I needed these Lunar short stories to get some closure after the emotional turmoil of Winter. (See my review. I was so angry at Levana that I almost gI needed these Lunar short stories to get some closure after the emotional turmoil of Winter. (See my review. I was so angry at Levana that I almost gave up on the book. It was that torturous). When I realized that this book was happening, I jumped on it as soon as I possibly could at the library. Most of the stories are prequels to Cinder, but there is one that's simply set in the same world, and another that's a true sequel to the series.
"The Keeper" details how Michelle Benoit came to have care of both her granddaughter, Scarlet, and a young, comatose Cinder. I have always wished that we'd gotten to see more of Michelle in the actual series, so this story was a nice addition.
"Glitches" describes Cinder's trip to the Eastern Commonwealth with Garin and her reception in his household. I've read this story somewhere before. I liked reading about a young Cinder but I can't say that I felt the need to listen to it again.
"The Queen's Army" is about Wolf being torn from his loving family and transformed into an (in)human killing machine. Or not. Wolf's story has always broken my heart a little bit and this only made me feel worse for him.
"Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky"--I wish I could remember what he told us about his past with Kate because this is about his first meeting with her. I know he tells the story in one of the books but the details are long gone from my memory. Still, a young Captain Thorne is every bit as irrepressible as you would expect him to be.
"After Sunshine Passes By" left me incredibly angry at Levana again. A young, sweet, trusting Cress is chosen for a special assignment by Lady Sybil. I was almost in tears at the end.
"The Princess and the Guard" expands on one small story from Winter's life and explains why she chose to stop using her Lunar Gift. I can't make up my mind exactly how I feel about Winter or Jacin, but I did respect Winter more after listening to this story.
"The Little Android" was my second-favorite tale from the collection. None of the main characters show up in this Lunar retelling of "The Little Mermaid" but I appreciated the way that Meyer stayed so very true to the original story.
"The Mechanic" describes Cinder and Kai's first meeting from Kai's point of view. These two are so cute together that I just loved it.
"Something Old, Something New" was my absolute favorite entry. In this sequel, Scarlet and Wolf are getting married and I am finally, finally getting the happily-ever-after that I so desperately needed to read!
I would recommend reading this anthology after reading the other novels in the series, but definitely pick it up if you've enjoyed them. It was a nice way to check in with and say goodbye to characters that I've grown ridiculously attached to....more
Cara Kryzik has struggled to get her florist shop, Bloom, to a point where it's financially stable, but she finally seems to be getting there. She's lCara Kryzik has struggled to get her florist shop, Bloom, to a point where it's financially stable, but she finally seems to be getting there. She's landed some huge society weddings and her clients are spreading the word about her fabulous work. Unfortunately, some stiff new competition has just moved to town, and he's determined to be the top florist in Savannah at all costs.
While Cara's professional life is hitting some rocky ground, her personal life seems to be taking off. After a messy divorce, she's finally met a truly nice guy. She has a puppy that she adores, and her assistant is her best friend and sounding board. Until that all starts to go haywire too.
I really, really want to give Save the Date four stars, and I would have, but somewhere about halfway through I got fed up with Cara. Up to that point, she'd been such a little fighter that I'd been rooting for her all along. And sure, she has a lot on her plate, but then she goes looking for--and creates!--trouble where none needs to be. She has a huge blowup with someone that felt completely unrealistic and forced. Then she starts making other questionable decisions that seemed out of character for her and I got fed up. I knew I would finish the book, but I also knew that I'd lost all respect for Cara.
Jack, the love interest, on the other hand, is wonderful. He's got a little bit of a temper, but he's sweet and thoughtful. He's also willing to admit when he's wrong and give other people second chances. What more could a girl ask for?
I do wish that "the bad guy" had gotten more of a comeuppance. I do feel that Cara handled their final conflict the best possible way, but I wish someone else had stepped in and gotten him in some serious trouble. I don't have any patience for people who like to go around starting trouble.
The story itself was pretty cute. The stressed-out bride, the identical pups, the tyrannical landlady, the messy family dynamics that everyone seemed to have, the nasty ex-girlfriend, the nasty ex-husband, all created realistic tensions that most readers will probably relate to.
Kathleen McInerney read the book wonderfully, as always.
This isn't my favorite Mary Kay Andrews book, but it is good enough. I wish Cara's character had been a bit more consistent, but otherwise the story was fun. Fans of the author should give it try. I'd recommend that new readers start with a different one though....more
Henry, Lee, Ronny, and Kip have been friends for ages. Even as Henry has stayed home in tiny Little Wing, Wisconsin to take over his parents' farm, RoHenry, Lee, Ronny, and Kip have been friends for ages. Even as Henry has stayed home in tiny Little Wing, Wisconsin to take over his parents' farm, Ronny hit the rodeo circuit, Kip moved to Chicago and started raking in money, and Lee hit the big time with his music, they've remained tight. Over the year or two chronicled in Shotgun Lovesongs, their lives hit roller coasters as marriages and breakups occur, arguments flare up, and their friendship is put to the test.
I'm sitting here thinking about what it was, exactly, that I liked about this book. I can't really say that it was about much of anything. It's just a slice of everyday life. But I think what stands out to me most is that this is a book about male friendship. Not "good buddies" or even battle-forged bonds. These guys just like and genuinely care about each other. They always have, more or less, as is true with friendships of any real length. When is the last time you read a book about male friendship? I'm sure they're out there, but I personally haven't come across many, if any. I like it.
The group really is put through the fire in this period of their lives though. They're all starting to kind of settle down now. Henry and his wife Beth, also a member of this tight group of friends, have been settled for a while. But now the others are coming home to settle too. So they're adjusting to having a more prominent position in each others' lives again. It takes some getting used to. Everybody pretty much fights with everybody else but then they settle down. And then the serious disagreement happens.
The ending sounds a bit far-fetched at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I wonder if this is based on an incident in the author's own life. It's so bizarre, it has to be true. And then I tried to picture my husband and his best friend getting up to mischief like that and I absolutely could. Well, up to a point. I just had to laugh.
I pretty much liked the characters. Solid Henry appealed to me most. I related to him. He's maybe not the most exciting guy in the group but he's the rock. Lee is world famous but he mostly hasn't let that change him. He knows that this landscape is what has shaped his music and his soul. He knows that he needs his friends to anchor him. Ronny isn't quite the same after a head injury years ago, but he's learned to appreciate the moment even while yearning for more. Kip is the weak link. He doesn't quite fit in with the others but he knows it. He tries too hard and manages to always do the wrong thing, even with the best of intentions. He has the most growing up to do.
I've kind of left Beth out of everything. I really liked her but I don't feel that she was necessarily any sort of real focus. She was the, well, not the outsider, but not one of the guys either. She gave us a different perspective on the group, both in their younger years and currently. She also added some tension and a whole other set of dynamics to the group.
And then there's small-town, Midwest America. Lee says something late in the book about how this is his America. Not the excesses and selfishness, but the sense of community and even the sense of connection to the land. Little Wing could be Every Town, USA. If you're lucky, you grew up in a place like this. If you're really lucky, you know how lucky you are to have roots there.
I really enjoyed the narrators who read the parts of Henry and Beth. Even Kip did pretty well. I didn't enjoy the narration for Lee and Ronny quite as much. It's still definitely a good choice in audio format but I wish the cast had all been equally strong.
I highly recommend Shotgun Lovesongs. It's one of those books that will sink into your bones and linger with you for a long time to come....more
Winter wraps up The Lunar Chronicles with the story of Snow White. Princess Winter is beautiful and sweet and kind and batty and the people love her.Winter wraps up The Lunar Chronicles with the story of Snow White. Princess Winter is beautiful and sweet and kind and batty and the people love her. Which, of course, means that her evil stepmother, Queen Levana, hates her. She eventually finds herself joining Cinder and the rest of the group in an effort to overthrow the tyrant queen and win better lives for the people of Luna.
I'm exhausted. Emotionally and physically exhausted.
Because of my library's policies, I had two weeks to listen to a 21-part audio book, when it normally takes me that long to listen to about 10 parts. Because I love this series, I buckled down and did it. This can't have been good for my blood pressure.
I only thought that I despised Levana before this book. I was raging against her as I drove around town. I raged against her when I wasn't even listening to the book! My husband will be glad that I've stopped shouting about her now and he can have his peaceful evenings back.
I love this series and this book did wrap everything up nicely, but I do feel that it was entirely too long. It took forever and a day to listen to this! Events kept happening! Plans kept going awry! Not one character that I liked came through this book unscathed and it pissed me off!
But mostly I was upset because Levana just kept winning. And winning. And winning! When was she going to get the justice that she deserved?!? When was someone going to stop talking to her and giving her time to seize control of his or her mind or someone else's, and JUST FREAKING KILL HER ALREADY!?!? Villains are supposed to delay the ending with endless prattle about how smart they are. It irritates me beyond all reason when the good guys do it! I got so ridiculously angry at about part 18 or 19 that I walked in the door and told my husband that I was giving up. This book was never going to end and the good guys were never going to get their act together, and I was broken. I just couldn't do it anymore. He laughed at me, pointed me toward the shower (I'd just gotten home from the gym), started the book back up on my phone and told me to stop being dramatic and keep listening. Which I obviously did. But for about five minutes there I really was that over it.
Aside from all the drama of my personal overreactions....
I still adore the characters that I'm supposed to. Snow White isn't my favorite fairy tale but it was actually a good choice as the final book in the series. It brought the action closer to home for Levana, which is where everything had to be.
Speaking of closer to home...
I liked seeing more of Luna. When I wasn't deeply angry at something Levana had done. This book shows more of life in the outer sectors and how bad conditions are for the average Lunar. It also shows more of their technology and everyday lives.
Rebecca Soler's narration was almost too good in this book. She's done a fabulous job with the entire series. She does a perfect condescending sneer for all the bad guys that just had me wanting to reach through my speakers and smack somebody. She's probably most of the reason I was so pissed at Levana.
This isn't my favorite book from the series but I did actually like it. And feel strongly about it. Obviously. But I do love the entire Lunar Chronicles and recommend it to fans of fairy tale retellings.
Edit: I hate to revise my review because of someone else's but this is something that truly bothered me as I listened and I forgot to mention it until I started scrolling through other GoodReads reviews. How to say it without spoilers? Physical beauty and being good or evil were linked here. I know this happens in fairy tales, but they originated hundreds of years ago. In 2016, we're trying to move past it. It's nice when our arts can lead the way on this. There is some sort of effort to make it sound not-so-bad very late in the book but I already had a bad taste in my mouth at that point. I can't imagine how I would have felt if I had the same condition that is described here and then read the characters' reactions to it. I would be beyond crushed. And there are a lot of people out there who really do have this. (view spoiler)[I'm talking about the fact that everyone seems to finally hate Levana enough to revolt after they see her without her glamour, with all the scars from her horrible burns on display. I despise her because she's a tyrant. Shouldn't that be the reason everyone else despises her too? (hide spoiler)] Physical appearance is something that no one has real control over. Someone's character cannot be judged based on his or her appearance, no matter how often we all make the same mistake over and over again. That part was not cool. I'm knocking my rating down a star.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Brighton's Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is called to the train station where a dead body has been found in the "left luggage" area. Well, two-thBrighton's Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is called to the train station where a dead body has been found in the "left luggage" area. Well, two-thirds of a body, anyway. With each third in a separate trunk. When the missing third is delivered to the police station, addressed to "Captain" Edgar Stephens, his rank when he left the army, the inspector starts to think this might be a bit personal. The murder reminds him of a magic trick that his old friend Max Mephisto used to do as part of his show. The two men served together in WWII in a secret unit known as "The Magic Men." Edgar calls on Max, who just happens to be in Brighton for the week, and the two set about solving the mystery together.
I've never read any of Elly Griffiths' other mysteries but this one was good. I had a vague guess as to "whodunnit" but I didn't really know why or how. There was a more personal twist at the end that did surprise me quite a bit. I like surprises.
But somehow the whole novel felt a bit gray. DI Stephens seems to have PTSD and he's not really happy with anything in his life. He's a smart guy but he doesn't seem to be all that great at detective work. His heart was broken during the war and he's never gotten over it. He's living in a ratty flat and doesn't really seem to do much that he enjoys. He's just existing. He seems like a genuinely nice guy so I wanted him to snap out of it and start doing something--anything!--that made him happy.
Max's character takes a bit of a back seat to Edgar, which was unfortunate because he's the more entertaining one. He's a born magician even though he was actually born to the aristocracy. He's a charming womanizer who tries to pretend that he's heartless. He does have a big heart though and he goes out of his way to help his friends and acquaintances. I don't even remember how he was described in the book but I honestly kept picturing him as Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride movie, a character I adore, so that helped I'm sure!
I mostly liked James Langton's narration. The voices he used for females were breathy and made all the women sound like airheads even though they weren't. Otherwise he was solid.
All in all, I enjoyed this mystery but I don't think I'll be chomping at the bit to continue the series. Readers who are bigger mystery buffs than I am should enjoy it more....more