Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cinder (Marissa Meyer)

Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends (MacMillan)
Length: 387 pages
Rating: 4.5/5

A plague threatens to destroy Earth while the Lunars threaten to destroy it through invasion. Cinder is only a cyborg mechanic, but when Prince Kai calls on her to fix his android, she gets sucked into the political mayhem. In this futuristic Cinderella story, Cinder becomes a reluctantly key player in saving the world.

Gorgeous cover.

I love modern fairy tales, and this one is done particularly well. Marissa Meyer creates a completely modern future society and brilliantly ties it into the classic Cinderella story for the perfect mix of reality and fantasy. And Prince Kai is one worthy of the storybooks.

Cinder is also a wonderful character. She’s an awesome mechanic, and not just because parts of her body have been replaced by metal due to a hover accident when she was a kid. Unfortunately, because of her cyborg status and uncaring step-mother, Cinder doesn’t have a lot of self-esteem. If only Prince Kai could sing this One Direction song to her! Or if someone could just tell her that in Young Adult fiction (and in life), what makes you different makes you special, and maybe Cinder will be able to save the world!

This book is definitely worth a read. And I’m thoroughly excited that the next book in the Lunar Chronicles will not only feature Cinder, but will introduce a new character, Little Red Riding Hood. I love this idea! 2013 is so far away though…

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Luxe (Anna Godbersen)

Title: The Luxe
Author: Anna Godbersen
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 433 pages
Rating: 3.5/5

There’s the perfect society girl, Elizabeth Holland, and her less compliant sister, Diana, who longs for adventure. Then there’s Penelope Hayes, Elizabeth’s best friend and best rival, and Lina Broud, Elizabeth’s maid who wishes to rise above her social class. Throw in the dashing Henry Schoonmaker who becomes entangled with nearly all the girls, and 1899 Manhattan just got even more scandalous. Everyone’s harboring secrets, secrets that will send Elizabeth into the East River by the end of the novel.

It’s Gossip Girl of the 19th century. You’ll enjoy this book if you love the scheming, sex, and society dealings that occur on Gossip Girl. If you don’t know what Gossip Girl is, but enjoy a good historical romance, chances are you will also find this book enjoyable.

However, while I enjoyed the book, I never felt connected enough to the characters or their relationships to care very much what happened to them. The book starts with the funeral of Elizabeth Holland and then backs up several months so that we discover how it came to be. However, this book is no tricky mystery novel, and while you may second-guess yourself a few times, the ending is no real shocker.

Despite my qualms, I did enjoy the history of the book. I particularly liked that each chapter started with a letter or note (a historical text message if you will). As someone who once wrote a 14 page paper about how letters function within Jane Austen novels, I thought this was both historically timely and a great way to move the plot.

In conclusion, an enjoyable, but light, read. There are more in the series (from the other girl's viewpoints), but I'm in no hurry to read them. Maybe for lounging by the pool later this summer?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Grave Mercy (Robin LaFevers)

Title: Grave Mercy
Author: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Length: 549 pages
Rating: 4/5

Narrowly saved from an awful arranged marriage and shuffled off to a mysterious convent in the night, seventeen year old Ismae finds her destiny lies with the god of death. At the convent, she is taught to be an assassin for Death and is trained in all matters of weaponry, poisons, and even the wily womanly arts. She will need all of her training and more to survive her most important mission: posing as the mistress to the handsome Gavrial Duval, she infiltrates the high court of Brittany to ferret out a traitor and save the duchess and the country from harm.

This book has everything that I love. It’s historical fiction, but written like the fantasy books I inhaled as a kid. It’s also got romance, intrigue, and great well-rounded characters. Plus a strong  main female character who kills…literally. I became quite fond of Ismae, who is just the right amount of confidence (when it comes to killing) and bumbling (when it comes to womanly charm).

Because it’s historically based on fifteen century Brittany, there are a lot of characters with remarkably similar names to keep track of, but the mystery and romance will keep you reading through the longest historical lessons. Plus, you can always count on Ismae to shoot someone with a crossbow to liven things up.

Overall, enjoyable read, and I’m very much looking forward to the other books in the series, which I’m excited to report, look like they’ll be about Ismae’s equally awesome killing friends. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ashes (Ilsa J. Bick)

Title: Ashes
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Publisher: Egmont USA
Length: 465 pages
Rating: 4/5

A fatal electromagnetic pulse flashes across the sky and instantly, the world goes insane. Electric appliances no longer work, billions are killed instantly, and the majority of teenagers become feral. Alex only knows she was painfully knocked to the ground, and her sense of smell, long-lost because of the giant brain tumor in her head, has suddenly returned, stronger than ever. To survive, she teams up with eight-year old Ellie and ex-soldier Tom. But their improvised family is constantly in danger of running out of food and supplies and of being attacked not only by zombie-like teens, but by others like themselves who were spared.

I couldn’t put this book down. I read it when I was supposed to be doing anything but reading; I read it through TV shows; I read it through a blooming migraine. A gripping tale indeed!

It’s a super violent (yes, Hunger Games violent) post-apocalyptic world, and nothing ever goes right. I think Ilsa J. Bick must be a glass half-empty kind of girl, because the disaster brought out the worst in a lot of people. But I exaggerate here- really Ms. Bick shows us that humans are complicated, and will do desperate things when pushed.

Alex, Ellie and Tom are no exception. While they’re good people, they’re pushed to do some pretty awful things to survive. It’s impossible not to like our main characters though (eventual like in Ellie’s case). Our narrator Alex had pretty much gave up the will to live before the pulse, but now that fighting for life is the only thing left, she suddenly finds it in herself to fight. Makes you wonder if you would have it in you to fight…

Overall, a must-read if you’re into dystopia, apocalypses, camping, survival, families, and maybe a little melodrama. The world is ending after all. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs)

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Author: Random Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Length: 348 pages
Rating: 4/5

A mysterious island off the coast of Wales.
An abandoned orphanage destroyed by a bomb in WWII.
A collection of curious photographs that can’t possibly be real.
Jacob journeys to the island, finds the orphanage, and discovers that the peculiar children in the old photographs may still exist, and may be in desperate need of Jacob’s help.

By now, my faithful blog readers, you know that I love it when an author does something unique. Wrapping a wonderful story around a collection of crazy photographs definitely counts as unique! I was hesitant at first (don’t we all make up stories based on pictures?), but the further I got into the book, the more the pictures became real characters and a real part of the story. This isn’t just a Fiction Writing 101 gimmick, it’s an intricate and mysterious story about the impossible happening.

And in true YA fashion, it begs the question: aren’t we all peculiar children in some ways?