Review:Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)Cinder by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t know why I waited so long to read Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I loved it! I think the cyborg and science fiction elements made me keep putting off reading this book, since I don’t read science fiction novels very often. However, Marissa Meyer crafts such an amazing and engaging story that keeps non-science fiction readers, like myself, turning the pages.

Cinder is a retelling of Cinderella. Our main character, Cinder, is a strong female character despite much hardship in her life. Cinder is a very likeable and relatable character, that I found myself rooting for throughout the entire book. She doesn’t remember any of her life prior to age 11 and becoming a cyborg. Cinder lives with her legal guardian, who doesn’t want her, and her two sisters (the legal guardian’s children). Unlike the original fairytale of Cinderella, Cinder has a great relationship with one of the sisters. I really enjoyed thst change that Marissa Meyer writes into her version of the Cinderella fairytale. It is so beautiful to see this sisterly relationship and their love for each other.

Throughout the book, Cinder learns a lot about herself with the help of Dr. Erland and how she can help the people of New Beijing through a horrible epidemic. At the end of the book, there is a huge revelation about Cinder that I feel like I should have seen coming. However, I was so engrossed in the story and purely enjoying it at face value, that I didn’t see the twist coming.

Queen Levana is an awful character. Marissa Meyer writes her character so well that every time I read about Queen Levana, she made my skin crawl. She puts Kai and Cinder in some very tough and unfair situations. I liked that Kai looked beyond Cinder’s second class status and her being a mechanic, but some of his choices broke my heart for Cinder and himself. I’m excited to see what happens with Kai and Cinder throughout this series and what choices they ultimately make.

I look forward to continuing with this series and seeing what’s next for Cinder, Kai, Dr. Erland, Queen Levana and the people of New Beijing. I look forward to seeing how Marissa Meyer introduces more fairytale retellings into The Lunar Chronicles series. The ending of Cinder definitely left me wanting more and I’m so glad I didn’t let the science fiction/cyborg elements stop me from picking this book up!

Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval (Caraval, #1)Caraval by Stephanie Garber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Caraval by Stephanie Garber was absolutely fantastic! The characters were amazing, the plot was throughly engaging and if the story as a whole wasn’t enough to pick up book 2, the cliffhanger at the end made it an absolute must. I can’t wait for the release of book 2 in this series!

Caraval took me through such a wide range of emotions, from the edge of my seat excitement and anticipation to heartbreak to joy. Whenever magic is involved, you never know what could be around the next corner. Garber does a wonderful job of weaving in lots of unexpected twists and turns. As a reader, a few times, I thought I had solved something within the story, only to find out how wrong I was.

I’ve heard this book compared to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I loved The Night Circus and that’s why I was so excited to read this book. However, after reading both books, I really don’t understand the comparison. Yes, they both take place in a magical circus like atmosphere, but other then that, they are very different stories. I guess there’s an argument for both books involving a competition , but in my opinion, that would be a very loose comparison of the word competition. The “competition” aspect is just so drastically different between the two books. If you are not a fan of The Night Circus and Caraval intrigues you at all, I would suggest giving Caraval a try. I’ve heard many reviews where readers of The Night Circus didn’t like that the book kept the reader feeling like they were on the outside looking in on it’s characters. Caraval is the complete opposite of this. I was completly engrossed and invested in the characters of Caraval. Caraval puts the reader right in the middle of the caraval, all of it’s magic, action and surprises. I felt completely connected and invested in the lives of the characters of Caraval.

I also throughly enjoyed the sibling bonds in this book. Sibling relationships are put to huge tests and the lengths that siblings are willing to go for each other in this story just warmed my heart.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber was such an amazing book! I throughly enjoyed each and every turn of the page.

Review: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Tell the Wolves I'm HomeTell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When it comes to Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, I have some mixed feelings. There are some aspects of the book that I really enjoyed and others that I just didn’t care for.

I think this book did a great job at depicting the 1980s. I grew up in the ’80s and I really enjoyed all of the ’80s references throughout the book.

Carol Rifka Brunt also portrayed AIDS in the 1980s very accurately. During the ’80s, AIDS was just becoming a widely known disease. However, there wasn’t a lot known about the disease and how it was spread. In Tell the Wolves I’m Home Finn and Toby have AIDS. Brunt does an excellent job of writing the experiences of a person with AIDS living in the 1980s through the lives of FInn and Toby.

I enjoyed Brunt’s writing style and her descriptions at points throughout the book. One of my favorite descriptions was Carol Rifka Brunt’s descrption of NYC in the rain. Brunt writes:

“Toby told me to take a taxi from Grand Central to the apartment. I stared out the window the whole way, because it was raining, which is how I like the city best. It looks like it’s been polished up. All the streets shine and the lights from everywhere reflect off the black. It’s like the whole place has been dipped in sugar syrup. Like the city is one big candy apple.”

– pg 139 “Tell the Wolves I’m Home” by Carol Rifka Brunt

There were aspects of the character of 14 year old June that I liked and that I could relate to. June was very shy and because of her shyness she didn’t socialize as much as her sister Greta. Brunt writes:

“Greta knows there are no good parties. I’m okay with one or two people, but more then that and I turn into a naked mole rat. That’s what being shy feels like. Like my skin is too thin, the light too bright. Like the best place I could be is in a tunnel far under the cool, dark earth. Someone asks me a question and I stare at them, empty faced, my brain jammed up with how hard I’m trying to find something interesting to say. And in the end, all I can do is nod or shrug, because the light of their eyes looking at me, waiting for me, is just too much to take.”

– pg 34 “Tell the Wolves I’m Home” by Carol Rifka Brunt

In a lot of ways, I could relate to June as I am a shy person and social situations like this can be difficult for me as well. I’m much more comfortable around people that I know and trust.

For most of the book, I didn’t care for Greta at all. She was so mean to June, Finn and Toby. Greta was also very entitled and self absorbed. I will say that by the end of the book, the reader learns why Greta behaves the way that she does and Greta does begin to treat June better. For me, though, I disliked Greta so much through most of the book and it was hard to change those feelings so quickly as I read the last chapters of the book.

I really disliked the way that Carol Rifka Brunt wrote June’s feelings towards her Uncle Finn and then even her Uncle Toby. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t go into detail. However, I felt that Brunt took it too far and crossed a line that had me thinking…What?!?! That would never really happen! It really upset me. These feelings of June’s are spread throughout the entire story. Everytime I read about them, it made my stomach turn. I just didn’t understand why or enjoy this part of the story at all. It seemed very inappropriate and unnecessary.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifke Brunt had some parts I really enjoyed and others that I struggled with. Overall, I thought it was a mostly enjoyable story with some good, descriptive language.

Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark MatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Standing happy and slightly drunk in my kitchen, I’m unaware that tonight is the end of all this. The end of everything I know, everything I love.

No one tells you it’s all about to change, to be taken away. There’s no proximity alert, no indication that you’re standing on the precipice. And maybe that’s what makes tragedy so tragic. Not just what happens, but how it happens: a sucker punch that comes at you out of nowhere, when you’re least expecting it. No time to flinch or brace.”

– pg 1 “Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch

What if you were abducted and you wake up to find everything you know about your life suddenly no longer exsists? no wife? no child? no longer a science professor at the local college? That’s what happens to Jason Dessen in Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. That is all the reader needs to know before going into this amazing thriller! It is best to go into Dark Matter as blind as possible and let Crouch take you on an incredible mind blowing ride.

There is some science to this story in a few small places. Some of that did go over my head, but I was easily able to grasp enough of it to understand all that was needed. It is such a small part of the book that I wouldn’t let that deter you from picking up this amazing book!

I loved the writing style and pacing of this book. Blake Crouch tells most of the story in very short paragraphs, most are only one sentence long. Surprisingly, for this story it works very well and keeps the reader reading at a very thrilling pace.

I really enjoyed the underlying themes in this book. I loved the exploration of family versuses career. I think that it’s something many of us think about and at times struggle to find balance in. I liked where Blake Crouch takes Jason and Daniela regarding family versuses career.

I also loved how Blake Crouch writes Jason and Daniela’s relationship. I love the underlying themes of love, loyalty and family that are explored through the characters of Jason and Daniela within the pages of Dark Matter. Is the grass always greener on the other side? Crouch explores this in a very interesting way throughout this book.

Although Dark Matter by Blake Crouch is most definitely an amazing, mind bending, action packed thriller, Crouch also explores love, life, family and career in this book. I throughly enjoyed not just the thriller aspects of this book, but how Blake Crouch masterfully weaves so much exploration of family throughout the book too. I highly recommend this book! It will take you on such a wild ride! By the time you are done, it will have challenged you to think about what is most important in life and how far you are willing to go to protect it.

Review: Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

Winter SolsticeWinter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher is a cozy, heartwarming character driven story. It is about an unlikely cast of characters who are all at crossroads in their lives for many various reasons. They end up together at a victorian house in Scotland. While there is a plot to this story, it is slow moving. The book is more about the characters, their stories and their coming together in the days leading up to Christmas.

Rosamunde Pilcher has a beautiful way with the written word. She pulls you in with her beautifully written and descriptive prose, making the reader feel as if they are right there within the story. Although the plot isn’t very fast moving, I found the book easy to read and the flow of the writing kept me turning the pages.

I especially felt for Oscar who is facing a tragedy that is every spouse and parent’s worst nightmare. Throughout the book, we follow Oscar as he comes to terms with the new realities of his life. I really enjoyed where Oscar’s life goes throughout the book and especially what happens with Oscar in the last pages of the book.

I also felt for Lucy who is fourteen and ends up at the house in Scotland with her aunt. Lucy is feeling unwanted by her mother and grandmother, two people who should always be there for her. It broke my heart to see them not care about Lucy, especially over the Christmas holiday. Thankfully, Lucy was able to find love and loyalty while in Scotland. Lucy’s time in Scotland changes her life forever as well as the lives of some of the other characters in Winter Solstice.

This was my first time reading any of Rosamunde Pilcher’s work, but it definitely will not be the last time. I really enjoyed her beautifully descriptive writing style as well as her ability to develop an amazing cast of characters. Rosamunde Pilcher infuses just enough plot alongside of her characters to make a most enjoyable, cozy winter read.

Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Man Called Ove is a beautiful story that explores its characters beyond who they appear to be on the surface, especially Ove. Ove, at first glance, is your typical grumpy old man of a character. But, there is so much more to Ove and by the end of the book I had so much love for Ove’s character. Ove’s story will frustrate you, make you laugh and break your heart. But, by the end of the story, the reader cannot help but have love override all else for Ove.

Ove’s “annoying” neighbors play such an integral role in his life that they have no idea about. With each annoyance they are changing the course of Ove’s life. It made me think about how many times we might be unknowingly changing the course of someone else’s life. Often we have no idea what others are going through in life and what we see may be just a tiny piece of what that person is all about. Backman explores this in such a wonderful way through Ove, his wife Sofia and their neighbors.

In A Man Called Ove, Backman takes the reader on a journey of exploring what happens when we judge someone before we truly know them. Sofia, Ove’s wife, is such an amazing, non-judgemental character and their love story is truly magical. She has the greatest impact on Ove’s life in so many ways.

Backman does a wonderful job of infusing such ridiculous thoughts, actions and requests from Ove in the perfect places throughout the book. It adds a great break and lightness throughout the book and the exploration of such a heavy main theme of the judgement of others. The reader can’t help but smile or laugh throughout much of Ove’s life.

Ove will break your heart and he’ll also make you laugh. Most importantly, Ove will remind the reader of the dangers of judging others. Ove is not the man we meet at the beginning of this book. He is so much more then that grumpy old man. How many people that we see in our daily lives are so much more then what we see of them in a quick glance? How much can something as small as a smile, instead of being annoyed by someone, impact them, especially if it’s a tough day for them? Ove, his wife and neighbors will make the reader think and remind them of the importance of loving others just as they are.

Review:November 9 by Colleen Hoover

November 9November 9 by Colleen Hoover
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I listened to the audiobook of November 9 by Colleen Hoover and my rating is more accurately at about a 3.5 for this book. For most of the book, I really enjoyed this story. I loved Ben and how much love he had for Fallon, despite her physical scars. I loved how he stood up for her and motivated her to continue to chase her dreams, the complete opposite of her father. Throughout most of the book, I was so engrossed in Ben and Fallon’s relationship and what happens each November 9.

Until…the last part of the book. I felt like everything resolved so quickly and buttoned up to neatly. What is revealed in the book about Ben’s story prior to meeting Fallon along with Fallon’s character throughout the book, made it unrealistic for her to make the choices she makes and to make them so quickly. I struggled to agree with the choices that Ben’s mom, Ben and Fallon make in this book. I can’t go into detail about these choices as they would be major spoilers for the book.

Colleen Hoover writes beautiful love stories with very flawed characters and she kept to that in November 9. Hoover wrote a beautiful, heart wrenching story, but I just couldn’t see eye to eye with the choices of the main characters of November 9. I will continue to read Colleen Hoover’s work as I enjoy her ability to take flawed characters and weave a story of beauty around them. November 9 just wasn’t my favorite work of Hoover’s. I look forward to my next Colleen Hoover read and the hopes of being able to allign myself better with her characters.