Final Reading Challenge Update

I’d planned on this being my 3rd of 4 total reading challenge updates for the year, but…I’M FINISHED. That’s right, friends. I have completed my reading challenge for 2016. This year, I was motivated to complete the challenge, but to BE challenged. This list didn’t encourage me to look for certain types of books, but rather to read what I wanted and see how I could fit it into the challenge.

I’m wanting to do something different for 2017. I don’t think I want to do a list of challenges like this for the third year in a row. Any suggestions?

In the meantime, check out the list of 50 books below! For books that I wrote full reviews on, I’ve included the link to that page!

Challenges completed: 50/50

  1. A winner from the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards – Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (read my full review HERE)
  2. A book about books – Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (read my full review HERE)
  3. A book from the Rory Gilmore Challenge – Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  4. A book with one of the 5 W’s in the title (who/what/when/where/why) – What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  5. A book set more than 100 years ago – An Echo in the Darkness by Francine Rivers (read my full review HERE)
  6. A book whose main character is in a profession that interests you – The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay (read my full review HERE)
  7. A book by an author who writes under more than one name – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling  (read my full review HERE)
  8. A fairytale from a culture other than your own – The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan (I Googled “fairytale” and according to the world wide web, “myth” is a synonym for “fairytale”. So it’s a stretch, but I’m running with it.) (read my full review HERE)
  9. A historical fiction book – The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson (read my full review HERE)
  10. An award winning book (ex: Newberry Medal, National Book Award, etc.) – Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan (read my full review HERE)
  11. A book you’re embarrassed to read in public – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (read my full review HERE)
  12. A book published in 2016 – Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (read my full review HERE)
  13. A book with a blue spine or cover – Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (read my full review HERE)
  14. A book with a horrible/ugly cover – Nothing But the Truth by Avi
  15. A book picked for you by someone else – Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (read my full review HERE)
  16. A favorite book you read for a second time – A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers (read my full review HERE)
  17. A book you feel that everyone has read but you – Wolf by Wolf  by Ryan Graudin (read my full review HERE)
  18. A book recommended by a famous person – For the Love by Jen Hatmaker (read my full review HERE)
  19. A book you know nothing about – Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  20. A book set in the country of your ancestors – An Honest Heart by Kaye Dacus (read my full review HERE)
  21. A book with a child as the main character – Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  22. A book with an unreliable narrator – The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (read my full review HERE)
  23. A book whose main character shares your name (first, middle, or last) – Dreamland by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  24. A book set during a war (historical or fictional war) – Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
  25. A chick-lit book – This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  26. A book written before you were born – Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (read my full review HERE)
  27. A collection of poems – The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan (While it may not be a “collection” of poems, there were poems throughout it. So I’m counting it. Ha!) (read my full review HERE)
  28. A book outside your comfort zone (genre, topic, number of pages, etc.) –The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin (read my full review HERE)
  29. A book about second chances – Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe by Max Lucado (read my full review HERE)
  30. A prequel to a book series – Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (read my full review HERE)
  31. A book that has more than one author – Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
  32. A book by an author who is from a different country – City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (read my full review HERE)
  33. A book that’s an author’s debut novel – That Summer by Sarah Dessen
  34. A book that you got for free – Ms. Marvel, Vol. 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson
  35. A book that was made into a movie, TV series, or mini-series – Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen [Movie version = How to Deal] (read my full review HERE)
  36. A play that was adapted into a musical or a movie – Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw
  37. A book that’s on the bestseller list – Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  38. A book spun off from another book – The Shadowhunter’s Codex by Cassandra Clare and Joshua Lewis
  39. A book that made you laugh out loud – Let’s All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs (read my full review HERE)
  40. An audiobook –Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (read my full review HERE)
  41. A book your grandma (or other family member) loves – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  42. A book with a nonhuman protagonist – A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (read my full review HERE)
  43. A book that takes place at a university – The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright (read my full review HERE)
  44. A mystery or thriller – I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
  45. A book recommended by a blog or Booktube video – Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, & Maureen Johnson (read my full review HERE)
  46. A book that takes place during a holiday – Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier (read my full review HERE)
  47. A book you own, but haven’t read – The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  48. A book that you’ve “been meaning to read” – Ms. Marvel, Volume 3: Crushed by G. Willow Wilson
  49. A book you read with a friend or a book club – Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (read my full review HERE)
  50. A book you saw someone reading – Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs (read my full review HERE)

 Are you working towards completing a reading challenge? Do you have any recommendations for a 2017 Reading Challenge? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

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Reading Challenge Update #2

How are we halfway through the year?? I can’t answer that, but I CAN say that I’m more than halfway through my reading challenge! This is the part where it gets tricky. I can’t really just read whatever I want and know that I’ll be able to work it into my challenge after the fact. Now I actually have to plan out how to achieve the challenges I have left. I have some ideas, but give me some suggestions in the comments below!

Challenges completed: 38/50

  1. A winner from the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards
  2. A book about books – Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (read my full review HERE)
  3. A book from the Rory Gilmore Challenge
  4. A book with one of the 5 W’s in the title (who/what/when/where/why)
  5. A book set more than 100 years ago – The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson (read my full review HERE)
  6. A book whose main character is in a profession that interests you
  7. A book by an author who writes under more than one name – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (audiobook) by JK Rowling 
  8. A fairytale from a culture other than your own – The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan (I Googled “fairytale” and according to the world wide web, “myth” is a synonym for “fairytale”. So it’s a stretch, but I’m running with it.)
  9. A historical fiction book – Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (read my full review HERE)
  10. An award winning book (ex: Newberry Medal, National Book Award, etc.) – Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan (read my full review HERE)
  11. A book you’re embarrassed to read in public – The Shadowhunter’s Codex by Cassandra Clare and Joshua Lewis
  12. A book published in 2016 – Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (read my full review HERE)
  13. A book with a blue spine or cover – The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski (read my full review HERE)
  14. A book with a horrible/ugly cover – Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen [What do the butterflies have to do with anything?] (read my full review HERE)
  15. A book picked for you by someone else – The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay
  16. A favorite book you read for a second time – City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (read my full review HERE)
  17. A book you feel that everyone has read but you
  18. A book recommended by a famous person
  19. A book you know nothing about – Just Listen by Sarah Dessen 
  20. A book set in the country of your ancestors
  21. A book with a child as the main character – Ms. Marvel, Vol. 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson
  22. A book with an unreliable narrator
  23. A book whose main character shares your name (first, middle, or last) – Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
  24. A book set during a war (historical or fictional war) – The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (read my full review HERE)
  25. A chick-lit book – This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (read my full review HERE)
  26. A book written before you were born – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (only a few days before I was born!) (read my full review HERE)
  27. A collection of poems – The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan (While it may not be a “collection” of poems, there were poems throughout it. So I’m counting it. Ha!)
  28. A book outside your comfort zone (genre, topic, number of pages, etc.) – Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin (read my full review HERE)
  29. A book about second chances – Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe by Max Lucado (read my full review HERE)
  30. A prequel to a book series – Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (read my full review HERE)
  31. A book that has more than one author – Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
  32. A book by an author who is from a different country – Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (read my full review HERE)
  33. A book that’s an author’s debut novel – Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (read my full review HERE)
  34. A book that you got for free
  35. A book that was made into a movie, TV series, or mini-series – That Summer by Sarah Dessen [How to Deal – movie]
  36. A play that was adapted into a musical or a movie – Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw
  37. A book that’s on the bestseller list – A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (read my full review HERE)
  38. A book spun off from another book – Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, & Maureen Johnson (read my full review HERE)
  39. A book that made you laugh out loud – For the Love by Jen Hatmaker (read my full review HERE)
  40. An audiobook – Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  41. A book your grandma (or other family member) loves
  42. A book with a nonhuman protagonist – Ms. Marvel, Volume 3: Crushed by G. Willow Wilson
  43. A book that takes place at a university – The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright
  44. A mystery or thriller
  45. A book recommended by a blog or Booktube video – The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski (read my full review HERE)
  46. A book that takes place during a holiday – The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
  47. A book you own, but haven’t read – Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
  48. A book that you’ve “been meaning to read” – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
  49. A book you read with a friend or a book club – The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin (read my full review HERE)
  50. A book you saw someone reading

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

*If you haven’t finished The Lunar Chronicles, then this review will contain some spoilers.*

stars above

Synopsis from GoodreadsThe universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies? With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

Below, I included my rating and wrote a mini-review for each of the novellas:

  1. The Keeper – 5 stars [I loved this! It was great to see things from Michelle’s POV and to get a glimpse of what it was like when Scarlet was younger. This was a great way to start this collection!]
  2. Glitches – 4.5 stars [Peony! *insert cry face* I thought this story was really interesting! I’d wondered what it was like for Cinder when she first arrived with the Linh family and this story fit that bill, answering all my questions.]
  3. The Queen’s Army – 4.5 stars [Wolf! i love how these stories are giving me a little more face time with some of my favorite characters. Getting a little bit more of his background info was helpful to really round out his character.]
  4. Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky – 5 stars [Thorne! Young Thorne, you dog, you. He’s so clever and determined, this story telling us just how far back that part of him goes. I remembered something from one of the previous books where Thorne said he’d defended a girl in high school and been suspended, so it was like AHA! to read about that.]
  5. After Sunshine Passes By – 5 stars [Cress! (are you sensing a trend, here?) I love Cress. She’s so naive and innocent, going along for the ride, seeing the best in everyone around her. This story shows us how she ended up on the satellite and gives us a glimpse of her early relationship with her Mistress Sybil.]
  6. The Princess and the Guard – 5 stars [Jacin ended up being a surprise favorite for me when I finished reading Winter. I loved his devotion and patience to/with Winter and enjoyed seeing their relationship develop. This story gave us a sweet picture of their friendship at a younger age and gave us insight into what made Winter decide to suppress her gift.]
  7. The Little Android – 4 stars [I’d heard ahead of time that this was a retelling of The Little Mermaid. I wouldn’t have guessed that, if I hadn’t known it before I even started reading. I saw the connections in that she saved the guy, and there was a necklace, and she couldn’t speak…but beyond that, I don’t see the similarities. I didn’t love this story, but it was interesting, even though the ending confused me a little. I liked the little Cinder cameo!]
  8. The Mechanic -4 stars [Kai! I really liked seeing Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from his POV. I wasn’t sure how he felt about her in the beginning, so it was really telling to have his thoughts and feelings right there, written out. It wasn’t terribly thrilling, but it was short and cute.]
  9. Something Old, Something New  – 5 stars [I picked up on the whole wedding thing pretty quickly, but it was not the wedding I expected! This should have been the epilogue to Winter, honestly. I was kind of frustrated with how that book ended and this novella made me feel better about Cinder’s decision regarding her political future. Plus, Scarlet & Wolf 5Ever!]

Final thoughts: I’m so glad I read these novellas! I love Meyer’s writing style and I so enjoyed getting some more time with so many beloved characters! If you’re a fan of The Lunar Chronicles, you should definitely read this collection!

Goodreads rating: 4.41/5 stars

Amazon.com rating: 4.8/5 stars

My overall rating: 4.5/5 stars

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

5 Favorite Fictional Couples – Valentine’s Day

It’s almost here, people. It’s almost time for flowers, boxed chocolates, and romantic movies…or for some of us, it’s time for the single woman’s spirit animal: Bridget Jones. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve come up with my top 5 favorite fictional couples that give me that lovey-dovey feeling.

scarlet

Scarlet and Wolf from The Lunar Chronicles

When I first met Scarlet and Wolf, my thoughts were along the lines of meh. As the series went on, however, I fell more and more in love. They are such a perfect pair – both strong and courageous, vulnerable and only trusting towards each other. They balance each other out so seamlessly, you can’t help but love them, together and apart. Out of all the couples in this series (and there are a lot of them), these two were my favorite. Especially when Wolf was nervously eating tinned tomatoes because he missed Scarlet. *swoon* (Doesn’t sound swoon-worthy, unless you understand the importance of tomatoes for Wolf.) If you’re in the mood for slow burning love that turns into a forest fire – read about these two!

anne of green

Anne and Gilbert from the Anne of Green Gables series

Anne and Gilbert don’t have a quick burning, passionate love story. Theirs is more patient, kind, and based on a strong friendship. I quickly read the first 3 books in this series because I was desperate to see how their relationship would progress. Their story is sweet and old-fashioned, which I’m all about. Plus, because this is a long-term series, you get to see what happens with them at multiples stages of their lives.

fangirl

Cath and Levi from Fangirl

Cath and Levi are quirky, sarcastic, and perfection. If you want to read about a relationship full of laughs and “aww, that’s so precious” moments, then this is the book for you. I feel like there’s something about these two that everybody longs for – the camaraderie and level of understanding seems so ideal, when you read about how it plays out for this couple. They both learn more about themselves and each other as their love story develops and I want more. I need a sequel, Rowell!

smoke and bone

Karou and Akiva from Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy

If you’re looking for passionate, sexy kind of a read…look no further. This is a blush-worthy series. The setting is in Prague and Taylor’s writing is beautiful and captivating. You’ll become completely immersed in this series and the relationship of Karou and Akiva. It’d be great if they were just two regular Joe’s that met at an art gallery, but no…it gets kicked up a supernatural notch because Akiva is an angel and Karous is…not exactly human. I read this trilogy super quickly because I was completely immersed in their love story.

redeeming love

Angel and Michael from Redeeming Love

I love Francine Rivers. She is easily one of my auto-buy authors, meaning I’ll purchase whatever she gets published. This love story between Angel and Michael is full of struggle, grit, and honesty. If you want to read about two people who have an obstacle course to defeat before they can truly be together, then this is the one for you. The ending is full of so much triumph and hope for yourself…it’s one of the best ever, ever, ever.

Honorable Mention:

p and p

Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride & Prejudice

I mean, no list of great loves is complete without a little Elizabeth and Darcy action! If you’re one of those rare specimen that haven’t read this book…I highly recommend it. If only because you’ll finally understand about a thousand references in dignified conversations, there’s something about Austen’s ability to capture the human spirit, flaws and all.

Who are your favorite fictional couples? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Winter by Marissa Meyer

*This review contains spoilers, especially if you haven’t read the previous Lunar Chronicles books.*

“She was prettier than a bouquet of roses and crazier than a headless chicken. Fitting in was not an option.”

winter

Synopsis from GoodreadsPrincess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana. Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Feelings: FINALLY! I’ve been waiting years for this books, desperately wanting to see how all the loose ends would get tied up. I LOVE this series and completely fell in love with this cast of characters. I thought the ending was satisfying and ended in a pretty good place.

Issues: SurprisinglyI think this book was too long. While part of me thinks my own statement there is malarky because I love Meyer’s writing so much, another part of me thought that a good chunk of this text was extra fluff. Some of the extra detail cut down on the moving action, but at the same time I’m super invested in these characters so I liked as much info on their lives as possible. It’s a conundrum, really.

I was pretty confused on what was going on with Wolf after he’d been taken prisoner and given the new wolf-like “upgrades”. It really seemed like he had been successfully reprogrammed to be pro-Levana, but then during the coronation, he tried to stab the queen? That felt so random and disconnected.

Characters: Cinder – our main hero and lead protagonist. I said before that I was satisfied with the ending, but I have one little hiccup. I didn’t love how she said she wanted Luna to be a republic. WHAT? She’d just fought to get her crown back and embraced her destiny, then it felt like that wasn’t good enough. So, she’s going to be Kai’s Empress at some point…so she’s going to leave her own people up on the moon and go back to earth…aaannnddd we’re back where we started, just without a crazy Lunar queen. I really wanted her to have all these plans to improve the Lunar royal legacy because it had a pretty crappy reputation and she had a huge opportunity to make it better, with her cousin by her side.

Wolf & Scarlet – I’m happy that they both survived and are going to get to live a calm life on the farm back in France. I was sad that he was manipulated and physically altered again because he’s already been through SO MUCH. The poor fella at least got some closure by getting to see his mom again. In the long run, he still had Scarlet and tomatoes…so I guess it all worked out in the end.

Thorne & Cress – I DIED when the Lunar woman glamoured herself to look like Cress and he confessed his love for her. YES! Finally something real from Thorne. They’ve both had a lot of character development in the last two books. Thorne has finally realized his hero potential and his true feelings, while Cress has matured and found her real worth. They’re probably two of my favorite characters in this series.

Jacin & Winter – Holy cow, Winter is coo coo for Cocoa Puffs. I mean, seriously. There were so many times where I thought, oh okay…she’s not that crazy then BAM…I’d be very very wrong. Jacin had a really different voice than the other cast members, which was really refreshing. He’s so protective like Wolf, but not nearly as aggressive. She had a lot of Snow White’s qualities, kind and caring to everyone. I think they balanced each other out really well and they really needed each other.

Comparisons: I really enjoyed this interpretation of Snow White. Levana asked Jacin to kill Winter, like how the evil queen has the huntsman kill Snow. I thought it was cute how when Winter arrived at the Kesley house (in the mining district…very 7 dwarves-ish), she started to clean, a very Snow White type quality. Then later, Levana glamours herself to look like an old woman and gives Winter an apple candy, eating one for herself. The one Levana ate was fine, but the one she gave to Winter caused her to be put into the chamber, filling my mind with that classic Disney image of Snow in her glass casket thing. Finally, Jacin gave her the cure and kissed her.

Final thoughts: I would have really liked some Lunar history and religious background. They referenced the Greek goddess Artemis, but I would have appreciated some more information there. In the end, I really enjoyed this books. The characters are so strong and resilient, funny and heartwarming. I was hooked for about 97% of this book, which is saying something because it has more than 800 pages.

My reviews for the other books in the series:

Book 1: Cinder

Book 2: Scarlet

Book 3: Cress

Novella: Fairest

Goodreads rating: 4.6/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.7/5

My rating: 4.5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

*This review does contain spoilers, especially if you haven’t read the other books in the Lunar Chronicles.*

“Maybe the princess could save herself.”
“That sounds like a pretty good story too.”

fairest

Synopsis from GoodreadsIn this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told. Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Feelings: Now, you have to understand that this is technically a novella. It’s numbered as 3.5 in the series, which I find odd. In publication order, that number is correct, but the story itself is most definitely a prequel to the entire series. It was 220 pages long, so I don’t think that’s technically a novella. So it’s really just a full length prequel, and this series desperately needed some background information. This book nailed it right on the head. When I heard this book was coming out, I was afraid it was just going to be a bunch of justifications for why Levana acts the way that she does and that I’d end up feeling sorry for her. I felt pity towards her for about 10 pages, then the Levana I know and hate reared her ugly head again and knocked some sense into me.

Issues: I didn’t love how it was just one, long narrative. It really needed some separate chapters. Also, I was really missing the humor that the other books had. Since I’m marathoning the series, it was really hard for me to transition from Cress, which is really funny, to this serious kind of tone. It just felt a little off, but I know that’s because our narrator is not the humorous type that our heroes from the other books are.

Characters: Don’t worry folks, Levana is still bat crap crazy. I mean, seriously. 1) She likes the idea of infecting Earthens with a deadly disease, then holding an antidote over their heads. 2) She’s at the hospital with Evret, wondering how long he’ll wait after Solstice’s death until he goes after her. 3) She tells Evret after Sol’s death that his wife had “served her purpose.” 4) She’s annoyed that he’d take 2 weeks off work to mourn and get his affairs in order. 5) When she saw the results of the nursery fire, her first thought was on how she would be queen. Those are just 5 of like 142 examples of how cruel she really was. It seemed like she wasn’t so bad at first because her sister, Channary, was a freaking lunatic…but nope. They’re both crazy and evil and selfish and horrible. One major piece of this novel was the glamouring/mind control element. While this explains why Levana wears a veil during her appearances, it just felt like a huge chance to touch on themes of identity and self-worth. But, Levana doesn’t have either of those things, so it was like this weird, antagonistic POV thing that I didn’t love.

Evret Hayle, you poor fella. Part of me really pitied him, but then the other part was like dude…you’re married to a queen…chill the heck out and be happy. He totally could have left after Channary died. Levana wouldn’t have killed him and I think he knew that. So instead, he tortured himself and stuck around.

I loved the plugin of Jacin Clay. I assume we’ll see much more of him in Winter, so it was interesting to see how he fits into this whole Lunar dynamic. It was also different to see Dr. Tanner’s role in Selene’s “death” and Dr. Darnel’s disappearance from Luna after his daughter, the Shell, was taken away.

Final thoughts: Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was fast paced and packed in a lot of information that readers need, going forward in the series. I suppose you could read this book first in the series, but I highly recommend going in publication order: CinderScarletCressFairest, then Winter. Next week, I’ll finally get to my review of Winter, which was one of my most anticipated books of 2015!

My reviews for the other books in the series:

Book 1: Cinder

Book 2: Scarlet

Book 3: Cress

Book 4: Winter (coming next week!)

Goodreads rating: 4.04/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.2/5

My rating: 4.5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Cress by Marissa Meyer

*This review does contain spoilers, considering it’s the third book in the series.*

“Maybe there isn’t such a thing as fate. Maybe it’s just the opportunities we’re given, and what we do with them.”

cress

Synopsis from Goodreads:  Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker; unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

Feelings: This is my third week in a row to review a book from the Lunar Chronicles. I really enjoyed Cinder and Scarlet, but I freaking LOVED Cress. This book had a whole different tone than the other two. Cinder was focused on world-building and setting the platform that the rest of the series would jump off from. Scarlet was a little more gritty and intense with a lot of action packed into those pages. Cress, however, had a little more substance. We spent more time with Thorne, who adds that lighter balance to Cinder’s struggle and Wolf’s rage. We met a couple of new characters, Jacin and Cress, who added mystery and innocence, respectively. Cress, herself, is dramatic and naive, adding a sprinkle of wonder to this (now) well rounded troupe.

Characters: Thorne & Cress – Thorne is the best. I liked him in Scarlet, but he was a pretty minor character. In this book, though, he was a beautiful, shining star. His dialogue with Cress was pure gold. He picks on her a little and is almost always sarcastic, but he’s never hateful or mean-spirited. I have to give him props for that, because Cress is like a small child he’s having to drag around. She’s so very naive and innocent, understandably so considering she lived in a satellite for 7 years…talking to a younger, computerized version of herself. I was concerned at first that their pairing would be an annoying insta-love situation, but it wasn’t. Cress had a huge crush on him, yes, but then they journey across the Sahara together, Thorne lost his sight, and he survived meeting her dad. Their partnership is turning into something refreshing and real. I’m all for that.

Wolf & Scarlet – I need more of these two together! When he basically said he loved her, I died. When she was gone and he was sleeping in her bed and hugging canned tomatoes, I died. Scarlet’s hanging out with freaking crazy Princess Winter and I need Wolf to rescue her STAT. I need more character development for Wolf because he’s kind of plateaued. Scarlet cannot catch a break. It wasn’t enough that her grandma was kidnapped and killed, then she got kidnapped and torn away from the only person that makes her feel safe…now she’s had to part ways with a finger and is in a menagerie run by a psycho Lunar princess. No biggie.

Cinder & Kai – Kai continues to grow and develop into a world leader. When he got rid of the cyborg draft, it was like he was standing up and saying, “I’m accepting, now. I may even be willing to forgive Cinder.” That was a big move for him, a game changer. I can totally see why he would think that Scarlet is the missing Princess Selene – all his evidence pointed to her. Now that he knows Cinder is Princess Selene, I want to see what his role will be in all of this. Will he help their rag-tag bunch of misfit toys to make the galaxy safe again? Or will he return to Earth and play ignorant to their antics? Time will tell! I was really happy to see Cinder step into her destiny in this book. It wasn’t until the end of Scarlet when she really decided to accept who she really is. Now, she’s literally fighting for all the people of Earth AND Luna, ready to step into her role as Queen. She has no idea what that’ll entail, but she knows it’s better than Levana being Queen any longer. Rock on, Cinder.

Comparisons: In my opinion, Cress had the most interesting fairytale retelling elements of the bunch. I loved it so much that I’m going to dedicate a huge paragraph to it. Ha! Here we go: The original Rapunzel story is very similar to the one depicted in the musical “Into the Woods”, as opposed to the one in “Tangled.” There’s a young woman who’s obsessed with her neighbor’s Rapunzel leaves from her garden. (Another name for the Rapunzel plant is RAMPION, like Thorne’s ship.) The young woman’s husband jumps the neighboring witch’s fence in order to get the plant for his wife. When the witch catches him, she makes him promise his first born child, a child she names Rapunzel. Classic Rapunzel, she is locked in a tall tower and the witch has to climb the girl’s long hair up to get to her. A prince hears Rapunzel singing and watches how the witch gets up to her, then copies her. (Thorne likes Cress’s singing voice, as she hums and sings a lot.) The witch tricks the prince by cutting off Rapunzel’s hair and tossing it out the window, pulling him up the tower. In Cress, “Mistress” Sybil glamours herself to look like Cress, tricking Thorne into coming aboard the satellite. In the original story, the witch finds out the prince has been visiting Rapunzel and cuts off her hair, but in our book Thorne cuts it himself. Then the prince falls from the tower and is blinded by the thorns at the bottom. (Kind of like how THORNE falls to Earth in the satellite with Cress, hitting his head and becomes blind.) Then in the fairytale, the prince finds Rapunzel and the…twins…she’s given birth to (I mean, he visited her a lot up in that tower) and they live happily ever after, after her tears of joy restore his sight, that is.

Final thoughts: I’m going to reread Fairest before I dive into the new, last book in the series: Winter. That book is just staring at me…waiting to be read. I’m coming for you, Winter! I give Cress all of the stars! I really, really loved this book a lot. It was so funny, action packed, heart warming and it’s all leading up to something wonderful…I can feel it, friends!

Pick this up if you liked:

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (see my review here)

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Goodreads rating: 4.49/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.8/5

My rating: 5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn