Scarlet

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive. Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Readers Beware: Here there be spoilers!
(Its just so hard not to have spoilers with a series like this.)

Last weekend we went kayaking out along the beach and of course my copy of Scarlet went with me! Scarlet is the second installment in Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series and it is jam packed with an exciting ensemble of characters. Cinder, Thorne, Iko, Scarlet, Wolf, Queen Levana, and the list just goes on and on! Meyer takes her readers from New Beijing to France as the storylines of Cinder and Scarlet merge. Cinder searches for the truth about her past and Scarlet hunts for her missing grandmother.

Cinder is determined, strong, and much more confidant than the girl we met in Cinder. I was thrilled at her growth and the grudging friendship that she develops with Thorne; the American Captain pushes Cinder to open up through his annoying comments and playful jabs. She was just a stronger character which made reading her storyline more enjoyable than expected.

We get to meet the fiery Scarlet, a French farmer who is desperate to find her missing grandmother. Scarlet takes up with the mysterious Wolf (my favorite character) after she discovers he may know where to find her Grand-mere. She convinces him to help in her search, and the two develop an interesting relationship during their trials. I can’t wait to see where Meyer takes the two in the next installment.

I had hoped to see more ‘telling instead of showing’ with Scarlet. Meyer does take more time describing the setting, especially the Paris icons, but it was still a tad lacking. The story may be somewhat predictable because it is a re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood. My suggestion is to embrace Meyer’s theme and enjoy the ride!

I couldn’t put Scarlet down and the last third of the book had me holding my breath as I turned the pages. Meyer’s writing is just enjoyable for me to read and I hope you find the story as enthralling. Let me know what you thought about Scarlet!

Lindsay

Lunar Chronicles Update!

So it may be obvious by my  reading over the last month, but I wanted to officially announce that I am a big fan of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicle series.  And by fan I mean the goofy happy dance…fangirl squeal…first in line for the new book type of fan.

And I am totally ok with this!  I love how she has modernized classic fairytales with a science fiction twist.  I enjoy her quirky characters and ‘edge of the seat’ storyline.  So I just had to announce the exciting news!  The series was originally supposed to consist of:

Two Short Stories –

1. Glitches

2. The Queen’s Army

and Four Novels –

1. Cinder

2. Scarlet

3. Cress

4. Winter

But, Meyer has just reveled that a fifth novel has been added to the lineup.  Fairest occurs before Cinder takes place and tells the story of Queen Levana and her rise to power.  Meyer continues with her fairytale theme and has hinted at the story correlation with Snow White’s Evil Queen.  Fairest is scheduled to come out before Winter, which is the final installment of the series.

So follow the link and check out the article on Fairest which was posted on USA Today! Anyone else as excited as I am?

Lindsay

Angels Fall

Angels Fall by Nora Roberts

Angels Fall

#1 New York Times-bestselling author Nora Roberts explores the wilds of the Grand Tetons-and the mysteries of love, murder, and madness-in her engrossing and passionate new novel.

Reece Gilmore has come a long way to see the stunning view below her. As the sole survivor of a brutal crime back East, she has been on the run, desperately fighting the nightmares and panic attacks that haunt her. Reece settles in Angel’s Fist, Wyoming-temporarily, at least-and takes a job at a local diner. And now she’s hiked this mountain all by herself. It was glorious, she thought, as she peered through her binoculars at the Snake River churning below.

Then Reece saw the man and woman on the opposite bank. Arguing. Fighting. And suddenly, the man was on top of the woman, his hands around her throat . . .

Enjoying a moment of solitude a bit farther down the trail is a gruff loner named Brody. But by the time Reece reaches him and brings him to the scene, the pair has vanished. When authorities comb the area where she saw the attack, they find nothing. No signs of struggle. No freshly turned earth. Not even a tire track.

And no one in Angel’s Fist seems to believe her. After all, she’s a newcomer in town, with a reputation for being jumpy and jittery-maybe even a little fragile. Maybe it’s time to run again, to move on . . .

Reece Gilmore knows there’s a killer in Angel’s Fist, even if Brody, despite his seeming impatience and desire to keep her at arm’s length, is the only one willing to believe her. When a series of menacing events makes it clear that someone wants her out of the way, Reece must put her trust in Brody-and herself-to find out if there is a killer in Angel’s Fist before it’s too late.

Reese Gilmore is running from her past when her car breaks down in Angels Fall. Reese finds herself short on cash and starts working as a cook in Joanie’s Diner to pay for car parts. But she finds more than just a job as she slowly begins to make friends and even have a chance at romance with the local mystery author, Brody. But Reese’s new start is ruined when she witnesses a murder; a murder that no one believes happened. Reese must find strength in herself as she searches for a killer.

I have read this book multiple times because I like Reese; she is far more damaged than the heroines I typically gravitate towards.  I prefer following the stories of confident, strong, hard-headed women, and Reese is nothing like this at first glance.  I eventually connected with the damaged young woman as she struggles to convince herself, and her new town, that she is not as crazy as everyone thinks.

I consider Angles Fall to be enjoyable because of Roberts’ writing style and how she utilizes Reese’s twisted sanity to tell the story. She’s neurotic but not to the point that I felt annoyed; I found it to be an interesting approach. I also enjoy the supporting characters, especially the no-nonsense, straight forward attitudes of both Brody and Joanie. They provide tough love tactics that allow Reese to stay independent but also ground her.

The mystery may seem simple, especially by serious mystery connoisseurs, but it was entertaining. Roberts’ romance fans may want to steer clear of Angels Fall because the romance between Reece and Brody is sweet and real. It is not the fantastic escape that many search for in romance stories. Angels Fall was about overcoming the mental tortures of the past while searching for the man who killed the mysterious brunette by the river.

I wanted to post the Angels Fall review during May the Month of Mystery, but I discovered a made-for-TV movie of the novel staring Heather Locklear.  I had to watch it and include it in the review!  Now I am a sucker for cheesy TV movies but I have to admit that this one left much to be desired.  My main issue was Heather Locklear as Reese Gilmore.  Now don’t get me wrong, I like Heather Locklear, but she was twice the age as the character was written.  Brody, the love interest, was the proper age and the cougar-esk relationship just made the story feel off.  Plus Locklear’s recent facial surgeries left me completely distracted every time she attempted to speak.  Anyways it was a typical TV movie; not the best quality but it was still fun to watch.  The book is definitely better.

I love the characters of Angel Falls and Nora Roberts did a great job with this novel.  It is the perfect story to read if you want an escape in the mountains of Wyoming.  Let me know what you think of Angels Falls!

Lindsay

Discount Armageddon

Discount Armageddon

by Seanan McGuire

Discount Armageddon (InCryptid, #1)

Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night….

The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity – and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she’d rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren’t for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family’s old enemies, the Covenant of St. George.

When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone’s spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city…

Discount Armageddon is the first book in the Incripted Series by Seanan McGuire. Verity Price is a competitive ballroom dancer by day and cocktail waitress at Dave’s Fish and Strips, the local strip club, at night. But, as if that wasn’t already a unique lifestyle, Verity also belongs to a family who is dedicated to protecting the cryptid population, all those fairytale creatures that are not supposed to exist, in New York City. She sublets an apartment from a Big Foot and shares her home, and her fridge, with her colony of Aeslin mice. Verity is just a typical twenty-two year old trying to find her niche in the world!

Discount Armageddon is worth reading just for the Aeslin mice. These talking mice are a religious colony dedicated to worshiping and recording history for Price family; they are hysterical due to their love of all-night festivals and demands for fried chicken with a side of chocolate cake. I picked up Discount Armageddon towards the end of my final semester, and it provided the fun adventurous release I was craving after months of writing papers. McGuire does an excellent job of installing the creatures of our childhood, such as the boogeyman, in to the human world; boogeymen own strips clothes, dragon princesses are cocktail waitresses, and cuckoos go to college to study mathematics.

Be prepared to get a little frustrated with Verity. She consistently makes stupid decisions, which left me constantly yelling ‘WHY?” at the paperback clutched in my hands. I reminded myself that this is a coming of age story for our heroine, so I suggest readers do as I did and embrace her youthful tenacity and laugh at her antics.

I enjoyed reading Discount Armageddon as the fast pace writing kept me turning the pages. It is entertaining watching Dominic De Luna, member of the Covenant of St. George, struggle with his feelings for Verity as she drags him all over New York City. Actually, most of the book is pretty entertaining if you don’t take the story line too seriously! Have fun reading Discount Armageddon and let me know what you think of Seanan McGuire!

Lindsay

The Queen’s Army

The Queen’s Army
by Marissa Meyer

The Queen's Army (The Lunar Chronicles, #1.5)

It is time. The boy must leave his family to serve in the Queen’s army. To be chosen is an honor. To decline is impossible. The boy is modified. He is trained for several years, and learns to fight to the death. He proves to the Queen—and to himself—that he is capable of evil. He is just the kind of soldier the Queen wants: the alpha of his pack.

The Queen’s Army is a short story in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles that documents the military training of a Ze’ev, a young Lunar boy, who is chosen to be an elite solider in the Lunar Queen’s war against Earth.  He is horrified to learn his duty requires monstrous physical modifications and mental manipulations, but Ze’ev quickly adjusts in order to survive.  The Queen’s Army, which has me wanting to re-read Ender’s Game, provides detailed descriptions of the gory training received by the Lunar Queen’s elite soldiers and further educates readers on the mysterious lunar colony’s animalist culture.

I enjoy this short story because it introduces fans of the series to Wolf, the man who once was Ze’ev and who will appear in Scarlet.  Readers also get a glimpse of life on Luna, the moon colony, which was just hinted at in Cinder.  I wish we could hear more about the regular citizens, such as readers experience with New Beijing, but Meyer restricts the story to the military training facilities and utilizes the setting to emphasize the cruel mentality of Queen Levana.   The Queen’s Army identifies Ze’ev’s moral conflict with his training and the goals of his queen; readers should remember this point when reading Scarlet.

This story really does not really function as a stand alone piece, but I know that it is meant to be read as part of the series.  Actually, The Queen’s Army is a must read for those continuing with Meyer’s series as it is necessary aspect of Wolf’s character development.  Wolf is one of my favorite characters in the series so far, and The Queen’s Army made me more sympathetic to Wolf’s struggles in Scarlet.  I immediately started reading the next book in the series so expect to hear about it in the next few days.  Let me know what you thought about The Queen’s Army!

Lindsay

Cinder

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

I re-read Cinder this weekend as I have decided to read Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles Series this month.

Cinder, which is set five years after the events in the short story Glitches, relates the tale of Lihn Cinder, a young cyborg orphan who lives in New Beijing. Cinder, who is mistreated by the only mother she has ever known, struggles against social stigma while working as a gifted mechanic. Her world is turned upside down as her sister contracts a deadly disease and Cinder discovers that she is more extraordinary than she ever imagined.

Marissa Meyer’s first novel re-tells the classic fairytale ‘Cinderella,’ modernizing the timeless story in to a young-adult treasure.  Cinder is a complex and flawed character who is easy to identify with in her awkward self consciousness.  She is strong, determined, and humorous.  Meyer does an excellent job of developing relationships between her characters; readers can laugh along with the witty banter Cinder shares with the good doctor, rejoice in the sisterly love she has with Peony, and grin at the quirky antics of Iko the android. You may even find yourself blushing for Cinder as she is playfully pursued by Kai. Meyers writing makes these characters come alive and I always have a hard time putting the book down.

There are a few criticisms of Cinder; this is Meyer’s first published novel and her writing can come across as loose. Other critics have complained that she leaves many points unexplained, such as cyborgs being social outcasts. I agree with these comments but the lack of details did not hinder my enjoyment of the story thanks to an over active imagination.  Readers should remember that Cinder is a re-telling of ‘Cinderella’ so the story may seem predictable at times.  My suggestion is to embrace the inevitable predictability and enjoy the quirky twists that Meyer provides.

This is still one of my favorite novels and I managed to finish Cinder in three days, despite having a packed weekend. I enjoy retellings of fairytales and Meyer does an excellent job modernizing the stories and adding her science fiction twist.  Let me know what you think of Cinder and Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles!

Lindsay

Glitches

Glitches By Marissa Meyer

Glitches (The Lunar Chronicles, #0.5)

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. In Glitches, a short prequel story to Cinder, we see the results of that illness play out, and the emotional toll that takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch…

Glitches is the prequel for Cinder, the first novel in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series.  This short story introduces Meyer’s main heroine, Cinder, and provides the origin story of the headstrong mechanic.  The excerpt for Glitches on Goodreads does little to actually describe the story, so here is my version:

Cinder, an eleven year old cyborg, is left to adjust to her new metallic hand and leg in New Beijing.  Her new family barely tolerates her due to her ‘condition.’  Lost without memories of her previous life, Cinder learns that there is more mechanical in her than meets the eye.  Glitches establishes the integral relationships between Cinder and her new family while introducing the ever positive Iko.

This is a wonderful prequel short story, and I recommend that readers of the Lunar Chronicles start their adventure with Glitches.  I bet understood Cinder and it gave depth to Adri, the evil step-mother.  Glitches performs best when included in the Lunar Chronicles universe, and I can see how some readers may find it lacking as a stand alone story.  Just remember the true function of Glitches when diving in to Meyer’s science fiction fairytales.

Expect to see the rest of Meyer’s work discussed through out the month of June as she is one of my favorite new authors.  I was actually inspired to start writing my own novel while reading CinderGlitches is a prime example of Meyer’s story telling capabilities and it left me excited to pick up Cinder once again.  Let me know what you think about Glitches!

Lindsay

Etiquette and Espionage

Etiquette and Espionage

By Gail Carriger

 Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother’s existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea–and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right–but it’s a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine’s certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.

Etiquette and Espionage is the first installment of Gail Carriger’s Finishing School Series.  The young adult novel documents the adventures of fourteen year old Sophronia Temmerick during her first year at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.  The story is set in Carriger’s Steampunk Victorian England, and the young heroine is charged with learning the finer art of societal formalities while honing her skills in espionage.

Sophronia’s attempts to transform from the unrestrained tom-boy into a deadly lady were entertaining, as were the unique friends she makes along the way. The aviatrix in me adored the scenes involving the flying school and other dirigibles, and I found myself wishing I could join Sophronia on her nightly excursions bellow decks. This book is fun and would be a great addition to any young girl’s bookshelf (Boys too I guess; I’m not discriminating but I figure most boys would be bored with all descriptions of ribbons and petticoats.) Sophronia is spunky and driven; I can not wait to read about her future years at the school and see how Sophronia fares after she finishes.

Etiquette and Espionage is a typical young adult novel in that the teenage characters are flighty and awkward, exactly like most teenagers.  But, I was a little disappointed with the lady ‘instructors.’ They were just as flighty and awkward as the students and they lacked the depth necessary for their quirks to be enduring.  The etiquette lessons do get a little repetitive and rather droll as the story progressed; I think this is why most reviewers cite Etiquette and Espionage for lacking plot. Just remember to focus on Sophronia’s back for trouble and the search for the missing prototype.

Definitely don’t let my comments deter you from reading Etiquette and Espionage because it was an enjoyable read.  I love Carriger’s dry humor and Sophronia’s spunk and I picked up the second book in the series, Curtsies and Conspiracies, because of the unique world Carriger has created. And who doesn’t want their own mechanical dog? I’ll probably be reading her adult series, The Parasol Protectorate, to see if her plots are more developed. Let me know what you thought of Etiquette and Espionage!

Lindsay

The Naturals

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Naturals (The Naturals, #1)

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

The Naturals is the story of how Cassie Hobbes, a seventeen year old with a natural gift for profiling, is recruited to a special FBI team.  This team is known as the Naturals and is composed of four other gifted kids: Michael, Lia, Sloane, and Dean.  These teens work at developing their natural talents by working on cold cases until Cassie’s past reemerges.   The story follows Cassie as she adjusts to her team and searches for the person who killed her mother.

I  couldn’t put this book down because it is a unique young adult story that reads at a quick and enjoyable pace.  But, I want to remind readers that this is young adult fiction, so be prepared for petty teenage antics and the inevitable tortured love triangle.  It is somewhat difficult to imagine self center teenagers actually capable of focusing on others, but Barnes sill does a decent job of creating believable characters.  I was also a little annoyed at how the actual FBI agents are treated like simpletons, but I understand that such claims were necessary to enhance to capabilities of the Naturals.  Many reviewers have compared The Naturals to the long running television show Criminal Minds; I have never seen this show but I can see how fans of the show may be disappointed by this story and consider it a sad comparison to Criminal Minds.  Once again, this is young adult fiction; It is written for a different audience and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

The young adult clichés were not overbearing and I was not left rolling my eyes in annoyance as I am with many novel written for teenagers.  I enjoyed The Naturals and was actually quite pleased at how the budding relationships developed between all five Naturals.  The ending was a complete surprise for me and I am excited to see how Barnes’ next novel will unfold.  I recommend The Naturals for readers looking for something fun and different.  Enjoy Barnes’ light, yet educational writing style while cheering on these talented kids!

Let me know what you thought of The Naturals!

Lindsay

The Refuge

The Refuge by Sue Henry

The Refuge (Maxie and Stretch, #3)

After nine months on the road, Maxie McNabb is ready for some R&R, Alaska-style, with her miniature dachshund, Stretch. But no sooner has the sixty-something RVer parked the Mini-Winnie than a pleading phone call sends her flying to Hawaii. Because Karen Bailey, hobbled by an accident, needs Maxie’s help packing up her house.After nine months on the road, Maxie McNabb is ready for some R&R, Alaska-style, with her miniature dachshund, Stretch. But no sooner has the sixty-something RVer parked the Mini-Winnie than a pleading phone call sends her flying to Hawaii. Because Karen Bailey, hobbled by an accident, needs Maxie’s help packing up her house.But within hours of Maxie’s arrival, a prowler tries to break in and someone sabotages the plumbing. And when she hears Karen whispering into the phone-don’t call here…I’ll call you when it’s safe, when she’s…-Maxie suspects that Karen is hiding something. Far from home and no longer behind the wheel, Maxie feels as though the ice is melting around her.

I initially discovered Sue Henry during the winter of 2011 when I picked up one of her Jessie Arnold mysteries.  Jessie Arnold is a dog sled musher who lives in Alaska; plan to hear more about this series in December when I am on an Alaska kick!  The Refuge is an adventure involving Henry’s other heroine, Maxie, whom I first met while reading the Jessie Arnold mystery, Dead North.  I was initially hesitant to jump into a Maxie and Stretch adventure because Maxie, a woman in her sixties who travels the country in an RV, is quite different from Jessie.  But, I was in the mood for a book based in Hawaii and The Refuge seemed to fit the bill.  I wasn’t disappointed, though I have to admit that this is not Henry’s best work.

The first half of the story find Maxie stuck on the Big Island helping an acquaintance pack up her home in Hawaii to make the move back to Alaska.  The beginning is rather tedious, as Maxie, and myself, can barely stand Karen.  The pages were filled with packing, as Susan berates Maxie while acting like a complete air-head.  I was surprised that Maxie even took the trip to Hawaii to help a woman she barely tolerated, and I was relieved when Karen was finally forced out of the story via a airplane bound for Alaska.  I have a difficult time with needy characters, and admit that I might have dropped The Refuge if I hadn’t been listening to an audio version.

I am glad I kept going because the action showed up in the second half of the novel.  Maxie, and her teenage runaway friend, travel the Big Island in a rented camper.  Forget the hints of intrigue in the first half, because now Maxie is plagued with a series of attacks, break-ins, and dangerous activity.  Yet, Maxie and her young companion continue to travel the island despite the continuous threats.  It never really feels like there is a mystery to solve, and honestly, The Refuge is actually a travel thriller.

The Refuge may not be Henry’s best piece, but it was still enjoyable.  It is definitely worth the read if you are looking for something light and summery.  Henry’s writing is engaging and her words took me back to my own travels around the Big Island.  I also enjoy Maxie’s relaxed personality, non-nonsense nature, and love of both books and culture.  It was fun driving the roads of Hawaii with her while stuck in rush hour traffic.

Check out all the books in Sue Henry’s two series and let me know what you think!

Lindsay