Cress and Fairest – Marissa Meyer Reviews

Hi friends! I’m almost done with the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer!

When we talked last, I had paused reading Cress, the third novel in the installment, so I could read the newest Harry Potter book (!!! – I’ve already done my review if you’d like to read it!) Well, once I finished reading that, I picked up where I left off, and boy was it good.

For those who don’t know, the series is a play on different fairy tales, for example, the first book is centered around Cinder – a well known mechanic who is trying to save her sister from the worldwide plague, Letumosis. The story gets crazy from there, but let me just say: this is no fairy tale story. Unless you’re counting the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales, in which case – yeah, that seems about right.

The other books are Scarlet (a play off of Little Red Riding Hood), Cress (Rapunzel), Fairest (a prequel following around the evil Lunar queen, Levana), and lastly Winter (Snow White) which is the last of the series.

So since we last talked, I read both Cress and Fairest and holy shit. Let’s do this one at a time:

Cress:

cress-final-e1378337072559This story follows a girl named Cress. She’s been kept in isolation for her whole life spying on Earth for Queen Levana. She’s awkward, anxious, socially inept, and totally in love with Carswell Thorne – a friend of Cinder’s. I don’t want to give too much away because I really think you should read this series, but she and Carswell have to go on an adventure together, while Cinder is left to deal with a huge amount of problems and worries with the rest of their crew.

This book hit me harder than the two previous novels. As an awkward, anxious and socially inept person myself, I fit in with her. I also have a shit ton of hair, so I feel like she and I have a connection.

This book was written spectacularly, and I thought the story was above most fiction I’ve read recently. The character development was not only great to watch unfold but felt really genuine. I really feel like I’m watching these characters develop before my eyes and love it!!!!!

This book was pretty big, over 400 pages I think. But it went by so quickly. It’s just such a great read!

Fairest:

5119ihf8lulThis book is fucked up. I’m putting that out there now. It’s fucked up, but it’s awesome. This is the fourth book in the series and serves as a prequel to everything we know from the beginning of Cinder on.

It follows Levana back when she was just a princess, and her jerk sister, Channary, was Queen. It follows her path of destruction, her manipulation and basically slavery of the man she “loves”.

My boyfriend can tell you: I said aloud quite a few times while I was reading, “Wow, that’s really fucked up.”

Seriously I don’t want to ruin everything, but one thing that we know from the beginning of the series (it’s not a surprise) is that Levana killed her niece by burning down her nursery because the young Princess Selene was too powerful. She burned down a nursery to kill her niece. Legitimate murder. Straight up, no remorse, killing an innocent child murder. Dat’s fucked up.

This whole book was just one horrible thing after another, but I thought it was incredible. It was a great way to actually get inside the mind of this horrible Queen and what her justifications are for doing such horrendous things.

I’ve mentioned before that I love crime books, serial killer books, and things that really let you get inside a messed up person’s mind. I like to hear their reasoning and try to understand why someone would do something so terrible: this book did not disappoint. I felt like this book was almost as messed up and as amazing as the book I read about Carl Panzram (Panzram: A Journal of Murder Review) which was an incredibly messed up book. I think because it’s fiction it’s not as terrible and disgusting to read, but the way that Meyer writes the story feel so real that I was sitting there like, “someone better kill this bitch. Oh wait, she’s just misunderstood. Nope. Nevermind, BURN HER!”

highly, highly, highly recommend this book series. I’m about 250 pages in the last book, Winter, and it’s sooo good. It’s incredible. And I just can’t praise this series highly enough.

This series appeals to not just the young adult fans, but also the fans of science fiction, of war, of fantasy, of fairy tales, of romance – it has everything. It’s one of the most exciting series’ that I’ve read in a very long time, and I just absolutely love it!

Marissa Meyer, keep up the good work.

10/10 for both books. 8 thumbs up! 12/10 dentists would recommend.

Until next time,

Rachel

If you have any opinions on the series, or any questions, or even just want to chat – you can leave a comment down below or you shoot me a message to rachel@booksandcleverness.com

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II Review

Hi friends! Guess who read the new Harry Potter book? This guy!

I got my preordered copy of Harry Potter and Cursed Child on Monday the first, I believe. I halted the book I was reading (Cress by Marissa Meyer) and went straight into this book. If you can show me a person that says they can sit through a book they’re already reading when they have a new HP book sitting on their shelf, I will show you a liar. Harry Potter waits for no one.

For those who don’t know, I am a HUGE Harry Potter nerd. I love it, I have a tattoo for it, I have a painting for it, my life is basically all HP, and my blog is named for one of my favorite lines in the entire series, “Books! And cleverness! There are more important things – friendship and bravery” … I’ll admit, I omitted the latter half because I mean, really, what’s more important than books?

So I sat down a week ago and read the book. Admittedly it took me three days to do so, but I finished it! And oh my god…

This was completely different than the usual HP books, which was both good and bad:

First of all, it’s written like a play is written. For good reason: it’s the book based off of the play that just took stage in London. It’s supposed to be the same story that they’re doing on stage, only they turned it into a book for everyone to read instead of just the lucky few who get to see it on stage.

I am a huge fan of the fact that they released this book. I remember how bummed out I was when they said there was going to be a play but it was in London. I actually considered just going to London to see that play, so having the play in my hands and only paying twenty bucks instead of probably over 2,000 bucks was an amazing feeling.

The story itself is fantastic. I was hesitant at first because I thought, ,”okay, am I really going to sit down and try to feel okay about Harry being a forty-year-old father?” But I thought they did a great job.harry-potter-and-the-cursed-child-poster-461923

This book picks up exactly where we left off at the end of HP and the Deathly Hallows which I thought was a really great way to start the book. Just from the first few pages in King’s Cross Station I could already start to get a feel of the characters and their differences and similarities to the original books.

The plot was fun. It’s about Harry’s son, Albus Severus, who is trying to find his own identity at Hogwarts while everyone thinks he should be just as great as his dad (or the two wizards he’s named after…. Side note: I always thought it was fucked up that he named his kid Albus Severus because it seemed like a pretty heavy burden to put on someone. They’d constantly be trying to live up to the name. But in the book Harry actually asks a portrait of Dumbledore how he feels about having someone named after him and Dumbledore, being the smarty pants he is, says that it seems like a big weight to put on a kid! Ha! I was right.)

Albus Severus then goes on an adventure with his best friend Scorpius (Malfoy’s son) to try to change the past. Adventure ensues. I won’t give it away because I think it would make it much less exciting if you knew the whole story.

Now, while I enjoyed the books I did have a few dislikes:

As much as I love plays (I’m a Shakespeare girl through and through) I really do wish this were in novel format. Not because it wasn’t an amazing story the way it was, it really was an amazing story, but rather because I feel like there could have been so much more detail. I thought there were times where everything felt like it got cut off – because it was.

Because it’s in a play format, you don’t necessarily have all the imagery that you’re used to with Harry Potter books. There were several times that a scene ended and I was like, “no, there has to be more… Right?”

The problem with play format is that its broken down into what the character is saying, a small descriptive action, and then back to what a character is saying (obviously not always in that order). But because it’s broken up that way you almost don’t get as many of the descriptive emotions going on – you just have to identify it for yourself. Part of me is fine with that, but the other part of me wishes there was more meat to these bones.

The other thing I wasn’t crazy about was the portrayal of Ron. I know this is going to sound nit-picky, and it really is. But one of my favorite characters is Ron because he’s so cheeky, sarcastic, and just kind of reckless. Whereas in this book I didn’t get the same feeling from Ron. I got the same feeling from Hermione, from Harry, Ginny and Malfoy, but there was a disconnect for me with Ron.

Ron in this book felt more staged, almost like they wanted to have him say something funny but it just didn’t work. I wish they had more fluidity with his character.

Now, do I think that that’s a deal breaker? No. Do I think that makes the book any less great? No. I just really wish that there had been more “Ron” in Ron’s character in the book.

Other than that, I really did think this was a great book. It was so exciting to finally read a new HP story with new characters and a whole new generation.

I thought the idea was fantastic, the writing was impeccable (You can always count on Jo), and mostly the feeling of being back in the Wizarding World made me feel as free and welcomed as it always has.

Once again, JK Rowling has done it. She’s made me fall in love with Harry Potter all over again.

Now who’s ready for Fantastic Beasts????

Until next time,

Rachel

P.S. If you have any opinions on the book, have seen the play, or just want to talk to me about everything (because I want to talk to you about everything) leave a message in the comments or shoot me an e-mail: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles) – Marissa Meyer Review

Hi! I finished another book, holy crap! I’m like a five foot speed reading demon over here! I can’t help it, I absolutely LOVE this book series.

I just finished Scarlet which is the second book of five in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I told you guys about her first book, Cinder which is a futuristic, science fiction version of ye ole tale Cinderella.

The first book is basically about a young cyborg who is one of New Beijing’s most renowned mechanics. She’s so excellent at her job that she finds herself helping out the Prince just days before the royal ball. Unfortunately, The Plague gets in the way before the fairy tale can take on the usual story. The plot unfolds from there into all kinds of twists and turns, a lot of them sinister and creepy.

Well, let me say this: this series, although it’s technically for young adults, is not for kids. I would not recommend a young kid reading these. Throughout the first book and the second book, which I’ll get into in a minute, there are extremely graphic descriptions of situations, of how certain people look, of bloody battles, of death, of people dying of a horrible plague, basically just some kinda gross stuff. So if that’s not your thing, then maybe take that into consideration before reading it.

The second book, Scarlet, follows both Cinder and a French farmer named Scarlet. Cinder is on the run, and Scarlet is searching for her lost grandmother. Her grand-mère has disappeared – something that would never happen for this stubborn farmer. She would never have left her granddaughter, and yet – three weeks after she’s reported missing, no one is understanding just how serious this could be.9780312642969_fc

Michelle Benoit (grandmother) was an eccentric woman. She was different than the rest, and was often thought of as crazy and kooky, but to her granddaughter she was everything. So what does Scarlet do? She goes on a search for her, with the help of a random street fighter she just met named Wolf, who seems to have an idea of where she might be – and who might be keeping her.

Now when I was first reading this book, I was really enjoying it, but kinda thought that it was too much to go from one story following one character to the next book following two characters and two different stories. Granted, they meet up at the end, but when I first started it I didn’t know that.

However, I was so invested that I didn’t even care. This writer, Marissa Meyer, is phenomenal. She seems to write with the greatest of ease. I know from being a writer myself that writing about character’s different personalities is hard enough without making each chapter from a different perspective. That takes a lot of skill and a lot of care. There’s a lot that she could have done that would have made this series total crap just by having so many different stories going on at once, but she does it so seamlessly that I didn’t even mind.

I love the fact that Meyer takes all of these old fairy tales and turns them into something completely different. She takes the old Cinderella and turns it into this extreme fantasy world thats crumbling down, or Little Red Riding Hood and makes it a novel about these grotesquely animalistic humans. It’s just fantastic.

I could say so much more, but I think it’s probably safer of me to just stop there before I start giving away the whole story!

But I would definitely recommend this book. Anyone who has been here for a while knows that I’ve been reading at an extremely slow pace recently, and in 20 days I have finished two books that were either almost or over 400 pages. They’re fantastic books and it feels wonderful to get back into the swing of things.

So if you like fairy tales, you’ll love these books. If you like science fiction, you’ll love these books. If you like fantasy worlds, you’ll love these books. The only way you won’t love these books is if you don’t like stories that tie in dysfunctional relationships. Otherwise, go to your bookstore and buy these freakin’ books!!!!!

If you want to talk to me about any of these books, or if you have any questions or opinions, you can comment below or you can send me an e-mail at rachel@booksandcleverness.com. I’d be MORE than happy to talk to you about it!

Seriously – go get this book.

Until next time,

Rachel

Cinder – Marissa Meyer… Just Read It!

I just finished the BEST book. I’ll preface this by saying that it is a young adult novel, but it really doesn’t read like one.

The book is called Cinder by Marissa Meyer. It’s a spin on, obviously, Cinderella. But unlike the fairy tale, this book does not have a happy ending.cinder_book_cover

Okay okay, I won’t spoil anything. But here’s some info:

So this book takes place in the future, after World War IV, in New Beijing. Cinder, a cyborg mechanic, lives in a world filled with plague brought on by the race of “Lunar” people on the moon. Much like when Europeans explored the new world and brought Smallpox, the Lunar people would escape the moon because of their tyrannical ruler Levana, and come to Earth, bringing new diseases that Earthen people were not used to – the plague is called Letumosis.

The whole of New Beijing is excited for the ball that Prince Kai is the special guest for – they’re even suspecting that he’ll find a new bride there! Cinder’s stepsister loves Kai. Poeny is one of Cinders best friends, and would do anything for her, despite the fact that her cruel mother and other stepsister don’t care anything about Cinder and even blame her for the death of Garan, the father of the girls and husband of Adri.

As a very well known and renowned mechanic, even though she is only 16, she gets the attention of Prince Kai, who needs one his androids fixed. But the prince doesn’t know she’s a cyborg and the story progresses from there and takes some insanely crazy turns.

It’s been a little while since I’d read a young adult novel, and I was not disappointed at all. I’ve mentioned quite a few times that I’ve been reading quite slowly recently, but I read through this novel in 7 days, despite the fact that it’s over 400 pages.

This book is the first in a series of five books, and I’m so excited to read more. The day before I finished the book I bought the next in the series, called Scarlet which incorporates a Red Riding Hood theme.cover-set-2-1024x253

So far, I can not rave highly enough of this book. Anyone who has been reading my posts for any amount of time knows how much I love fairy tales, how much I love young adult novels and how much I love science fiction. This book is all three, and is basically my perfect novel.

If you like any one of those three things, you will undoubtedly like this book. It’s fantastic.

Go read it!

If you have read it and want to talk about it as much as I want to talk about it, leave a comment or send me an e-mail at rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Until next time!

Rachel

Mountain of the Dead: The Dyatlov Pass Incident Book Review

Helloooooo! I’m sorry I haven’t written recently, I’ve been out of commission a bit because I broke my right foot and badly sprained my left ankle. So I’ve just been trying to heal up and get better. But in my time at home, gaining worse cabin fever by the day, I had plenty of time to read!

Before I get into the book, you need the backstory: back in April, my boyfriend and I drove up to Boston and at night we were watching YouTube videos of an old lady playing video games (she’s absolutely adorable and calls the people that watch her videos her grandkids! My heart is melting just thinking about it!) and she began a new game based on a true story. I thought it was incredibly interesting, so we found a book about the incident and bought it so I could read it ASAP.

The story is crazy. Basically, in 1959 a group of nine very experienced skiers went to a mountain in Russia. The group kept extensive journals and logs about their progress on Mount Otorten and everything was going well. On February 1st the logs stop. No one hears from them even weeks after they should have returned. Search parties are sent out, and the bodies are found.dyatlov pass2

Rather, the bodies were found in a very odd and mysterious way.

They were found in an area that was not where they were supposed to be – almost 9 miles from their original destination. Their tent had been slashed open from the inside as if in a panic – say whaaaaat? The search party then found the first group of people (five out of nine) with a crudely made fire from the limbs of a nearby tree that they had climbed. They were found with barely any warm clothes on and no shoes at all. Two of the members had frozen next to their fire, with their hands and feet charred as if they had stuck them directly into their fire. That group also contained three members who were found dead in straight line, crawling towards their tent.

The the second portion of the group was found closer to the tent, hidden under what looked like a makeshift shelter from the elements. These skiers were found with unidentifiable internal injuries and little to no external injuries other than frostbite.

What happened to this group? Fifty-seven years after this mysterious incident, still no conclusion has been made as to what occurred on February 1st, 1959. But Mountain of the Dead: The Dyatlov Pass Incident by Keith McCloskey provides quite a few theories that you can choose from.
Here’s my issue with this book, and I’ll go right out and say it now: these theories are ridiculous. Some of them make some sense (such as a group fight, or an attack by the local tribes) and you can find truth to them and somewhat understand what could have happened. But for the most part they were just far fetched.

For example, one of the biggest “possibilities” is the Yury Yakimov theory. This is the idea that some sort of extraterrestrial thing with blinding lights and little henchmen with floating orbs that respond only to a human glance could have caused the panic that occurred on that fateful night.

Now I’ll be the first to say that I believe in something else. I believe that there are some sorts of extra terrestrial things out there. Maybe not in the green body, big upside-down tear shaped face creatures. But definitely I believe that there is some kind of life elsewhere, and that weird things happen all the time. I believe that.dyatlov_pass_incident_02

What I don’t believe, is that this Yury Yakimov guy saw these beings in 2002 – more than 40 years later – somewhat near the town where these students died, and somehow I’m supposed to believe that they are the reason behind the tragic incident?

Look, I’ve believed crazier things. But something about the fact that this happened 43 years after, basically just in the greater surrounding area – not even on the frickin’ mountain they died on, and was only seen by two people in 2002 and never again – at least that was made public – just doesn’t make sense to me. The fact that this is such a plausible theory that there’s not only a chapter designated for it, but a 34 page chapter for it, is just ridiculous.

The next theory that they had was that the military caused the incident. Keep in mind, again, I can believe in military cover-ups and things like that. But the fact that this book has at least a total of 60 pages dedicated specifically to military cover-ups or bombings, or Infrasound weapons, or accidental launches of ICBMs without anyone else noticing…. it’s just too much. I can’t hop on that train.

Despite the theories, the book has a lot of good detail, so let’s get into that.

The book starts with what happened as stated by eyewitnesses as they began their journey up the mountain, as well as using what is written in their diaries, and what was found after their deaths. They go into a LOT of detail on the autopsies which I found extremely interesting and helpful in coming up with my own conclusions. Some of the marks and bruises and internal injuries, and even the causes of death just seem very strange, and I thought it was absolutely awesome to be able to read the full autopsy reports.

Unfortunately, I feel like after those first couple chapters, this book just fluctuated up and down. It was pretty much a reading roller coaster. Sometimes it would be super interesting, and sometimes it would be kind of crap, or at least really slow. When it was good, it was really good. But about 30% of the book was just really slow and far-fetched.

As far as this being a good book, as in a well written and well researched book – I think it lives up to my expectations. But as far as it being an exciting book to read, I would say that it was really only like 75% exciting and the rest was just filler.

Honestly, I was pretty disappointed with this book. Maybe it’s just because I was so looking forward to it. I mean, I’m incredibly interested in the stories behind murders, and strange deaths – I’m just very interested in crime and things of that nature so this seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to read a new awesome book. But sadly it was less about what happened on their journey and more about trying to find ANY SOLUTION, no matter how ridiculous to fill in the gaps that are left by the mysterious incident.Dyatlov Pass incident

For those interested in this kind of book or topic, I would suggest you read it, but don’t waste your time on the boring parts. If you’re reading it and are like, “wow. That’s stupid.” just skip over it, because the best parts of this book are honestly the true parts of this book, and not the billions of theories.

I’m sorry to give you basically a disappointing book review, but hey, man, that’s what I signed up for! Gotta give you the truth! Nonetheless, I’m currently reading a crime novel about the serial killer Carl Panzram, so when I’m finished with that I’ll be sure to let you guys know what I think of it.

If you have read this book or know of any other theories or stories and want to share them, please leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail at rachel@booksandcleverness.com.

Until next time!

Rachel