Book Review – Cinder by Marissa Meyer

image

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:📖

Book Club Review – The Darkest Park of the Forest by Holly Black

tdpotf

 

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

Laura

I have to say, “well done me”, I picked a corker this month! I’ve had my eye on this release for a little while, and although I haven’t read anything by Holly Black before she is a firm favourite with some of the other Bookspa ladies, so I knew there was a good chance we were going to love it.

This book is fabulous. Never too complicated that you have to re-read whole sections of text, but never too boring that you skip them either, the story flows along at a good pace, weaving in and out of Fairfold and taking you in unexpected directions before reaching it’s rather epic final showdown. It feels sort of beautiful, and reads like a dark fairy tale – I kept thinking of The Labyrinth, especially during the faerie revelry. The colours and descriptions are vivid, and the variety of characters, both fae and human, only add to the magic and romance of the story. I loved Hazel and Ben, and the bond between them that is central to the book. I also loved that Hazel was a bit of a badass and didn’t need a knight in shining armour to save her.

I could write loads of gushing praise for The Darkest Part of the Forest, but all in all I think this is one of the best books I’ve read for a long time, and I give it 5 stars *****.

 

Hazel

I really enjoyed this book. I thought the pace was great, I was never bored. Holly Black weaved a magical tale with lots of little twists and turns that kept you wanting more. I didn’t anticipate any of them which made the story even more magical. Her characters were well fleshed out, I loved the relationships between the characters, especially Ben and Hazel’s. The romance was sweet, I loved Jack. Above all, I felt warm and fuzzy whilst reading this book even though some parts got pretty dark and scary, it reminded me of the fairy tales I read in my youth. Wonderful pick Laura 😀

Kiera

I’m going to start by quoting you one my favourite lines from the book. For me this just sums up everything I loved about it.

‘I have loved you from almost the first moment I saw you, wild and fierce and brave, running through the woods, your lips stained purple from blackberry juice.’

I knew from the moment Laura mentioned this book that I would enjoy it. I love the way the Holly Black writes, and she is up there as one of my favourite fantasy authors. It reminded me a lot of The Spiderwick Chronicles, but as a more grown up version – sounds good, right? It was! Reading about all the different faerie creatures and the awful things they got up to was fascinating, and having Jack’s perspective in the mix being fae but in human society was a really interesting view point. The relationships between the characters was such a massive element throughout the story, and really kept the plot moving. The way that you had to unravel the mysteries of the story was so satisfying and I was never disappointed by the outcome. All in all a story of childhood and whimsy and love and magic and imagination. Completely brilliant.

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

Book Review – The Prince of Mist

Prince of Mist Cover

Author – Laura

The Prince of Mist is a young adult novel by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, written in 1993 and translated from Spanish into English in 2010.

The main character is a young boy called Max Carver. In 1943, along with his two sisters, his mother and watchmaker father, he moves to a little town by the sea to get away from the war. As soon as they reach the new place Max realises things aren’t quite as they should be.

Max discovers that the new house was formerly owned by the Fleischmans, whose family is surrounded by tragedy after the death of their son, Jacob. The house is pretty normal; big, old and full of strange noises, but nothing out of the ordinary until Max finds the sculpture garden near his house.

Strange things start happening, and get even stranger once Max makes a friend. Roland takes Max diving near a wreck, where a six pointed star on a flag is a reminder of something similar Max has seen in the sculpture garden. Max starts asking questions and learns that the boat sank leaving only one survivor, but no bodies. The boat was carrying a circus crew led by a man known as The Prince of Mist…

I loved this book. It’s so atmospheric, and unless you have zero imagination it’s very easy to visualise every scene, right down to smells and subtle changes in the light and temperature. Considering this book is a teeny tiny 200 pages, it feels epic – there is a real sense of something much bigger; like this is a little snapshot in time in a story that spans generations.

With that in mind, it was a little difficult to appreciate the immediate depth of the relationship between Roland and Alicia, who seemed to fall in love in one afternoon. But at 15 you fall in love at the drop of a hat so it’s not totally unbelievable.

The Prince of Mist is a creepy baddy. This is essentially a children’s book but I had to take a little break near the end – it gets scary and I was totally there, living it with them. I think above all this is a story about bravery and loss, and it feels very pure. It’s beautifully written even if it’s completely chilling and frankly sinister in places.

 Buy it on Amazon

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

image

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 😃📖

 

 

 

Mini Review – The Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

wosas

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the sea witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe and prosperous at sea. But before she could learn how to control her power, her mother – the first Roe woman in centuries to turn her back on magic – steals Avery away from her grandmother. Avery must escape before her grandmother dies, taking with her the secrets of the Roe’s power.

The one magical remnant left to Avery is the ability to read dreams, and one night she foresees her own murder. Time is running short, both for her and for the people of her island who need the witches’ help to thrive.

Avery has never read a dream that hasn’t come true, but a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane tells her he can help her change her fate. Becoming a witch may prevent her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers it will also require a sacrifice she never expected. And as she falls in love with Tane, she learns it is his life and hers that hang in the balance.

 

Author – Kiera.

I have mixed feeling about The Witch of Salt and Storm. I really love the premise and the setting. The writing style was lovely and lyrical but it also felt a bit disjointed at times and I had to read a few things twice to understand what was meant. This might be considered a bad thing, and I know some people will find it off putting, but it fit the style of the story quite well. The first half of the book moved at a very slow pace. There is a lot of family history, lore and scene setting to get through. I found it enjoyable but it didn’t move the storyline along as quickly as I would have liked. I loved the magic system, and can understand the lure of the sea. Each of the Roe witches had a different ability from their connection with the sea, and was all so interesting! I just would have liked a bit more of it throughout the book.

There is a good mix of characters, and I found myself drawn towards Avery’s Grandmother and Tane. They both have quite turbulent pasts yet remain honest and likeable.

I know that Whaling happened and why it did. I also understand why it was an integral part of the story, but that being said it wasn’t something I enjoyed reading about.

Overall though I found it slow I did enjoy reading this. Historical fantasy isn’t something I have read much of, and this has definitely made me want to read more.

Book Review – Frigid by J.Lynn

Author – Hazel

image

For twenty-one-year-old Sydney, being in love with Kyler isn’t anything new. They’d been best friends ever since he pushed her down on the playground and she made him eat a mud pie. Somewhere over the years, she fell for him and fell hard. The big problem with that? Kyler puts the ‘man’ in man-whore. He’s never stayed with a girl longer than a few nights, and with it being their last year in college, Syd doesn’t want to risk their friendship by declaring her love.

Kyler has always put Syd on a pedestal that was too high for him to reach. To him, she’s perfect and she’s everything. But the feelings he has for her, he’s always hidden away or focused on any other female. After all, Kyler will always be the poor boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and Syd will always be the one girl he can never have.

But when they’re stranded together at a posh ski resort due to a massive Nor’easter, there’s nothing stopping their red-hot feelings for each other from coming to the surface. Can their friendship survive the attraction? Better yet, can they survive at all? Because as the snow falls, someone is stalking them, and this ski trip may be a life-changer in more ways than one.

Frigid is a New Adult novel following Sydney and Kyler. The two have been best friends since they were little, but as the years go by they have fallen in love with each other. They can’t admit it to each other or themselves until their winter break from college. They become snowed in at Kyler’s family ski chalet, alone because their friends couldn’t make it due to the snow storm. As the days go by, Sydney finally admits to Kyler that she loves him but some complications and scary situations arise.

I love J. Lynn’s New Adult books and I also love her Young Adult books written under her name Jennifer L Armentrout.

This was a quick read for me, it was fast paced and the writing style kept me hooked. The story gave me lots of feels and I related quite a bit to Sydney, the female protagonist. The story is written from the dual perspectives of Sydney and Kyler. I loved reading the story from Kyler’s point of view; I find it fascinating seeing through a males eyes. They see things so differently from us females.

The story has some cheesy moments, but I like cheese in small doses. Although the story was character driven, J Lynn gives you enough world building to visualise the story’s surroundings, so I found it easy to picture the story flowing in my head.

This novel is quite light and fluffy. There was one section that got a bit heavy but overall it was just what I needed after some heavier reads I’ve been experiencing lately. A perfect New Adult romance, I loved it!

Book Review-The Ice Twins by S.K Tremayne

image

A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcraft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives.

But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity – that she, in fact, is Lydia – their world comes crashing down once again.

As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, Sarah finds herself tortured by the past – what really happened on that fateful day one of her daughters died?

Author – Hazel.

The Ice Twins is a psychological thriller told from two perspectives, Angus and Sarah. Angus and Sarah are married and have twin daughters Kirstie and Lydia, who are identical. With white blonde hair and icy blue eyes the family nick-name them The Ice Twins.

One summer evening one of the twins falls tragically to her death and the family are thrown into despair. They try to make a new start and move to a cottage on a secluded island in the Scottish Hebrides, which is where this creepy story really kicks off.

The setting of the story is perfect. A cold winter on an island in Scotland. It’s grey, bitterly cold, windy and rainy but picturesque in an eerie kind of way. It adds to the eerie atmosphere of this story.

The book is a psychological thriller but with a bit of a supernatural twist (you’ll have to read it to find out why!). I was really creeped out and scared by this story, there were parts where I had to stop reading. The kids were in bed asleep and my fiancé was out and I’ll admit, I got scared! But although it was scary, it was also a gripping read and I needed to know what was going to happen next. The writing was descriptive enough for me to imagine myself on that cold, chilling island. Throughout the story I sympathised with Sarah as a mum. I often wondered what I would do in her situation.

The story builds throughout, giving us a bit of information towards solving the mystery but at the same time it opens up more questions. I wouldn’t say the story has a twist but it does give you a brilliant thought provoking ending. A fantastic read.