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:📖

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!

Friday Favourites – Female Protagonists.

Author – Kiera.

I was the one who suggested the topic of this FF, but then I started to panic because I couldn’t think of any! Luckily Goodreads came to the rescue, and after going through my read pile I’d made quite a lengthy list. The interesting thing about focusing on a certain aspect of a book is that you start to see similarities you didn’t know were there.

Yelena – Poison Study by Maria V. Synder.

poison-study-young-adult-front-cover2 Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…

We first meet Yelena in a prison cell. She’s there for committing murder, and when she’s called up for execution she is given a choice – become the new food taster for the commander or death. Obviously she becomes the new poison taster or it would be a very short book! Yelena is one of the most hardy characters I have ever come across. Her survival instinct is unparalleled and she almost always manages to stay ahead of the game.

 

 

 

Deuce – Enclave by Ann Aguirre.

enclaveI really have a soft spot in my heart for the characters in this series. Deuce is fifteen and one of the enclave’s only female huntresses. She faces some of the most harrowing circumstances possible, but she never becomes bitter or resentful in anyway. She sees the world for what it is, and does her best to survive each day. I think that it is Deuce’s age and innocence that makes her such an appealing character.

 

 

 

 

Jane Yellowrock – Skinwalker by Faith Hunter.

Skinwalker-250These books read in a very similar way to the True Blood/ Sookie Stackhouse novels. There is a lot of down time that is filled with tea making and internal monologue, but during that time you really get to know Jane as a character. She has no idea where she came from or who her family are, just that she is of Cherokee descent. Following her while she discovers more about herself and the city she has been hired to protect is an enjoyable ride, and Cherokee heritage isn’t something I had come across before so thumbs up for that too.

 

 

 

Lia – The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

tkod I’m not completely sure what it is that I find so captivating about Lia. She is a Princess and to prevent war breaking out between Kingdoms it is arranged for her to marry a Prince she has never met and certainly doesn’t love. So she does what any girl would do in her position, she makes a run for it and hopes that all hell doesn’t break loose. Now I am aware that actually most people wouldn’t do that, and maybe that is what I like about her. She makes a decision and goes for it. Such a go-getter.

 

 

 

Ivy – Wicked by Jennifer L Armentrout.

22895264Ivy is a character that I think people either love or hate. She is sarcastic, quick witted and can fight like a man. I fall into the love camp. I really enjoyed reading the story from her point of view. The dialogue between her and the other characters had me laughing out loud all the way through this book. Ivy has experienced a lot of loss in her life, and it makes her understandably guarded, but I found that to make her more relateable.

 

 

 

 

There were so many other amazing female characters I wanted to include here, but I wanted to try and keep them as diverse as possible. Which female characters are your favourite?

Wednesday Wonderings

Library Card Cartoon

You heard it here first – books are making a comeback. Personally I’m not fussy when it comes to reading. Whether it’s my Kindle, a paperback or even (in desperate times) on my smartphone I’m happy as long as I can read. There is something to be said for a physical book though, especially a second hand one. I’m a sucker for floppy pages and worn spines – it feels like the book has been enjoyed and I think thats a good thing. There are others that prefer to keep their books pristine and beautiful, and that’s ok too!

Here in Swindon we have an abundance of libraries, from the very small to the very grand tea-and-toast-serving multicoloured mothership in the centre of town. The beauty of a library is that you can try genres and authors you wouldn’t normally pick up, with no real commitment. If you don’t like it, you can take it back without worrying that you’ve spent a whole £7.99 that could have been spent on wine. I tend to go armed with my ‘To Be Read’ list from Goodreads, then competely ignore it for a pretty cover.

I would encourage everyone, whether you’re a casual reader or a serial book devourer, to join your local library. They often have great kids clubs (perfect for 5 minutes peace perusing the YA shelves) and many also provide tea and cake for a lot less than the local coffee shop. All this and free books? Sounds like a winner to me…

Laura
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Friday Favourites – Standalones!

Author – Laura

Standalones SML

So. Standalones. This was a surprisingly hard list to write. It turns out I read A LOT of series, not always intentionally but it seems to be the way of things. A lot of the storylines in the books I read are so epic that to do them justice the books would have to be bigger than my head, so I’m not complaining.

Here is my humble little list of my favourite standalone novels.

The Railway Children – E. Nesbit

“Daddy! My Daddy!”

This is one of my childhood favourites. I love the simplicity of life, the slightly grubby outdoor playtime and the strength of the familty unit.

It was the first time I remember being sad reading a book, and the relief when Bobbie’s Daddy arrives at the railway station still gives me goosepimples. I sometimes use this phrase when I see my own Dad; even though I’m (mostly) a grown up, the feeling of coming home is something that just can’t be matched.

A Gathering Light – Jennifer Donnelly

This is a beautiful and sad book. I might have stolen it from my sister, but we won’t mention that. Sharing is caring. I’m not exactly sure what genre you would put this book into; it’s a YA historical horror romance. However you want to describe it the story is powerful and it feels like an understated epic. A must read.

IT – Stephen King

I read this book as a kind of ‘kill or cure’ treatment. When I was far too young to know better I watched the movie, and for months (ahem, years) afterwards I was terrified of clowns and washing lines. I decided, not that long ago actually, to get over it and read the book that the film was based on. I’m really glad I did, because not only is it a fantastic read (if a little trippy), it’s also less about The Clown and more about a group of friends overcoming their childhood fears. I love it. Not so much the film though, even now it gives me the creeps!

The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

If you haven’t read this I’d be surprised. It’s one of those books that appears on a lot of Top 25 lists on Goodreads. I read it because the movie was about to be released and I have a thing about wanting the full story before I watch the film, just so I can fill in the gaps myself. It’s definitely worthy of its plaudits. Beautiful and horrifying, you feel like have to keep reading and almost hold Susie’s hand until it’s all over.

Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

I have written about this book before. It’s my most favouritest book in the whole entire world. You can read my review here. I love the characters, the humour and I love how the fate of the world hangs on an 11 year old boy who doesn’t really know what all the fuss is about. Amazing, amazing book.

NB – Not forgetting The Night Circus, The Prince of Mist and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. All of which have been reviewed here on The Bookspa Blog.

Book Review – The Breeders by Katie French

Author – Laura

Sixteen-year-old Riley Meemick is one of the world’s last free girls. When Riley was born, her mother escaped the Breeders, the group of doctors using cruel experiments to bolster the dwindling human race. Her parents do everything possible to keep her from their clutches – moving from one desolate farm after another to escape the Breeders’ long reach. The Breeders control everything – the local war lords, the remaining factories, the fuel. They have unchecked power in this lawless society. And they’re hunting Riley.

When the local Sheriff abducts the adult members of her family and hands her mother over to the Breeders, Riley and her eight-year-old brother, Ethan, hiding in a shelter, are left to starve. Then Clay arrives, the handsome gunslinger who seems determined to help to make up for past sins. The problem is Clay thinks Riley is a bender– a genderless mutation, neither male nor female. As Riley’s affection for Clay grows she wonders can she trust Clay with her secret and risk her freedom?

The three embark on a journey across the scarred remains of New Mexico– escaping the Riders who use human sacrifice to appease their Good Mother, various men scrambling for luck, and a deranged lone survivor of a plague. When Riley is shot and forced into the Breeder’s hospital, she learns the horrible fate of her mother—a fate she’ll share unless she can find a way out.

So there are a couple of things to note about this review. For starters this is the very first YA Dystopian story I’ve ever picked up and read by choice. The second thing is that I read it in two sittings.

The Breeders is set in a future where females are scarce, thanks to a scientific discovery that affected the ability to produce female fetuses. Girls are kidnapped by the Breeders and artificially inseminated with genetically created females in the hope of repopulating the world.

Riley is a 16 year old girl who has been hidden by her parents on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Her life is lonely, but living under the ever present threat of capture by the Breeders prevents her from visiting town or seeing anyone other than her family. I absolutely loved her, and there was none of the bratty teen angst that is so common in YA literature. She is vulnerable but brave, and would risk everything to save her family. Which is good, because from the very beginning of this book the action never stops. Riley and her little brother, Ethan, are so close and the author does a great job of making sure the little moments between them are just as important and poignant as the big moments. The world-building is subtle but fantastic. Every new place they come to feels both familiar and strange, and creates a clear picture of the devastation of the land after the past events.

Considering this book is aimed at young adults it doesn’t pull its punches in the darkness stakes. There are more than a few moments of serious tension, and a couple of scenes that might make the more squeamish among us grimace a little. The premise is really sinister, and the scenes in the hospital are actually quite frightening – the author really captures a sense of the hopelessness of Riley’s situation. Having said that, with Clay’s steadying presence and the help they receive from some unlikely sources, this is an unexpectedly hopeful story which had me racing through the pages to find out what happened next.

This is a really great book, with fabulous writing and real atmosphere. I’m so pleased I stepped out of my comfort zone and chose something different to read; it was definitely worth it!

Check out The Breeders on Goodreads

Buy the book on Amazon

Friday Favourites – Standalones!

Author – Kiera

When I suggested doing standalones as a Friday favourite I thought it would be a really easy topic. What a fool I am! After having a look through my reading history I noticed that actually I read books in a series far more often that I do standalones. Once invested in a series I’m too impatient to wait and must read the next book as soon as possible. If not sooner.

So with that being said here is my little list of standalones that I have read and enjoyed.

 

My Life Next Door – Huntley Fitzpatrick

mlnd“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha – even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

 

I finished this book today. It is completely adorable. A typical Young Adult Contemporary but one that addresses a few heavier issues. It made me laugh, it made me mad and it gave me that warm fuzzy feeling. If you are in the mood for something light hearted that still has some substance then I recommend this!

 

Ugly Love – Colleen Hoover.

ulWhen Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

From the Young Adult to the Adult. I read this a while ago after hearing an equal amount of good and bad things about it. I might be broken, because all the things people seemed not to like in this book I loved. It is angsty and some times you just want to shout at the characters, but for some reason that keeps me reading! Plus the sex scenes are pretty damn good.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black.

tcgictTana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

 

 

I know we have all read a million and one vampire stories by now, but I really felt like this book put a very different spin on things! It has a very modern setting and all the outcomes feel realistic. The fact that it is a vampire book that stands alone is even better. Who has time for twenty plus book series anymore?

 

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

rpoIn the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape

 

 

If you like 80’s culture/references, treasure hunting, the internet and generally things that are ‘nerdy’ then I have to ask you – why you haven’t read this yet? I really hope we come up with something like the OASIS (not the band. Ick) soon, because I was made to live in it! Virtual reality + all day in pajamas = heaven! This book left such a clear impression in my mind. The world building is amazing and I loved the characters.

 

There are other standalones that I love – The Night Circus, Illusions of Fate and Tiger Lily are ones that I really wanted to give a little mention, and if you’re interested they all have their own reviews here on thebookspa for you to check out.

Book Review – Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

masque-of-red-death

 

Author – Kiera.

 

My review this week is going to be a bit different. Sort of a three in one. I originally saw Masque of the Red Death while on the hunt for Steam Punk and Dystopian books on Goodreads. It was only after I picked it up that I realised it was based on the novel of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe. So this is where it gets tricky. Bethany Griffin wrote two full novels and a novella based on the original short story, and I have read them all. To be able to reference it properly I thought I should read the original too. Which means this review will be a combination of my thoughts on them all.

Edgar Allan Poe’s short story is based around Prince Prospero and his attempts to avoid the Red Death that is ravaging the lands, by barricading himself in his castle with one thousand guests and throwing lavish masquerade balls. The masquerades are set within seven rooms, each with their own theme and each more disturbing than the last. It is important to note that Prince Prospero is missing a fair few of his marbles. This quote sums it up perfectly for me – ‘There were much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible and not a little of that which might have excited disgust’.

motrdBethany Griffin’s stories take from this idea and spin it into a world of misery and death and an interesting set of characters, while keeping all of the strange atmosphere in Poe’s version. It is based around our main protagonist, Araby Worth. The world has been ripped apart by plague and her father is a scientist that has invented masks that protect people from contagion. The only problem is that Prospero is in charge of distribution of the masks, which means only those who can afford to pay for them are protected. Araby is tormented by the death of her twin brother Finn, and to try and escape the pain she spends a lot of her time in the Debauchery Club with her best friend April. They drink, take drugs and generally try to forget the horrors of the world around them. Here is where we meet Will and Elliot. Will works at the club and Araby is drawn to his tattoos and dark tousled hair. Elliot is April’s brother and he recruits Araby to help his cause to try and make the city a better place – which means taking control away from Prospero.  I’m sure you can see where this is going – love triangle anyone?

dotrdDance of the Red Death is where you can really see the influence of Poe’s novel on this story. The masquerade takes place in this book, and it is just as intense and strange. I really liked the progression of the characters throughout both of these books. There are many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and they all seem to force the characters forward with decisions they make. From what I have seen there is a divide between Will lovers and Elliot lovers. I am firmly in the Will camp. They both do horrible things, but I think I understand Will’s actions more.

These books feel equally character and story line driven, and in a way the world building is a character in itself. I could clearly picture the city and the club, the swamp filled with crocodiles and the porcelain masks they wore. No detail is left out and it makes for a vibrant reading experience.

I was looking for a gritty Dystopian novel and I certainly got that, with Steampunk elements and a gothic twist too!

Book Club Review – Stray by Rachel Vincent

stray

There are only eight breeding female werecats left . . .
And I’m one of them.

I look like an all-American grad student. But I am a werecat, a shape-shifter, and I live in two worlds.

Despite reservations from my family and my Pride, I escaped the pressure to continue my species and carved out a normal life for myself. Until the night a Stray attacked.

I’d been warned about Strays — werecats without a Pride, constantly on the lookout for someone like me: attractive, female, and fertile. I fought him off, but then learned two of my fellow tabbies had disappeared.

This brush with danger was all my Pride needed to summon me back . . . for my own protection. Yeah, right. But I’m no meek kitty. I’ll take on whatever — and whoever — I have to in order to find my friends. Watch out, Strays — ’cause I got claws, and I’m not afraid to use them . . .

Author – Kiera

This was Yasmin’s pick for March, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it! There is a sort of formula for these types of supernatural/urban fantasy stories which generally creates a similar outcome each time (alpha male + strong willed female × bad guy kidnapping her = lots of drama and a few steamy scenes) but if you like the formula then you will enjoy Stray. It is easy to read, and although the first portion of the book is a lot of information about werecats and their family histories – which wasn’t to everyone’s tastes, I personally loved it. Probably because I’m nosey!

I liked Faythe, she is a typical spoiled only girl in the family and she wants to do things her own way. As well as being head strong she is also smart and capable of looking after herself, which makes a nice change.
There are a lot of peripheral characters in this story, which can get quite confusing at times, but I quickly found my favourites and hope to read more about them later on in the series. Especially Jace and Parker. Swoon.
I really enjoyed the character development that happened with Faythe, she went through a lot in quite a short space of time and you could see her becoming unsure of her choices and questioning her actions. It was definitely important to the story that she get knocked down a peg or two so that she could start to see things from her Pride’s point of view.

All in all it was a 616 page book that I read within a few hours. Which is normally a good sign!

Author – Laura

*** 3 Stars

Overall I enjoyed Stray. I did feel that it was unnecessarily long, and as Kiera said its quite formulaic, but if it ain’t broke…

I really liked the various supporting characters, and how each of them contributed to the story. Ethan and Jace stood out for me, and secretly I think Faythe might have made the wrong choice with Marc.

As the main character I found Faythe difficult to like; I’m not sure why, but I just didn’t warm to her. She was massively over-confident to begin with, and appeared quite selfish. The character development was great and she was a different person by the end of the book.

Sometimes you just want something familiar and easy to read. Stray totally delivers on both counts.

Author – Antonia

When Yasmin first told us of the book for this month I was a bit apprehensive with 600 pages. However i managed to complete with a day to spare. Anyway so moving on to the review. I did enjoy this book and the action involved. I found Faythe to be rather needy and always wanting her own way. She was very head strong and knew what she wanted. This helped her in a few situations. I loved the way her character progressed throughout the book and the fight in her. The pride went through a lot together and it was good to see them help one another. Definitely worth a read 🙂

Friday Favourites – Books I loved as a Child

Author-Hazel

This was a bit tricky for me as most of the books I loved as a kid, Laura and Kiera already talked about, so I really had to think and do some research. This took me on a happy journey down nostalgia lane and I remembered a few that made me smile…

Not now, Bernard by David Mckee

image Reading this story as an adult gave me a totally different perspective. As a child, I was horrified that because his parents ignored him, Bernard was eaten by a monster! Growing up as the eldest child of 6, this story resonated with me and although it wasn’t done deliberately, I could really relate to Bernard and his struggle to get his parents attention. As an adult, I found this story hilarious and this time I could relate to the parents! Sometimes you’re just too busy to deal with your child’s or children’s (in my case) every whim.

 

 

 

 The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan Ahlberg

imageThis is such a fantastic book. The postman is delivering all the Christmas Mail and we get to sneak a peek at it. Fully illustrated letters, postcards, recipes etc, this story is told through many different mediums and is beautifully interactive. It adds to the magical atmosphere of Christmas, a must read for all young children.

 

 

 

 

Diary of a Crush by Sarra Manning

imageI discovered these books when I bought Just 17, a magazine for teens back in the 90’s. It was first serialised for the magazine and that’s when I found my love for romance books. I remember these books gripping me and leaving me with all the feels. Perfect stories for younger teenage girls, they were light and fluffy with drool worthy guys.

 

 

Making out series by Katherine Applegate

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After reading the Diary of a Crush books, I went searching for more teen romance stories (not as easy as it is now) and I found the Making out series. I read the first few in this massively long series, they were exactly what I was looking for, light and fluffy romances. As a teen I flitted between these books, the Sweet Valley High books and the Point Horror books Laura already mentioned.

 

Hope you have as much fun traveling down nostalgia lane as I did, Happy Reading 😃📖