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Book Frivolity.....

Speculative Fiction Reviews, Interviews, Art and Whatever Else!

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The Thirteenth Tower

The Thirteenth Tower - Sara C. Snider eARC edition.

Actual rating: 3.5 stars

When checking back on my notes about The Thirteenth Tower, I notice I had written that it was a ‘quiet adventure. A soft sprinkling of snow seems to have settled on my kindle, hushing the loudest things..” which sounds rather poetic of me (must’ve been having a rare moment!), but it does describe what I felt throughout most of the book. For some reason it didn’t matter what was happening, there was always a sense of calm up til the last 20%. I am not really sure what to make of it! Whether it was due to the quiet, polite and unassuming nature of the lead character Emelyn, or the wooded environs that most of the novel took place in, I always felt rather tranquil no matter what was happening. I have no notion if that was what author Sara C. Snider was trying to achieve through the steady, walking paced plot, but it was a nice change to the high paced adventures I’ve been reading of late. There was a sense of gravity to it, this ramble of a trek, so when things finally did pull in to a sharper focus, it had more weight. The high emotion felt more realistic, not just another octave of hysteria.

The forest creatures were well created. There was a lot of work put into giving each race a distinct background, physique and language (or lack there of). I am not sure I’d like to run into a lot of them, but I could handle one of those fire-lighting wisps flitting about as a friendly nightlight! There was a real charm to all of them, even the scary ones were eerily beautiful in their own creepy way.

It did seem rushed at the end, like that now the cat is out of the bag we’d better chase it til it runs out of steam. The ending was definitely the downfall, it had the underlying work to create some truly masterful scenes, but it just left them alone. The cat just wanted to escape again without a snuggle first! I felt a bit cheated, but I believe this is the first in an ongoing series, so I do hope it can recover some of that lost ground.

I also think I read the word ornery more times in one chapter than I have in a lifetime of reading. There were a few foibles in keeping the writing feeling fresh and unrepetative here and there, but it didn’t take too much away from the novel as a whole.

There wasn’t much pushing of boundaries, it wasn’t a masterwork of high adventure, nor would I say I hadn’t read other novels with similar story lines, but I found myself lost in it. I was trudging along with Emelyn, rather than simply watching it from a distance and I actually read it in one sitting without realising I’d come to the last chapter. I have a sneaking suspicion the author has had experience with being the quiet one in the room, but is always the one to step up to the mark when everybody else is rushing about ineffectually. And then promptly resuming position once the crisis is over.

I think that’s what this novel represented to me, that quiet does not always mean cold and uninteresting, it can just mean quiet. Sometimes, it isn’t the zaniest in the pack that makes the most impact.

The Thirteenth Tower

The Thirteenth Tower - Sara C. Snider This review was originally posted on Book Frivolity

Scarlet

Scarlet - Marissa Meyer This is me putting my responsible adult hat on! It’s rare, so I’m obviously serious.

I’ve decided not to rate Scarlet, because I have a huge objection to part of it’s contents in relation to it’s recommended reading age. This book is rated from ages 11 or 12 and up (depending on when you look), which gives me a major cause for concern. Maybe it’s because when I was a psychologist I was privy to some pretty horrendous abuse cases that contained dialogue similar to “It’s ok, I am helping them be a better person” or “they’re a good person, they just sometimes lose control” or “they feel bad afterward”, but the Scarlet and Wolf ‘romance’ in this book sent chills down my spine. And not in the ‘oh, that’s so sweet and sexy!’ kind of way. It was in the, ‘you said this was appropriate for an 11 year old!?’ kind of way ..

Here’s why..

spoiler:

Here’s Scarlet, portrayed as a strong and resilient young woman.

Here’s Wolf, a liar, torturer and killer. We feel sad for him because of the forlorn looks he gets in his eyes. He’s not happy about what he does, but he can’t help himself.

She watches him try to kill two people. He lies to her repeatedly. Two minutes later – They fall in lust. Then he tries to kill her. But, she still trusts him because of the forlorn looks and he feels bad for trying to rip out her throat.

He says “but if you give me the chance.. All I want to do is protect you. To be near you. For as long as I am able” because apparently his love for her might be stronger than his urge to mutilate her.. Maybe?

She says “I sort of like that” as she beams and gets gushy whilst holding hands over antipasto.

End spoiler.

How is that sentiment ok for 11 year olds to absorb?

I’m sorry, but my conscious says it’s not, it’s not really even ok for some adults obviously.

It is Fantasy, absolutely, but anybody who’s taken a 1st year psychology lecture can tell you that abstract reasoning and thinking doesn’t kick in fully until 15 to 20 years of age. Kids do not think like adults, but they do absorb and retain information better. Fantasy and reality are not always separate entities at that age. If you are going to write in that sort of story line, give it consequences at least! You’ve basically just said “you tried to kill me, but I love, you, so hopefully it doesn’t happen again” is a romantic scenario, to a person that can’t necessarily discern that in reality, it would be horrific.

Up the age bracket to at least 15 and I’ll think about reconsidering things.

Look, I’ve seen too much maybe, but what I have seen is people end up scarred psychologically/physically for life, or gods forbid dead, because we don’t take this sort of thing seriously enough. It’s far from bloody romantic when you see the reality.

If you have concerns about your child’s ability to make solid, conscious and discerning decisions when dealing with romantic relationships (or what they read!), please find them something else to read. There are plenty of awesome YA novels out there that deal with these types of situations with the proper respect, consequences and foresight now, that the excuse ‘it’s just a fantasy book’ is no longer plausible.

The Magician's Land

The Magician's Land - Lev Grossman So, full disclosure here, I think I am slightly too emotionally attached to this series to be totally objective and I'll probably break all of my own review policies in the process of writing it. If there was ever a fantasy character who's life mirrored my own, it's Quentin Coldwater. If you replace the magical elements with everyday earth equivalents, it's kind of uncanny, and a bit disturbing! The Physical kids emulate my own university friendship group, who are now Kings and Queens of their own domains and I have my own Julia, who I've recently seen put his destructiveness behind him and become a strong and beautiful man despite the adversity he's suffered. And that's probably why it's taken me this long to actually read The Magician's Land ARC, because it's sort of like peeking in on how my own story progresses and ends. Which is also rather disturbing! But, now I've read it, I can say if my life ends up where his does, I think I'll be pretty happy to continue to be Quentin's earth bound female doppelganger. I actually weeped, and I haven't done that in a very long time! So yep, probably not completely objective! Or at all..

Anyway, before I get all emotional I shall move on..

The Magician's Land picks up not long after The Magician King, Quentin once again trying to work out his life after being ejected from Fillory. And he's still doing a pretty awful job of trying to assimilate, so he decides to take on some magical crime work! This plotline actually fell a bit flat. Although the tangents taken to get it done were great and the conclusion of that arc was a bit of a heart stopper, the actual scenes with the 'gang of thieves' were a bit underdone. The characters were slightly lifeless and underwritten and I was much more interested in the story happening around the plot line, rather than anything that happened with the rest of the crew. I just wanted it to move forward because I found my eyes sort of glazing over and my attention starting to waver.

Of course we have the character of Plum who is new to The Magicians. I did get annoyed that once again there is another over-achieving depressive female as Q's sidekick. I like those qualities in a character, but Grossman didn't seem to be able to find a new template! I did grow to like her, but it took a while to see her as anything other than another plot device. I don't know that I'll ever be 100% sold on her, I just felt like she didn't have enough robustness to keep me fully engaged. She is in Poppy status.

We also get to see what's going down in Fillory whilst Quentin is off stealing things on earth, and those scenes I relished. Elliot and Janet have always fascinated me and we finally get to see what's knocking about in those heads first hand! And I realised after all this time, I really love them both! Janet really sparkled, her story and attitude were amazingly well written and I am sort of annoyed it took so long for her to be properly introduced! I want a book just about her. Her scenes stood out vibrantly amongst the other points of view and I didn't want to see them change to another's. Elliot is still too cool for school. Again his perspectives were perfect. He is still a pompous arse, but gods he does it so well! I am glad the final instalment gave us the chance to travel with them up close.

I also enjoyed that not everything we were told about Fillory and the Chatwins in the past was the full story or had ever been completely true. It gave the series a more believable grounding and created a better source of motivation for Martin to have acted the way he did. The story just became a more three dimensional version of itself the more layers that were added. There is a special kind of genius in being able to withhold and rewrite the past the way Grossman has. It is what makes Quentin's final decisions about his future that much weightier.

The garden was hands down, the most beautiful concept ever conceived. The weeping began about there. There may have been a sob or two. I actually didn't know my tear ducts still functioned! However, I am willing to admit it when a piece of art has such an effect on me, because it doesn't happen often enough.

And then it ended. And I was so proud of Quentin's decisions and maturity by the end. Not everyone starts out with the emotional IQ of a benevolent God and I am glad a fantasy writer finally realised it. I hope the rest of us idiot, lazy, arrogant, ignorant, spoiled, weak, superficial (just to name a few choice descriptions I've seen used!) Physical Kids can follow in his footsteps. Thanks for that Mr Grossman, you've given us riff raff some hope!

So, I warned you I wouldn't be completely objective, sometimes it's just not possible, but I had promised the review so you got it warts and damned all! Take it as you will!This review was originally posted on Book Frivolity

The Magician's Land

The Magician's Land  - Lev Grossman I may weep. Just slightly. Quentin may be my hero.. Proper review will go live when I stop.. Weeping that is..

Unstrung

Unstrung - Kendra C. Highley Unstrung is a fast, zippy, dystopian YA that deals with some pretty deep issues not commonly seen in the genre. Drug addiction, forced prostitution and slavery to name a few and I applaud Highley and for giving the main character Lexa, a real life problem in a made up world. It takes a lot of work to create a flawed heroine that isn't immune to their own disease. It is part of her present, not just her past and it works brilliantly.

The action is non-stop, set over approximately a week, Lexa jumps into more tasks than any thief or would be revolutionist would go through in a year. You can't doubt that this is a high adrenaline thrill ride.

The romantic line was well handled. I liked that there was an emotional push and pull within both the leads. That continuous sense of doubt creeping in made it believable and showed Lexa as a strong willed young woman that isn't afraid to question her own reasoning. It's hard to properly explain the nature of the relationship without creating spoilers, but it explores the nature of destiny and how it effects the involvement of one's emotions toward another.

But, I have a few issues. I tend to forgive first person narratives a lot, because it's very hard to present a well rounded view of the world when only looking through one person's eyes. However, there is a real lack of background in Unstrung. I just kept asking 'why?'. I don't know why the villians are villians, I didn't get any sense of motivation for what occurs except on a micro level between the main characters. I didn't feel involved and so I found myself not really caring about the general world or it's inhabitants. Which irked me, quite a bit in the end.

Another thing that made my teeth grind is my favourite sin, the deus ex machina. I can forgive once or twice, but more than that just seems a lazy way to keep getting your protagonist out of trouble. It is used so often in the book, it actually spoils the cliff hanger ending, because you already know that there isn't any danger in it. There'll be something/someone that pops in to save it all. It could've been a great little book if there had've been a real sense of struggle to it.

The big reveal was also horribly predictable. As soon as the androids were mentioned, it was just a wait for it to be confirmed. Granted it's not uncommon for a reader to be way ahead of the book in a good proportion of YA dystopia novels, but I just think a little better handling would've made the impact a lot more forceful. My heart would've been a bit more caught up in the drama.

Overall though, this is still a fun read. I think it has the potential to be quite a unique series, but it really needs to start digging into the wider sense of the world to give it more depth and let Lexa shine with her skills rather than just having her constantly rescued.

If you like a good dystopian, with a strong yet flawed main character that isn't shy is hammering some hard subjects, this indie release is worth checking out. I will be checking out the next instalment in hopes to see it flourish. This review was originally posted on Book Frivolity

The Skull Throne

The Skull Throne - Peter V. Brett

Gather round little corelings! Anybody that knows me can attest that I raved about The Painted Man (or Warded Man, depending on your location), and I debated The Desert Spear but I ranted about The Daylight War. Due to my dwindling affection, I was hesitant to take on The Skull Throne ARC but my curiosity won out in the end. Glad it did, because The Demon Cycle is back in business.

My major gripes in the past were the lengthy nonessential flashbacks, the florid fantasy porn and some character developments that seemed incongruent to the actual characters. The first two have been toned down in Skull Throne and the third is rectified with more solid and considered character building. There were a couple of flashbacks, but they were concise and become integral to understanding the actual plot progression. Surprisingly, there really isn't any 'sticking' scenes at all, just a few lead ins. It doesn't dim the passion between the characters whatsoever, though the soapish nature that crept into Daylight is put aside. I am not sure if Mr Brett simply decided the character progression was better served in a different direction, but it is a pretty big turn around in all respects. I give him props for making the positive changes that has elevated my opinion of The Demon Cycle back up to where it was when I first read The Painted Man.

The characters themselves feel much weightier. There was a noticeable sense of personality containment, that they were acting concisely like themselves rather than throwing traits about simply to achieve a plot point. Sure, they are gloriously humanly messy, multidimensional as all good characters are, but not dissociative identity disorder messy. It allowed me to empathise more fully, which I think is what makes a great character. There are a few that are still teetering on the edge of thin, but I think that is mostly down to how little time they are featured in the book.

As with the previous installments, The Skull Throne is split over multiple points of view within the two main contingents, The Hollowers and The Krasians. The Hollowers are ordered back to Angier, which is obviously a contentious issue for both Leesha and Rojer and much anguish ensues. The Krasian contingent are in Everam's Bounty where Inevera and Abban are struggling to hold fort after Ahmann's disappearance, again with much anguish ensuing. There really isn't a whole lot of room for joyous occasions as the series ramps up to 11 and the end game comes into view. There is one other group, but you are better served reading the book than me giving anything away on that one!

Let me say, hands down, Leesha shines. I became disillusioned with her during Desert Spear and Daylight War, as there were times her actions made me frown due to their inconsistencies, but she makes a major come back in Skull Throne. I found myself enjoying her strength and struggles, rather than cringing away from her. Her progression is steady, but beautiful. Another one that came out of the woodworks was Ashia. She just radiates an aura of a powerful Krasian womanhood that I found fascinating. I honestly think it was her lack of scheming that made her character stand out, as previously it seemed the only powerful Krasian women were the ones hell bent on psychological manipulation.

The plot was particularly well paced, which I think was improved due to the dial back on the flashbacks. Skull Throne highlights the consequences of the various character's past actions and decisions; how they have affected those around them as well as the progression of magic within the world. And by the end, the consequences are massive. Heart thumping, adrenalin pumping consequences. The crescendo is near perfect! Not everyone is coming out of this one intact and some rather unexpectedly take their leave down the lonely road.
A few mysteries from the past are wrapped up nicely whilst more pour in. It was a never ending stream of dangling an answer and then pulling the rug out from under you with more questions. Which I enjoyed immensely! The last chapters were amazing. There were hints in hindsight, but I affected some very wide eyed expressions as things unfolded, along with some evil giggling. Cliff-bloody-hanger!

There were some annoyances, hopefully a few, such as some wrong words being used (spellcheck anomalies I think?!) will be rectified before publication. Some of the point of view changes were awkward and it took me some time to figure out that there was in fact, a change. That may have just been some dodgy formatting in my eARC, but I am not sure all of them could be explained away. I think some more attention was needed when rapidly changing characters to help keep the reader (or me at least) up to speed, without the confusion.

Night, the Hick Hollows diction makes my eyes feel like they are being sandpapered. It's not the language so much as the unusual word construction. It's clumsy and jolts you out of the flow of the narrative, which by the end becomes grating. I still can't get used to it and I still believe there are better ways to express language particulars than with choppy half words!

Apart from the few negatives I can conjure up, I cannot express how much improved this instalment of The Demon Cycle is (in my opinion of course!)! If you were at all worried about continuing with the series due to any of the initial concerns I had, just check The Skull Throne out, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised! Possibly overjoyed, as I was! I certainly came out on the other side excited to read #5.. Which was the biggest downside to the eARC, cause I now have that much longer to wait! 

The Reluctant Swordsman

The Reluctant Swordsman - Dave Duncan This review was originally posted on Book Frivolity

The Reluctant Swordsman (The Seventh Sword Book 1)

The Reluctant Swordsman - Dave Duncan Have you ever thought I wish I lived in that books world? Well, The Reluctant Swordsman tackles the issue of being thrown in to an alternative universe and trying to assimilate modern ideas and values in a world that is not your own.

It's a very interesting concept actually, how do you fit in? What do you hold on to of yourself and what are you willing to change so that you can successfully live in a world that doesn't see or believe in the things you take for granted? It's not just that people don't agree with you, they literally don't even know the things you speak of, there isn't language to describe it, it just does't exist for them! And vice versa. It's truly fascinating. I loved it! It even made me rethink my desire to live in Middle-Earth.. But not for too long...

Rhune

Rhune - Michael J. Sullivan I don't rate beta reads, they tend to change before being released (you know being beta and all).. What I will say, that if the final release is similar or better than this version (the 2nd), it will definitely be getting 5 stars. I'll update this when I see the final result.

Michael J Sullivan fans, hold on to your hats, cause this is going to rock your socks.. I see the future... I think I might be a mystic! Get me some chicken bones! See this is what happens when you read 5 hours straight cause you can't put the book down.. You think your a Mystic.. I might even know I'm one..

I find it cruel though that I only seem to have the first book to read.. Why is this? Cruel I tells you! Sullivan is definitely holding out. *grumbles*

The Glass Magician

The Glass Magician - Charlie N. Holmberg *please note, I received The Glass Magician as an eARC, however half way through I broke my foot and ended up ill. As I was able to get the audio book, I listened to the rest whilst being too lazy to hold a book. My point being, if there were any discrepancies between the two editions that have affected my review I am sorry. *

I was lucky enough to read The Paper Magician and The Glass Magician back to back an thus I was able to let the story flow on, rather than halting between books. It gave a good overall perspective of the ongoing development of the plot and characters.

There were some changes in The Glass Magician that both excited and puzzled me. The romance (or lack thereof) progresses sweetly in Glass, and it is reminiscent of the older classical romance novels where the tension and furtive glances become more important than the physicality of the relationship. It actually made my investment in the romance much deeper, than if all that built up anxiety hadn't been there. I might be old fashioned, but I really liked that things aren't rushed forward for the sake of a quick hay romp.

Glass is a lot more sword and sorcery feeling than Paper. Much more running about frantically and throwing spells around. Risks and badly made decisions by the characters move the adventure forward rather than actual character development in this instalment. Less whimsy, more dirty. I wasn't perturbed as that is something I love to read, but I think it might be a bit off putting for some. Either way, it is a big difference. It wasn't all dash and scramble, there is a heavy emphasis put on the overlying theme of responsibility and where it lies within each character. It is sometimes quite emotionally confronting, probably more so for those inclined to try and carry burdens not their own.

Character wise there were some really flimsy introductions that were not particularly well handled. One seemed a convenience character and another probably would've made a better impact if she had been introduced in the first book so her eventual course held some real intensity. As it was, she seemed like a throw in that didn't have the grounding needed to create the relationship I think was trying to be portrayed. I liked the addition, just not the handling.

Actually, the timing in Glass seemed to be an issue and I think there were things that would've been better served spread throughout the series, rather than within the confines on this one installment. For instance, there was a game changer at the end that felt like either a cheap cliffhanger or a badly planned introduction into the next novel. I don't mind breaking some rules (they are meant to be broken right?), however something about the timing annoyed me, maybe the mystery of the 'change'(how, why, what could be done) could've been held over to the next book? The intrigue would've kept readers hooked into the series and it wouldn't have made me screw up my face so vehemently. As it is, the ending almost shuts the flow off like the turn of a tap. I guess time will tell on that one. I believe the next book is out in June of this year, so it will be interesting to see how it is handled.

Overall though, I still really enjoyed The Glass Magician. There were some foibles, but it still thrummed with excitement, tension and magical early Windsor era charm. I do look forward to seeing the progression in the next book and if I was enchanted with it whilst in an illness induced grump, it's worth it's weight in gold (the physical edition of course! The ebook being weightless doesn't give the statement much impact really)...This review was originally posted on Book Frivolity

The Paper Magician

The Paper Magician - Charlie N. Holmberg

The Paper Magician actually caught me off guard, it was definitely not what I had expected from what I read from the synopsis! Which, to be honest, was a good thing!



I was expecting some magical battles and some instalove, and it did contain those things in part, however what I took from it was a story of forgiveness and redemption.



A quite literal journey through the heart of a man plagued by past deeds, darkness and despair, I was more drawn to the emotional content of this book rather than the magical elements (even though the Paper magic was pretty darn cool! A kind of magical origami!).



I’d usually prattle a bit about world building elements, but when a good majority of the book is set within a man’s heart, I can only comment that I believed that the heart was well built! It had four chambers and was bloody, so whatever else was going on, that felt real enough. I didn’t get a great sense of the turn of 20th century England however, which I think could’ve been given a bit more emphasis just to give it a little extra grounding.



There was a strong sense of whimsy that I find usually goes hand in hand with magical reimaginings of Britain. The romance of it always seems to dominate, though this book did show a tougher side, even if only glimpsed here and there. It reminded me somewhat of Gail Carrier’s work, which I hold in very high esteem.



I really enjoyed Ceony’s company. She felt believable, she wasn’t a mess of extremes and she looked at the consequences of her actions with consideration. She held herself with poise when needed and got her hands dirty when required, which seems reminiscent of the women you hear so much about hailing from the late 19th century. Mg. Thane, her magic tutor has a Darcy/Heathcliff feel and it’s his life story that drives the story forward.



I thoroughly enjoyed The Paper Magician and I think it has enough range to keep readers of any age enchanted. I have already begun The Glass Magician (the second in the series) so, I think that’s a fair indication that I was captivated by it.

Libriomancer

Libriomancer - Jim C. Hines So, I really like books.. And I really like magic.. So, book magic is possibly the most scrumptious thing I've ever read about! This reminded me of a mash up of Harry Dresden and Thursday Next (and yet still bursting with its own originally) where Libriomancers are able to use the power of the written word to create magic, and basically be an arse kicking bibliophile...

Imagine being able too reach into a book and pull out an object of your desire! There are rules and limits of course, but Ye Gods, imagine the possibilities for the Bookish! I don't think I care about the faults in The Libriomancer, it could've been a right royal hack (which it absolutely wasn't) and I'd still be all dreamy eyed over the premise.

I think I'd like to go put on the Mad Hatter's hat and swing about a Shardblade as I go traipsing around the neighbourhood with a Dire Wolf puppy. Don't worry, I'll put them back when I'm done... Maybe..

Cinder

Cinder - Marissa Meyer

I picked Cinder up as a light and fluffy read for the weekend, not really expecting much other than some simple entertainment. However, I was rather surprised once I started reading! This was a truly clever and original re-imagination of the Cinderella story, with a depth of struggle and emotion that I did not expect.

There were some glitches with the setting and cultural references. I am not exactly sure if the author was trying to emphasise that New Beijing is a mixed society by shuffling honourifics and suchlike, or just didn't quite understand the depths she was diving into by taking on the Eastern cultures, but if you are happy to focus on the main storyline rather than the technicalities, it shouldn't be too big an issue.

Some of the characters were a bit flimsy, and it made Cinder's connections to them somewhat shallow and slightly unconvincing. But here's my tip, forget about them. Realise they are there to advance the story, shove them to the periphery, and focus on Cinder herself. Her metal parts might be dull, but she is uniquely shiny for a teenage protagonist and even though her situation is unique, she will be totally relatable to those that have ever felt lost in life by situations out of their control.

Cinder has enough chutzpah that she isn't a pushover, but still garners enough vulnerability to allow a connection to the reader. She isn't all snark and bravado, which can sometimes alienate a reader (well me anyway), and I appreciated her story more for it. The connection to the prince wasn't instalove, which made me deliriously happy. She was respectfully swoony, but there were no advanced make out sessions or total abandonment of sense because of their connection. She was able to stand on her own two feet without him, and didn't spend 3/4 of the book waxing lyrical about his virtues at every turn. It was realistic crushing, so it didn't make me throw my kindle across the room in despair of it.

The moments spent with Prince Kai were also pretty well developed. Not just a pretty face, but a teenager thrown into a maelstrom that most adults would have a breakdown over, displaying his strengths and weaknesses well. It probably could've been given a bit more depth to bolster his character, but overall I was pleased he was more than just a handsome love interest.

The connections to the original Cinderella were well worked and savvy, and I don't think it would be too presumptuous to think that the Lunar series will maintain that integrity throughout the storylines (currently including Scarlett- red riding hood, Cress- Rapunzel, Fairest -soon to be released and Winter- Snow White, future release).

If you like fairytale reimagining, Sci-fi cyborgs, dystopian futures or simply a good YA read, Cinder is definitely worth a look! And I will definitely be checking out Scarlett soon!

The Providence of Fire (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne)

The Providence of Fire (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne) - Brian Staveley Jesus H Roosevelt Christ! I just have to gather some wittitude before reviewing, cause words aren't forthcoming at this time. Far the hell out.. Just.. Wow.

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1) - Marissa Meyer Surprising

I picked Cinder up as a light and fluffy read for the weekend, not really expecting much other than some simple entertainment. However, I was rather surprised once I started reading! This was a truly clever and original re-imagination of the Cinderella story, with a depth of struggle and emotion that I did not expect.

There were some glitches with the setting and cultural references. I am not exactly sure if the author was trying to emphasise that New Beijing is a mixed society by shuffling honourifics and suchlike, or just didn't quite understand the depths she was diving into by taking on the Eastern cultures, but if you are happy to focus on the main storyline rather than the technicalities, it shouldn't be too big an issue.

Some of the characters were a bit flimsy, and it made Cinder's connections to them somewhat shallow and slightly unconvincing. But here's my tip, forget about them. Realise they are there to advance the story, shove them to the periphery, and focus on Cinder herself. Her metal parts might be dull, but she is uniquely shiny for a teenage protagonist and even though her situation is unique, she will be totally relatable to those that have ever felt lost in life by situations out of their control.

Cinder has enough chutzpah that she isn't a pushover, but still garners enough vulnerability to allow a connection to the reader. She isn't all snark and bravado, which can sometimes alienate a reader (well me anyway), and I appreciated her story more for it. The connection to the prince wasn't instalove, which made me deliriously happy. She was respectfully swoony, but there were no advanced make out sessions or total abandonment of sense because of their connection. She was able to stand on her own two feet without him, and didn't spend 3/4 of the book waxing lyrical about his virtues at every turn. It was realistic crushing, so it didn't make me throw my kindle across the room in despair of it.

The moments spent with Prince Kai were also pretty well developed. Not just a pretty face, but a teenager thrown into a maelstrom that most adults would have a breakdown over, displaying his strengths and weaknesses well. It probably could've been given a bit more depth to bolster his character, but overall I was pleased he was more than just a handsome love interest.

The connections to the original Cinderella were well worked and savvy, and I don't think it would be too presumptuous to think that the Lunar series will maintain that integrity throughout the storylines (currently including Scarlett- red riding hood, Cress- Rapunzel, Fairest -soon to be released and Winter- Snow White, future release).

If you like fairytale reimagining, Sci-fi cyborgs, dystopian futures or simply a good YA read, Cinder is definitely worth a look! And I will definitely be checking out Scarlett soon!