Review: Cress

Warning: Lots of fangirling and some spoilers ahead!

RapunzelI want to apologize to Alice in Readerland, because I decided to write a review with Tangled and Star Wars GIFs before remembering she did this as well. But it’s hard to avoid! Hope you don’t mind the similarities, Alice! Now on to the review…

cress

I really enjoyed Cinder and Scarlet, but they were both 4 star books for me ultimately. I preferred Cinder to Scarlet because I connected with the characters and romance more, but knocked off a star for how crazy predictable it was. Well, Marissa Meyer has proven herself to be growing as a writer as she managed to surprise me multiple times throughout Cress. I do most of my reading at work during lunch and sometimes breaks, and I rarely react out loud to my reading, but at lunch one day while reading I actually said, “Oh no…!” out loud in complete shock that Dr. Erland is Cress’ father! What?! Did not see that coming! And that was just one of several surprising twists!

I wanted to focus largely on the characters, because really and truly, this is Meyer’s greatest strength. How in the world can all these characters be so perfectly unique from each other and well-rounded and likable?! OK, maybe it’s not too terribly unbelievable because I have seen it done before, but very rarely to this scale of a cast of characters or this well. Though I was one of the few who didn’t care for Wolf much in Scarlet (because I never fully trusted him), he really redeemed himself for me in Cress.

Scarlet doesn’t get a lot of  “screen time” in this book, which I can see would be frustrating for big fans of her, but I feel her part of the story was important and don’t feel any moments with her were wasted. Cinder continues to grow as she comes to accept more responsibilities, and I was always happy to see what Kai thought of his impending marriage and the whole situation. We are also introduced to Jacin, who is a little prickly but has some potential, and Winter, who seems a little whacked-out, but the fact that it’s because she’s not using her powers is very interesting to me.

Now let’s talk about Cress and Thorne.

So I loved Cress as a character. She’s a lot like Rapunzel in Tangled, which of course makes sense, and I loved seeing how her range of emotions was very similar to Rapunzel’s as she discovered the excitement and dangers of life on Earth.

tangled-bestdayever

tangled-hidingI thought it was so cute how she was quirky and had fantasies about how she and Thorne would fall in love at first sight and go on epic adventures together. She was also quirky enough for someone who had been cooped up in a satellite for so long but not so much that she was completely unrelatable.

And then the interactions with Cress and Thorne. SO CUTE. He really seized the opportunity to be just oh-so-Thorne around her, but he was also very mindful of how naive Cress was. Really, the two really needed each other in the desert and through everything they went through, because they could help each other in different ways. And of course they had some great exchanges.

“Captain?”
“Yeah?”
“Do you think it was destiny that brought us together?”
He squinted and, after a thoughtful moment, shook his head. “No. I’m pretty sure it was Cinder.”

tangled-fatedestinyhorseNow THORNE. I already loved Thorne from Scarlet, and I was thrilled by just how much of him we got in Cress! And of all the hardships I’ve seen characters go through, something about Meyer making Thorne go blind just really hit me. I just kept thinking, This is essential for his character growth. It’s perfect that he’s dealing with blindness. I think it teaches him to rely on others, as well as his instincts and other strengths. But I’m also really looking forward to his sight (hopefully) being restored so he can look Cress in the eyes again, with a whole new meaning. 🙂 All in all, Thorne is as charming as ever, but he also grows a lot.

hansolo-winkSide note: My husband and I just re-watched Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, and I literally laughed out loud while we were watching the catina scene, and explained to my husband it was because Han Solo was SO MUCH LIKE THORNE. Really, Thorne is…

tangled-flynnhi+

hansolo-smileI am definitely a member of the Thorne fan club.

cress-quoteBut let us not forget our other couples! Wolf proved to me in this book that he really does love Scarlet, as I alluded to before. And Cinder and Kai, finally! I really only have two complaints about this book, and one of them is why didn’t Cinder tell Kai who she was as soon as she entered his room?! She kept saying, “Trust me, trust me!” and then on the ship he had to drag it out of her. JUST TELL HIM YOU’RE PRINCESS SELENE! He didn’t seem to have a problem believing her, once he decided to believe that she was not using her powers on him, so she should have saved him from being tranquilized! And she really lucked out that Torin was as trusting and accommodating as he was.

My other minor complaint may have been a result of how I read it, though it happened more than once so I’m not sure, but I had a problem following the action sequences at times. I would be confused about what exactly was happening and where everyone was placed. But I do seem to struggle with this, so it might have been entirely my lack of comprehension. I was just reading so fast because I wanted to know what happened next!

Lastly, I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Iko, who literally made me laugh out loud, once again in public, more than once. She is fabulous. And Dr. Erland! My heart hurt for him so much!

Meyer managed to craft a third book in a series that flowed seamlessly, never grew boring, and with an amazing cast of characters that I adore so much! I wish I could read Winter now! There’s nothing I could give this book other than…

5stars2Content Advisory: Some violence. Otherwise, squeaky clean! 

What was your favorite thing about Cress? Who’s your favorite character of the series so far?

My Top 10 Books I Have Read So Far This Year

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by The Broke and The Bookish) is the Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2013. Well, I’m an extremely lightweight book blogger, so I have read exactly 10 books so far this year (if you don’t count a couple of really short companion e-books). Though this isn’t much for some, this is actually pretty big for me as it means I am on par with my goal of reading at least 20 books this year (though I would love to pick up the pace and read a few more!), which will put me at reading more books this year than I have in a single year since… before high school. So there you have it.

Since I have read only 10 books this year, I thought I would rank each book from least favorite (which thankfully I still didn’t hate) to most favorite, and why I ranked them accordingly.

TTT

10. Reached by Allie Condie (2 Stars)

This book, as the end of a series, was fairly disappointing. The beginning of the book showed potential, with a plague outbreak caused by the Rising, who we had believed were supposed to be the good guys, but then it went downhill. For starters, since this was the first book of this trilogy I had read since reading The Giver, I suddenly realized that the Society in this series was a little too similar to that of The Giver. Also, I thought most of the characters felt out of place. I don’t want to re-review the book; you can see my thoughts on it by clicking on the the book title.

9. Across the Universe by Beth Revis (3 Stars)

I loved the concept of this one… a girl who is cryogenically frozen wakes too early on a spaceship still years from its destination. The execution of it… was just OK for me. It featured a really creepy mating season among humans on the ship, a lackluster romance, but some interesting twists. I plan to finish the series one day as I’ve heard it gets better, but let’s just say I wasn’t rushing to buy the second book after finishing this one.

8. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (3 Stars)

The Last Battle turned out to be neither my favorite nor least favorite in The Chronicles of Narnia, with a story that was part boring, part interesting, but wrapped up with a beautiful ending.

7. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis (? Stars) 

I still haven’t figured out how to rate Till We Have Faces, because it left me with more questions than answers. Maybe it’s not a bad thing, as I know C.S. Lewis was much smarter than I am, but it left me feeling a little unsatisfied. Still, there was a certain captivating quality to it. Watch for my review to come soon.

7-10

6. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (4 Stars)

This follow-up for Cinder did not do as much for me as the first book of The Lunar Chronicles, but I still found it enjoyable overall. I do love the characters and world Meyer has created, and I am looking forward to Cress!

5. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (4 Stars)

Reading this book was me dipping my toe into science fiction waters. It’s an interesting story about a bright boy who is sent to train for a war when he is far too young, and the secrets kept from him. I enjoyed it overall, but there were parts that were slow and that did not enjoy as much. By the recommendation of a friend, I do plan to read at least one of the follow-up books, Ender’s Shadow. I’m also looking forward to the movie later this year!

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer (4 Stars)

I absolutely adored this first book of The Lunar Chronicles, especially the friendship/blooming relationship between Cinder and Kai. Truly the most swoon-worthy romance (even though it was really a pre-romance) I’ve read this year! The only real reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 was because it was just way too predictable. Still, this was a great debut by Meyer!

6-4

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (5 Stars)

A heartbreaking book filled with beautiful words. I’m not sure what else to say without writing another review.

2. Start by Jon Acuff (5 Stars)

If you’ve been on this blog long enough or read my About Me, you know I have been influenced by author and speaker Jon Acuff, who has this idea that anyone can work towards their dream, but it may not always happen the way you expect it. I can’t really do his words justice, though. But if you’ve had a dream banging around the back of your mind, if you’ve ever wondered what your next step in life should be, if you wake up every morning wishing you could quit your day job, read Quitter and Start. They are five star books for me because if you follow his advice, it’s life-changing. I’m still in the middle of the process of working on my dream, and starting this blog has played a role in that. 

1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (5 Stars)

Unbroken, the true account of a WWII fighter pilot’s life before, during, and after his incarceration at multiple Japanese POW camps is simply a stunning tale. I don’t read much non-fiction, especially long historical books like this one, but it always kept my interest, and Louie’s story never ceased to amaze me. If you only read one book on this list, it should be this one. I would recommend it to EVERYONE.

3-1

What have been your favorite reads this year so far? 

My Top 10 Books Featuring Travel

For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and Bookish), I wanted to break my Top 10 into two Top 5 lists: the top 5 books featuring travel that I have read, and the top 5 books featuring travel that are on my TBR list. There is travel in virtually every book if you want to get technical, but I wanted to feature books where the traveling is essential to the plot (or for the books on my TBR list, they appear to be essential), so this is what I kept in mind as I created my lists. The lists are in no particular order.

Top 5 Books Featuring Travel that I Have Read

1. The Hobbit

thehobbitBilbo Baggins was happy living out a quiet life in his hobbit home when Gandalf retrieves him for an adventure. Nearly the whole book features travel as Biblo journeys his way through Middle Earth.

2. Scarlet

scarlet

There is a decent amount of travel in Scarlet, Meyer’s follow-up to Cinder, and as a bonus, a lot of it is futuristic methods of travel! It is through travel that Cinder escapes, Scarlet gets to know Wolf, Scarlet finds her grandmother, and Scarlet and Cinder meet. Basically, there is a lot of moving forward in the novel and it’s all important.

3. Ender’s Game

enderEven though this book is set in space, there isn’t as much traveling as you would think. Still, Ender has to leave his home on Earth to attend Battle School to try to save the world, and then later in the book he takes another journey that will have a profound impact on him (but I won’t spoil that). When Ender’s does travel, it’s always important.

4. Rebecca

rebecca-by-daphne-du-maurierIt is while traveling on vacation that the heroine of this story meets the man she marries, then travels home with him where she will be haunted by his past and her life will be changed. This is a great, suspenseful story that I will be talking about again very soon, so stay turned!

5. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

lionwitchwardrobeI could really put all of The Chronicles of Narnia here, but I wanted to focus on the book that began it all. The method of travel is simple: a wardrobe. And somehow, some way, this wardrobe transports four children to a whole new world for a great adventure that will define their lives (actually, you can know how the wardrobe is able to do this if you read The Magician’s Nephew). When I was a child, I wished so badly I could transport to Narnia through a wardrobe as well, but sadly, I was never able to find the right portal.

Top 5 Books Featuring Travel on My TBR List

1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

hitchhikerArthur Dent isn’t looking for adventure when his friend, who turns out to be an alien, rescues him by taking him from Earth (which is promptly blown up after they leave), and they end up traversing through space. I’ve seen the movie several times but have not read the book yet, but as fun as the movie is, I can only imagine what a ride the book must be! Arthur learns a lot about himself and the universe on this journey, and even the meaning of life. Well, maybe. (And yes, Martin Freeman plays both Arthur AND Bilbo!)

2. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

statisticalprobabilityThough I don’t normally gravitate towards contemporary romance, I am interested in reading this one (plus I just received it this weekend after winning a giveaway so I guess I’ll be reading it sometime!). I mean, how can you resist the cover? Travel seems important in this one since the couple meets in an airport as they are going about their separate ways. I find it an interesting concept since I think the airport is the single most fascinating place to people watch.

3. A Million Suns and Shades of Earth

acrosstheuniverseI have already read Across the Universe, and while I only liked it just fine, I still want to read the continuation of the spaceship Godspeed in its sequel books. The whole mission of the Godspeed was to travel from Earth to a new world for a new home, but there lies and secrets that mar the journey along the way.

4. The Scorpio Races

scorpioFrom my understanding, the premise of this book is somewhat like that of the movie Hidalgo, except the horses are much more vicious and are raced in the sea. These horses have played a tragic role in the lives of the two main characters, and yet they both still find themselves compelled to race. I am definitely intrigued by this idea and am curious to see more about how the races impact their lives.

5. The Lord of the Rings

LOTRThe Lord of the Rings, much like The Hobbit, focuses on a journey through Middle Earth. And Frodo’s mission is imperative: to destroy The One Ring. I am so intimidated by the length of these books, but I would love to get an in-depth look at Frodo and Sam’s friendship as they travel through Middle Earth and face so many trials.

What books featuring travel are your favorite? Or what books featuring travel are on your TBR list? 

Review: Scarlet

scarlet

I was so excited about Scarlet about reading Cinder, though I wondered, Will I love Scarlet the character as much as I love Cinder the character? 

So I begin to read. And several chapters into it I was wondering when the action was going to happen. Though Cinder does not begin action-oriented, it was able to hold my interest right from the start. But Scarlet at the tavern… Cinder meeting Thorne and breaking out of jail… Scarlet at the fights… blahblahblah… it was all very slow and didn’t hold my interest as well as Cinder’s story at the beginning. I did like the part where Scarlet’s dad shows up at the farm searching for what his mother was hiding. But for a while, I was starting to seriously wonder about this sequel.

Things finally started to pick up after a while, and somewhere probably in the last third of the book, the action and plot really kicked up a few notches. This time, I didn’t see ALL the plot twists coming (like I did in Cinder) and so was a little bit more surprised. I wondered after Cinder how the story could continue to be stretched over three more books, but after reading Scarlet, I understand better, and the overarching story is becoming clearer. I like that we continue to get Cinder’s POV at times, Kai’s, and once even Queen Levena’s! I ended up not liking Scarlet nearly as much as Cinder, though this is more personal preference than anything, as she is a pretty strong character. Wolf was deeply complex, but he’s definitely no Kai. Not that he should be necessarily, but he doesn’t even compare on the charm factor. Thorne annoyed me at first, but I actually grew to like him better as the book went on. I feel Cinder probably felt the same way.

The story flows well, even with its growing complexity and multiple POVs (I think it really helps to have the third person POV when doing multiple characters’ POV (I’m looking at you, Aly Condie)), and I’m interested in seeing how the story continues in the next installment! I just wish I didn’t have to wait so long!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

If you’ve read Scarlet, what were your thoughts?

P.S. And on a completely unrelated note…

may-the-fourth-yodaI should have prepared for this day better and tone a top 10 related to Star Wars. Maybe next year!

Weekend Book Find (2)

I was going to wait to post this, rather than post twice in one day, but then I thought maybe someone else would appreciate the head’s-up. Barnes and Noble is doing a this-weekend-only sale on their Top 1000 Nook Books. Also, according to The Broke and The Bookish, Amazon is price matching for their Kindle books. So if you have a Nook or Kindle, check out the deal and see if there’s anything missing from your library. There were a few books that caught my eye, but I ultimately decided to go with Cinder and Scarlet, both priced at $4.99 (plus tax) a piece. You only have the rest of the day, so be sure to check it out! Though I’m not digging into Cinder right away, I am excited to have it now that I have read an excerpt from it.

CINDERscarlet