Book Review: Fairest

fairest

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

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.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series. (Goodreads)

This review may contain some slight spoilers for Cinder, Scarlet and Cress if you have not read any of the other Lunar Chronicles books.

This book is actually a prequel to what begins to go down in Cinder.  It follows Queen Levana, though at the start, she is only a princess and her sister, Channery has just become Queen after the murder of their parents.  Turns out, most of Levana’s family is pretty awful.  Her parents were the ones that started the biological testing on soldiers, came up with the idea for the disease that they would send to Earth to gain power, and originally had the idea to keep the cure hidden until a convenient time.  Channery is just a bitch, honestly.  She cares nothing about taking care of her kingdom, but rather bedding as many men as she can in the shortest period of time, while subjecting her baby sister to all kinds of insane manipulation and torture.

The unfortunate thing is after getting Levana’s back story – I still have no sympathy for her.  It was clear from the outset that even thought she did have her personal tragedies, she never intended to grow or mature from them – only to use them as the fuel for her revenge and manipulations.  She plays some seriously sick games in order to get what she wants from people, instead of just being herself.

It’s a short novel – but we are able to get even more of the Lunar Chronicles universe, and to gain another character’s point of view.  We also get our first glimpse of Princess Winter, and if you should feel sad for anyone – it’s her.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this little prequel. Marissa Meyer has succeeded in spinning a careful web that weaves together many fairytales and her own sci-fi fantasy into a truly stunning piece of work.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.09 Stars
Number of 1-star Reviews: 103

My Rating on Bookdigits

Facebook . Instagram . Pinterest . Tumblr

Check out my other Lunar Chronicles Posts:
Book Review for Cinder
Book Review for Scarlet
Book Review for Cress
Fan Art Friday

Today in “Oh No You Didn’t”…

This Time article about all the things that are wrong with Harry Potter. Try not to cry as you read this because it is infuriating and full of spelling errors.

Shall we go one by one? Okay.

1. The amount of time they spent in the forrest in book seven.

Firstly, why are we spelling forest with two r’s? Secondly, I think them spending quite a bit of time in the Forest of Dean (I mean seriously for someone grew up with the books, you could at least know the name of it…) is important because it really shows how little Harry knew.  I mean, we as a reader know that Dumbledore has told Harry next to nothing about what he is supposed to do, but Ron and Hermione don’t know that.  And all that time spent in the forest really develops their relationships – think of how much that did for Ron for him to realize that Harry knew so little and to be so frustrated and to end up leaving and coming back.  That was a lot of emotional development for the trio and not at all boring or useless to me.

2. Ginny

Here are some other words to describe Ginny: Loyal, fierce, shy, intelligent, quick thinking, stubborn. Done.

3. Killing off Hedwig

Okay, I could maybe give you this one – but Hedwig is an owl okay. It’s not like she killed of Ron or Hermione or Mrs. Weasley.  How much would Hedwig have added to the plot of book 7 if she had lived? Probably just a lot of her being annoyed because she couldn’t do anything because she was so easy to pin as Harry’s owl and that’s why they knew who he was anyway and that is how she died. Jesus.

4. Fred and George not noticing Peter Pettigrew sleeping in Ron’s bed every night on the Marauder’s map.

Maybe they did notice Peter Petttigrew on the map but that name would have meant nothing to them. They did not know who the Marauder’s were.  They didn’t know that Peter Pettigrew was thought dead and murdered by Sirius and they didn’t know that he was the one who actually betrayed Harry’s parents.  So them seeing Peter Pettigrew on the map would have been totally useless because they had no freaking clue who he was.

*Also, how is this article on Time.com and has so many spelling errors?

5. Harry not being able to see the Thestrals.

1. Harry does not see the Thestrals at first because even though he witnessed his mother’s death, it’s not something that he actually has a clear memory of, so it hasn’t resonated with him in that emotional way.

2. Immediately after Cedric’s (OH MY GOD THE SPELLING ERRORS)  death, Harry is in shock and J.K. Rowling herself said that he needed to recognize and accept that death in order to see them.

I’ll admit, this one is a bit shaky – but I’m willing to suspend belief here for Rowling because Thestrals are wicked cool.

6. Being too subtle about Dumbledore’s sexuality.

J.K. Rowling was under no obligation to tell us Dumbledore’s sexuality. I’m sure there are other LGBTQ characters in the HP universe that she hasn’t told us about.  The point is that it didn’t matter that he was gay. Dumbledore’s gayness had no effect on the plot of the book and she clearly did not it to overshadow the greater purpose of the book which was Harry’s journey.  Not Dumbledore’s journey.  It’s not Dumbledore and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Dumbledore and the Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore and the Prisoner of Azkaban – he his not the central character therefore it was not necessary for us to have that information.

7. Voldemort’s Triwizard Tournament evil plot.

First of all, Harry is not dumb – he is just instinctual.  He trusted fake Moody because so many already trusted him.  If Dumbledore says you’re cool, you’re cool.  Sure there may have been easier ways to lure Harry and he probably would have fallen for it but: 1. That would have made for a hella short ass book, yo.  And 2. There are a lot more people (and smarter, more experienced people) to fool than just Harry, like Crouch Sr., Dumbledore, Ludo Bagman, Percy Weasley, etc.

8. Wizarding school sucks

Um… no. You’re just wrong. I mean first of all there were other classes besides the ones that we had the most access to like Alchemy, Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, Muggle Studies, etc. Practical skills are probably quite different in the magical world because they have MAGIC. They get magical jobs in the magical world and use magic to solve their (magical) problems. Duh.

9. The time turner problem

*Facepalm* SOO MUCH DUMB. First of all, that’s not what time turners are for. By changing one small thing, you may change many big things. Remember that Dumbledore did try to save Tom Riddle by taking him from the Orphanage, trying to treat him kindly and showing him that revenge and hatred was not the way – but it didn’t work.  So what was he to do?  Go back in time and kill him?  That could offset a whole lot of things like Snape never becoming a Death Eater and Lily never ending their friendship, thereby never falling for James and never having Harry and then we have no books at all, and that is a tragedy I could not deal with.

Secondly, the time turners are closely guarded and monitored by the Department of Mysteries and I’m sure their not just going to hand them out so that you can go back in time to fix some mistakes and change wizarding and human history, okay?

And thirdly, the entire collection of Time Turners was destroyed in book 5 so this whole conversation is kind of moot.

As for the point of Hermione being too young to have a time turner to attend classes – it wasn’t like they just handed it to her.  She had to meet with her professors and they had to pull quite a few strings for her to gain that responsibility. Hermione is a stickler for rules (for the most part), so it doesn’t seem unusual to me that she would be granted that responsibility. And she was third year, you fool.

*deep breath* I think that about covers it, don’t you?

Book Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

forgiveleonard

From the first page of this novel, Leonard Peacock makes it clear that he is going to kill himself.  That is his mission.  We are with him for his journey of what he plans to be the last day of his life, which also happens to be his eighteenth birthday.  While this is definitely not a happy book (quite the opposite, really), Matthew Quick gives a voice to Leonard that is authentically teenager – sarcastic, pessimistic, and at times even funny. Honest.  I can clearly picture Leonard, I see a bit of my high school self in him and I can think of more than a few kids I knew growing up that were very much like Leonard – which is kind of the whole point really.  Leonard feels like he is alone in the world, he feels like nobody gets it and he’s so different than the rest of his peers and really, he’s not.  We’ve all been there in some capacity and we’ll probably be there again.

I feel like I’m broken—like I don’t fit together anymore. Like there’s no more room for me in the world or something. Like I’ve overstayed my welcome here on Earth, and everyone’s trying to give me hints about that constantly. Like I should just check out.

Even though Leonard keeps telling the reader of his plan to kill himself, you spend the whole book hoping he won’t do it or that someone in his life – his old widower neighbor, his checked-out fashion designer mother, one of his teachers – will grab the poor dear and hug him, tell him they love him and it’s okay to feel like he does and that his life is valid. However, they keep not doing it.  All he wants is for one person to acknowledge that it is his birthday (I know those feels, Leonard), but it seems that his teachers and few friends don’t know it’s his birthday, and his mom is too busy pretending that she doesn’t have a child to remember what day it is (God, that is infuriating). “Happy Birthday, Leonard” are his magic words.  Those are the words that would save him and no one seems to be able to say them.

I really enjoyed the way that Quick used the Holocaust as a corollary to Leonard’s narrative.  I think it sends out an important message on the way we view “bad” people.  Leonard’s teacher, Herr Silverman, encourages his students to think about the humanity of the time period rather than the tragedy.  We are so quick to dehumanize others for what they have done that we do not take the time to examine what the parameters of their choice were.  The truth of the matter is that more than one of those Nazi guards or soldiers were just doing what they had to do to protect their life and their families lives.  There are many layers to the awful things that happened during that time, and I don’t think many people made it out of that time guilt free. At the end of the day, I think most people just hoped to make it out alive. That’s not to say there is any excuse for what happened, but if you think about it, it’s easy to understand how the population is at the mercy of those in charge and if those in charge are morally ambiguous, evil, or corrupt – well… you see what happens.

Leonard and I have a lot in common I think.  I spent a lot of my time in school feeling very much like him, like I was too different, too weird, too misunderstood and that those around me were so… flat.  I know it’s the thing that people always say and that teenagers hate to hear – but it does get better.  Maybe not immediately, and maybe not forever, but there are moments and stretches of time where you think that it’s not all bad.  I’m certainly not on a roller-coaster that only goes up (to quote the late Augustus Waters), but it’s not a bad ride.

My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.91 Stars
Number of 1 Star Reviews: 312

My Review on Bookdigits

Book Review: The Moon and More

moonandmoreOne thing you have to love about Sarah Dessen‘s books is that they are consistent.  If you are looking for something to satisfy your summer romance needs, Dessen is your girl.  While some may think it’s a bit formulaic, or monotonous, there is comfort that comes from reading Dessen that you don’t get from reading epic fantasy or a dystopian trilogy.  It’s sort of like coming home after a long vacation, curling up in your own bed and finally getting that good nights rest that you can only get at home.  I mean, after 11 books, she’s really perfected the summer romance novel.

I really loved that the ending was not the typical happily ever after, though it was happy in it’s own right.  I won’t tell you who Emaline does or doesn’t end up with, but I can say that it was very realistic.  At 18, you really just have no idea what you want yet, so you’ve got to take the time to try out all the possibilities.

My Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.65 StarsNumber of 1-star reviews: 702

My Review on Bookdigits

Fan Art Friday: Gone With the Wind Edition

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done a Fan Art Friday, and Gone With the Wind has left me with a book hangover I haven’t quite shaken yet, so I’ve been perusing the interwebs looking at all the wonderful GWtW related things.

Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara as portrayed by the iconic Clark Gable and Vivien eigh

Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara as portrayed by the iconic Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh

How about this lovely drawing of the actors who portrayed the characters by DeviantArt artist LazzzyV? Absolutely stunning. Vivien Leighs eyebrow game was strong.

kincaidgwtw

This one’s not really fan art, but this Thomas Kincaid painting of a scene from the novel is so pretty and I need it. You can even buy it printed on a coffee mug!

You can also find tons of unique merchandise on Etsy , from pillows to wall decor to recycled book covers – any fan of Gone With the Wind is sure to find something that tickles their fancy.

Book Review: Gone With the Wind

gwtwI acquired my copy of Gone With the Wind a few years back, not sure how many years but it has a Border’s Books sticker on the back so I know it was quite some time ago.  The first time I picked it up, excited to dive into the classic depths of Margaret Mitchell’s thousand page long journey, I put it down again after only a few pages.  I guess I wasn’t ready at the time, but when I picked it up just a few days ago I found myself staying up past my bed time to read just one more chapter and carrying the heavy volume in my purse just in case I had a spare moment to down a few pages.

Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton Twins were.

From the outset, Scarlett is not very likeable.  She is vain, manipulative, selfish, stubborn and willfully ignorant of the culture surrounding her.  The talk of Civil War bores her and she doesn’t intend to bother her self with such things.  No, ma’am. Instead, she focuses her attentions on getting the man she is convinced she loves to marry her though he is clearly never going to do so, no matte what his affections for her are.  However, her plans are stopped in their tracks, over and over again as the world she has been raised in changes without her asking it to and she is forced to change with it or lose everything.

While Scarlett may indeed be all the things I described above, she is also strong, profoundly loyal, resourceful, and daring.  In a time when the expectations on women, especially self-proclaimed Southern Belles was to sit and home, raise children, tend to the slaves and her husband, Scarlett O’Hara dares to get her hands dirty beside those slaves.  She dares to do what she has to do to keep her home, her family and her lifeblood safe. Beyond all of her faults, you cannot doubt for one second that Scarlett goes out and gets shit done, no matter what people say.

And then there is the famous Rhett Butler.  He is part pure southern gentlemen, charming his way in and out of whatever he pleases, and part sarcastic … well… asshole.  i mean, really. At times he is in incredibly charming jerk, to put it bluntly.  The kind of jerk that makes girls blush in anger and embarrassment, while simultaneously gaining their affection.  Infuriating.

All your beaux have respected you too much, though God knows why, or they have been too afraid of you to really do right by you.  The result is that you are unendurably uppity.  You should be kissed and by someone who knows how. – Rhett Butler

Gone With the Wind is much, much more than a romance novel.  It is a historical novel in two ways – published in the 1930’s and taking place in the 1860’s there are two layers of cultural understanding that we must appreciate.  While there is much in the novel that will make any person uncomfortable such as the superfluous use of the n-word and the almost unreadable dialect that Mitchell wrote the slaves dialogue with – we must know that this is a product of the time in which the novel takes place.  I don’t know that it is meant to be insulting or a caricature, but I do hope that it was in some way meant to paint an honest picture of the south at that time.  Does it make me cringe? Absolutely – as it should.  But, it offers something that my public school history classes did not – and view of the other side of the coin.  While I have no doubt that the end of slavery was inevitable and indeed necessary, I am unsure that the viciousness and violence towards the southern civility portrayed throughout the novel was justified.  In fact, I’m certain of it.  It feels important to mention because there are many things going on in the world today that cause us to generalize groups and say all of them are one way or another and it comes from both sides – we must take a few steps back and recognize that no matter what side someone is on, just because they belong to one group, job, location, etc, does not mean that they are inherently bad or wrong.  Some just don’t know any better, or they are too comfortable and set in their ways to know or do any differently. They are a product of their environment and the environment does not encourage change.  It is a shame that after more than a hundred years we are still fighting the same battles.

I also found particularly interesting that the North/Union seemed to be the Republican party and the South/Confederate seemed to side more with the Democratic – because in today’s culture they are decidedly opposite. Also that Mitchell does not paint the prettiest picture of president Lincoln, which is plainly the opposite of what I was taught. It just goes to show that there are two sides to every story and that the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.  It also, I think, shows just how this novel has had staying power for the last 75 years.  It has stayed relevant because human nature has not changed.

I’ve gone on quite a rant up there, but I feel like it was important to say and to follow up with a saying I’ve always felt true – “You catch more flies with honey, than you do with vinegar.”  In my personal experience, kindness goes a lot farther than viciousness and cruelty.  Burning things to the ground only breeds a need for vengeance, where as kindness encourages people to be open and to return that kindness to the next person.

In terms of the writing itself, Mitchell proves to be a master of her craft.  Some of her sentences are astoundingly breathtaking, so much so that I found myself reading them twice over to appreciate their beauty. For example, the description of Ellen O’Hara, Scarlett’s mother:

She would have been a strikingly beautiful woman had there been any glow in her eyes, any responsive warmth in her smile or any spontaneity in her voice that fell with gentle melody on the ears of her family and her servants.  She spoke in the soft slurring voice of the coastal Georgian, liquid of vowels, kind to consonants and with the barest trace of French accent.  It was a voice that never raised in command to a servant or reproof to a child but a voice that was obeyed instantly at Tara, where her husband’s blustering and roaring were quietly disregarded.

I mean really, that passage is like melted butter on a roll fresh out of the oven. While many of Mitchell’s descriptive passages are long-winded, the glide over you easily and you don’t mind how long they go on because you can sense the carefulness with which she chose each word. She manages to deliver some of the mouth scathing dialogue I’ve ever read as well.

Let her talk,” cried Scarlett.  “I’m enjoying it.  I always knew she hated me and she was too much of a hypocrite to admit it.  If she thought anyone would admire her, she’d be walking the streets naked from dawn till dark.”

While some might say her long forays into the politics surrounding Scarlett at the time might be long-winded, unnecessary or boring, I found them rather interesting.  Seeing the war and troubles through the eyes of the losing side is much different then what may have been written down in our history books, although one must also recognize that Mitchell may have taken some liberties with her rendition of the war.

In the end, I find myself feeling a bit sad with how Scarlett’s journey ends, for it takes her far too long (nearly all 959 pages), and innumerable losses to realize what truly matters in her heart and at that point it has already passed her by leaving her in its wake.  If only she replaced her mantra through out the books “I’ll think of it another day”, with “There’s no time like the present.”

My Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.25 Stars
Number of 1-star reviews: 15,572

My Review on Bookdigits

Book Review: Dark Places

darkplaces

Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.

Since then, she had been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother’s? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?

She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day… especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.

Who did massacre the Day family?” (Goodreads)

The final installment in what I guess I could call my “Gillian Flynn Series” is Dark Places. Once again Flynn explores the dark undebelly of humanity in the intense, sardonic way I’ve come to know and appreciate.  Libby Day has had a rough life.  Her dad was a drunk, weaving in and out of his childrens lives as it suited him (i.e. when he needed money), and her mother was an exhausted single mom of 4 children who could barely afford one of them.  Libby had always been a worrier, but one night in January when Libby was 7 years old she had good reason to worry when her entire family was brutally murdered, except her and her 15 year old brother Ben.  Libby escaped by crawling out a window and hiding in the freezing woods until the police found her. To top that all off, she then testified for the prosecution of her brother and he was sentenced to life in prison.

Twenty-some years later, Libby has been living off a fund of donations her whole life and she’s running out of money. In a strange attempt to get some money – she agrees to make an appearance at Kill Club, a sort of comic-con for those obsessed with unsovled or famous murder cases.  Turns out there is a lot of interest in her families case – and most of that comes from women who are obsessed with her brother and proclaim his innocence.  As uncomfortable as it is for Libby to face the idea that her brother may not have committed these murders, she is desparate for money and ends up going on a journey back in time to piece together what really happened that night.

As most of Flynn’s narrators are, Libby is decidedly unlikeable.  Cynical, sarcastic, blatantly rude and has a penchant for sticky fingers (she is constantly stealing the most inane items from places).  But, you feel like she deserves a little empathy after everything she has seen.  Getting the story through her point of view, you find yourself just as hesitent to believe what strangers are saying about her brother’s innocence.  The information that we are given points all fingers towards him.  However, beyond Libby’s narrative we get flashbacks from the point of view of Ben and their mother Patty – we slowly realize all is not as it seems and Libby is in for quite the shock.

Beyond Libby, there is quite a cast of characters.  From her dad, Runner – the career drunk, gambler and manipulator, to Diondra – Ben’s girlfriend who is her own brand of batshit insane, and the crowd of “devil worshippers” Ben was said to hang out with, there is once again not one innocent soul within this novel.  Even Patty, who was a well meaning mother that only wanted the best for her children has her nasty faults, and plays her own part in the massacre of two of her children. Or the young girl who accuses Ben of sexual molestation, which may or may not be entirely truthful – I’ll let you decide.

At the end of the day, it’s clear that Gillian Flynn is good at what she does and what she does best is the dark, gritty, surprising and ugly disection of the human condition. I look forward to reading whatever she puts out next – and I think she has some serious staying power in the literary world.

With twist and turns that will keep you guessing, Dark Places, will simultaneously confuse, suprise and sicken you with each coming chapter.

My Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.89 Stars
Number of 1 Star Reviews: 1607

My Review on Bookdigits

Please take a moment to follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram!