Story Sells Not the Art: Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer

In her first graphic novel, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller Marissa Meyer follows Iko, the beloved android from the Lunar Chronicles, on a dangerous and romantic new adventure — with a little help from Cinder and the Lunar team.

In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers’ leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

Source: GoodReads

While I love the original Lunar Chronicle series (though the last book didn’t quite lead up to the expectations I had), I have been weary of its various bonus installments.  The short story series (save for that epilogue) was a bit of an obvious attempt to cash out.  The coloring book-well, all popular YA series are getting one.  And I waited for the spinoff to happen.  Because spinoffs always happened and then Marissa Meyer announced a graphic novel and I inwardly groaned since I have not been a fan of graphic novel YA adaptations in the past.

Only thing is though…this YA graphic novel actually works.

In part because it is new story.  While it doesn’t take place after the epilogue of the series, or even the epilogue of Winter it does take place between the end of the action and epilogue in Winter.  And its location surprisingly works.

I think a lot fit is because the main focus is on Iko who is the best character in the series.

Yes, I said BEST.

And yes, I know Iko was only a side character in the actual series but I love her.  She was great comic relief at the beginning of the series but grew over time as the books progressed and I’m so glad she’s now getting some narration of her own.

I oddly ship the ship in this too, even though I’m not exactly sure how things between those two would work.  But hey, it worked between Vision and the Scarlet Witch-well, for awhile at least.  So…it could work.  Maybe?

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I am not going to think about that though for now.  Instead, I am going to focus on what a fun and quick read this was-I think it took like forty-five minutes tops.  It went by that fast.

One problem I did have was the artwork.  It really was quite hideous to me, at least.  I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but a lot of the characters looked the same to me.  Especially the male characters.  And the wolf hybrid characters were just hideous.

I’m sorry, Holgate, I know your art work might be liked by others but it wasn’t my thing.  Beauty of the beholder and all.  But you did an okay job on Iko and the cover was quite nice if that’s any consolation….

Overall though, I really liked this graphic novel.  I might’ve not have been a huge fan of the art.  But….the story made up for it.  But at the same time, I’m like it is supposed to be a graphic novel so I just don’t know.

Overall Rating: A B+ I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel. Meyer did her part.  I just…the art work is a big fat no.

 

Is This Marissa Meyer: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans. 

Source: GoodReads

I used to say Marissa Meyer was the queen of retellings until I read Heartless.

Man, did I hate this book.  I think part of the problem was I just got so bored with it.  The book moves at a ridiculously slow pace.  I got to like page 200 and there had barely been any movement in it.  The book’s writing is decent enough.  I mean, it’s standard Meyer pose so if you found her writing decent in the Lunar Chronicles you’ll like it here.

For me though, the molasses pace and the cheating at looking at the ending kept me from wanting to finish Heartless.  I remember reading the ending and being like is this the shocking ending?  Because really, it was so predictable.

Other retellings, like the one one Meyer keeps referencing as her inspiration (Wicked) have unexpected twists to them.  This was utterly predictable.  At least to me, maybe it isn’t for you.

I did like the whole baking angle.  But hey, the book wasn’t supposed to be about food it was supposed to be about the Queen of Hearts origin story.  Hearing how she makes perfect lemon tarts, doesn’t exactly make for interesting reading.  Neither does her moony eyed puppy dog crush on a Joker wannabe.

Okay, Jest wasn’t exactly like the Joker but it would’ve been a much more interesting story if it was.  Especially if Cath was like Harley Quinn.  But nope, instead, it was a dull as dishwater relationship that I didn’t care to watch it develop.  In fact, the romance could’ve been thrown out for all I care and it could’ve been about Cath wanting to start out as an independent nasty woman.

But nope.

Wort romance ever.

And it’s by Marissa Meyer who gave us swoony ships like Kai/Cinder and Cress/Thorne to mention a couple.

Sigh.

I just didn’t care for it.  Like I said, the whole story was really boring like a dull romance novel.  I wouldn’t have ever known it was in Wonderland save for the few anamorphic characters.

If you’re a huge fan of Wonderland you might like this book.  But for me, eh…I didn’t care for it at all and didn’t finish it.

Overall Ratin: DNF

Love the Epilogue But: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

The enchantment continues….

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.


The Little Android: A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles.
Glitches: In this prequel to Cinder, we see the results of the plague play out, and the emotional toll it takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch….
The Queen’s Army: In this prequel to Scarlet, we’re introduced to the army Queen Levana is building, and one soldier in particular who will do anything to keep from becoming the monster they want him to be.
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky: Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.
The Keeper: A prequel to the Lunar Chronicles, showing a young Scarlet and how Princess Selene came into the care of Michelle Benoit.
After Sunshine Passes By: In this prequel to Cress, we see how a nine-year-old Cress ended up alone on a satellite, spying on Earth for Luna.
The Princess and the Guard: In this prequel to Winter, we see a game called The Princess
The Mechanic: In this prequel to Cinder, we see Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective.
Something Old, Something New: In this epilogue to Winter, friends gather for the wedding of the century…

Source: GoodReads

I have weird feelings about short story collections for series.   Generally, I end up reading them, but there’s always a part of me that feels like I’ve been suckered into reading them.  The first thing that pops into my head is obvious cash cow.

Of course, there can be exceptions to the rule.

Stars Above sort of fits this exception while it is a collection of mostly stories that had been released as free add ons, there are a few new stories in it that make me feel as if I’m investing my money in something other than a glorified bound up edition of freebies.

By far Stars Above’s best story is the epilogue.   Here, it sort of ties up any of the loose ends of Winter and allows the fans to spend a little more time in this universe with these characters and doesn’t rehash old events that we’ve already heard about before.

The sad truth was as much as I enjoyed the epilogue the rest of the stories were a little blah.  Maybe it’s in part because I read them before, but I really felt that I only bought this book for the epilogue and to have all these collections in one bound up edition.  It leaves the reader feeling very weird about things.

And rather than reviewing each of these stories like I should be, I find myself wondering if I should’ve made the purchase or not and if the Lunar Chronicles is becoming the latest cash cow to be milked beyond dry in YA.

To say the least, I’m hoping its not.

Because the Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite YA series.  However, at this point I am really skeptical because of the release of this short story collection AND a newly announced graphic novel project.

Of course, because I love the series so much I’ll buy it but it does have me worried.

The good news for this series though, is that the quality (at least of Stars Above ) does not defect from the quality of the rest of the series.  As annoying as some of these repeat stories were, at least they still maintained the same quality as the earlier books.   So that was a plus.

I guess objectively I have to give Stars Above Us a high rating.  And to be fair, I did like it.  But there is that part of me, that part that has been burnt by so many YA spinoffs that looks at it weary wondering if it is the first “extra” installment of too many installments of the Lunar Chronicles to come.

Overall Rating: B+ some of the stories really worked, but a lot of them were filler.

A Solid Finale But Not Epic: Winter by Marissa Meyer

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Source: GoodReads

Winter was a good book, but it was no means epic like I thought it was going to be.

Then again, when you wait almost eighteen months (from Cress) for the next installment what do you expect?

 Well, there was Fairest and I think having read Fairest helped AND hindered my reading experience of Winter.  

Fairest helped feel in a couple of the blanks that I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten had I just read the series without an extras.  It also fleshed out Levana who otherwise would be very one dimensional evil.

I didn’t even feel like Levana should be locked in the funny farm at the end of this installment, she was that bad.

One of the things, that I will give Winter is that although there is a happy-ish outcome the characters really had to work for their ending and not everything was perfect.  Each character is affected by the revolution in different ways.  It really did give you the feels, in all the various sorts of ways.

Like the tile suggests, this book is primarily about Winter.  To be honest, I wasn’t a huge Winter fan.  I think in part because it was so hard to know her.  This might’ve been in part because she was insane, but in a lot of ways I think the various view points were starting to get to the story.  While the well established characters really weren’t effected-much by the switch in point of views-new characters like Winter weren’t as fully formed as I would’ve liked.

Same goes with Jacin, he’s still a little blah.  But you need someone a little blah to be with Winter’s….well, Winter-ness.

As for the other characters, I thought some of the characters might’ve seemed a bit marginalized  and their stories weren’t as well formed in past books.  But I still was emotionally connected for the most part.

Levana is an excellent example of this.  As fully formed as she was in Fairest, she really is reduced to a one note vain villain here (see mentioned comment about no longer wanting her just to be locked up in the funny farm).  As for other characters I didn’t feel like I fully felt their angst with what occurred.  I mean some of the things that happened to the crew were pretty alarming, and you’d would’ve thought…

Going to stop because of spoilers.

I’ll say there was enough, just enough, to make me feel for them, but there could’ve been more.

I know I’m complaining about a lot of things, but really Winter did work.  It tied up all the loose ends in this series nicely and it was overall a pretty amazing series.

If you haven’t picked up the Lunar Chronicles you should.  It’s a fast paced series with a lot of great characters, and it hard to say goodbye.  Though I really do look forward to what Marissa Meyer has planned for the future.

Overall Rating: An A- I liked this book but there were some obvious faults.

Lunar Chronicles Reread: Quick and Dirty Guide

Winter is coming.  The book that is.  I don’t know if it’s ever going to get cold outside-well, not for awhile.  I thought rather than doing a review of each of the books (again).  During my reread, I’d just make some general notes about what I thought about this series.  Consider this an abbreviate guide should you not want to sit down and reread all of the previously titles.  Also, I’m making some Winter predictions at the end-I’m probably mostly wrong, but hey it was fun guessing what is going to happen next.

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

Source: GoodReads

So, I did a full review of Fairest when it came out earlier this year.  Upon reread, I was surprised at how compact and put together it was.  The thing is barely two hundred pages long, but nothing was really scrimped when it came to this short of novel.

I decided to read this one first, rather than last in my reread, because I wanted to have the series in chronological order.  Not sure if that was exactly wise since it alludes to a lot of things in future installments.  But we’ll see how it goes.

This book is really character driven.  That became even more apparent to me on reread.  I can basically sum up the book in a couple of sentences: Watch how Levana becomes a complete sociopath and basically mind rapes a guy.  That in the gist is what the book is about.  And normally I would hate reading this sort of thing becuase…well, do I really need to go into because the whole premises just seems gross.

But what works about it is Meyer never tries to justify Levana’s actions. If she tried to justify them I would’v e hated it.  As it stands, I loved the book.

If You Don’t Want to Re-Read the Book What You Need to Know:

  • Cinder’s mother is partially responsible for Levana being crazy and it’s probably good she’s dead.
  • Levana is really truly hideous her greatest weakness is her reflection (i.e. all Cinder would need to defeat her is one really big mirror).
  • Baby Winter, Cinder, and Jacin are too cute.  And I’m already shipping Winter and Jacin.
  • Levana is a nasty piece of work, who you can’t help but feel slightly sorry for.  But not in the I want you to find a happily ever, more like I want you to be locked up in the pysch ward type of way.

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 center 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.

Source: GoodReads

When I read Cinder for the first time I was an incomprehensible fan girl.  Reading it again, I could see faults that weren’t so noticeable for the read around.  I still enjoyed the heck out of it though.  But Cinder and Kai, by OTP of this series felt a little forced for me the second time around.  Sure, they just fit, later in the series, but their introduction to each other reeked  insta love and appeared very forced.

It doesn’t mean I don’t like Cinder and Kai, far from it.  They are still my favorite pairing in the series, it’s just that they didn’t start out magical.  Then again, if you think about it NONE of the couples in this series really have great starts.

There was also some change in the backstory from the one that we were given in Fairest.  I’m thinking this was probably POV oriented, but reading Fairest before this it seemed a little disjointed to me.

Anyway, here’s the down and dirty about Cinder should you be on a reread crunch:

  • Cinder and Kai do suffer from insta love.
  • Kai needs to reform Cyborg laws.
  • Levana is bat shit insane from the start.
  • Peony is very forgettable, I almost forgot about her existence.
  • Iko is still the best.

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.

Source: GoodReads

To be honest I was never a huge fan of Scarlet because I always thought it was a bridge book.  It’s true you could argue that Cress is a bridge book too, but I feel like in Cress stuff that I want to happen starts to happen.  Scarlet is really building things in the novel.

However, upon reread I actually like it a lot better.  It’s not like there’s nothing happening in Scarlet.  Lots of stuff happens.  And after seeing how some of the pieces fit together in Fairest and Cress the book works a lot better.

Plus, I was a lot more interested in Wolf and Scarlet this time around.  I think the first time I read it I was more interested in reading about Kai and Cinder, but now that I knew these characters better I wanted to spend more time in their world.

I am still not a huge fan of that ship though.  Mainly because there are traces of what one might consider to be an abusive relationship in it.

Though, that could easily be argued that there were complications and that Wolf eventually decided to do the right thing.

But…

It always kind of rubbed me a little the wrong way, even though I get it.

Complications.

Once again, here’s the quick and dirty guide:

  • Wolf and Scarlet not so much at first, but I totally get their relationship even though it’s not my favorite.
  • Kai tries to immolate Kevin Spacey from House of Cards but just can’t pull it off since Levana embodies Claire Underwood and Regina from Once Upon a Time.
  • Cinder and Kai have lots of angst and not so much fluff.
  • Thorne is awesome but slightly slimy.
  • Again, Iko is awesome.

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

Source: GoodReads

Cress is probably my favorite book out of the series so far.  I think it’s because a lot of things happen in this book.  And I’m a little partial to Thorne even though he has jerk tendencies.

Surprisingly, I liked Cress too even though she has a huge naive streak and that’s usually something I’m not usually a fan of.  She has this weird inner strength and spunk that makes me like her.  Plus, I see a lot of my younger self in her.

The other characters are great too.  There is far less Wolf and Scarlet in this one which is sort of a disappointment, because on reread I’ve grown to love them a lot more than the original read threw.

I really love how this series is told in multiple point of views.  I think it makes it stronger.

My favorite scenes in this one is still the whole kidnap Kai scenes.  I love that part of the book.  How everything comes together.  I feel like there is some resolution-even though it’s anything but.

I also like how this book goes deeper into Lunar history/politics/power.  The next book is actually set there, so that’s going to be fun.

Also, the fairytale allusions get smarter as the series progresses.  There were several allusions to different versions of Rapunzel.

Finally, here’s the quick and dirty guide for Cress:

  • While Cinder might have Iron Man’s equipment, Thorne acts like Tony Stark.
  •  And speaking of The Avengers, Wolf kind of reminds me of the Hulk and Scarlet sort of has a Black Widow thing going.
  • Oh, and Iko could be Jarvis and…I’ll shut up on The Avengers allusions. Though, I sort of imagine Jacin looking like Thor.  And Levana sort of has a Loki complex.
  • Obviously, Cress never played Oregon Trail 2 when in captivity, otherwise she would’ve known how to survive the desert.
  • Thorne might be more like Dare Devil though since he can fight blind….hm, that sort of ruins my Avengers thing, but still fits in with the Marvel thing.
  • I want to read Winter’s POV.  She seems crazy in the best way possible.

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Source: GoodReads

Random Predictions That Probably Aren’t Remotely Likely:

  • Levana will be dethroned and be tortured into looking at herself in the mirror for the rest of eternity.  Or watching the sad version of her star on Once Upon a Time-seriously, I hate what   they’ve done to the Evil Queen character on that show.
  • Cinder and Kai will have a happily ever after and unite the two kingdoms and have World and Lunar peace.  Adri and Pearl will desperately try to suck up, but the best they’ll get is some royal wedding napkins.  Probably Cinder will have a near death experience when defeating Levana/or Levana might try to get her to hurt Kai or something but it will all work out-hopefully.
  • Scarlet will escape with a little help from Winter and get a replacement cyborg pinkie which will also work as a gun.  She and Wolf will reunite.  I’m betting that one of them will come in near peril, but I’m hoping that they’ll survive.
  • Jacin will become the new recast of Jason Morgan on General Hospital.  Playing a mob hit man won’t be that huge of a stretch for him.  With his earnings, he’ll pay for Earthen med school and take up Cinder’s stepfather’s work on those Lunar power control chips.
  • Cress will become the head of Cinder’s cyber security team.  Thorne will actually become a captain-albeit an honorary one- and do a series of info commercials for hair gel.
  • As for Winter, I’m hoping she’ll survive.  But poison apples, you know.  I actually think that it’s likely that the chip thingimabob is going to play a role in “saving” her.  But I really don’t know how that’s going to happen.  In my fantasy world, she does survive and becomes Cinder’s right hand woman.

Bloody Mad: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

 

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

Source: GoodReads

I kind of had it in for Fairest, I’ll be honest. I wanted my Winter, but it grew on me.  For one thing it was the story of one of the best formed villains in YA, and for another it was the story of an Evil Queen.

Who wouldn’t want a story from the point of view of a sociopath?

Fairest does not disappoint.  In fact, it impressed me.  One thing I will give Marissa Meyer is every time I doubt her abilities, she proves me wrong.

What was I worried about with Fairest?  Well, having an empathetic villain for one thing.

It’s not that I didn’t get a better grasp of who Levana was after reading this, rather Meyer didn’t make excuses for her behavior.  She told the story where you could sympathize for Levana, but at the end of the day you weren’t going to give her a pass for her actions.

That’s a good thing, since that’s one thing that bothers me of other villain oriented stories  (cough, Once Upon a Time’s treatment of Regina, cough). There’s no pass here for Levana.  While we get to know her side of the story, it does not change her into an antiheroine.  Her actions aren’t condoned or white washed.   Rather, it’s more or less that the audience gets to see the inner working of a sociopath.

And since I like to get dark and twisty, it was sort of my thing.

I liked how Levana tried to justify everything she did.  How she used people like pawns.  It really gave depth to her character, and I sort of hope we get to see more of her in Winter.

I also liked the small nods to the main cast.  We get to see glimpse of some of the characters as children.  Particularly, Winter and Cinder.  I was  interested in seeing more of Winter, since we know so little about her.  I felt like this volume was a nice introduction to her as it was for Levana in a lot of ways.  As for Cinder, I was surprised with how her birth family was.  It was interesting how evil and  flippant Channary was, in comparison to her daughter.  It makes you wonder how Cinder would be if she was born on Luna.  I also like how even though Meyer gave background to the characters origins, she left enough threads hanging for readers to have questions.

In addition to character background, we also get to see more of Luna.  The place is fascinatingly dark and I can’t wait to explore more of it in Winter.

Reading Fairest is probably not required for people who read this story, but it is a pleasant treat. My most common complaints about extra books are that they feel gimmicky.  However, Fairest did not have this feel.

The one issue I did have with Fairest was that certain aspects of the plot could’ve been fleshed out a bit further.  While I felt like I had a good grasp on Levana and her story, if a little bit was added here and there it would’ve been better.

Overall Rating: A solid A.  While I might have a few sections of the book that I’m nitpicking about, I really enjoyed it overall.  I liked how it was a villain’s POV story without resorting to bashing or heavily changing cannon.   And now I just have to sit and wait for Winter.

 

Events: Book Signing of Fairest by Marissa Meyer

One of the great things about living in a large and diverse city such as Houston, is that there are lots of book signings.  It’s one of the only things I’m going to miss about living here.  I had the pleasure this weekend of going to a book signing featuring one of my favorite authors, Marissa Meyer.

This wasn’t the first signing I’ve ever went to, so I was used the rodeo.  I called ahead to reserve a book, wish they would’ve reserved my place in line like some stores did (but I digress) and got there thirty minutes before the signing, but I was unprepared for the line that occurred. It was so backed up, I couldn’t even see Marissa until it was time for my book to be signed. It wasn’t that horrible though.  There were some cool people in line, and I got to recommend a book for them to read (The Winner’s Curse), so there was that.

The actual meet and greet section was pretty standard.  She talked about the series and then read an excerpt from Winter.  Apparently, there weren’t a lot of Jacin fans at the signing which is silly to me because Jacin is just like Jason Morgan from General Hospital fame.  Except, you know, better looking and not a hitman (at least I don’t think Jacin is a hitman).

After she read the excerpt she asked questions, the Barnes and Noble employees were generous enough to ask us lowly people in the back if we had one and I raised my hand and was chosen.  Oddly enough, the Barnes and Noble’s employee I talked to looked like he could be John Green’s younger brother. Let’s just say my voice was a bit shaky which is totally ridiculous since I’m a lawyer.  Shouldn’t I be sued to asking questions.  But this was Marissa Meyer.  I had lots of questions, obvs.  But I chose one that had been bothering me for awhile.  Specifically, I asked her if it was intentional to empower fairytale characters who quite frankly in their original version are kind of useless.

I mean, Cinderella cleans without question.  Red gets the Woodsman to do her bidding.  Rapunzel cries in the forest for a year and in a tower most of her life.  And let’s not even get started on Snow White…. Surprisingly, though it wasn’t intentional.  But I still have to say, I liked that Meyer makes what appears to be weak characters badasses. Another digression by yours truly.

And then the wait… Oh, boy.  It was a long wait.  There was some interesting people watching.  For the most part, everyone was really nice and excited.  Though, there was that kid who could’ve covered his mouth when coughing (just saying). I spent most of this time checking Twitter on my phone since I was stuck in the Religion section at the bookstore and after Heaven Is Fake gate I did not feel like indulging in those books. Auto correct made me sound like an illiterate twelve year old, so if I Tweeted you in that period then sorry.  I’m still getting used to The Brick (my new phone).

Finally, I got to meet Marissa and got my entire collection of books signed.  I had two of them signed with my real name-which I’m not posting here- and the rest with the name I use to sign things here (MJ) and the blog’s name (Howdy YAL). MJ Howdy YAL Marissa was nice and looked gorgeous-I so want that dress of hers and her android accessory.  My tongue was pretty tied throughout most of the meet and greet, though I did manage to tell her that I would be posting these photos on my blog and she agreed I could post them. Marissa photo And that was it.  Except most of the photos that were taken of me made me look like I was Tony Blair’s smiling twin.  This one, unfortunately, was the best. It was a great way to spend Sunday since I hate football.  I really, really, can’t wait for Winter.  And I got to check off one of my New Year’s Resolutions.

Three’s Not a Crowd: Cress by Marissa Meyer

 

 

The Lunar Chronicles is probably my favorite current YA series.

This is one series that has so many things in it that shouldn’t work, but it oddly does. I still can’t figure out just how Meyer does it either. I mean cyborgs, Moon people, bio warfare, fairytale retellings, with a huge cast.  It really shouldn’t come together.  But it does.

While I loved the first book, the second book lacked something it did (even though it was still kick ass).  The third book though went beyond both of them.

God.

If you could swoon over a book, well, I’d be swooning and then some.

 

Yeah, I’m fangirling over another book this week.  There is something seriously wrong with me.

I guess I should start talking about the actual book by describing it.  All the books in this series are loose retellings of fairytales with the various characters playing prominent roles in each of the stories.  This story, the tale of Rapunzel is explored.  However, it’s a very, very, loose retelling of Rapunzel.

And trust me when I say that’s a good thing.  I mean, I have experience some very well rather lackluster retellings of the fairytale and I think it’s because they made the story too close to the original fairytale.

The vibe I get from this series is sort of the same vibe I got when I watched The Avengers.    Like that movie, this book shows that large ensemble cast can actually work for the better.  Each character is arguably well formed despite not being the sole focus of the novel.

In this installment, Cress becomes a full time member of the cast and the character, Thorne, is explored more.  Cinder and Kai still remain center characters, though Wolf and Scarlet definitely take a backseat in this installment.  Yet, they are in the book enough where their presence is still known.  Additionally, new characters such as Jacin and Winter are added too.  You’d think that with a cast this large a lot of the characters would not be fully formed and just essentially props, but that’s not the case.  Even Wolf and Scarlet, whose roles are greatly diminished in this installment, contribute to this book.

The stars of the show though are Cress and Thorne.  Thorne is probably one of my favorite characters in the series.  He’s the Tony Stark of this group of The Avengers.  He’s the character to first to make a smart remark, to be viewed as immature, but to have a good heart somewhere there despite all the rotten things he’s done.  I liked that Meyer didn’t outright have him be “reformed” either or for that matter do something truly odious like most characters who are of the similar archetype.  I even liked relationship his with Cress and to be honest I was sort of afraid how I was going to like them together.

Cress is pretty naive.  Okay, really, really, naive.  And you can’t blame her.  She’s been stuck alone on a satellite for several of her formative years, of course she’s going to be naive especially when it involves Captain Thorne, but she does have a backbone and is very adaptable.  By the end of the book, I’d say she’s just as strong as Cinder or Scarlet but in her own way.  She’s definitely not your typical Rapunzel.

And no, she’s not different because she doesn’t use her hair as a weapon.

The other couples work as well.  Cinder and Kai will always hold a soft spot in my heart and Wolf and Scarlet work as well.  This series really has the swoon down to pact without it being overly cutsey.  It probably helps that Meyer doesn’t shy at hurting or killing characters before the final installment.  So, while there are cute shmoopy moments (without anyone saying shmoopy, thankfully) there will be some sort of lunar warfare or political intrigue moment the next page to make all the sugar sweetness bearable.

I think what really makes this book is that everything single detail, even eccentric bit about this book works.  You can tell that Meyer loves the world she writes and it shows.  Honestly, it’s really hard to write about how much I love this book.  I tried telling a coworker about it the other day, but unless you read it, you’re not going to really get it.  I know I didn’t.  But once I read it–wow, just wow.

If you love fairytales, sci-fi, swoon worthy romance, and action packed books pick up The Lunar Chronicles.  You really, really, won’t regret it.

Overall Rating: Another perfect ten (A+)

Scarlet: Marissa Meyer

General Summary: Cinder is on the run and determined to find out her past and how the heck she’s a moon princess.  While Scarlet is trying to find her grandma with the help of the big bad and hot wolf.  Wait, the wolf’s hot and not in the way Grace Brisbane thinks wolves are hot sort of way hot?

Review:

I loved Cinder so much I decided to bypass my usual wait a month for reading/reviewing a sequel of a book that I like rule and bought Scarlet off of Amazon after I got through like a hundred pages of Cinder and was swooning.  And while I liked Scarlet (a lot), I’m not totally fan girling anymore so hopefully this review is a little bit more objective-though I really did like this book.

So, the good.  I always start with the good first.  But usually it’s to soften the blow of the bad parts of the book.  The good thing is, there’s not a lot of bad in this book.  Most of my problems with Scarlet were more personal than actual problems.

So what was so great about this novel.  It wasn’t a place filler.  Important pieces of the puzzle were filled, but at the same time there’s definitely room for the sequel and Meyer does leave us with quite the cliffie-agan.

Also, the new characters worked too.  To be honest, I’m always sort of skeptical when new characters are introduced in a sequel-blame Young Justice for that since new characters (well, lack of sales of their cruddy toys) was the death to an otherwise awesome show.  But Wolf and Scarlet actually serve a purpose to the story.  And Thorne was a hilarious addition as well.  Cinder’s role is still strong and the only person I felt that got sort of gipped was Kai.

Kai’s part of the book is sort of essential and he’s going through so much emotional turmoil at this point in the series, that it would’ve been interesting seeing his perspective more.  Especially considering what he did at the end of this installment.

However, I did really really like Scarlet.  She sort of reminds me of redhead version of Marion Ravenwood-save for the fact she runs off with a guy who has fangs instead of wears a fedora.  But you got the same sense of adventure with Scarlet and Wolf’s story.  And I really liked the way the storylines interconnected.  Sort of brilliant.

 

Also, I have to give it to Meyer I really liked the way she reinvented the whole princess concept.  It’s like she took the idea of Disney princesses and made them bad ass (and yeah, I know Little Red Riding Hood/Scarlet isn’t a princes-but I’m pulling a Mulan here and making her an honorary one).  Maybe if Meyer would’ve been behind all those shitty direct to DVD Disney release–which I’m still having nightmares for (thanks Mom for having me go through all our old VHS’s)–they would’ve been awesome instead of sucky.  Hey, maybe she did help with Cinderella Three that one didn’t suck and Cindy was sort of bad ass in that-though not as bad ass as this Cinderella.

Best Feature: Little Red Riding Hood.  To be honest this was one fairytale that always annoyed me.  I mean, how stupid does Red have to be, but Meyer reinvented in a way that made me love it.  And again, I love the fact that it’s not a literal retelling.  We get just enough of the fairytale without it being a boring rehash of what we’ve seen over and over again.

Worst Feature: Fragmented.  There were like five points of view.  It worked for the most part, but I felt we got shafted with some parts of the story-notably Kai’s.  I get it was necessary, but I really liked the way Cinder was structured much better.  What scares me is that the next two installments are going to be introducing new characters to the mix as well, and I’m wondering how she’s going to juggle all these POVs around.  I do have faith in Meyer though, her crazy world building works.  But this is just going to be a wait and see thing for me.

Appropriateness: There’s some violence in this one.  Other than that though, it’s fairly clean.  Oh, there’s some gruesome imagery here and there.

Blockbuster Worthy: Uh, yeah.  I think this series would be a kick ass movie series.  I already casted some principle roles.  Let’s add a few more:

Scarlet: Emma Stone.  If anyone can carry a pistol in a hoodie it’s Emma.

Wolf: Nathan Parsons.  I think it’s his accent  and he sort of has a wolfish grin.  Plus, have you seen him on Bunheads?

Overall Rating: Eight out of ten hoods.  I liked this one a bit.  Quite a lot actually, but I think Cinder was just a tad bit stronger.  It’s not bad.  It’s actually pretty great.  But..just read it.  You should really read it.  I’m just being nit picky and well…read the book.

Cinder: Marissa Meyer

Sometimes a book can surprise you in a good way…this is one of those books.

General Summary: You all know the fairytale Cinderella.  But imagine it with robots and moon people and you get Cinder.  And yeah, it really does involve moon people.

Review:

OMG.

Finally.  Fucking finally.

This book.

It’s amazing.

I have no words.

Okay, maybe I do.  But how do I….

This is what I expect from a book.  A book that will make me want to continue reading at night, despite the fact that I should go to bed.  A book that just made me smile and cry and….

Okay, I think I’m done fangirling enough to actually review.

Wow.  Just wow.  With the fairytale retelling I usually expect a cute story that isn’t anything really new.  Like Beastly.  It’s a cute enough book, but it’s nothing new.  And Cinderella…well, up until this point my favorite Cinderella telling was Ella Enchanted and even though it added some new things to the Cinderella story it wasn’t revolutionary though.

This though….

If you look at the summary alone it’s a little mind boggling.  Cyborgs, moon people, princes, Cinderella, androids, political tensions.  That’s a lot to take in.  And you wouldn’t think it works, but it does quite brilliantly.  And while Meyer changes things from the original fairytale,  there’s no little old lady going bibbity bobbity boo, it works.  Better than if she would’ve followed the fairytale directly.

Also, apparently, this is sort of a homage to Sailor Moon a series I never got to watch mainly because my parents were very anti cable.  If this is how Sailor Moon is I have got to check it out though.  Because this book is freaking awesome.

Back to fangirling, I really loved how well formed these characters were.  All of them were well formed.  Even the male lead had a personality and wasn’t an asshole (I know, a rarity in YA).  And Cinder was just awesome.  I loved how she was a mechanic and a cyborg, and the cyborg thing was actually what I was worried about most (I blame it on reading too many Superman vs Metallo comics in my youth).

Best Feature: Kick ass princesses.  Cinder’s not your Disney Cinderella.  She’s resourceful and kicks ass.  She doesn’t even want to go to the ball and she really doesn’t let her stepmother push her around (much).  In other words, she’s a really well rounded character.  And I think with the little cameo made from another character who I think is supposed to featured in a latter book this is going to be an ongoing trend (keep fingers crossed).

Worst Feature: Um, none.  Okay, well, maybe I got annoyed with Cinder’s reluctance to tell Kai she was a cyborg and that she wasn’t good enough for him.  But it worked.

Appropriateness: Theres’ some violence and some pretty heart wrenching scenes.  But it’s fairly clean other than that.

Blockbuster Worthy: Oh yeah.  You know, it’s time there’s a fairytale retelling that kicks ass.  Sure, there’s Once Upon a Time which I hear is great-need to rent that one-but this would be a kick ass movie.  And film makers it would be taking a popular trend, dystopia, and giving it a fresh edge without making it look gimmicky.  Here’s who I’d cast:

Cinder: Emma Watson.  Though she’s have to lose the accent, then again maybe the accent would be perfectly acceptable in New Beijing.

Kai: Harry Shum JR.  I honestly really wish there was a go to guy of Asian descent to use.  But Harry is hot and he’s nice too (or at least he is on Glee), so I think he could easily pull off Kai.

Overall Rating: I’m giving this a ten.  Yes, it’s getting a ten.  The first ten I’m giving all year.  It’s that good.  If you haven’t read this book pick it up now.  You will thank yourself.  It has a bit of something for everyone and if you love fairytales or wish those Disney princess would buck up and take action, well, this is your kind of book.