs since I was ten; it's the only way I can stop their whispers. Sticking a pin through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quick."
"Tearing down the rest of the world won't make you happy. Look inside yourself. Because finding who you were meant to be? What you were put into this world to do? That's what fills the emptiness. It's the only thing that can."
"I hate you," I say, the sentiment muffled against his heart, hoping to make it true. "And I love you," he answers without hesitation, voice resolved and raw as he holds me tighter so I can't break away and react. "A crossroads, my beautiful princess, that was unavoidable—given our situations."
"Sometimes a flame must level a forest to ash before new growth can begin. I believe Wonderland needed a scouring."
"I go where Al goes, dances-with-bugs. And just so you know, if anything happens to her, I'll pin you by your wings to a corkboard and use you for dart practice."
"No one knows what he or she is capable of until things are at their darkest."
A copy was provided by the publisher for review via Netgalley, but this review is for the audiobook, which was purchased by the reviewer.
An ARC of this title was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. However, this review is for the audiobook version I purchased m...moreAn ARC of this title was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. However, this review is for the audiobook version I purchased myself.
So, I had this ARC of Cress sitting on my shelf for months, and I really wanted to return to this story and the amazing world that Marissa Meyer has created. But I also really like to continue a series via the same method with each book, and since I listened to both Cinder and Scarlet on audiobook, that meant I had to wait like everyone else.
But it was worth it. Sooo worth it to hear Rebecca Soler bring these characters to life again. I don't think I'd like these books half as much if it weren't for her narration. That's a lie. I'd still love them, but it just wouldn't be as much fun because I wouldn't make Cinder sound as feisty in my head, Kai wouldn't seem nearly as regal, Scarlet wouldn't have that slight French accent, and Thorne, well, okay, Captain Carswell Thorne will always be that swoonworthy rogue. But you get the picture. Some audiobooks are just books that are being read to you via some unknown narrator, but the Lunar Chronicles on audio is like having a movie going inside your head. It's impossible not to put yourself in the story, to imagine everything as it's happening and hope for the best right along with the rest of the crew. Rebecca Soler's narration of this series is pure magic, and even if I were to get an advance copy of Winter -- assuming they will exist -- I'd still probably opt for the audio version because it's just. So. Much. Fun.
No matter how much I started off enjoying this series, I'm constantly surprised by it. Each book just gets progressively better, introducing new characters and new villains and new romances. And somehow, no one ever gets left out or sidelined in order to concentrate on a different story arc. No matter who the leading lady is in each book, the others are not forgotten. I follow the author's blog and Twitter and I know how crazy-organized she is and has to be in order to keep all of these storylines in check, so I can imagine how easy it might be to let a character fall by the wayside. But Meyer never does, and you seriously have to applaud what a masterful storyteller she is.
And I love seeing how everyone's story is coming together, how everyone fits into this giant picture Meyer undoubtedly has in her head. Her reimagining of some of my favorite childhood fairy tales is beautifully done, and I love how the author has woven bits of science and fantasy into her stories to create something fresh and vibrant and completely her own. In this installment, it's Rapunzel's turn in the spotlight, with Cress as the damsel in distress, imprisoned in a satellite orbiting Earth, far from her hero's reach. And yet, that daring Thorne makes a rescue attempt anyway. (He wouldn't be our dashing hero if he didn't, now would he?)
I have to admit, I like Thorne with the feisty Cinder better. But as her heart is elsewhere and Thorne only seems to relish pushing her buttons, plus the fact that Cress is almost obsessive when it comes to the Captain, it was inevitable that Cress and Thorne should be paired together. I just wish Cress weren't so consumed with the do-gooder she believes Thorne to be, and I wish that I knew whether Thorne was being honest when he explained that he didn't do those things out of the goodness of his heart. Also, Cress seems a bit immature for a cad like Carswell Thorne, but maybe that's just the kind of girl he needs. I guess only time will tell.
If the previous books were action-packed, then this one is just plain explosive. There are shocking revelations and touching reunions and kidnapping plots and all manner of craziness. Things are lost. Things are gained....only to be lost again. And there are swoons. Not nearly enough but I'm really hoping for an epic finale when it comes to that department. Like I said, this series just gets better with each installment. So, if that holds true with Winter -- and I have no doubt it will -- we'd all better gird our loins because we are truly in for it now. I'm ready to see Queen Levana get her evil comeuppance, and I'm eager for more than a few happy endings for our storybook heroes.
GIF it to me straight: Sci-fi/fantasy that is just good, wholesome fun. I love this series!(less)
That was beyond beautiful. I am unbelievably enamored with Elizabeth Fama's gorgeous prose and stunning articulation.
________________________________...moreThat was beyond beautiful. I am unbelievably enamored with Elizabeth Fama's gorgeous prose and stunning articulation.
He went on. "You admitted you were throwing your life away so that Poppu could hold Fleur just once, and it was like the floor of your apartment opened under me. You had the balls to condense the whole screwed-up world into this one pure thing, this crazy act of love. Everything I was working for collapsed through that hole with me, and I went into a free fall. And then you kissed me on the prairie and I wanted it all -- I selfishly wanted what Poppu had."
I've been writing this review in my head for days, since I first finished Plus One, and yet I still don't think I can sufficiently portray just how much this book means to me, but that quote comes close to expressing everything I felt for Sol and her situation. I loved Monstrous Beauty when I read it last year, and I've been not-so-patiently awaiting Elizabeth Fama's next novel, so I was elated to see it pop up on ATW ARC tours. I purposely skimmed the summary for this book because I wanted to be as surprised with it as I was with Monstrous Beauty, but Plus One exceeded any and all expectations I might have had.
"The sun was as high as a Midwestern sun can get in late September, which D'Arcy informed me was not very high, so that as we approached the Natural Bridge the light was hitting it somewhat from the side, highlighting the red ferns and lichens and moss that grew on it and throwing extravagant shadows on the rough surface of the stone."
Despite the ugliness of Sol's plan and the world she lives in, I found so much unbridled beauty in this book, from the comparisons and contrasts of day and night life, to the desk drawings, to the gorgeous prose used to depict the Maquoketa Caves State Park...I felt like I was living and breathing Sol and D'Arcy's experiences through this book. This world is not far off from our own, just shy of what life could be like for us now, had things gone differently in the past. And not even vastly different...I mean, things in the past that were supposed to be temporary because of war, etc., have long since been made permanent: taxes, daylight savings time, among other things. Having one sector of the population temporarily switch to night in order to circumvent the effects of a devastating epidemic seems somewhat reasonable. But whenever the government intervenes like this, there are sure to be those who object.
So, yeah, this sounds like a dystopian novel, in that the government has made this society undesirable for some. But I don't want that to scare you away because this story definitely doesn't read like the typical dystopian novel. Far from it. Sol isn't trying to change the world...she's just trying to grant a dying man's wish. And I'm not positive, but from what I can tell this is actually sort of a retelling of The Day Boy and the Night Girl by George MacDonald. I haven't read the whole story, but it was referenced a ton in the Razorland Trilogy by Ann Aguirre, which I have also read and loved.
I also love the irony of Sol's parents naming her Soleil, which is French for "sun". Although when we meet Sol, her disposition is anything but sunny, we soon discover that this is an exterior shell she projects. Inside, she's still the young girl she was when her brother Ciel -- French for "sky" -- all but abandoned her and Poppu to live as a Ray, those who live in the daylight hours. Because of that betrayal, Sol doesn't get close to anyone and doesn't let anyone close. Poppu is all she has left, and now she's losing him, so it's understandable that Sol would want to give him the last thing on this earth that he wishes for, even if it means her own incarceration and the end of everything she knows.
"In the end I had actually worked up some wetness in my eyes. A drop spilled onto my cheek, and just like in the movies I left it there. I hate the way actresses do that, because when you really cry you want your tears gone -- it's all about wiping them away as fast as you can."
What I loved best about Sol, aside from her devotion to her family, was how genuine she was. From her bluntness and non sequiturs to her never-ending diatribes, I really felt like I'd come to know this girl. Usually, I find that I need to relate to a character in some fashion or another in order to fully enjoy a story, but that wasn't the case with Plus One. I could never be as strong or as capable or as self-sacrificing as Sol. Not once did I question her decisions, think that she was making the wrong choice, but neither could I have ever done the same as she did in her circumstances. Sol knows her lot in life, and she's relenquished herself to always living in the dark, but once her heart is set upon its task, she will stop at nothing to see it through. Normally, I'd question the foolhardiness of such a plan, but with Sol, it was unbelievably easy to get on board with such a harebrained scheme.
And that's where D'Arcy comes in. He may not have been named after a character in a famous nineteenth-century novel, but he might as well have been. *sigh* I don't know how to adequately express how much I love the coincidences that brought Sol and D'Arcy together. There is nothing remotely similar about these two characters, but from the onset of their time together, it was clear to me that they were "meant to be". Maybe neither of the pair has actively rebelled against the system until now, but it's obvious that neither accepts it without question. And the fact that D'Arcy just went with his gut when it came to Sol...I think that just speaks volumes about his character and it speaks to Sol's unflappable willingness to see her promise through to the end.
"Eventually he turned his back to me, with his arms crossed on his chest, and sometime later his body jerked with a hypnagogic twitch, and then utter stillness told me he was asleep. I sat up, holding my breath, the Mylar making the sound of a hundred candy wrappers as I lifted the blanket away."
I also love that this book made me feel smarter while I was reading it. I just knew there had to be a real word for that moment when you jerk yourself awake right before you fall into a deep sleep, and now I know there is. =) I love young adult novels; I think that much is obvious. But I love them even more when they're intellectually stimulating and really force me to question morally ambiguous issues, like the ones the characters face in Plus One. Other things that instantly captured my attention: Gigi and the Noma, the murmuration and how it's described, the use of French and how prevalent it is in this novel despite the fact that the setting is in Chicago, and the use of flashbacks to illustrate life for Sol prior to Ciel's absence. I'd love to go into more detail about these things, but I don't want to divulge too much about the story. Also, for brevity's sake, I need to end this review soon, or else it will end up as long as the novel....I really could go on and on about it ad nauseum, that's how much I enjoyed this book.
"We're going to steal food," I said. "Is that what you're telling me?" He grinned. "I know, right? I am a miscreant now. And it's your fault." My stomach grumbled, like the muffled creak of an old hinge. "They probably only just got settled in," I whispered. "They may not be asleep yet." "Then we'll have to be as sneaky as..." he stopped. "As sneaky as Smudges," I finished the pejorative saying for him. "Sorry." "Not at all. I'm actually worried you can't pull this off, with your galumphing about and booming voice. Maybe I should do it alone." His eyebrows knit together, and I allowed myself a tiny smile, no bigger than the Mona Lisa's. "Touché." He laughed under his breath.
Sol and D'Arcy, as different as night and day and yet so perfectly matched. Plus One is a love story when all is said and done, but it's also a story of sacrifice and loss and hope. There are moments of unbelievable gut-wrenching pain that brought me to tears, there are chase scenes that could have come straight from your favorite action movie, and there are brief moments of levity that left this reader unexpectedly hopeful, despite the dire circumstances the characters were facing. Suffice it to say, this book is the real deal, the full package...everything I'd hoped it would be and more. I wasn't ready to say goodbye yet, but oh my goodness, did I looooove that ending! I think Gilda says it best:
*It may have taken me two hours to write this review, but I promise no babies (or Premie Gorts) were hurt in the process.
**All quotes were taken from an advanced copy and may not appear in the final book.
Thank you to Farrar, Straus, & Giroux/Macmillan and ATW ARC Tours for providing a copy for review!
First, if you haven't already, you should read the FREE prequel story titled The Queen's Army. You can also purchase it for your e-reader, but it's fr...moreFirst, if you haven't already, you should read the FREE prequel story titled The Queen's Army. You can also purchase it for your e-reader, but it's free on Tor.com, and it's relatively short, so reading on your comp shouldn't be an issue. I mean, it's not absolutely imperative that you read it prior to Scarlet, but it gives you some background on a few characters that makes this story all the more intriguing.
If you'll remember, I was more than a little hesitant to read Cinder last year. In fact, I waited until just a few months before Scarlet's release to even give it a chance. But once I did, I was mesmerized. And I immediately wanted to read the sequel. However, I resisted the urge to read that five chapter preview (linked at the top). I'm an all-or-nothing kind of girl, and I knew a mere five chapters would do nothing to satiate my hunger for more of this story. So, I waited till the day of release and downloaded the audio to my phone first thing that morning...and had it finished in a couple of days. (And then I received a review copy from Macmillan Audio and reprimanded myself for being sooo impatient...I knew it was supposed to be on its way, but I just couldn't wait. :D)
Rebecca Soler's narration of Scarlet is even more intense and evocative than her recitation of the Cinder audiobook, which I also loved. There are more characters and there's more action, and she delivers just the right emotional punch to make the listener as much a part of the story as the characters themselves. Soler provides just the right amount of quirky, cocky and reticence to make each character a separate entity within the story. I truly hope this narrator performs the rest of the series, as she really does justice to this story and its many facets.
Scarlet's story is no more compelling or heart-wrenching than Cinder's, but if I was forced to choose which character I liked more, I don't know if I could. Both girls are strong and capable, if not stubborn and impulsive, and each brought something to the table. Each of their stories is told separately -- interspersed with bits from Prince Kai's perspective as he plays at a battle of wills with Queen Levana -- until they finally converge and meet for the first time. There is animosity and little to no trust at first, but the beginnings of a mutual understanding -- and possibly friendship -- are there.
Besides Scarlet, the addition of new male counterparts to this storyline was, well, fun. Wolf was mysterious and brooding and at times, left you pondering whether he really was the Big Bad Wolf to Scarlet's Red Riding Hood. I just adored this enigmatic character and the various interactions with other characters, pleasant or not. Then there's the egotistical, self-important Captain Carswell Thorne. His banter with Cinder and the fact that he was only initially freaked out by her being a cyborg AND a Lunar immediately endeared him to me. Thorne also fancies himself a ladies' man, and although I would love to see a Cinder/Thorne pairing, I don't think that's in their future. Like I said, Thorne is a bit of a flirt, and Cinder is still hung up on Prince Kai. I'll still take their sarcastic back-and-forth any day, though.
While the characters are essentially my favorite aspect of this series because they're just so interesting, I still thoroughly enjoy the storyline and where it seems to be headed. Each book in this series is based on a fairy tale: Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. I like retellings, but I'm not usually all that impressed with them, though this series is definitely the exception to that. So far, I'm loving how each story is incorporated into the plot yet still leaving Cinder's story as the focal point. I'm very curious to see how the other stories play into the bigger picture.
If Cinder was about lies and manipulation, then Scarlet's focus is on all of the secrets that led up to that. It's engrossing and fast-paced, the kind of story you never want to end. And when it does, you're wondering why you couldn't have made yourself wait until the entire story was told so that you don't have to wait another year for the next installment. At least, that's where I am at this point.
Thanks to Macmillan Audio for providing a copy for review.
I was initially drawn to Strands of Bronze and Goldbecause of that gorgeous cover, but I also love fairy tales as much as the next girl. Truth be told...moreI was initially drawn to Strands of Bronze and Gold because of that gorgeous cover, but I also love fairy tales as much as the next girl. Truth be told, I'd never actually heard of the Bluebeard fairy tale until I discovered this book. Much like my experience with Entwined, I went into Strands with few expectations. My only hope was that it would be sufficiently creepy.
Alas, the end result was not quite what I had been hoping for. The pacing of this novel was quite slow. I was reading with a buddy, and we kept asking, "When is something going to happen?" True, the lack of action does add to the suspense, but there is absolutely no mystery to this story. It is what it sets out to be, but there is never any question that things are amiss at Wyndriven Abbey and Sophie should escape before she is well and truly in danger.
But that Sophie...she's not the sharpest crayon in the box. Okay, that's not entirely true. She is somewhat clever, but her naïveté only lends itself to inaction, making her one of the most frustrating heroines I've ever suffered through. The rest of the characters weren't much to write home about either, with the exception of the enigmatic Monsieur de Cressac. I wish the story had been told from his point-of-view...I really think it would have been much more interesting and a hundred times more fun to read. (Someone should consider that...rewriting all the old fairy tales from the villain's point-of-view. Unless, of course, that's already been done. In which case, I need recs.)
As it stands, I enjoyed the story well enough, especially not knowing what to expect from the ending. Though being a fairy tale retelling, I should have had some inclination toward the outcome, I suppose. Unfortunately, I had discussed the original story with a friend beforehand and did expect more gore and creepiness from this book than what was actually delivered, based on that conversation. Even so, I still have hope that the other books in this series will improve upon the original stories from which they are borrowed.
Thanks to Random House & Netgalley for providing a copy for review.
Oh, you guys didn't tell me this was going to be so sad! :(
-- Mini Review of Audiobook --
Poor Tiger Lily. This book was sad, y'all. I was not expectin...moreOh, you guys didn't tell me this was going to be so sad! :(
-- Mini Review of Audiobook --
Poor Tiger Lily. This book was sad, y'all. I was not expecting just how sad it was. The original story is fun and fanciful, but this one is just a story about heartbreak. And it vastly changed my opinion of both Wendy Darling and Tiger Lily...and maybe even Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. Though, it did make me anxious for a re-read of the original tale. I think I've watched the Disney version with my daughter too many times and it's warped my sensibilities.
The narrator for Tiger Lily had a childish lilt to her voice that was unappealing at first until I realized that Tink was the narrator and would therefore probably have a childish lilt of her own, being a tiny fairy and all. But that same voice did not carry over to the other characters, which was a comfort. Overall, the narration was pretty great. It kept me grounded and reminded me that this was a retelling, an alternate point-of-view, for a beloved children's story and that I shouldn't be too broken up over it.
I love a good fairy tale retelling as much as the next girl. I enjoy reading fairy tales to my four-year-old daughter, as well, and I’m already stock-...moreI love a good fairy tale retelling as much as the next girl. I enjoy reading fairy tales to my four-year-old daughter, as well, and I’m already stock-piling a few YA/MG titles to read with her when she’s a little older. Enchanted will definitely be going on that pile, probably sooner than most. I say that because it felt like it was written with a younger (or a young-at-heart) audience in mind.
Enchanted was cute and fun and completely harmless. There might be a few moments that are a tad scary for little ones, but when my daughter is capable of reading this book, I assure you I would have no problem giving it to her to read on her own. The romance is sweet and adorable and prudent, but that kind of goes along with the territory. It was shocking in those times to see two young people holding hands, let alone making out. I’m glad this retelling did not stray from those ideals.
My only real issues with this novel were the initial pacing and the sheer number of characters. This was a rather short novel – at least, compared to most I read – at 305 pages and the first 80 pages or so were spent on back-story. Add to that the fact that I practically had to draw a family tree to keep all of the characters straight, and I was a little put out.
However, once I saw how all of the characters fit into the story, it made sense. This wasn’t simply ONE fairy-tale being retold, and so all of the many characters were indeed necessary. I loved seeing how so many of my favorite fairy tales from childhood were brought to new life and incorporated into Kontis’ retelling of The Frog Prince. It was a pleasant surprise revisiting some of my old favorites.
This was a light, fluffy read, and I’d recommend it to anyone who adores fairy tales, retellings, or enjoys returning to some old friends every now and again. I can’t wait till my daughter is old enough to experience this book for herself!
I feared the rave reviews for this novel. I had more than a few misgivings because even though so many people loved -- I mean, shout-it-from-the-rooft...moreI feared the rave reviews for this novel. I had more than a few misgivings because even though so many people loved -- I mean, shout-it-from-the-rooftops-LOVED it -- it is still a retelling, and I don't always have the best of luck with those. Usually, the ones that don't stray too far from the original story are a safer bet for me, so you can see why a retelling of Cinderella involving a cyborg living in Beijing might be a source of some trepidation for me.
But if it hadn't been for that damn cyborg foot, I might have completely forgotten this story was a retelling. It was one of the best science fiction pieces I've had the pleasure of reading...er, well, listening to. And I can't believe it took me this long to get to it. Seriously...I let nine months pass since Cinder's release before I even seriously considered giving it a try. I will not be making that mistake with the sequel!
Cinder made this book. She is the title character, obviously, but had she not been the mechanically-inclined, self-deprecating, naïve, hopeful cyborg girl that she was, this book would not have been nearly as fun to read. Cinder is strong but ultimately vulnerable, and both of those characteristics make Cinder my most favorite kind of heroine: the one who makes sacrifices and tough decisions to protect those she cares about instead of cowering in fear and letting some boy take charge.
Though the boy in this story wasn't all bad. Sure, Prince Kai is a little untrusting, but given his background, I think it's a little justifiable. Of course, he's handsome, and of course, he's the object of every girls' fantasy. But his father's empire, his legacy, is far more important to Prince Kai than his own love life. I loved that this story didn't jump right to insta-love...Cinder and Kai are friends first, despite their social positions, and it really bodes well for the story.
The disease that plagues the citizenry of New Beijing affects everyone -- tearing families apart -- with no cure in sight. Its effects are far-reaching, as are its implications. Is it possible that there are lunar people already on Earth, looking to escape their tyrannical queen? The very same queen who wants to rule Earth, or at least as much of it as she can lay claim to? I love where this story is going, and even though the major plot twist was foreshadowed very early on in the novel, I think it was done so ingeniously and has really paved the way for a great series.
I know I say this a lot when it comes to sequels, but I really CANNOT wait for Scarlet. I plan to get the audio again since the narration on Cinder was so awesome. This was my first experience with Rebecca Soler as a narrator, but it surely won't be my last if she always does such a fantastic job. I seriously have zero complaints about this story or the audio represenation of it. But if you're still not sure if this novel is for you, I suggest you read this prequel story, courtesy of Tor.
Okay, I admit it. I haven’t actually ever read the original story of Tristan and Isolde, but a quick...moreReview originally posted at The Starry-Eyed Revue.
Okay, I admit it. I haven’t actually ever read the original story of Tristan and Isolde, but a quick Wikipedia search tells me that, yes, this could be considered a retelling, though I’m not entirely convinced. I’ll still need to read the original legend to have a good grasp on this. I thought not knowing the original legend very well might make reading this version more intriguing, though. Hey, it worked with Entwined. (Who was responsible for reading me fairy tales when I was a kid, right?)
That said, I had really high hopes for this novel. I mean, that cover is gorgeous! If ever I bought a book simply for the cover, it would be this one. Alas, I read a copy provided by Netgalley, and so I probably won’t ever own that beautiful cover.
Alright, I’m done lamenting. On to the actual review. This book definitely had its ups and downs. One minute, I agreed with every reviewer who came before me when they admonished the author for butchering this tale, even with my lack of knowledge for the original story. Then, I’d read a little further and wonder, How could they say that? This novel has promise. But a few pages later, I’d be in despair again, realizing that, Man, this book could have been soooo much better. (I really did want to love this book.) *sigh*
You can’t really go wrong with a retelling, right?. The story’s already been told; you just need to add your flair to it. What you can do wrong is write flat, irritating characters that make me want to pull my hair out. Not one of the characters in this story had any depth. I found that Izzie’s naiveté was just insulting, and it was hard to believe that she could be so clueless when it came to her relationships, platonic or otherwise.
Not only was the story itself executed poorly, but it could have used a better editor to catch some of the plot holes. Within the first pages of the novel, I noticed that at one point, Izzie is whining about Branna having arrived (or departed?) separately because she was lucky enough to have her own car, but not much later, Branna is riding the bus home from school with Izzie. Then a few chapters pass and Branna is driving them to the homecoming game in her own car. I don’t know any self-respecting teenager who would suffer a bus ride for a friend when they had their own wheels. Wouldn’t said teenager just give their friend a ride? Another instance that could have used some editing was a discussion that takes place between Branna and Izzie early in the book about graduating in two years, but later they’re discussing when Izzie started dating Mark – two years ago – when they were sophomores. So, are they seniors or sophomores? Who knows.
Overall, I was obviously disappointed with this novel, even after reading several mediocre reviews and still deciding to give it a shot because of that stunning cover. So, the blah story gets two stars and the cover itself gets its own star. That’s fair, right?(less)
Sometimes, I'm glad I missed out on a lot of the fairy tales when I was younger. (Don't get...moreThis review also appears on my blog: The Starry-Eyed Revue.
Sometimes, I'm glad I missed out on a lot of the fairy tales when I was younger. (Don't get me wrong, what I missed in fairy tales, my dad made up with sci-fi.) But this book was a complete surprise for me because of it. I mean, yes, it's pretty obvious who the bad guy is, and that he's definitely up to no good even though his appearance seems genial, but not knowing the story already really helped suck me in.
Of course, the writing helped, too. The author's prose just flowed so smoothly throughout the novel, endearing the twelve dancing sisters to my heart as if they were my own. The way they spoke to each other and teased each other reminded me so much of my own sisters. It was so genuine, which led me to believe that the author had grown up in a large family. (According to the inside flap in the back, she did.)
The beautiful cover is enchanting in itself, but the story takes on a life of its own. It takes place in the time of kings and queens and marvelous balls with fancy dancing, when it was acceptable to believe in magic but not for a young lady to remain in a gentleman's company unescorted. It's set in a magical palace with beautiful, overgrown gardens and secret passageways.
Entwined is a story of magic and secrets and breathtaking romance, and above all, dancing. Oh, how I sometimes wish I'd lived in a time of such magnificent dancing! If you enjoy the allure of a well-told fairy tale, this is one book that is not to be missed.(less)
This story was cute and fun and over pretty quickly. I like retellings, but I never connected with this one. I love the original story, and I love wat...moreThis story was cute and fun and over pretty quickly. I like retellings, but I never connected with this one. I love the original story, and I love watching Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast with my daughter, but this adaptation left me wanting.
I didn’t like Kyle, even after he became a better version of himself. And Lindy was just one big cliché. I didn’t watch the movie based on this book, but even so, I found it difficult not to project the actors onto the characters. That’s no one’s fault but my own, I know, but it still had an influence on my opinion of this book, sadly.
I believe we all probably know this story pretty well, so I don’t think I’ll be spoiling anything for anyone here. The story is supposed to take place over the span of two years, in which Kyle must break the spell the witch has cast upon him, but there obviously wasn’t enough material there to cover that time span because here’s what goes down: the spell is cast, Kyle removes himself from society for awhile, then abducts Lindy who leaves before the curse is broken to take care of her father, she’s gone for months and months in which nothing happens, and then she and Kyle are reunited by fate. I hate when I see this in a novel. I don’t like it in movies either, really. And maybe it can’t always be helped, but I think there’s probably a better way to relate the passing of time than “six weeks later…” or “one year after…” or similar transitional phrasing. If you’re going to tell me that a lengthy amount of time has elapsed, you’d better tell me what happened in that time period.
Anyway, this review is for the audiobook. I think I may have liked the actual book better because the narrator for this one drove me a little nuts. The guy read Lindy’s parts as if he was Derek Zoolander. Seriously. It was funny at first because I, for one, think Zoolander was one of Ben Stiller’s funnier movies, but it started grating on my nerves after awhile. Maybe I’ll give the actual book a read one day, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. I'm still considering reading Cloaked by this same author, though...I can't help it. I love retellings. But maybe I'll read the book instead of listening to it, especially if it's narrated by the same guy.(less)
in this adaptation of the story of the big bad wolf, little red riding hood isn't so little anymore, and she's hell-bent on avenging the murder of her...morein this adaptation of the story of the big bad wolf, little red riding hood isn't so little anymore, and she's hell-bent on avenging the murder of her poor old granny.
you've still got the wolf, red, granny, and the woodsman, but the author takes some creative liberties with the original story and completely owns her version. we were never meant to like the wolf from the original story, but pearce has you hating the fenris--werewolves--wanting to hunt them down, just as the march sisters (little red riding hood x2) do to avenge their dear oma march (granny).
she also expertly weaves a love story into this tale, and although i was doubtful while it was unfolding, mostly for scarlett's sake, i felt that it was integral to the story, and it made me care for the characters in ways i had not expected. i was half-way through the book before i began to feel anything for the characters' plights--except for scarlett, who's determination and purpose really drove me to keep reading--but from there i was invested and had to find out how the characters' stories tied together, even if it meant depriving myself of sleep.
this was such a great twist on an already entertaining children's classic, but i felt that at times, it was quite predictable, despite the twists and variations from the original story, which is why i gave it 4/5 stars.(less)