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.

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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 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.

Friday Favourites – Female Protagonists

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Author-Hazel

It’s my turn this week to tell you all about my favourite female leads. Going through my read list on Goodreads and picking my favourites has made me realise that all my favourite females embody life and personality traits that I envy or idolise. I think a good aspirational character is a fantastic thing to read about in a story. It can influence you to better yourself or even better, realise you’re pretty darn great already. All my favourites have a lot of flaws which, I think, humanises them, making them more relatable and more enjoyable to read.

Kay Scarpetta (Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell)

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When I was a teenager, and the teachers traipsed you down to the careers office, I was always drawn to the science and investigation careers. Primarily, a Forensic Detective. It’s my dream job, and if things had played out differently… who knows, it could’ve been. I loved reading about this fascinating career and all the different aspects of it, and I loved Kay Scarpetta; a strong woman holding her own as the chief M.E in a male dominated world. She made mistakes, but carried on anyway because she knew her role was important in potentially saving lives. And the woman can cook. Some of the mouth-watering recipes were described in the books.

Paula Myo (Commonwealth Saga by Peter F Hamilton)

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Paula Myo is a Police Detective. She’s brilliant and methodical. So methodical in fact she borders on obsessive. Perhaps because she was bred specifically to excel and want to work in law enforcement. The planet she originates from genetically alters the DNA of their humans so they are and will be pre-disposed to favour and be excellent in chosen careers. Paula Myo struggles with the love she has for her work and the fact she does not agree with her planets’ genetic manipulation. Her love of her job sometimes takes her into very dangerous situations and she has made many enemies over her lifetimes, but she won’t quit in the search for justice.

Avery Morganstern (Wait for you by J Lynn)

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Avery went through a terrible ordeal when she was 14, and because her family and town let her down she was forced to endure isolation and bullying throughout her teenage years. Although she is still very much affected by the tragedy she suffered, she’s trying to move on (and move away), get herself a College education and survive on her own without her parents. I admire her courage, strength and her ability to try and better herself even after going through something that would break a lot of people.

Elena Michaels (Women of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong)

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Elena doesn’t wear make-up, perfume or use scented bath/shower products. She wears comfy clothes. Essentially she looks like an everyday woman. But Elena is a werewolf. The only female werewolf. And she can hold her own amongst this heavy testosterone, alpha male environment. She’s tough but feminine and I love that combination.

Freya Beachamp (Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz)

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Although I was unimpressed by this book, I did like Freya. She’s full of energy and fun and isn’t afraid to dare and take risks. She followed her heart even though it put her in some sticky situations. She was conflicted by her feelings for her fiance’s brother and struggled with it throughout the story, making some questionable decisions along the way. She’s also the Queen of mixing up potions, creating elaborate concoctions for all occasions.

Do you have some favourite female protagonists?

 

 

 

 

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 – Female Protagonists

Author – Laura

This week we’re going all Girl Power on you, and looking at our favourite female lead characters. With so many worthy women to choose from, this group was difficult to put together. Let us know who you think should be on this list…

Sonea – Magicians Guild Trilogy – Trudy Canavan

Sonea - Magicians Guild

Sonea is a girl from the slums of Imardin who discovers she has a magical ability that is normally only found in the upper classes of society. She spends most of the first book hiding her magic from the Guild, who she believes are trying to capture her. Her abilities are eventually revealed, and she is taken to the Guild where she witnesses something terrible, putting her in even more danger.

I loved reading about Sonea; she has strong values and although she is young you really get a sense of the power she has, and how angry she is! There is a little bit of romance but it doesn’t detract from her own story – she is powerful with or without her man.

Lyra Belacqua – His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

Lyra Belacqua

Lyra Belacqua, or Lyra Silvertongue as she is known, is the eleven-year old girl at the centre of His Dark Materials. And she’s a little brat. I don’t normally like children, real or fictitious, but there was something about this grubby little tomboy that I felt drawn to. It’s probably that she reminds me of me a little bit. I hated school, and was much happier with animals and mud than being with other kids. I also had a strong dislike for authority. Bad news when you’re 11 and everyone is more important than you. It took me a while to get into His Dark Materials, but Lyra is adventurous and naughty enough to keep you interested.

Karigan G’ladheon – Green Rider Series – Kristen Britain

Karigan G'Ladheon

Karigan is a bit of an unlikely hero. She has run away from school to get to her father, but on the way she meets an injured Green Rider, a magical messenger of the king. He asks her to deliver a message to the King of Sacoridia, so Karigan agrees and takes on the mantle of a Green Rider to take the message to the King. Karigan is a bad ass – it was really refreshing to read an Epic Fantasy where the main character is a woman who can really handle herself (with a little help from Horse). This is a great series, well worth a read.

Matilda Wormwood – Matilda – Roald Dahl

Matilda - Roald Dahl

One of the best children’s characters in the history of ever, Matilda is a little girl with a very special ability. I love this story, and although it has sad undertones (she is neglected and eventually left by her horrible parents) everything is ok and the book has a lovely happy ending. This can’t be considered a spoiler – everyone knows this story! Matilda is a sweet kid who you root for immediately, and is so quiet and intelligent you forget that she is only 5 and a half. Protagonist might not be the right word to describe a 5 year old, but she’s a brilliant female lead character all the same.

Sookie Stackhouse – The Southern Vampire Mysteries – Charlaine Harris

Sookie Stackhouse

I chose Sookie because I want her life. I want to be her, and live in Bon Temps, and sunbathe all day, and work in a cool bar, and have big boobs, and long blonde hair… It’s never going to happen, but I enjoyed living vicariously through Sookie. These books are like balm to my soul. So easy to read, plenty of sexy vampires and tasty humans, and enough action to keep the story flowing through the whole series. Sookie is a great lead, enough balls to stand up to the various ‘supes’ in the neighbourhood but sweet and kind, with real Southern charm. Did I mention I want to be her?

Wednesday Wonderings

When people say they don’t read it makes me feel sad. They are missing out on so much. Films and TV are great, but there is nothing quite like having your own input into the story. Inventing the characters, the world and relationships. It’s a wonderful thing!

bspa

Book & Movie review – The Duff

Author-Hazel


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Book or movie? This question always comes up when a film (or sometimes book) adaptation comes out. But is it always as simple as choosing one or the other? I don’t think it is. Sometimes they can be very different but equally enjoyable. And that is the case for The Duff…

 

 

The book

This book had been on my radar for a while and when I heard it was being adapted into a film, I bumped it up my TBR pile. I loved it! It was gritty, realistic, funny and at some points, dark. The story was fast paced and never boring. The writing was brilliant and engaging and it felt that the author had a very good and realistic grasp on what it is to be a teenager. The unique way they speak and respond to each other and situations is sometimes difficult for a an adult to pull off but Kody Keplinger did it very well. When I researched the author, I found out she was only 17 when she wrote this book! I think that’s a very impressive feat for such a young person and to do it so well too is fantastic. I’m definitely going to check out some of her other work. So after reading this and loving it, I had high hopes for the movie.

The movie

At 31, this kind of film is really a guilty pleasure for me (especially as there was a reference to 30 being old). It was a lot of fun, a light-hearted feel good movie with a good moral message. Plus Robbie Amell, shirtless – need I say more!

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The basic plot was the same but it had many differences. Some of the heaviness of the book was replaced with humour and light-heartedness.

 

 

 

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience of reading the book and watching the movie. Luckily I’m not a stickler who expects the adaptation to be exactly the same as the book. I appreciate that the story is being presented in a different medium and from a small collection of people’s perspectives. In conclusion, the book was great and the film was a lot of fun. They were different but equally enjoyable. I recommend checking both out if you enjoy YA Contemporary stories, you won’t be disappointed. Happy reading 📖:)