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

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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

Book Series’ That Get Worse Over Time

Hi friends! I have different kind of topic for you today, but it requires a bit of an explanation:

So you all know that I’ve been obsessed with Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series since the beginning of 2016. I finished the first two novels, Angels & Demons and The DaVinci Code, and then began reading The Lost Symbol. Well, to be quite frank: The Lost Symbol sucks.the-lost-symbol

As you know, I’m a big supporter of what I like to call, “stop reading bad books!” It’s pretty self-explanatory, if you’re reading a bad book, stop! Don’t waste your time. Life is way to short to be reading books that aren’t contributing to your happiness.

So, I stopped reading that book and began the fourth book, Inferno, which has proven to be pretty interesting so far, with absolutely no mention of the third book – so I’m in the clear.

But anyway, I was discussing this with my sister when we switched topics to the new Chelsea Handler show on Netflix. I was always a HUGE Chelsea Handler fan. It wasn’t until her fourth book and final  seasons of Chelsea Lately, actually, that I stopped giving a crap.

Apparently my sister felt the same way about her books and our mutual disinterest made me think about the books she’s written and how, much like Dan Brown, it got worse over time.

Chelsea’s first book, My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands was incredible! I could read that book a thousand times and never get bored of it. It’s her observational humor and her “who-gives-a-fuck” attitude that I am drawn in by. But what happened was she began with a great book – a really, really great book. That, to me, would be just setting her up for failure… Except her next book, Are You There Vodka? It’s Me Chelsea was almost as good as the first! Who’da thunk?

my_horizontal_life_book_coverUnfortunately, her third book was not as great. Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang seemed like Handler just wanted to give the reader some weird and awkward stories. It was honestly more awkward to read than her first book which was entirely about sex. This book was almost awkward and uncomfortable for the sake of being “edgy” and I didn’t like that. For example, she discusses masturbation and tells us EXACTLY when, where and how her first experience happened (Hint: it’s when she’s in third grade.) Too much, Chelsea. Too much.

Her fourth book, and the last one that I read, Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me, was really kind of a bullshit book. Very few parts were written by Handler herself, and instead were just chapters written by people in her life, including the comedians that worked with her on Chelsea Lately. It was less of the humor that I was used to with Handler – drinking and sex stories, observational humor, sarcastic responses and just all around a fun read. Instead it was a novel written by everyone except Handler saying how horrible she is (in the best way). Not my kind of book.

She has a fifth book, Uganda Be Kidding Me, that I didn’t even bother reading. At the time when this book came out I had stopped watching Chelsea Lately entirely because she didn’t even want to be there anymore. Every episode she said something bad about who she was with or the network itself or would say things like “I don’t even know we’re still on the air. Stop putting us on the air.” So I just said screw it and read other books/watched other shows instead.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are so many book series, or at least books by the same author, out there that really do get worse over time. Not because the writing is worse, or the plot isn’t interesting, but rather (or at least to me) that the author kind of stops giving a shit, or tries to be something they’re not. 51febvmy-al-_sy344_bo1204203200_

You’ll all remember that I loved the first Mindy Kaling novel, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of the second. I thought that even though she was trying, she was trying too hard. Her stuff wasn’t as funny anymore because she wasn’t being herself, she was being herself PLUS everything that she’s trying to sell. So instead of being Mindy Kaling, she’s being everything her brand is. It’s hard for a comedian, or any author, to write two solidly good books in a row, let alone a series of books.

I hate to say that when it comes to Chelsea or Dan Brown, their books just get worse. But it does seem to be true! For Chelsea, after the second book she ran out of material and instead of just leaving on a high note she thought, “I can still milk this and get some money off of the people who watch my show or want my books to be as good as the first one” and just went for the lazy approach of picking uncomfortable stories to tell her audience or not even really writing a book at all – having her staff do it for her. That just seems lazy.

With Dan Brown, I know he’s a great writer, I know he can come up with compelling and intriguing plots, but for whatever reason after The DaVinci Code he seemed to just stop putting as much effort into the books. It was almost like he figured his first two books were great so anything that comes after might just be filler, but he’d still be getting paid a lot of money for it, so what the hell! Let’s a write a book!

Please keep in mind, though, this is just my opinion. I’m not sure what other readers have thought on either of these topics. But for me, it’s not worth it to spend my time reading a book that I either know I won’t like or appreciate as much as I’d like to, or that just sucks. I already have limited time Dan Brown Inferno book coverto read books, I don’t want to spend that precious time not enjoying it.

Soooo, now I’m reading Inferno – the fourth and final Robert Langdon books, and this book is pretty good so far. It starts of with a bang – literally. So it’s been fun to read so far. I don’t think it’s as good as the first two, it still has the same sort of formula: Langdon is in a foreign city and has to outrun people with a beautiful woman he just met who happens to be a very strong, independent person and he brings art history and conspiracies into the mix. Every single book. But at least it’s not as bad as The Lost Symbol at this point.

I have a few more books on my reading list that I plan on getting to as soon as I’m done with the Dan Brown series, but for now I’m just enjoying the mystery of whatever the hell is  going on in this book…. what the hell is going on in this book???

I actually heard a lot of people didn’t care for this novel, but I’ll be the judge of that, thank you very much!

Well, my loves, it’s been a pleasure. I hope this blog at least gets you to stop reading a bad book you’re reading and start getting into something interesting!

Until next time!

Rachel

P.S. If you’ve read any of the Chelsea Handler books and think I should give the fifth book and the new TV show on Netflix a shot, let me know in the comments or shoot me an e-mail. I’m very on the fence and want your opinion.

e-mail: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Top 3 Books I Want To Read

Hi friends! So this week I’m in a funky mood. I’ve been wanting to buy more books but I don’t have enough money and I already have a ton of books that I haven’t read yet that I need to read. It pains me to want to buy books so badly and not do it, but it’s for the best, I’m sure.

I have a pretty big collection of books. Most of them I’ve read but some of them I haven’t. Recently I’ve been trying to read all the books I own instead of going out and buying new books. This is great for my bank account, and it’s super difficult for me. So rather than pine and think of all the books I want to buy, I’m going to get myself excited about the books that I already own.

So without further ado, let’s begin:

  1. The Revenant – Michael PunkeTheRevenant_Poster

I actually just saw the movie based on the book and it was fantastic! I had no idea that this movie was a book first (published in 2015) and the second I saw the cover at Barnes & Noble I had to buy it. This is my most recent purchase and I’m just itching to read it. For those who haven’t heard of the book or the movie, the premise is about a trapper in the 1800s who is mauled by a bear and left for dead, but not before his son is killed before his eyes with no way to stop it. This book/movie is the ultimate book of revenge and vindication, and I can’t wait to read it.

Side note: The movie was incredible (yes, I will eventually do a Book vs Movie on this one). And I love Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s easily one of my favorite male actors. Everything he touches turns to gold (except his Oscar…. poor Leo.)

2. The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City – Jennifer Toth

This is a book I’ve wanted to read since the mid-2000s but was a little too scared to. As someone who lives relatively close to New York City, I’ve walked those streets many-a-time and don’t really like thinking that there could potentially be an entire race of people who live beneath your feet in total squalor, but with a somewhat advanced society. I don’t know, it just always scared the living daylights out of me.

molepeopleBut recently I’ve wanted to learn more. I’ve been told that this book is fiction, but nearly everything I’ve read has said that this book is categorized under “non-fiction” and “history” and that fascinates me even more. This book and the stories told within it could be fiction or they could be facts.

It’s one of those things where when I think of it, my brain logically goes into “oh please, this is totally fiction” but slowly changes to, “hold up. Of course it’s true!” I mean let’s just discuss the possibility here for a second: New York City is completely overpopulated. Years and years ago it was so crowded that they couldn’t build outward anymore, only upward. Who’s to say that they couldn’t built downward as well?

Looking at an entire city filled with more than 8 million people spanned over 305 square miles, where are they all going to live? Let’s assume that each person has an apartment – that’s 400 square feet that they need to live in. At a certain point you can’t build flat anymore – you have to start building up. There’s unlimited space in the sky. Maybe having the world’s tallest apartment building isn’t the greatest idea, but hell! It gets people to be off the streets and in their own space!

So if you agree with the fact that you can’t build on the ground anymore, and can only go up, what makes you think you can’t go down? What in the world would stop people who don’t have the money to afford a NYC apartment from inhabiting the tunnels hundreds of feet below the surface? Nothing! They’ve already been excavated, you can continue to excavate the area, and you’re free of the windy air pummeling down on the other NYC homeless. And that’s why I absolutely can’t wait to read it. It’s just so interesting!

    3. The Lost Symbol and Inferno – Dan Brown

I know I’ve already discussed reading the first of the Robert Langdon series Angels & Demons but I’m just so so so excited to finish this series. I’m halfway through the second book, The DaVinci Code, and I’m absolutely loving it. My boyfriend was sweet enough to surprise me with the last two RobertLangdonbooks of the series so that I wouldn’t have to go out and buy them. (He’s a good man who knows the way to my heart!) And since then, they’ve been sitting on our coffee table just whispering, “read me! we love you! you know you’re curious! read me!” and damn is it hard to resist!

I’m not even halfway through the entire series and I’m already thinking this is one of the best mystery/adventure/historical fiction-ish series I’ve read. It has everything: history, murder, bad guys, guns, an awesome symbologist, super smart women, and conspiracy theories (that honestly make a hell of a lot of sense)! It’s amazing!

I highly recommend reading these books if you haven’t already (I know, I’m late to the Dan Brown game).

So those are the top three books that I have in my possession right now that I absolutely can not wait to read!!!!!!

If you have any books that you think I should read, or any books that you think I should add to my collection please feel free to let me know!

Until next time!

Rachel

e-mail: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Go Set A Watchman By Harper Lee

gosetawatchman

Happy Friday, blog family! As July came to an end, I began something new: the recently published Go Set A Watchman by the author of To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee.

I first read To Kill A Mockingbird, like most people, in high school. Maybe I’m the only one, but I really didn’t care for it. My issue with the book is that it’s a great character study, and it has a very interesting, historically accurate plot, but the writing style seemed slow to me. Granted, I haven’t read the book in years but I do remember that I wasn’t crazy about it. My favorite part of the entire book was the trial and that only lasted a little bit.

Nevertheless, I heard that Harper Lee had just gotten a new book published. A sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird set 20 years after the trial. After some research I actually learned that the book was found in Harper Lee’s safety deposit box, and was written as the first draft of a manuscript of To Kill A Mockingbird. Lee decided that she would keep the book in safe keeping, but she began writing the book we’ve all read from the beginning. She made the characters she’d first created younger, and went into a lot of detail about the postbellum South (and particularly the justice system when it came to black people in the south).

Well, after going to Costco and seeing that the usually $30 book was only $15, I decided to read it. I had finished The Martian and wanted to read something shorter that I thought would be an interesting read. I was wrong.

At least for a while, I was wrong. You see the book starts out really really really slow. The first exactly one hundred pages (out of 279, by the way) were slow. No, not slow, boring. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been reading books that are all excitement from page one, but this book was really boring.

But for a couple days I figured that I might just be feeling this way because I didn’t like the first book. Then it dawned on me that I was really only reading this book because I felt I needed to. I felt obligated to read this book because it was written by somebody incredibly well known, and it was her first published book since the original back in 1960. It was something I had chosen to read, but not because I thought the story sounded interesting. Still, I kept reading. On page 104 the book got somewhat interesting. Or, at least, at page 104 a plot appeared.

Honestly, the second the plot appeared I couldn’t put it down. I’ve mentioned how recently I’ve been reading very slowly. Well, from page 104 to 279, it took me a total of 3 hours, over the span of two days, to read the rest of the book. Which is great considering I’ve been reading about ten pages a night, if that.

So anyway, when the plot began to thicken, I couldn’t put it down. The end of the book was seamless and actually pretty sweet. It was a very nice ending – not necessarily a good ending, by the way, but a nice ending. There was a line I thought was very well written. Lee wrote, “Remember this also: it’s always easy to look back and see what we were, yesterday, ten years ago. It is hard to see what we are. If you can master that trick, you’ll get along.”

I thought that was very well said. It’s quite true that looking back on your life you’ll think of what you should have done and how naïve you were. It’s so easy to think those things. It’s so easy to get lost in the past. But what is in the past is past. It’s much harder to look at yourself and understand who you are now. It’s something that so many people struggle with.

Now, back to Go Set A Watchman. I had a very hard time with this book character-wise. I don’t want to give anything away so I’ll just mention these two characters:

Scout. The beloved Scout, who ran rampant with Jem and Dill and always took Boo Radley’s gifts for granted, is now called Jean Louise. Okay. I can get behind that because I understand that it’s 20 years later and she’s a 26 year old woman. But what I can’t get behind is the fact that she’s 26 years old, called Jean Louise, living in New York City, never sees her family and is a complete brat for the first 170 pages! Come on, Scout. You’re better than this…

This isn’t a spoiler because it’s on the back cover of the book, so don’t blame me: Atticus is super sick! He’s been declining for a long time. In fact, he’s been declining for years. And guess how long it’s been since Jean Louise saw him? TWO YEARS. TWO. Come on, Scout.

Dr. Finch (AKA Uncle Jack). I don’t actually remember if this man was in the first book or not, but oh. my. god. I love him. I wish I could follow Dr. Finch around for 279 pages instead of Jean Louise because this man is so brilliant. He’s such a great character and has so much to contribute. In fact, that quote I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, that was said by Dr. Finch. He was wonderful.

Okay, so last thoughts. The book was alright. In a way I’m glad I read it, but I also wish I hadn’t read it, just because I would have gotten to leave the characters eternally where I left them: as kids. I understand peoples desire to read this book and learn more about the future of the Finch family, but I wasn’t crazy about that.

HOWEVER, had this book not been affiliated with To Kill A Mockingbird at all, and had just been a new book about a girl who visits her hometown for a couple weeks, I think this would’ve been a pretty decent book. But because it had those ties to the characters everyone knew and loved and kept in their memory, it kind of ruined it a little bit for me. Had Harper Lee changed the names of the characters and changed the name of the town, this could’ve taken place anywhere in the South and it would have been an interesting read towards the end.

If you loved the first book, chances are you’ll like this one too. It has a lot of the same things: writing style, characters, message, etc. It just wasn’t for me.

If you’ve read it and liked it, or didn’t like it, let me know in the comments or send me an e-mail at rachel@booksandcleverness.com and we can have a conversation about what we thought!

Until next time!

Rachel