Author: Marissa Meyer

Reading roundup – November 12th 2016

Hello and welcome to another reading roundup.  Since my last roundup I have read two pretty good books which I’d like to share with you.

Reading roundup – November 12th 2016The Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott
Series: Court of Fives #2
Also in this series: Court of Fives
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Georgia Dolenz
Length: 13 hours and 2 minutes
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

I received an Advance Reader Copy of The Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott at BEA.  It’s been on my TBR for a while, but it’s only recently I read it.  The Poisoned Blade is the second book in a planned trilogy (I believe) and continues the story of Jessamy, a young woman caught between two cultures whose passion in life is playing the game of Fives.  In this second book, Jes is drawn into court politics and has to deal with the fallout of her decisions in book one.  I listened to The Poisoned Blade in audiobook format and very much enjoyed Georgia Dolenz’s narration.

What I liked

The characters.  I really liked our protagonist, Jessamy.  Her conflicts between her love for the Fives, her need to protect her family, the limitations placed on her by her heritage and her affection for Kal were expertly written.  

The pacing.  The Poisoned Blade didn’t suffer from middle book syndrome at all.  There were enough conficts and resolutions to keep me well satisfied.  I will certainly be picking up the final book in the trilogy.  Personally, I’ve found Elliott’s series lose steam as they go on and for that reason I’ve not finished many of them.  This one I do intend to finish.

The worldbuilding.  Continuing on from Court of Fives, Elliott has created a wonderful world for our characters to live in.  

What I didn’t like

There was little I didn’t enjoy about The Poisoned Blade.  It is my favourite of Elliott’s series.  

I gave it four stars out of five.

My review of Heartless Reading roundup – November 12th 2016Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Format: eBook
Pages: 464 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Probably my most anticipated release of the year, Heartless is Lunar Chronicles author Marissa Meyer’s origin story of Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts.  I really wanted to listen to this in audiobook format, however technical issues meant that it wasn’t available to Canadians on Audible.com for several days after release.  This was rather disappointing as i loved Rebecca Soler’s narration of the Lunar Chronicles.  I ended up reading it on my Kindle.

What I liked

The writing style.  I really loved Meyer’s, fresh, immediate writing style from the Lunar Chronicles and Heartless is no different.  This time it’s spiced with Lewis Caroll whimsy and the blend is magical. As a note, it probably does help if you’re familiar with both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

What I didn’t like

Somewhat predictable.  Of course, as an origin story, it’s tricky to be completely unpredictable.  There’s no escaping the fact that Catherine becomes the cold hearted Queen of Hearts.  However, certain other plot points were more easily guessed than I would have liked them to be.

Character development.  I felt this was better done in Fairest.  There was a more logical progression in Levana’s transformation to the wicked Queen than Cath’s becoming the Queen of Hearts.  Cath is much more of a positive character at the beginning, so her transformation was always going to be more difficult to plot.  At times I felt each step in Cath’s journey was a little unexpected, unearned or not wholly justified by the steps before.

In summary, I did enjoy Heartless, but I prefer the Lunar Chronicles.  I gave Heartless four stars out of five.

In other news:

I am currently obsessed with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  Yes, I know, it’s not released until next week, but everything I’ve seen and heard about it indicates it’s going to be absolutely magical.  Rowling’s Wizarding World in 1920s New York?  Sign me up!  I’m especially loving all the hints about Grindelwald and his rise to power in Europe.  There must be some wonderful stories to tell there. I can’t be the only bookworm who has planned a day off work around a book release, surely?  Not only is the movie released on November 18th, but we also get a book of the script and a LEGO Dimensions Story Pack!  I can’t wait!

Also this week I have been watching Netflix The Crown, the story of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne and the first few years of her reign.  I’m enjoying it very much; Clare Foy has taken the role of the Queen, with former Doctor Who Matt Smith as Prince Philip,  Both are giving excellent portrayals and I recommend this series.

That’s all for now folks.  Back soon!

four-stars

Reading catchup part 3 – December 5th 2015

The final part of my reading catchup series in which I discuss Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Winter by Marissa Meyer and Soundless by Richelle Mead.

Reading catchup part 3 – December 5th 2015Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Also in this series: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest - Levana's Story
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Various
Length: 15 hrs and 25 mins
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is a new series set in the same world as her Grisha Trilogy, which I loved.  One of Bardugo’s strengths as a writer is her worldbuilding – and that continues in this new outing.  Instead of a Russianesque setting, the action moves to a place reminiscent of Amsterdam in its Golden Age.  The characters were interesting, but in an ensemble book like this, they aren’t always given the time to be as fully developed as a single protagonist novel.  I look forward to seeing where the series goes and will certainly keep up with it.

I gave Six of Crows four stars out of five.

Reading catchup part 3 – December 5th 2015Winter by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #4
Also in this series: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest - Levana's Story
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Length: 23 hrs and 30 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Winter by Marissa Meyer is the fourth and final book in the Lunar Chronicles series and was one of my most anticipated reads of the year.  This final book was loosely based on the Snow White fairytale and tells the story of Princess Winter of Luna as well as continuing the stories of Cinder, Scarlet and Cress and their attempt to overthrow the evil Queen Levana.  I must admit I was ever so slightly disappointed in Winter – perhaps my expectations were a little too high.  Meyer had done her setup so well in the previous books, so at times it felt as if I was just watching things play out as expected.  On the other hand, this being the last book in the series did mean that all bets were off and I was concerned for our protagonists’ survival at various points.  Once again though I did love the fairytale mashup – the way in which Meyer has adapted the various fairytale tropes – like Snow White’s glass coffin into a sci-fi setting is brilliant.  Our heroines continue to be kick-ass and I did enjoy how it all came together.

I gave Winter five stars out of five, mainly for my love of the series as a whole.

Reading catchup part 3 – December 5th 2015Soundless by Richelle Mead
Format: eBook
Pages: 272 pages
Genres: Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

I admit I’d been initially reluctant to pick up Soundless by Richelle Mead, despite my love of her Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series.  This is because some of the reviews I’d read were mixed at best. I had originally been intrigued by the concept of a deaf girl living in a soundless world begins to hear again and embarks on an adventure to save her community.  

As an exploration into discovering a sense of which your community has no concept, the book is wonderful.  I just loved the way in which Fei comes to terms with her new hearing.  The way in which she struggled to conceptualise the new experience was beautifully written.  I’d have liked to have read more of this.

However the whole community rescue plotline is not developed to nearly the same extent.  The book is very short – well under three hundred pages – and this is the aspect which suffered the most.  The book could have done to have been twice as long.

I gave Soundless three and a half stars out of five.

In other news, I am particularly excited this week as my husband and I have booked our tickets for Chicago in May 2016 to attend BEA, the Book Expo of America.  Yay!  This will be my first time attending and I’m so looking forward to it – I’ve heard BEA described as Disneyland for book nerds. If any of you have been before and have tips, please let me know in the comments.

four-stars

Fairest – Levana’s Story by Marissa Meyer – Review

Fairest – Levana’s Story by Marissa Meyer – ReviewFairest - Levana's Story by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #0.5
Also in this series: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Length: 6 hours 36 minutes
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

Fairest – Levana’s Story by Marissa Meyer is a prequel to her fairytale reimagining series The Lunar Chronicles.  It provides the backstory to series antagonist Queen Levana Blackburn of Luna.  If you are new to The Lunar Chronicles, PLEASE don’t start with this book – go read Cinder, Scarlet and Cress and then come back to it.  It will be more engaging in that way.

This book is a very focussed character study of Queen Levana and how she turned from a naive, self absorbed young girl into the tyrant our heroines are trying to depose.  There is little in the way of worldbuilding or major plot development.  It remains mostly confined to the Lunar Royal Palace.

What I liked

Character development.  This is the focus of the book and is excellently done.  We follow Levana’s progression from a self absorbed, naive young girl to the vicious despot of the later books. I appreciated how each step and decision she took along that path was small and logical at the time but each developed her character as it turned out to be.  I found her an interesting character, and at many points she gained my sympathy for what she went through.

Character cameos.  Many of the characters from the later books made cameo appearances as their younger selves.  Even if they weren’t specifically named as such it was great fun to spot Cinder, Cress, Kai and other characters.

Audiobook narration.  Once again narration is provided by Rebecca Soler who did the narration for the other books in the series.  She does a brilliant job of capturing the characters’ voices and I hope she continues for Winter, the final book in the series.

Here’s a sample:

      bk_aren_001819_sample.mp3

What I didn’t like

Very expensive for such a short book.  This book is really a novella – barely 272 pages or 6 hours and 36 minutes of audiobook – and yet is was priced comparatively expensively.  I paid the price but a bit more resentfully than for other books.

No chapter breaks.  The book is written in one long narrative unbroken into chapters.  Now, I am a working woman and I don’t have the luxury of settling down to long chunks of several hours’ reading.  For me, the chapter breaks are valuable to give me a good place to stop.

Not Whispersync for Voice compatible.  In other words, the ebook and the audiobook didn’t sync.  Combined with the lack of chapter breaks, it made switching between ebook and audiobook a very frustrating experience.  If you’re only enjoying the book in one medium this won’t be an issue for you, but I did contribute to my lack of enjoyment.

Less engaging protagonist.  Yes, Levana is a fascinating character and yes, I enjoyed learning about her backstory.  However, it cannot be said that she is immediately likeable or engaging in the way that Cinder, Scarlet and Cress are.

Less humour.  One of the fun parts of The Lunar Chronicles is the banter that is exchanged between our main characters.  This was missing from Fairest – Levana’s Story.  Thinking back, it’s because in this book we spend very little time with characters who actually like and respect each other.  This book contains the first few chapters of Winter, which I listened to, including a scene on the Rampion and I immediately felt “yes, THIS is the Lunar Chronicles I know and love!”

To summarise, while I enjoyed Fairest – Levana’s Story, for me it wasn’t a must-read part of The Lunar Chronicles.  Certainly, it shouldn’t be the first book you read in the series.  It does provide an interesting expansion to the series though.

I gave Fairest – Levana’s Story 3.5 stars out of five.

three-half-stars

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Cress by Marissa MeyerCress by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3
Also in this series: Cinder, Scarlet, Fairest - Levana's Story
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Length: 15 hrs and 40 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Cress by Marissa Meyer is the third in the Lunar Chronicles series and is loosely based on the Rapunzel fairytale.  It also continues the stories of Cinder and Scarlet, the heroines of the first two novels based on Cinderella and Red Riding Hood respectively.  

Cress is quite a different kind of protagonist to Cinder and Scarlet who are both rather feisty and capable.  This fits very well with the Rapunzel backstory; like her fairytale counterpart, Cress has spent the majority of her life isolated from human contact and the world in general and when the girls and their guys break her out she is naturally very uncertain and rather naive.  One of the themes of the fairytale is leaving parental (over)protection and going out into the world despite all its dangers and this is seen in Cress.  Once again Meyer has woven in the main storybeats of the original fairytale – maiden, trapped in a tower, wicked witch, prince blinded – but has given them a very original twist in her retelling.

What I liked

Cress’s characterisation.  Despite being less kickass than Cress or Scarlet, Cress still has her strengths more so as she gains in confidence.  Certainly, she ends up in situations that her more worldly wise companions might have avoided, but she doesn’t allow her fear to hold her back from doing her part to help her friends.  I have the feeling that by book four Cress will be a force to be reckoned with.

Good balance.  The novel was perfectly balanced with Cress’s story and the continuation of that of Cinder and Scarlet.  Meyer was able to give all the characters plenty of time and space for their development without compromising the pace, which moves along at a good clip.

The androids.  I don’t know why, but I have a real soft spot for Iko and in this book Little Cress.  I suspect it’s a combination of Meyer’s excellent writing and Rebecca Soler’s fantastic narration – she adds so much life to these non-human characters!  I really enjoyed the dynamic between Cress and Little Cress, who is a programmation of a younger version of herself.  I was sorry that Little Cress didn’t remain in the story very long, but I can understand why she had to go for Cress’s character development.  

The romance between Cress and Thorne.  This was beautifully done, moving from Cress’s childlike crush on her distant idol and Thorne’s wry amusement at her feelings for him, learning to know him as a real person, through mutual dependence and finally a clearer understanding of each other’s strengths and faults.  

The narration.  Once again Rebecca Soler give an amazing performance as narrator for these books.  She brings so much life to the characters that it’s a joy to listen to these books.  This is one series I definitely prefer to listen to thanks to the narration.

What I didn’t like

There was nothing I didn’t like – Cress was a fantastic continuation of a brilliant series and I can’t wait for Winter!

I gave Cress five stars out of five.

 buy from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Audible, eBooks.com

five-stars

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer – Review

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer – ReviewScarlet by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #2
Also in this series: Cinder, Cress, Fairest - Levana's Story
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Length: 11 hours and 19 minutes
Genres: Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer is the second in The Lunar Chronicles series and is loosely based on the fairytale of Little Red Riding Hood.  The narrative is split between continuing the story of Cinder from the first book and following Scarlet as she attempts to find and rescue her kidnapped grandmother.

What I liked

Strong, intelligent protagonist.  Scarlet, like the fairytale Little Red Riding Hood, is a spirited, feisty young heroine and a lot of fun to read.  I enjoyed her story and watching her learn about her grandmother’s secrets.  I was amused that at the end both of the male protagonists were out of commission and it was up to the ladies to save the day.

Intriguing love interest.  The character of Wolf was very well written.  Meyer deliberately keeps the character’s motivations unclear right until the very end and the way Meyer fulfilled the fairytale’s wolf role was masterfully done.

There are probably fewer iconic moments to bring over from Little Red Riding Hood – the red cape of course, “what big eyes you have, grandma” and both of those do make an appearance.  I loved the way Meyer brought those and the wolves into her narrative – it was very imaginatively done – and well woven into the broader story arc of Cinder and the Lunar Queen.

The pacing.  Having the dual points of view kept the pacing moving along very quickly.  it also allowed for mini cliffhangers as Meyer would switch PoV just at a crucial point.

The narration.  Once again, Rebecca Soler took on narration duties and I loved her interpretation.  She gave unique voices to the characters and enacted the directions “she said, snippily” excellently.  Here’s a sample.

What I didn’t like

Again there was nothing I disliked about Scarlet.  Meyer’s world and characters are just so beautifully written.

I gave Scarlet five stars out of five.

From Netgalley and Amazon I picked up the first few chapters in the sequel, Cress, which is due out in early February 2014.  This continues the story of Cinder and Scarlet and throws the spotlight on Cress, a character we met briefly in Cinder.  Cress is loosely based on the fairytale of Rapunzel, and even in the first few chapters I loved the character.  I really look forward to seeing more of the interaction between “Big Sister” and “Little Cress.”  It’s already clear from the excerpt how Meyer is weaving the fairytale into this story and the wider narrative.

I really look forward to reading Cress, and it’s on my pre-order lists at both Audible and Amazon.

 buy from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, Audible, eBooks.com

five-stars

Cinder by Marissa Meyer – Review

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Cinder by Marissa Meyer – ReviewCinder by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #1
Also in this series: Scarlet, Cress, Fairest - Levana's Story
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Length: 10 hrs and 6 mins
Genres: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a YA sci-fi novel and is the first in a series of four books based on classic fairytales.  This first one is based on Perrault’s Cinderella.  Many elements of the original are incorporated: the persecuted heroine, the wicked stepmother and stepsisters, Prince Charming, a ball at the palace, the protagonist’s desire to attend thwarted by her stepmother, the pumpkin turned coach, footwear left on the palace step.

Cinderella is an interesting choice for the basis of a YA novel.  Generally speaking, YA heroines tend to be strong, proactive heroines (we’ll try to forget Bella Swan for a moment).  This fairytale princess is the epitome of a passive character. In part, that is why the tale is so beloved. The idea that a fairy godmother could suddenly whisk you away from your humdrum existence to a life of luxury and privilege is very appealing to many people.  it’s the ultimate rags to riches story.  As a character though Cinderella is, well, boring.  She does very little to earn her happy ending other than to be generally nice.

Fortunately, that is one aspect that Meyer did change for her novel.  Her Cinder is strong, assertive and willing to go after what she wants.  Having said that, just as Cinderella’s innate goodness leads to her life being changed, Meyer’s Cinder’s cyborg nature has a significant influence on her life.  The one major aspect not carried over from the fairytale is the fairy godmother (or magic tree, depending on what version you’re looking at.)  Meyer’s Cinder doesn’t hang around waiting for someone to come along to wave a magic wand to change her life.   Certainly, she starts off the story in a comparatively powerless position, but she doesn’t sit around passively and wait for her fairy godmother to improve her life, she goes out and works for what she needs. She needs transport; she gets out and gets her hands dirty by fixing up a car.  In essence, Cinder is her own fairy godmother.

Like Cinder, Meyer’s Prince Charming has a lot more depth than the prince of the fairytale.  We can see just what a difficult position he is in.  I have the impression that things are only going to become more difficult for Kai as the series progresses.

What I liked

Sci-fi twists of the classic tropes of the tale.  I just loved how Meyer incorporated all the favourite aspects of the original but gave them a wonderful sci-fi twist.  I had such fun playing spot the original.

Wonderful characters. As I have mentioned above, the protagonists of Cinder are such wonderful rich characters and I loved reading about them.

The narration. Rebecca Soler performed the narration for Cinder – as she does for the other two released/soon to be released books in the series.  I absolutely adored her reading of the book.  She gave each of the characters unique voices which fit perfectly with my mental picture of them, and she brought out Cinder’s humour too.  Here’s a sample.

What I didn’t like

There was nothing I didn’t enjoy about Cinder – except that it wasn’t long enough!  I’d have happily read a book twice as thick.

As you might have guessed I gave Cinder five stars out of five.

 buy from Kindle, Kobo, iTunes, Audible

five-stars
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