Book Review – Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the centre of an intergalactic struggle and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Author Hazel

Cinder is the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series. It is a young adult, sci-if romance/fairy tale retelling.

Cinder is based on the popular fairy tale of Cinderella, and has a similar basic plot. Cinder is treated like a slave by her stepmother and stepsister, there is a young, handsome Prince to fall in love with, an enchanting ball and then the pivotal plot point of Cinder losing her glass slipper. Now imagine this beloved story, but in Cinder, Cinderella is a cyborg! She lives in New Beijing, part of the Eastern Commonwealth, created after world war IV. She is a mechanic, and instead of animals as friends, she has androids.

New Beijing is an emergent new society rising from the destruction of world war IV. Earth is plagued by a lethal disease called letumosis. It is also teetering on the edge of another war with Luna. Luna is obviously the moon, but in this story, it is inhabited by Lunars. The leader of this race is the evil Queen Levana, who supposedly killed her own sister in order to take the throne. Lunars have special abilities known colloquially on Earth as magic but scientifically it is explained as manipulation of the bio-chemical electrical signatures within the brain or ‘glamouring’. The emperor of New Beijing has letumosis, so Prince Kaito (Kai) is desperately seeking a cure whilst trying to avoid a political marriage with the evil Queen Levana. He first meets Cinder when he brings his beloved android to be repaired and the fantastic plot and budding romance begins there.

I absolutely loved this book. Marissa Meyer has woven in such a fantastic and intricate plot within the basic story of Cinderella. I love the sci-if aspect of the story and the futuristic time the story is based in. I loved and hated the characters. Iko, Cinder’s android sidekick was brilliant. I loved how she had an almost human personality and her and Cinder’s friendship was lovely. Although Peony was one of Cinder’s stepsisters, they had a lovely sisterly relationship. Dr Erland was an eccentric and a little weird side character, who lends a scientifically heroic hand to Cinder. He was really interesting. Then of course there’s Cinder and Prince Kai. An almost opposites attract relationship, I loved his gentle persuing of Cinder, even when she kept turning him down.

Marissa Meyer wrote Adri and and Queen Levana so well, I hated them(almost as much as Joffrey from GoT lol). Adri was greedy and manipulative and used poor Cinder almost to her death. And Queen Levana is the epitome of evil, leading an entire people with brain washing and manipulation, only succeeding in getting what she wants through these methods.

The story is so gripping and imaginative even with it being a retelling. The story is plot and character driven, and I can’t wait to see where it goes. The characters were so well written, all with distinctive personalities and relationships with each other. It will be interesting to see who else we meet during the rest of the series.

Overall, I loved this book, so much I want to read the next one, Scarlet, straight away, and I rarely read a series back to back. I highly recommend this book and I gave it 5 🌟. Happy reading :mrgreen:📖

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Wednesday Wonderings

Author – Laura

It’s hard to believe, but we could be considered an odd bunch here at The Bookspa. Fortunately we know each other pretty well, and aside from a knowing wink or two when Yasmin starts talking about the Black Dagger Brotherhood :), we could spend hours talking about our favourite book characters.

fictional character quote

If you’re a kindred spirit, and you’re happy while away hour after hour discussing the not insignificant virtues of heroes and heroines like Akiva and Karou, then you’re welcome at The Bookspa any time!

Book Review – Mistress of Night and Dawn by Vina Jackson

Author – Laura

Mistress of Night and Dawn

Growing up, Aurelia was haunted by the mysterious death of her parents when she was very young, and she has always longed to know the truth about her past. At eighteen, she meets a man who will change her life forever, and when he disappears before she can learn his name, she vows to find him again.

Thanks to an unknown benefactor, Aurelia travels to America to continue her education. There she comes across the existence of an exclusive ball that has been held every year for centuries. The decadent celebration of the senses travels from country to country, cropping up in secret locations and including only a very selective list of guests.

Caught up in a world of passion and intrigue, Aurelia soon becomes one of the ball’s star attractions. But little does she know that as her involvement with the festivities increases, she is coming ever closer to discovering the truth about her mysterious benefactor, her own past, and the identity of the one man she has ever truly loved.

I picked this book up in a charity shop, partly because the cover is gorgeous, and partly because it was described as “The Night Circus meets Bared to You”. Now, I’m no prude, and I read a wide variety of genres, but this book was an unexpectedly detailed and vivid account of one woman’s sexual awakening. It’s the only way I can describe it. The blurb doesn’t really hint at the graphic nature of the content, and in my innocence (ahem) I had no idea what an Eighty Days novel was.

I do now. I’m just not sure how to review it on a family friendly blog!

This book is weirdly beautiful. I felt like I was watching the action through a thin veil, like it was all very secret and I was just peeking in. The action is slow to build, but is never boring. The author takes her time building the tension and developing the characters, and because the world is so hedonistic you feel like you don’t want to be rushed through the scenes in case you miss something secret, hidden in the corner of the room.

Once you are introduced to the Ball it’s easy to see why there are comparisons to The Night Circus. Every year the Ball takes on a different personality, as it has for hundreds of years. Although there are many characters in the book they are almost secondary to the Ball itself, linked to it and integral to its success or failure, similar to Celia and Marco at the Circus. Everything is planned to the finest detail, with nothing being left to chance.

Although I liked Aurelia, I didn’t really connect with her on any level. She is detached and uncomfortable in her own skin to start with. It’s only after an encounter with a mysterious stranger that she begins to explore her own sexuality. Siv is the quintessential crazy best friend, who gets into situations that causes Aurelia more than one or two headaches throughout the book. Also, no one needs to use the ‘C’ word. Its just horrible.

This book is so much more than a bit of dirty titillation. It stands on its own as a unique and surreal adult fantasy. Yes, there is a lot of erotic content, but it doesn’t feel overly graphic, more like a journey of sexual awakening; learning about how your body works and how powerful it is. There is no shame, there are people of all shapes and sizes, and everyone seems to be having a great time if nothing else!

I’d hesitate to recommend The Mistress of Night and Dawn, simply because it really isn’t for the faint-hearted. But if you’re open-minded and want to get lost in a vivid world of masquerade and enchantment then I’d say get stuck in. Excuse the pun.

Buy the book on Amazon

Friday Book Tag

Author – Laura

Book Blog Confessions Book Tag

We have done Book Tags before here on The Bookspa, (read post) but this one delves a bit deeper into our likes, dislikes and guilty pleasures. Hate is a very strong word that we try really hard not to use, so we are going in with hate, and out with love…

1. Which book, most recently, did you not finish? I started reading The Confessions of Mr Whicher or The Murder at Road Hill House, by Kate Summerscale. Although I was really enjoying it, I made the fatal mistake of putting it down, and I completely lost the thread of the plot. I will pick it up again, but it’s slipping down the TBR list…

2. Which book is your guilty pleasure? Twilight. Easy. But I need a blanket and chocolate when I’m reading it. It’s a whole sensory experience 😉

3. Which book do you love to hate? I think I have to say 50 Shades of Grey. It’s not a brilliantly written book, and the similarities between it and Twilight are quite distracting. That being said, I enjoyed reading a completely new genre and read all three books in a week, so it couldn’t have been that bad!

4. Which book would you throw into the sea? You don’t get books wet. Ever. But if I really had to pick, I’d say Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Ugh.

5. Which book have you read the most? The Harry Potter series. And I never, ever get bored of them.

6. Which book would you hate love to receive as a present? A signed copy of Good Omens. I think I would spontaneously combust.

7. Which book could you not live without? I’d be sad if I could never read Good Omens again, but there are so many beautiful books in the world that I’m sure I could manage. Just.

8. Which book made you the angriest? I don’t think I’ve ever been really angry at a book, but I’ve definitely been angry on behalf of a character. I remember being pretty mad at Brimstone when it looked like he’d left Karou all alone in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and I hate anything to do with hurting animals. But nothing is ever as it seems, and things normally work out for the best. I do like a happy ending!

9. Which book made you cry the most? It’s a toss up between The Green Mile and The Deathly Hallows. Proper sobfests both of them!

10. Which cover do you hate love the most? Hmm. There are so many beautiful covers. We wrote about our favourites a while back… Read Post I think the Angelfall series has beautiful covers, as does the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, and the Dark Heroine series. I’m a sucker for a pretty book. I picked up The Hourglass Factory by Lucy Ribchester, which was just gorgeous.

Feel free to tag yourselves in and share your answers with us, we’re nosy and we love to know which books people love and love less…

Have a great weekend!

Book Club Review – The Diviners by Libba Bray

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It’s 1920s New York City. It’s flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It’s after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things it’s the opportunity to party like never before.

For Evie O’Neill, it’s escape. She’s never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she’s shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she’s always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.

But New York City isn’t about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren’t crimes of passion. They’re gruesome. They’re planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can’t solve them alone.

Evie wasn’t just escaping the stifling life of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. She has a secret. A mysterious power that could help catch the killer – if he doesn’t catch her first.

Author – Kiera.

I had really mixed feeling about this month’s book. On the one hand I loved the characters, the setting and the story. But on the other hand it felt very slow and over stuffed with information and storylines, which unfortunately made it less enjoyable to read.
New York in the 20’s was a fascinating time time to read about! The fashion and the parties, the vernacular and the mix of cultures and religions. It was almost a character in itself. I don’t think the story could have been suited so well to any other time or place. The way the time period formed the characters was perfect and I look forward to reading more of it throughout the series.
While on the subject of characters, I had a few favourites – Sam Lloyd being the first. He’s such a playful guy, but the way he treats Evie makes me think he has a softer side too. Theta and Henry were my other characters of choice. I loved the bond they have, and the fact that they treat people kindly and with respect even though they may not have always been treated that way themselves.
The main storyline was just the right amount of mystery and creepy. Naughty John and The Brethren definitely gave me the heebie jeebies, and it was interesting unravelling the story as events unfolded.

One of the disappointments for me was that all these characters had different abilities/powers but we never really saw any of them. I felt that it was a shame for such a long book that it wasn’t one of the main elements. Also the amounts of povs made it feel very disjointed. Everytime I got a good momentum going it would change and it really slowed the reading down. It just felt like the author felt the need to set the ground work for every character she wants to include in the series in the first book, and I just felt that it bogged the story down.
Overall I gave this 🌟🌟🌟

Author – Hazel

The Diviners was my pick for book club this month and I’m glad to say I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It has been on my TBR for a few months and our lovely Laura bought the book for me for Christmas. I really enjoyed the time period that the story was set in, it added to the atmosphere of the spooky plot. The story is told from quite a few perspectives but there wasn’t one that I didn’t enjoy. The author took her time developing all the characters, but for me this didn’t take away from the storyline. I really enjoyed reading and learning about the characters, but Jericho piqued my interest the most. From the very first introduction of him to the story, the mystery surrounding him grabbed me. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Evie and Sam. Him being very flirtatious and her struggling with a love/hate thing for him. I’m interested to see how the relationships between the characters develop as the story does. I’m also really interested to see how Libba Bray develops the ‘Diviners’ storyline, whether or not they band together as a type of ‘Avengers’ task force or if they continue to struggle alone with their gifts.

Naughty John was a creepy and gruesome bad guy. The way Libba Bray wrote him really did give me the chills. The Brethren, who were essentially Naughty John’s disciples, behaved like a cult and cults and cultish behaviour always rubs me the wrong way, so for me they alone were scary enough.

Overall I loved the book and I’m really looking forward to the next one, Lair of Dreams. I gave this book 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟.

Author – Laura

I really enjoyed this book, it feels both familiar and unique at the same time. Considering the size (a whopping 600+ pages) it took me just 3 sittings to complete. I think I would have struggled reading it in smaller chunks, as there are quite a few different POVs to follow, and storylines that felt like they were going to converge but then just don’t. The dialogue and banter between the characters was my favourite part, with some absolute humdingers –

“Harold Brodie is a louse and a lothario who cheats at cards and has a different girl in his rumble seat every week. That coupe of his is pos-i-tute-ly a petting palace. And he’s a terrible kisser to boot.”
Evie’s parents stared in stunned silence.
“Or so I’ve heard.”

“Theta crashed next to them on the thick zebra-skin rug. “I’m embalmed.”
“Potted and splificated?”
“Ossified to the gills. Time for night-night.

“She is the elephant’s eyebrows,” Evie whispered appreciatively. “Those jewels! How her neck must ache.”

Evie as a character wasn’t all that endearing, but what she lacked in warmth and humility she made up for in sass and charm. She is a proper wild child, who acts first and thinks later. It works in her favour most of the time, but I did feel a bit sorry for Mabel at times! The entire ensemble cast was great, and the atmosphere was so decadent. 1920s NYC is definitely where I would go in a time machine, complete with jewelled headband and fringed flapper dress. I’d even cut my hair short…

I’ll admit to being quite disappointed that after 600 pages there wasn’t some kind of ‘X-Men’ style Diviners team up; it was hinted at all the way through – the book is called ‘The Diviners’ after all, but it just never happened. It would have been a great final battle with Naughty John: to have a few of them use their powers together to defeat the bad guy, but it wasn’t to be.

I’m definitely going to read the second book, and hopefully I’ll get my wish for a superhero showdown, but perhaps with more pearls and less adamantium claws.