Book review: "The Scorpion Rules" (Prisoners of Peace #1) by Erin Bow

The Scorpion Rules  

 

I purchased “The Scorpion Rules” back in a day when it came out in this gorgeous paperback. I saw this book mentioned again and again in YA LGBTQ+ recommendations and was excited to read it. But as it often happens with impulse purchases, I didn’t pick up the book until much later.

 

I was quite in the mood for a YA Sci-Fi audiobook after listening to Nyxia, and while browsing Overdrive library, I saw that “The Scorpion Rules” was immediately available.

I downloaded it to my iPhone and started listening to it right away. I had only a vague recollection of the plot of “The Scorpion Rules” from the back of the book. I knew that the book had diverse characters, was generally considered to be sci-fi, and was somehow related to Canada. For the sake of accurate spelling of names, I am providing the official synopsis below.

 

Synopsis

 

A world battered by climate shift and war turns to an ancient method of keeping peace: the exchange of hostages. The Children of Peace - sons and daughters of kings and presidents and generals - are raised together in small, isolated schools called Prefectures. There, they learn history and political theory, and are taught to gracefully accept what may well be their fate: to die if their countries declare war.

 

Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, is the pride of the North American Prefecture. Learned and disciplined, Greta is proud of her role in keeping the global peace — even though, with her country controlling two-thirds of the world’s most war-worthy resource — water — she has little chance of reaching adulthood alive.

 

Enter Elián Palnik, the Prefecture’s newest hostage and biggest problem. Greta’s world begins to tilt the moment she sees Elián dragged into the school in chains. The Prefecture’s insidious surveillance, its small punishments and rewards, can make no dent in Elián, who is not interested in dignity and tradition, and doesn’t even accept the right of the UN to keep hostages.

 

What will happen to Elián and Greta as their two nations inch closer to war?

 

Review

 

I listened to “The Scorpion Rules” for about 10 minutes, paused and went online to look up the narrator. The audiobook is narrated by Madeleine Maby, who, judging by her website and extensive Audible presence, is a rather experienced voice actor. I was not impressed though at all. Madeleine gives all characters distinctive voices, but her intonation is clipped and artificial. (There were mentions of accents in the book, but it still didn’t make much sense to me.) I would have understood if she narrated for AI in that manner, but it was all of the characters in different variations. I found the narration for Greta the most annoying as she talked in the way that Siri or an artificial intelligence might, with odd stops between words and occasional uprise in intonation. Elian’s southern accent came and went, and seemed to be more prominent whenever there was a line in the book referring to it.

 

I was so not impressed by the narration, that I even considered switching to a paper book. However, I decided to stick to the audiobook as I wanted to listen to something during the commute or work breaks. Getting over the narration style was a bit difficult, but I somewhat got used to it by the end of the book.

 

Now, onto the plot. Sadly, I was somewhat disappointed by it too. I think “The Scorpion Rules” is more character driven than plot driven, which is usually fine by me, but not in this case. It took awhile for me to get into the plot. The first third of the book, I was bored and couldn’t figure out why things were the way they were. There is a lot of exposition in the book, which I do not like. We have even quotes and reciting from the AI that at times seemed a bit unfitting to the main narrative. I enjoyed the world but didn’t like the fact that I could barely make head or tail of local politics, not to mention rivalries and alliances between countries.

 

Regarding characters, I liked Michael the best, from the moment he made an appearance. Everything about him, his character, the circumstances of his arrival, the complications, etc. - I liked everything. But regardless of role in the plot of “The Scorpion Rules”, Greta and Elian were the main protagonists (which is confirmed in the synopsis), and I did have a lot of problems with both of them.

 

Greta seemed too plain to be anything special, and yet she was. She was too all over the place in her emotions and affections, and yet she was described as exceptional and strong. Elian seemed perpetually confused and rebellious, even when nothing was happening to warrant either. I could not understand Greta’s feelings towards Elian. She viewed him as someone who needs care and protection and at the same time - as someone dangerous.

 

There are a lot of descriptions in the text of what characters felt, lots of comparisons - the language flows most of the time quite wonderfully. However, I often felt that the lack of actual reasoning and plot holes were being hidden behind grand statements about life and sacrifice and characters’ feelings. We were often being told that something was happening just because it was happening. I would have been able to oversee it if there was more action, but too frequently it felt as if nothing was moving at all. And when something was happening, we were not really told why. At times, I could feel my mind drifting, as I was almost bored with the book. Perhaps, it is once again the fault of the narrator, who failed to make “The Scorpion Rules” sound engaging enough.

 

“The Scorpion Rules” disappointed me from the standpoint of LGBTQ+ representation too. The book is tagged and listed on GoodReads as having prominent LGBTQ+ characters, however, the only female/female relationship proved not to be strong enough to overcome the obstacles (add to that a cliched presence of a male protagonist - obviously), and the only male/male couple was not given any visibility until the tragic end. Yes, we get various sexualities in the book, and there is some sort of a gender swap, so to say, which can be viewed as gender dysphoria almost, but I am hesitant to say that it can be viewed as a representation for genderfluid or transgender people. Perhaps, it was not intended as either at all, and it was my wishful thinking trying to find more representation in the book.

 

The Children of Peace and Swan Riders come from various countries and therefore from different racial and cultural backgrounds. I liked that about “The Scorpion Rules”. In my opinion, the cultural representation was handled well.

 

Perhaps, if I approached “The Scorpion Rules” in physical format, I would have connected with the characters better. Unfortunately, I finished the audiobook feeling somewhat cheated. I didn’t get the representation I was looking for; the plot was murky; the characters - annoying, and the only thing that I liked about the novel - the world itself - was presented to us through obvious exposition, which often felt detached from the plot.

 

I like “The Scorpion Rules” much more as an idea for a book or a sales pitch, as opposed to the actual result. I can’t tell if it is the writing style that I have more problems with or the narration of the audiobook - or, maybe, both. “The Scorpion Rules”, as well as some other books by Erin Bow, received favourable reviews from multiple sources and was even listed in Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Books of 2015. I still decided to continue with the series, in spite of feeling disappointed by the first book.

 

Rating: 3 stars

 

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Book review: Space Mac by Emma Jane

Space Mac  

I requested “Space Mac” from NineStar Press, LLC on NetGalley after reading the description. The cover caught my eye and I was very eager to read it. However, I struggled with writing this review.

Description

 

Cocky escort Mackenzie “Mac” Jones has just the right type of blood so that when he steals an odd silver brooch from a client, it transports him to a strange planet. Frightened and confused—and confronted by aliens—he flees and ends up bumping into a handsome humanoid male named Teevar.

 

But Teevar and his companions are also on the run, and Mac finds himself embroiled in the affairs of his new friends with no idea how to get back to Earth. Can Mac and Teevar survive long enough to work out their feelings for each other? And will Mac ever see home again?

 

Review

 

I was extremely pumped to read “Space Mac” - it sounded like a queer love story in space, which is totally my jam. However, I was bitterly disappointed.

 

The writing is very jerky and lack expressiveness or detail. Meagre descriptions made the narration confusing. It felt as if the characters jumped from one place to another. The emotions portrayed by characters felt artificial and their actions very often were not believable. I struggled to understand why things were happening the way they were and very quickly I stopped to care. There seemed to be lots of running and fighting and conning (or trying to out-con) somebody with no real purpose to the story. The main protagonist, Mac, wanted to get back to Earth but he only ever bemoaned his lack of knowledge how to do it and didn’t really do anything until very end.

 

His relationship with Teevar, which seemed to be a focal point of the book description, didn’t develop as I expected it to, and felt a bit forced. It was, however, the most tolerable part of “Space Mac”, even though I did find Mac behaving like a spoiled child around Teevar. Overall, I didn’t find any of the characters likable at all.

 

It was a rather short book, more of a novella really, but I struggled to finish it. I could have dealt with jumpy plot if the writing had a better flow, which, sadly, was not the case. The only saving grace of “Space Mac” is its cover - it is stunning!

 

Nevertheless, I am grateful to the publisher for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.

 

Rating: 2 stars

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My Top 5 Favourite Under-appreciated YA Books | Blogmas Day 1

While thinking about what topics to do for Blogmas, I realized that there are several YA books that I really love, but which seem to be either unpopular among bloggers/booktubers or simply have lower than I would have expected ratings on GoodReads. So, I decided to make a list of those! Let me know if you have read any of these! :D

Anything Could Happen

Anything Could Happen by Will Walton Genre: contemporary, romance, LGBT+ Tagline: When you’re in love with the wrong person for the right reasons, anything could happen. My review: Perhaps, some readers might consider this book a bit cliched. But for me, it was sweet and realistic, and the plot was very well executed. If you liked "Simon vs Homo Sapiens Agenda", you will enjoy "Anything Could Happen". However, this book has more real-life problems in it, which I really appreciated. My rating: 4 stars GoodReads link Buy this book

 

 

 

Hero

Hero by Perry Moore Genre: drama, superhero, LGBT+ Tagline: To survive, Thom will face challenges he never imagined. To find happiness, he'll have to come to terms with his father's past and discover the kind of hero he really wants to be. My review: This book broke my heart a bit. Mostly because of Thom's father. The plot switches between contemporary drama and superhero action, which can seem a bit jumbled, but it is well-written overall. Sadly, this was the only book by Perry Moore. Since it was published in 2007, I feel as if few people know of it. My rating: 4 stars GoodReads link Buy this book

 

 

The Abyss Surrounds Us

The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
Genre: dystopian, sci-fi, pirates, LGBT+
Tagline: Cas has fought pirates her entire life. But can she survive living among them?
My review: This book has amazing sea monsters that are reminiscent of those in Pacific Rim. Plus, pirates. Plus, badass girls. Definitely, a must read! I had some issues with the writing at times, but it is a solid book for a debut. It is book one in duology, but I am yet to read the sequel.
My rating: 4 stars

 

 

Made of Stars

Made of Stars by Kelley York
Genre: contemporary, suspense/thriller, LGBT+
Tagline: Even the stars are lies
My review: I loved this book! I read it almost in one sitting, and I couldn't put it down. Told from the three perspectives of three characters, don't let it full you that it is going to be a fluffy contemporary romance. It is not. It is realistic, thrilling and the ending broke my heart. (How could you, Kelley, how could you?!) I have been wanting to re-read it for a while, but I am terrified to.
My rating: 5 stars

 

 

27 Hours

27 Hours (The Nightside Saga #1) by Tristina Wright
Genre: dystopian, sci-fi, LGBT+
Tagline: Hour zero means war.
My review: I have read and reviewed this book on my blog (LINK), and it is a new release. However, I am adding it here as it has not enough (in my opinion) positive reviews for such an amazing book. It is definitely one of my favourites of 2017.
Read it and have Beatles' "Hey Jude" forever stuck in your head.
My rating: 5 stars
Here are all of my under-appreciated (in my opinion) YA books, and hey! All of them have queer characters! ?

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Book review: "27 Hours" by Tristina Wright

27 Hours  

I have received an e-ARC of this book from Entangled Teen in exchange for a free and honest review.

I found out about this new young adult, science-fiction novel at BookCon in New York City this year. I was browsing the app to find new authors or new book releases when I saw that this book promised queer characters, so of course I had to get my hands on a copy.

 

Sadly, by the time I got to the line for the "27 Hours" ARC, it was already capped. I was sad, but since I had other things to tend to, I didn’t even think about leaving a business card with the author or the rep. (Too bad too, as those business card were handmade by yours truly and they all are gone now. Just saying.)

 

I kept thinking about this book when I got back home and eventually decided to do something that usually do not do (because I am a chicken) to approach the author’s rep and ask for an ARC of "27 Hours". Not only I got put on the list for the ARC, I also got an opportunity to review some other books published by Entangled Teen. So, a special thank you goes to Melissa Montovani for giving me this opportunity!

 

Now, onto the book.

 

Synopsis

 

Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother's shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon's darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

"27 Hours" is a sweeping, thrilling story featuring a stellar cast of queer teenagers battling to save their homes and possibly every human on Sahara as the clock ticks down to zero.

 

I freaking loved this book.

 

The plot is fast-paced with lots of twists and turns, that keep you on your toes. Granted, it is a young adult novel, so do not expect it to be on par with big names in literary fiction in terms of style or plot twists, but Tristina Wright knows her way around the prose and does it really well. The narrative flows easily. There wasn’t a moment in my reading when I would think: “ah, this is a bit slow”. It was action after action, and at times I needed a moment to process who was running where and who was almost killed this time.

 

Because I swear, all of the characters of "27 Hours" seem to have a death wish.

 

It is a well-constructed world, with enough composition and descriptions to fill you in as you go. I found the idea of mystic creatures, chimera (not gargoyles, thank you very much), living on the moon fascinating. The rules of the world are well defined, and even though at some point I was a bit confused about the hierarchy of HUBs and colonies, I felt quite comfortable while reading about the rest of it.

 

Characters

 

I think the characters of "27 Hours" is the best part of this novel. I have not read a single other young adult (or adult, for that matter) book that would have this much representation. We have characters of colour, various origins, ability, gender identities, and sexuality. There is no discrimination based on any of that either. However, using her characters’ voices, the author touches upon few very critical issues that exist in our world, making them sound as ridiculous and horrific as they truly are.

 

Quote 1

 

"It's... preconception, You hear gargoyle, and you think monster. What if..." Jude floundered for a comparison that was just as horrible and unconscionable. "Okay, what ifwe labeled certian people as monsters based on their skin color or hair color or gender or whatever? No matter what they did or had done or acted like. You'd have an issue with that, right?"

 

Quote 2

 

Humans weren't supposed to die at the hands of other humans, of people trained and sworn to protect them.

 

I loved this book, plain and simple. It gave me a band of incredibly brave teenagers, who are set on defending their home, even though it seems like a suicide mission. Who are willing to against everything they were taught. Who stand together in spite of differences that try to pull them apart.

 

I loved "27 Hours" so much that I doodled George. I am not an artist but it had to be done. Just because.

 

George from "27 Hours"

 

I loved all the characters in the book, I can’t even decide who is my favourite. And I ship all of the ships. Yes.

 

And today, I ordered my own copy of "27 Hours" - because I need to have something to console me as I impatiently wait for book two in this trilogy.

 

I am usually pretty fair with my rating. To be honest, I would give the plot itself only 4 stars. However, the diversity and representation in this book are so good, that it deserves an extra star. I can not wait to find out what happens next in the story.

 

Personal rating: 5 stars

 

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Book review: Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5) by Marissa Meyer (audiobook)

Fairest  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Fairest" is the book which is complementary to The Lunar Chronicles and should be read between "Cress", book three, and "Winter", the last book in the series. Initially, I even wanted to skip it, but since it was about Levana, the Queen of Luna, I figured, I might learn something new about her and Winter, who I already liked.

 

After ploughing through the six and a half hours of this audiobook, all of my thoughts can be summoned as “why on earth did Marissa Meyer write this book?”.

 

 

"Fairest" tells us the story of Levana, from her childhood and the tragic incident that happened (which was absolutely obvious and in no way as exciting of a mystery as one could think), to her quite obsessive fixation on Evret Hayle (which no sane person can ever call love), to her cruelty towards people whom she considered her family. Everything about Levana, with exception of her childhood, is despicable and did not make me sympathize with her any bit. If "Fairest" was supposed to be a redeeming story, in the same way as “Heartless” is, then it failed for me. "Fairest" did not make me like Levana or feel sorry for her. It only solidified my opinion of her being a cruel tyrant. I did sympathize with Levana when she was a child but it was very brief, and there is no redeeming what she did to Evret, Winter, Selene, and countless other characters in the books.

 

As a matter of fact, Levana in this book is extremely reminiscent of Catherine. To the point that it made me think that Levana was written as a doppelganger of Queen of Hearts. Naturally, Levana is a representation of all evil characters in fairy tales, the trope of “the evil stepmother”. And you know what? I was quite happy with hating Levana for being an evil queen. I did not need to know her sad story, because it didn’t change my perception of her at all.

 

To put it shortly, "Fairest| felt redundant and unnecessary for the narrative of The Lunar Chronicle series. Since it is positioned as a supplemental book between books three and four, it might be referenced later on in “Winter” (which would make sense), but for me it felt as a complete waste of time. I did like the characters of Evret and Channery, because they were new and unfamiliar to me, and we do get all of those things regarding mirrors and veils explained to us in this book. However, I don’t think, it should have been explained at all. The whole plot of "Fairest" could have been referenced as hints and snippets throughout the series without losing anything in the narrative. I would have even prefered it to be done this way as it would have made Levana’s character more mysterious and tragic. Having everything explained and described in so much detail made the plot too simplified, boring, and the book - way too long.

 

Alas, I wish I could give it higher rating, but as it stands, this book felt to me like a waste of time. I am glad I listened to it in audio, otherwise I would have DNF'ed it.

 

Narration: 4 stars

Plot: 1 star

Overall: 2.5 stars

 

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Fairest

Book review: Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3) by Marissa Meyer (audiobook)

 

After finishing Cinder and Scarlet in a quick succession, I was impatient to start Cress. The beginning of Cress was everything I wanted and expected - it was dramatic, fast paced and worked perfectly well.

 

Then came the slump. I listened to about one third of the audiobook and started to lose interest in what was happening. Mainly, it had to do with a very long and predictable journey through desert - everything that happened there, including the following kidnapping, I was able to foresee a mile away, which left me feeling ‘meh’ and reluctant to continue. I found myself turning to this audiobook less and less, and eventually had to have a little break.

 

I did continue with it, and once all of our character finally assembled in one place, the pace picked up again. I did, however, find some of the revelations very obvious, which saddened me. Although I find the narration pleasant and the storyline entertaining enough, it is not as engaging as I would have liked. At times, the series has a bit too much teenager’y drama and soap opera for me.

 

I do what to remark on the fact that although almost all characters went through some character development in this book, I still can not figure out Carswell Thorne. He was introduced at the end of “Cinder”/beginning of “Scarlet” and was depicted as a completely fluke, a self-absorbed moron and a failed conman, whose mind seemed to be only occupied by ladies and maintaining his good looks. I disliked him a lot at that point. Throughout “Scarlet” Thorne was developing into a better fleshed out character, but I still was not sold on his “a conman with a heart of gold” persona. I found it difficult to believe that Cress would fall for Thorne, when there was clearly nothing heroic about him.

 

By the end of “Cress”, however, Thorne is turning into a real hero. He is not afraid to admit to his less favourable deeds to Cress, and he is hiding less and less behind his jokes and over-exuberant confidence. Cress is slowly growing into a strong character in this story, perhaps, less than Cinder and Scarlet, but she is a real team member by the end of this novel. She saved the day more than once in this book, which I absolutely loved.

 

The only character, who has not failed to annoy me in every single book, is Emperor Kai. Not only he is willing to be a sacrifice lamb and go through the marriage with Levana, but he seems to completely incompetent in everything that he does. He is praised for his diplomatic skills, while he failed to secure future peace for his nation. His decision to marry Levana is not only the suicide but also a definite disaster for his nation, if he is, indeed, killed after Levana is crowned as the empress. It is a ridiculous decision, which the author is trying to portray as this big and important sacrifice, but it is just plain stupid. He is choosing to prolong the suffering of his nation (and his own) by implementing this short-term solution. Kai is completely oblivious to everything that is happening in the palace - he is not fully aware of the research, he doesn’t know that there are tunnels under the palace, etc. He seems to be surprised by the most obvious decisions and is fully dependant on his advisor Torin. I hope that he will undergo at least some character development in “Winter” as for now I don’t understand what Cinder (and Iko) see in him as he is not the Prince Charming I expected in this series. (I love the fact that all the female character in the series are badass in their own ways, but Kai just annoys me.)

 

I feel that this book could have worked really well with at least 50 pages cut out. It is long and the middle of the book is rather slow. The pace did pick up at the end, although I found the ending of “Cress” to be less dramatic and intense than the ending of the second book in the series.

 

I hoped that I would give this book a higher rating than books one and two, but alas. It is a good series, but so far it has failed to enamour me to it to give it anything higher than 3 stars.

 

Narration: 4 stars

Plot: 3 stars

Overall: 3 stars

 

Cress

Book review: The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

   

This book kept coming up on BookTube and GoodReads as a new YA contemporary with a main gay couple, so of course I had to pick it up! I chose to read this book as part of #LGBTQIAREAD Read-a-thon, as I mentioned in my blog post.

“The Love Interest” is a slightly sci-fi young adult contemporary romance novel. Sounds confusing? Well, how about the plot. There is a nefarious secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. They are taken from their families and raised and trained to be perfect love interests for people who are destined for great power or influence. Those “love interests” are split into Nice and Bad, depending on their personality fit, and are constantly evaluated for various skills. Once they are deemed to be fit and are matched to their “chosen one”, they are then given the directives and are implanted into lives of those “chosen” to spy on them for the rest of their lives.

 

Caden is a Nice, Dylan is a Bad. They are give the same target and the ultimate incentive to win this dangerous game: be chosen or be killed. But, unexpectedly, they start to develop feelings for each other.

 

The plot summary was what attracted me to this book. I am not a huge fan of YA contemporary romance, but I love queer books and dystopian/sci-fi elements, so I was very excited to read it. Good thing that I purchased the book before I checked its rating on GoodReads or I might have never picked it up. As I am typing this, “Love Interest” has the rating of 3.18 on GR, and I try to never go for books which are under 3.5, because I get mostly disappointed (the only exception besides “Love Interest” was “Wink Poppy Midnight” which I adored).

 

Let’s be fair here, “The Love Interest” is far from a strong debut novel. There are a lot of plot holes surrounding the secret organization and how it was dealt with. Especially, in the last third of the novel - I had an impression as if the author was rushing through the ending or didn’t have it fully outlined, because everything that was happening was just too fantastical to be real. Some of the characters were too two dimensional for my taste and some of their actions were just implausible.

 

The good thing about this book is that it is just pure fun. The first half or even two thirds of the book is just a pure satire and parody on a typical young adult romance. And it is intended to be such. I found the narration overall pleasant enough and the action was fun.

 

I think that this book would have benefited from more editing and perhaps another round of revisions. I liked the idea of love interests/spies, I liked both Caden and Dylan. But the book lacked depth and even the moments that were supposed to move me felt a bit shallow as they were so brief. Not to mention the fact that the ending was extremely weak.

 

Is it a great book? No, but it IS a fun book which I might even re-read if I need a good laugh (because some of those romance tropes were just hilarious). But most importantly - the book gave me exactly what I wanted to read: a queer love story. We don’t have enough of those in YA, even nowadays.

 

I will definitely keep an eye on Cale’s books and hope to read more by him.

Personal rating: 3 stars

 

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The Love Interest

Book review: Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2) by Marissa Meyer (audiobook)

 

I started “Scarlet” audiobook immediately after finishing “Cinder”. Just like “Cinder”, it is a retelling of yet another children’s favourite story. This time of “Little Red Riding Hood”. I definitely like this fairytale better than Cinderella, but I was wary of how they would portray the big bad wolf.

 

Okay, I loved what they did with Scarlet and Wolf. I liked how the story developed and that we got glimpses into other parts of this world. What I was honestly surprised by is how seamlessly “Cinder” and “Scarlet” were connected. I expected to get a whole new set of characters and only episodic references to Cinder and what was happening to her, but on the contrary, two plot lines run in parallel and intertwine at the end. That pleasantly surprised me.

 

I felt that “Scarlet” was overall a better thought through book than “Cinder”, although not without its faults and number of cliched twists. My favourite part was, actually, Cinder’s escape and her meeting with Carswell Thorne and how self-absorbed and oblivious he was. Scarlet rocked the novel though. I liked the depiction of her home and all of those little references to her life and memories of the past. Scarlet’s father turned out to be an annoyingly predictable character. As well as Ran (whom I actually liked - no idea why). I liked the character of Wolf too, although at times it seemed as the author was trying too hard to make him into a typical “bad boy with a heart of gold” character.

 

The plotline with Princess Selene became even more obvious to the point that I wondered how I can sustain the interest in it till the end of the series. Thankfully, there were other things happening in this book.

 

All plot holes aside, “Scarlet” was a bit more engaging than “Cinder” and some of the fighting scenes were pretty cool. Also, it seems like Prince Kai has finally grown some backbone, which made him a bit more interesting in this book.

 

My biggest pet peeve with “Scarlet” was that the narrator Rebecca Soler gave Scarlet the most infuriating little French accent. Same as with British accents in “Heartless”, Rebecca couldn’t sustain it at 100% at all times and sometimes it just felt redundant and annoying. Not sure, if it is only me who thinks this or not.

 

I think, I can tell that Marissa is getting better, as “Scarlet” is more fast paced, in my opinion, but I am still annoyed with her overly romanticizing everything in her novels. I am quite okay with not listening for the millionth time about how fit Wolf is or how hard his muscles are. It gets tiresome after time.

 

I find “The Lunar Chronicles” series interesting but not wowing, which is disappointing.

 

Plot: 3.5 stars

Performance: 3 stars

Overall: 3.5 stars

Book review: Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1) by Marissa Meyer (audiobook)

 

Here is to another book series that I am reading far behind everybody else. But in my defence, I started reading young adult novels less than 2 years ago. I have a lot of catching up to do.

“Cinder” is a debut novel by Marissa Meyer, and having read (or rather listened to) “Heartless”, which was the author’s fifth full novel and being slightly disappointed, I was not too hot on reading “Cinder”. However, I decided to go the same route as I did with “Heartless” and picked an audiobook version, in spite of owning the whole series in physical copies. I had my problems with some of the voices that Rebecca Soler did in “Heartless”, but her rendition of “Cinder” turned out to be quite good.

 

The Lunar Chronicles is a series of  fairytale retellings set in a sci-fi world, a sort of dystopian version of Earth, split into various alliances and empires. “Cinder” retells the story of Cinderella, who in this story, is named Linh Cinder, and is a cyborg and a mechanic. The is also an adorable android sidekick Iko, a handsome and slightly naive Prince Kai, his overbearing counsellor, a bit too vicious Queen Levana, and a vindictive stepmother and two very different stepsisters.

 

I had the same problem with “Cinder” that I had with “Heartless” - I liked the world well enough, but the relationships seemed shallow at times, the emotions too exaggerated (and why is everyone so hung up on Prince Kai?), and nothing really happened for some portion of the book, which undoubtedly would have made me DNF if I had been reading it in physical form.

 

As an audiobook, though, “Cinder” is pleasant enough to serve as a background for doodling, cleaning or cooking. It has an interesting enough world to keep me listening, but I admit that since Cinderella is my least favourite fairytale, I couldn’t wait to be done with this part.

 

I liked it enough to continue with the series, thanks to the coolness factor of fairytales in sci-fi setting, but “Cinder” failed to ‘wow’ me. In some way, I might have done a disservice to myself as I read a rather overhyped “Heartless” before “Cinder”, but nothing can be done about it now. I sincerely hope that the series will get only better with each book.

 

 

Plot: 3 stars

Performance: 3.5 stars

Overall: 3 stars

Bookshelves Reorganization // August 30, 2015

 

My bookshelf reorganization looked way easier than it turned out to be. ???????? Probably this is the only good outcome (the opportunity to reorganize things) out of the whole mess.

On the right is the photo of my reorganized bookshelves. Took me almost an hour but I managed to cram everything in 3 shelves. ????????

From the bottom to the top:

1) The biggest books and hardbacks. Alexandre Dumas books (how many copies can you spot? ????), Sherlock Holmes, crime, sci-fi books and others.

2) My favourite shelf: high fantasy, Katherine Kurtz, Lynn Flewelling, Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, etc; middle grade; Divergent series, contemporary, plays, classics. A complete mix but my favourite and well read books.

3) TBR/YA/recent purchases shelf. The majority of books are unread and also some are just first books in the series that I plan to buy and read later.

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

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I saw this book recommended by Regan on YouTube (PersureProject) and didn't really pay much attention to it, as I am not a huge fan of science fiction. I mean, I have read books in this genre and I quite enjoyed some of them, but I prefer watching the movies (like Star Wars and Star Trek) rather than reading it. Later I found out that there is a movie based on this book and it is coming to TIFF this year, so I, naturally, decided to read the book first. The wait time for the library copy was going to be insane (over 300 holds for about 30 copies), so I bought my own copy at Indigo.

I started reading it and immediately realized two things: a) I was enjoying it way more than I had expected, and b) it is going to be a terrific movie. The book was such an easy read, it was difficult to put it down! I read it in 2 or 3 days.

The main character Mark is one of the members of Ares 3, a Martian expedition, which gets aborted, and he is left behind, as his crew members believe him to be dead. Equipped with only his knowledge (he is an engineer and botanist) and whatever was left by the expedition, he is set to survive on Mars. His main goal is to find a way to let his crew or Earth know that he is still alive. Whether and how he could possibly be saved, considering the fact that the next mission is set to arrive in a couple of years, and the resources at hand were provided only for 30 days is the central point of the book. That and the whole fact that he is stranded on a very unfriendly planet.

This book is mostly narrated in the form of logs made by Mark (that is ,in the first point of view). There are also chapters showing what is happening with the rest of the crew and also the mission centre on Earth. I found Mark's voice to be very believable and extremely funny. The book is filled with astronomy, physics and chemistry stuff which made me, as an absolutely not scientific type, a bit confused at times, as it was hard for me to visualize some of the things that Mark was talking about (like an oxygenator). I think it all will be way easier to comprehend on screen.

I watched the trailer, by the way, and it looks very grand and epic and very Hollywood style. The book is not like that. It is way more personal, way less glamorous, so I would really suggest that you read the book first. I also have a feeling that they will make the movie way more dramatic, than the book itself. There is drama, don't get me wrong, but the way people deal with it, out of necessity and/or due to their character (like Mark), was way more lighthearted than one could think giving the circumstances.

The book is a celebration of human mind, resourcefulness and will to live. There is a very true to the point paragraph at the end of the book (which is actually used in the trailer, so, spoiler alert) that says that people are always willing to get together for a cause and help each other. I think it is very true and it is part of human nature. We just sometimes forget about it.

It is a funny and touching book and I highly recommend it to everyone.

Rating: 5/5 stars.