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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Review: Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Published: February 5, 2013
Pages: 454
Source: Bought
Rating: 5 Stars

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.
Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

In short: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer had everything I loved about Cinder and MORE.
Initially I was worried that Scarlet wasn't going to work for me. Dual perspectives can be a tricky thing to pull off and I doubted that I was going to fully appreciate both POVs equally. I assumed I was going to much prefer the original storyline and that I wouldn't be as interested in the new characters and the new storyline. I assumed that the plot would probably seem disordered because there was too much going on between the two main characters. I was worried that Scarlet was going to end up being a bit of a letdown after the greatness that was Cinder. I WAS A FOOL FOR THINKING THESE THINGS. And may I never doubt Marissa Meyer again.

I should have known better because I already knew from Cinder that Marissa Meyer knew how to craft a compulsively readable novel that was equal parts comforting as a fairy tale retelling and exciting as a creative sci fi. In fact, I ended up liking Scarlet MORE than Cinder because Scarlet gave me everything I loved about Cinder and MORE. I loved having Cinder and Iko back in the spotlight again and I loved loved loved the new It couple, Scarlet and Wolf. They were intriguing and electric both together and as individual characters. And Thorne! Now talk about a welcome addition to the cast. Thorne actually had me thinking, "Kai who?"

So yes, I was a fool for doubting Scarlet would be as good as Cinder because as it turns out, it was BETTER. Scarlet was an absolutely addictive read, thrilling and fast paced and altogether awesome. I am officially a hardcore Marissa Meyer fangirl and good thing, too... because I'll get the chance to meet her when she stops by Toronto on February 24 for her Cress Tour!

Previously, my review of Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1).

Other Reviews:
Lunar Rainbows
Megan Likes Books
Musings of a YA Reader

Author Links:

Monday, January 27, 2014

Top Five Worlds I'd NEVER Want To Live In / Top Five Characters I'd NEVER Want To Trade Places With

Top Five Worlds I'd NEVER Want To Live In

Oh dystopians. I've read so many of them over the past few years and of course I can't think of one that had a world that I would ever want to live in. Not even remotely. The five books above have probably the worst dystopian worlds I've come across so far. It's hard to pick which world is the worst. Let's see, a world in which everyone dies young and most girls end up as prostitutes (Wither)? A world in which you are forced to have surgery to remove every last trace of the capacity to love (Delirium)? A world in which aliens have taken over and wiped out almost the entire population of Earth (The 5th Wave)? A world in which the government forces 24 children to compete to the death every year for their viewing pleasure (The Hunger Games)? But I think The Road takes the cake: only a few people remain on Earth after a catastrophic post-apocalyptic disaster and the survivors have resorted to cannibalism...

Top Five Characters I'd NEVER Want To Trade Places With
Alina Starkov - Karou/Madrigal - Katniss Everdeen - Frodo Baggins - Harry Potter

With great power comes great responsibility, yada yada yada. But seriously, what these five characters have in common is that they are in positions of great power and leadership and thus have some pretty heavy responsibilities and pressures to deal with. I would never want to be in their positions and I could never last in their positions either. In fact, I feel like part of what makes these characters so great is their capacity to deal with a really terrible situation, the weight of other people's lives on their shoulders, and an Evil Dark Overlord or two. And through everything, they endure.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: HarperCollins Spring 2014 Catalog

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which upcoming, eagerly anticipated releases are highlighted on the blog.

This week, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the HarperCollins Spring 2014 Catalog:

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Date: April 1, 2014
Add to Goodreads

I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?
Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling.
What happened?
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.
My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas.
I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I've been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman's heart.
Steal the Scarecrow's brain.
Take the Lion's courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!

I'm curious, what can I say? I love fractured fairy tales and I think Dorothy Must Die is an intriguing take on The Wizard of Oz.

Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong
Date: April 8, 2014
Add to Goodreads

In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.
Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.
Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

Ooh Kelley Armstrong! How does she always seem to come up with the most creative and intriguing premises? Sea of Shadows sounds like a gooder!

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Date: April 22, 2014
Add to Goodreads

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.
Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.
And Gretchen follows his every command.
Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.
As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

The Book Thief was one of my most favourite books I read last year. It was a side of the events of World War II I had never seen before, and that is also what draws me to Prisoner of Night and Fog.

After the End by Amy Plum
Date: May 6, 2014
Add to Goodreads

World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.
At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.
When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.
Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she's trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.

In After the End, a seemingly post-apocalyptic future actually turns out to be just the modern-day world. Now that's an interesting hook.

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these HarperCollins Spring 2014 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the HarperCollins Spring 2014 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Very Belated 2013 End of Year Book Survey

Previously, my 2012 End of Year Book Survey and my 2011 End of Year Book Survey.

1. Best book you read in 2013?
Five books really stand out in my mind from 2013 (way too hard to narrow down!): Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (this book was my JAM!), The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (absolutely gripping!), The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (brilliant and memorable!), Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (story of my LIFE!), and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (beautiful and impactful - review to come!).

2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to like more but didn't?
I was so excited for the finales of two of my favourite series (Delirium and Divergent), but was sad to find that Requiem by Lauren Oliver and Allegiant by Veronica Roth were two major let downs for me.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?
Pantomime by Laura Lam! But I can't tell you why because that would ruin the surprise!

4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?
The Grisha Trilogy and the Lunar Chronicles.

6. Favourite new author you discovered in 2013?
SO MANY. Leigh Bardugo, Maggie Stiefvater, Rainbow Rowell, Marissa Meyer, Markus Zusak, Gail Carriger, Victoria Schwab, and Robert Galbraith.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
I don't normally "do" Adult Fiction or strict Whodunnit type books, but if there is anyone who can get me to take a step outside my comfort zone, it's Queen Rowling. So I'm definitely going to have to go with The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book of 2013?
Shades of Earth by Beth Revis! Now THIS is how you do a thrillingly epic and climactic finale!

9. Book you read in 2013 that you are most likely to reread next year?
Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor is not a book I read in 2013, but it's one I most definitely want to reread in 2014 to prepare for Dreams of Gods & Monsters!

10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2013?

11. Most memorable character in 2013?
Cormoran Strike from The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith, the Darkling from Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, and Death from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

14. Book you can't believe you waited until 2013 to finally read?
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card! I finally caved and read this one around the time that the movie came out. Unfortunately, the experience wasn't a positive one (review to come...).

15. Favourite passage/quote from a book you read in 2013?
Can I just copy the entirety of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak here?

16. Shortest and longest book you read in 2013?
Shortest: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness - 206 pages
Longest: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare - 570 pages

17. Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it?
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner! You KNOW the scene I'm talking about if you've read this book!

18. Favourite relationship from a book you read in 2013?
Liesl and Max from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Cath and Levi from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and Puck, Dove, Sean, and Corr (yup, horses too) from The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.

19. Favourite book you read in 2013 from an author you've read previously?
I can always count on Rick Yancey and Patrick Ness (two of my MOST favourite authors) to produce good content and The 5th Wave and A Monster Calls were no exception.

20. Best book you read in 2013 that you read based solely on a recommendation from someone else?
Seems like everyone in the book blogging community has read and loved The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Finally in 2013, I was able to see what all the raves were about!

21. Genre you read the most from in 2013?
Fantasy, of course.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?
Levi (and his eyebrows and great hair) from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. True fact: at the Rainbow Rowell book signing that I attended in 2013, Rainbow described Fangirl as "eyebrow erotica" due to the detailed descriptions of Levi's eyebrows in almost every scene that he is in.

23. Best 2013 debut you read?
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner!

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo and The Archived by Victoria Schwab.

25. Book that was the most fun to read in 2013?
Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger was simply a delightful read! Gail knows how to get whimsy just right.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2013?
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (obvs), The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (that ending), and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (happy tears!).

27. Book you read in 2013 that you think got overlooked this year or when it came out?
Pantomime by Laura Lam. Pantomime was a highly original and profound read.

28. One book you didn't get to in 2013 but will be your number 1 priority in 2014?
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (reading now!!), Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.

29. Book you are most anticipating for 2014 (non-debut)?
DREAMS OF GODS & MONSTERS by Laini Taylor. Without. A. Doubt.

30. 2013 debut you are most anticipating?
Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne sounds right up my alley!

31. Series ending you are most anticipating in 2014?
Daughter of Smoke & Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor and The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo.

32. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging in 2014?
Keep up this no pressure/stress blogging and reading thing I've got going on because it suits me and I'm loving it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Very Belated December 2013 Recap


Umm, hi. So that little hiatus I took from the blog somehow got extended by a few weeks. By an unfortunate coincidence, several family members passed away over the holidays, which put a bit of a damper on the festivities and meant me needing a few more weeks off from the blog than I had planned. But I'm tentatively ready to get back into the swing of things and I'm certainly ready to get back to reading. I think I've finally overcome my reading slump (thanks to the Throne of Glass prequel novellas)!

Though December wasn't the cheery, relaxing month I had hoped it would be, it was at least very nice to make it home for Christmas to see family and friends again. I was also fortunate enough to come home to several very thoughtful bookish gifts given to me by some blog friends!
Presents from Alex, Ambur, Sara
From Ambur
From Cassie
How well do these girls know me?! These gifts are all amazingly perfect and I couldn't be more grateful to have friends who put so much thought into getting things they know I will like. It was a hard time for me this past month, but these gifts still managed to put a big smile on my face!

And something else that pleased me this month:
I read 100 books in a year for the first time ever! HUZZAH! In 2011, I completed my challenge to read 50 books and in 2012, I completed my challenge to read 75 books, and now I'm up to 100 books read in 2013! Dare I challenge myself to read 125 books in 2014?! ...Heh, no. I suspect 2014 will be a very busy year for me so I'm conservatively setting my goal at 50 for now and then I'll upgrade it later on in the year if I'm doing well.

There were two movies of note for me in December 2013:
First, The Desolation of Smaug. Smaug was EVERYTHING. The special effects were spectacular in this movie. In fact, I loved it all... except for the cheesy romance. That, I could have done without. Don't get me wrong, I was thrilled to see a new female character in Middle Earth as they are few and far between. But just because you introduce a female character doesn't mean you have to have her fall in love after one conversation and give up everything to save him. Isn't it enough for her just to be awesome in her own right?

Second, 12 Years A Slave. I don't have a whole lot to say about this movie except that it is poignant, beautifully acted, and necessary. Just excellent.

Best Book Read in December:
Woo, I FINALLY read The Book Thief this month and now I know what all the fuss is about. It definitely left a great impact on me and I expect many images and quotes from the story will remain with me for many, many years to come. Review to come!

Previously, My Life in November: OBB Meetup, Reading Slump, and the Announcement of a Hiatus.

**Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who left a kind comment on my last monthly recap post. Your condolences meant so much to me.