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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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

Fairy Tale Fails: Hansel and Gretel

In honor of Halloween, I’m bringing back one of my favorite types of posts: Fairy Tale Fails. The story this time? Hansel and Gretel. I figure if ever there was a story that best accompanies All Hallow’s Eve it is the one that has an actual witch in it.

Reading the Grimm’s Fairy Tale version of the classic tale, not a lot is different about the core story: two kids are idiots and try to eat a house made out of candy and a witch lures them in and tries to eat them. But there are parts of the story that I don’t remember ever reading.

In my mind, the story of Hansel and Gretel goes something like this:

One day a brother and sister were walking through the woods. They were wandering around but didn’t want to get lost so they brought a loaf of bread with them to leave crumbs on their trail so they can find their way home. Once they’re ready to turn back around they find that the crumbs are no longer there, most likely eaten by a bird. Unsure what to do, the siblings keep walking until they find a house made of gingerbread and candy. At this point they have been walking all day and are hungry (plus, candy!) so they decide to go up to the house and start picking off little pieces to eat. Hoping there is more food inside, they break into the house only to find a witch ready willing and able to lock them up and eat them. Once she prepares the oven for the kids to cook in, she lets them out and tells them to look into the oven to see if it’s hot enough. The kids somehow trick her into going over first and they lock her in the oven and leave. The end.

To this day I cannot for the life of me remember if anything happened after that point in the story. Or at least, I didn’t know until recently.

You see, I first started reading all of the original fairy tale stories several years ago. But that was always one of those stories that I honestly didn’t give a rats ass about. I never thought the story was entertaining, I thought the kids were idiots and the idea of a candy house was ludicrous – wouldn’t it melt or disintegrate??? And as for the witch, if you’re a person that genuinely wants to eat children, how did you get suckered into letting these kids run around your house with no ties or anything, and then be stupid enough to say, “you know what, maybe I should check, personally, to see if the oven is ready first. I’m sure the kids will leave me alone while I go near the place that they knew I was going to kill them in.” what??

So no, when I read the Grimm’s Fairy Tales I didn’t read the story. I skipped over the entire chapter and moved along to the next story. But as Halloween was approaching I wanted to get back into the Fairy Tale Fails swing of things and realized that it’s actually kind of the perfect story to tear apart via blog. It appeals to all the creepy things we hate: cannibalism, candy-luring creeps, kids lost in the woods, kids in general (HA! Just kidding, only some kids are creepy and I hate them). So I read the actual story. And it was weird.

The story begins with an explanation, one that I hadn’t actually thought about previously. Why were the kids wandering alone in the woods? According to the Brothers Grimm, the siblings live with their father and stepmother. When a famine strikes and everyone is starving, the stepmother (always berating the children and beating them) tells the father that she is going to take everyone on a walk in the morning and get rid of the two kids so that she and her husband can eat the extra food they’d been giving to the children. He doesn’t like this idea but she wears him down and agrees to the plan. Unbeknownst to them, Hansel has overheard their conversation and sneaks out of his room to pick up some white pebbles to leave a trail back to the house.

The next morning, the whole family goes on the excursion. The father and stepmom leave the kids, but to their surprise they’ve found their way home. Pissed that they survived and used the pebble trick against her, the stepmom talks to the father and says that the plan will work and they will do it again the next morning. In order to make sure they don’t go anywhere in the meantime to get provisions, she locks the children in their room.

On the way out the next morning Hansel grabs a slice of bread for the walk and begins leaving a trail behind. Again the parents leave the children. But when Hansel and Gretel go back to follow the bread crumbs they find that a bird has eaten them and that they are lost. This is when the story is the same:

They wander, find a gingerbread house and eat it’s roof. A witch comes out and lures them into her home with candy and the promise of comfort and sleep. She locks them away. She uses Gretel as her slave and decides to fatten up Hansel so there’s more of him to eat. When she’s finally ready to eat, she lets Hansel out and decides to kill Gretel as well. Still her slave, Gretel is told to go into the opening of the oven to see if the fire is burning well, but pretends that she doesn’t understand the command. Frustrated that the kid isn’t getting it, the witch goes to show her what she should be doing. As she leans forward, Gretel knocks her into the stove and locks it.

She and Hansel find out that theres a large pot of jewels and valuables. They take the jewels and leave. The only problem? Where are they going to go? Well, miraculously, a swan agrees to let the children ride on it’s back and swims them back to their father’s house. Going inside, they realize that the stepmom has died, and that now (with the riches they’ve acquired) they can live happily ever after as a family.

Okay. Where do I begin? Oh, right, I know: the step mom is a total dick and the dad is no better! What the fuck? I can understand the dad being lonely and getting into a relationship with a new lady. I also understand that that lady was a dick to the kids, but the dad is still lonely and maybe doesn’t care much about the kids. But what I don’t understand is how your wife can say, “I don’t want the kids anymore. I’m hungry, let’s drop them off somewhere to starve to death and we’ll live happily again.” and for the husband to say, “you know what, it’s been a tough year, I think you’re right. Let’s drop them off tomorrow.” What??

I don’t know, maybe I’m old fashioned, but I feel like the dad – the biological father – should maybe not want to give up the kids that easy? I know in the story they say that he wasn’t okay with it at first, but that begs the question, what made him change his mind? I just don’t get it.

Second, if Hansel is so smart that he knows to bring small items with him to leave a trail to get home, why is he not smart enough to know he shouldn’t eat a random house in the middle of nowhere made out of candy?

Third, and possibly most importantly, WHERE DID THIS MYSTICAL SWAN COME FROM AND HOW DOES IT KNOW THERE IS A GIANT LAKE GOING FROM THE GINGERBREAD HOUSE TO THEIR PARENTS HOUSE? AND HOW DIDN’T THE KIDS KNOW ABOUT IT? That seems like the perfect landmark to get the kids to know where they are so they don’t need stupid pebbles!

I don’t know, man. This story is just weird and gives me too many things to pick apart (and the majority of the story was the same as what I’ve grown up hearing!)  But thanks to the spirit of Halloween, I can now sleep easy knowing that I understand the original, classic tale of Hansel and Gretel and never have to read it again.

If you like Fairy Tale Fails, or if you have a story you want me to analyze or read, leave me a message in the comments to let me know or send me an e-mail at rachel@booksandcleverness.com. 

Happy Hall-ow-eeeeen! MANIACAL LAUGH, MANIACAL LAUGH…

Rachel

Book vs Movie: Cinderella

“Cinderelly, Cinderelly, night and day it’s Cinderelly….” It’s been a week and that song is still stuck in my head.

So, now comes part two of our Cinderella adventure. All week I’ve been wanting to watch the new Cinderella movie once more to be super accurate with my findings. But I’ve settled for memory and Wikipedia – and let’s be honest, Wikipedia never lies.

So let the duel begin!

I mentioned last time the difference between the original written version of Cinderella and the Disney version of Cinderella. In this one we’re discussing the combination of the original Cinderella AND the Disney version versus the live-action Disney Cinderella. So basically it’s really “Book and Movie vs Movie” – I’m sorry for totally stretching the lines of the whole book vs movie thing.

First, I’d like to mention that I actually really loved the new 2015 live-action version of Cinderella. I was worried when I heard they were making it because I had been getting more and more disenchanted with the original for many years, and heard this movie was pretty much a shot-for-shot remake of the original. However, I think this version was actually A LOT better than the original Disney version. Blasphemous, I know. But true.

Here’s my reasoning: this version, while still upholding the usual Disney Princess, classic (and literal) from rags to riches tale, gave the character so much more depth. They gave Cinderella her own mind, her own opinions, and still kept the classic Grimm’s Fairy Tales edge!

The movie starts out with a young Cinderella (she goes by Ella) and her loving, devoted parents. Her mom sings her “Lavender’s Blue,” which is an old seventeenth century lullaby that I’d heard before but never knew the name until I looked it up on Wikipedia. It’s a rather beautiful song, and it fits the story very well. The song essentially is about two people who love each other and will be King and Queen one day. But not in the usual “DAMNIT, I WISH I WERE A KING!” sense. More in the, “I love you, and one day we’ll have the world together” sense. It’s very pretty.

“Lavender’s green, dilly, dilly, Lavender’s blue,

If you love me, dilly, dilly, I will love you.

Let the birds sing, dilly, dilly, And the lambs play,

We shall be safe, dilly, dilly, out of harm’s way.

How sweet! But anyway, this song is engrained in Cinderella’s head forever, and she always sings it when she’s alone.

The mother gets sick and tells Ella to always be kind and be brave. This is something that’s mentioned in the original Grimm’s version as well, the mother tells Cinderella to be kind and to trust in God. In the movie, when the mother dies, father and daughter both go through a long period of time when they grieve for the mother. Eventually the father believes he has found a woman who will make him happy. Ella wants her father to be happy and gives him her blessing to marry this woman, and to take in her two daughters.

Much like the written version, the father goes on a trip and promises lavish gifts for the step-daughters, but Ella only wants whatever twig happens to hit his hat first. Once he goes away, the step mother begins to treat Ella poorly, giving her own daughters the best bedrooms in the house and moving Ella into the cold attic. Not long after, they get word that the father has died (unlike in the written story, which still bothers me). A while goes by, the step mother has designated Ella as their housekeeper and servant and begin calling her Cinderella due to the cinders on her face after sleeping near the fire to keep warm all night. Ella has no one to turn to, and believes that the mice that live in her attic understand her and help her. YES! The return of Jaq and Gus!!

This is where a lot of things change, because the movie ends up delving deeper into the prince’s side of the story with his father, whereas in every other version all we know is that the prince is having a ball and will choose a bride. In the movie they discuss the fact that princes have to marry princesses. The ball where he gets to choose a bride may seem as though he can choose any girl he pleases, but law dictates that the prince must marry someone of royalty, so royalty will attend the ball and he will choose from them.

The next part everyone knows: Cinderella wants to go to the ball, after getting dolled up and ready for the it, the step mother refuses to take her with them, and tears the dress she’s wearing to pieces. Completely devastated, Ella goes into the backyard and cries, when a fairy godmother shows up to lend her witchy hand. She gives Ella a beautiful gown, and turns the mice into horses, a pumpkin into a carriage, and a goose into the driver who says something along the lines of, “I’m a goose. I don’t think I can drive.”

She goes to the ball and the prince falls madly for her, but she has to leave by midnight, so she runs away from her love and loses her glass slipper on the steps. The prince demands that all the women in the area try on this slipper and if it fits their foot, she’s the one (still kind of backwards logic, but I’ll let it slide). The wicked step mother knows that Ella is the one he’s looking for when she finds the other glass slipper in the attic, and locks her away in there so no one will find her.

When the prince comes calling, the lady of the house has her two daughters try the shoe on, to no avail. The prince asks if there is anyone else in the house, but no one is found. Knowing that the prince is going to leave, the mice in the attic open up the window as Ella is singing “Lavender’s Blue” to herself.

The prince finds Ella, tries the shoe on her foot, and it fits! Hooray! The prince’s father has agreed to let them marry despite the fact that she is not royalty because he knows the prince loves her. Remembering the promise to her mother to be kind, Ella has forgiven her step-mother for all the cruelty throughout the years. The prince takes her away and they live happily ever after.

Honestly it’s pretty close to the first Disney movie, complete with mice. But there are some very interesting undertones that one wouldn’t assume are actually a part of the story unless you know the Grimm’s Fairy Tales version, such as the promise to her mother to be kind. That’s why I thought the movie was spectacular. Don’t get me wrong, I love the songs in the original, and I love the fact that it was a classic tale of rags-to-riches. But this version has more substance and it was researched properly.

That said, I have a bit of an issue with the book vs movie tally because while I like the original written story, the father was still alive! ARRRG! So for the first time ever I’m going to say:

The winner of the duel is: Cinderella – 2015 live-action film.

Book: 3 Movie: 3

Until next time!

If you have any fairy tales you want me to look over, or even just want to say hi, you can post a comment on here or send me an email at rachel@booksandcleverness.com. Also if you’re enjoying the blog you can now follow me via the “follow by e-mail” box on the right! Hope to hear from you soon!

Rachel