Cinder by Marissa Meyer // Reviews

This is a fairy tale retelling of Cinderella, where Cinder is a cyborg and works as a mechanic in the future New Beijing.

cinderGenre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, YA

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Publication Date: January 3, 2012

387 pages, paperback

series: #1 in the Lunar Chronicles

Synopsis: Goodreads

And this is yet another re-read! I have read Cinder in May 2014 and I loved it; my first review can be found here. I didn’t have the sequel, so that’s why I didn’t continue on with this series. Later that year I got Scarlet and still didn’t manage to read it. Now that I definitely want to continue with this series, I wanted to re-read it and I cannot believe I didn’t pick up Scarlet as soon as I have turned the last page of Cinder.

I am a big fan of fairy tales. When I was a little kid, my mother would read me fairy tales as bedtime stories. As soon as I learned how to read, I read fairy tales myself. I still enjoy fairy tales. And as soon as I heard about this fairy tale retelling I knew I had to read it (in this case: re-read it).

New Beijing fascinated me to no end. Although there wasn’t much backstory to how the world became like this, which I thought was a pity (but hopefully there will be more to it in the sequels), it was still a very interesting world the people lived in. The fourth World War is 126 years in the past, the people live in this world, where there is so much technical progress: androids, netscreens, hovercrafts, cyborgs. With this technological progress there is still an incurable disease, a plague that kills people within days.

Cinder is a seventeen-year-old girl who works as a mechanic on the market to fix netscreens, droids and other technical knick-knacks. She is part cyborg, but that’s not something she tells the people around her. She is ashamed of it because her stepmother and her stepsister are making her feel worthless. She has to do all of the technical repairs at the house as well as work in the market; not that she ever got a thank you or money for her work.
I loved Cinder and her cyborg parts. I just couldn’t understand how she didn’t think of herself as a superhuman, but a sub-human.

Prince Kai is the son of the emperor, who has also fallen ill with the plague. He knows that soon it will be his turn to rule the Eastern Commonwealth. He isn’t prepared for this at all and doesn’t want this responsibility. He feels too young for it, but he definitely wants the best for his people.
I liked Kai despite some things at the end of the book that he did. But as this is not yet resolved, I want to continue with the story and see what I think about him in the sequel.

Iko was the best android-friend that Cinder had. She had too much opinions for her own good, but that’s what made her so hilarious and likeable. I enjoyed how she fangirled about Prince Kai and how she wanted to go to the ball with the rest of the family. It was just way too funny.

Then there’s also the Lunars and Queen Levana. I couldn’t stand her from the beginning, but as a villain she definitely was a great character.
The Lunars are people who live on the moon and have established a superhuman power after generations have lived there. They have this glamour that can manipulate people to think and see and do everything the Lunars want them to do, which is quite scary.

I loved the technical aspects of the story as well as the political and scientific story line. It blended all very well together and I’m excited to see more of the above mentioned characters as well as the new characters and how each story will intertwine together.

The writing was smooth. Easy to follow and fast-paced. I loved how I had to read, read, read until I either had to really go to sleep or go to work. This was a rollercoaster of a story. Reading this for a second time didn’t make me want to slow down, I wanted to know what would happen next, although I still knew the main points of the story. It was a great start to a series and I really, really need to get on with the story.

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How to Love by Katie Cotugno // Reviews

Before, Reena had everything going for her. Now, she has a two-year-old child and her baby daddy is back in town and causes quite the commotion.

how-to-love-k.cotugnoGenre: Contemporary, Romance, YA

Publisher: Balzer & Bray

Publication Date: March 24, 2015

389 pages, paperback

series: –

Synopsis: Goodreads

This is yet another re-read. I read this book last year on my Kindle, but as soon as I saw this beautiful new cover, I knew I had to get it and decided to re-read it right away. My review from 2014 can be found here.

After re-reading this book I realised that I loved this book more the second time around. Whether it’s because I’m now one year older and took more out of the story or simply because I needed to re-read it to love it, I don’t know. But I definitely enjoyed it very, very much.

Reena had everything she ever wanted. A best friend, a loving family, exceptional grades and the chance to get out of school one year early and going to the university she always wanted to go to. She knew that she would once travel the world. She also has been forever in love with Sawyer. But that was before.

Now Reena is still living with her parents and has a two-year-old daughter. The child’s father is not around. Until he shows up again and everything in Reena’s life that she has built for herself since she got pregnant gets thrown upside down.

Reena was an admirable character. I liked her immediately as soon as I found out that she loves books and reading and that she just isn’t the type of girl who likes to socialize and get drunk at the age of fifteen. She likes to either read or be with her family or with her best friend. She is ambitious and knows that she wants to travel the world and as the chance to finish high school early presents itself, she grabs for it.
As her life changes because of her pregnancy, she takes it as it is and deals with it. Her daughter is her everything and she cares for her the best she can while also working in her father’s restaurant and taking college courses in a community college.

I already knew what Sawyer would be like, so I was prepared for his character this time around. At the beginning of the story, Sawyer is pretty much a player. A man-boy, who is part of a band, who doesn’t take his life very seriously and lives day by day. He drinks alcohol, smokes pot and takes other drugs as well. He plays the I’m-hot-and-then-cold card all the time: on Reena, on his parents, on school; on everything.
Later in the story, when he’s back in town, he wants to be a father for his child, he wants to make amends for all the mistakes he has done. He is still the snarky guy with the flirtatious smile, but he definitely matured.

I now get what Reena saw in him: freedom and being rebellious to some degree when she was younger. Now she doesn’t know whether she can trust him or whether he’ll abandon her all over again.

The family dynamics in this book were amazing to read about. Especially Reena’s relationship with her father is complex. He is disappointed in the decisions she made, she is sad because of it, but still wants them to get along now that what is done is done.

I had problems with this book when I first read it. One problem was the religious beliefs of Reena’s and Sawyer’s parents and especially how they treated her because she got pregnant at the age of fifteen and had an illegitimate child. I still see the problem, but it was part of the book and although this still makes me angry, I understand why the author wrote it the way she did.
The other problem I had back when was the decision Reena makes right at the end. As I’ve now read it again, I knew how and what she would decide and this time around I understood why she did what she did and I was happy about it. Happy for her. I don’t want to spoil anything, so it may sound cryptic. But if you’ve read the book, you’ll probably know what I mean.

This was a wonderful contemporary novel that deals with friendships, first love, family life and an unexpected pregnancy. The writing style was great and it was easy to read through the story in just a matter of days.

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The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski // Reviews

This is the continuation of the story of the general’s daughter Kestrel and the Herrani slave Arin.

the-winners-crime-m.rutkoskiGenre: Fantasy, Romance, YA

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: March 3, 2015

402 pages, hardback

series: #2 in the Winner’s trilogy

Synopsis: Goodreads

This is the sequel to The Winner’s Curse and it might contain spoilers for the first book. So if you haven’t read it yet, do not continue to read. If you’d like to see what I thought of The Winner’s Curse, I posted my review for this book here.

As you might know, I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Winner’s Curse. It was alright. I loved the political aspects of it, but the characters didn’t really click with me. Then I read the sequel and oh boy, did it surprise me.

Kestrel is engaged to the crown prince of the Valorian king and isn’t too happy about it. She did it to save the one person she cannot be with and no one can know about it.
I truly learned to love Kestrel’s character. She did what she believed was right and although things may have looked quite different and even wrong from their point of view (a.k.a. Arin), she didn’t let anyone detain her from her beliefs. Kestrel grew from a, what seemed at first, a shallow rich girl to a powerful, strategic and intelligent woman. Things that she decides and has to decide have repercussions and consequences and she knows that and tries to minimize the damage as best as she can in her position.

Arin seemed to be even more contemplative than in the previous novel. He didn’t know why Kestrel would want to marry the son of such a brutal man. With the newfound freedom, he has to look after his people and this is not as easy as the Valorian king takes most of the harvest for himself and the Herrani are afraid of starving. Arin underwent so much character development as well. Not as drastically as Kestrel, but he definitely has grown compared to the time when he was still a slave. He wants to fit in this world, although he knows that this will never happen and at the same time he despises himself for wanting to be like the people who made him and his people slaves. He does what he needs to do in order to save his people. He values the whole of Herran as more important than himself and this really showed his selflessness and greatness.

With the oncoming wedding of Kestrel and the crown prince, he has to travel to the capital to engage with the royalty and celebrate Kestrel’s engagement.
Kestrel and Arin’s relationship is full of misunderstanding and longing for each other. This especially drove me so mad, but I was amazed at how good of a job the author did with that aspect. Every thing that Kestrel and Arin have said or done was seen differently from the other’s point of view and the truth as well as the assumptions were plausible and authentic.

I loved the world building in the first book, in this sequel it gets to the core of politics of this world. I was highly fascinated by it and wanted to know even more about the political system and the wars and especially about the intrigues that were planned by the king and his men as well as those planned by Kestrel.

The writing was phenomenal. Beautiful descriptions, great dialogues, snarky comments here and there. The pacing was just perfect. There were some slow scenes, but mostly there was a lot of action and I was definitely constantly at the edge of my seat. I was hooked from page one and wanted to read more of this story. The ending was not acceptable! I need The Winner’s Kiss immediately!

This was one of the books that gave me a book hangover. I had to think about that ending and how the story might go on for days on end. Even as I started reading other books, I couldn’t stop thinking about Kestrel and Arin. Brilliantly done with the massive cliffhanger.

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Fruits Basket, Vol. 1 by Natsuki Takaya

Orphan girl meets mysterious family with an ancient curse.

fruits-basket-vol1-n.takayaGenre: Contemporary, Fantasy, Romance, YA

Publisher: Carlsen

Publication Date: January 1, 1999

208 pages, paperback

series: #1 in the Fruits Basket series

Synopsis: Goodreads

I still can remember the first time I read the first chapter of Fruits Basket back in 2003 (!!). It was so much fun, but back then the series wasn’t already available for German readers, so I had to wait quite a long time before I got to continue with it. By then my inner otaku was hibernating and I started reading other books. I then saw a GIF on 9GAG from the Fruits Basket anime and had immediately nostalgic feelings about this series I never got to finish. The series is now completed, so there was no reason to not get the books. So I got the first half of it and had to dive into the story as soon as I had the package in the mail.

Toru Honda is a character I have never encountered in the fictional world. She has lost her father when she was still very young and then lost her mother in a tragic car accident recently and lives in a tent (!!), but she is always happy and courteous and humble; she never wants to be a burden to anyone and that is probably also her biggest flaw.

I really like Toru’s friends. They’re amazing! Hanajima with her electromagnetic waves that creeps everyone around her out and Uotani, who was once a member of a gang. They are both so intimidating and Toru with her shy and friendly behaviour doesn’t seem to fit, but this trio is so adorable. It was noticeable from the start how much these girls care for each other.

The Somas are a unique, big family with an ancient curse.
It was so exciting to see who was which sign of the chinese zodiac.
Yuki is handsome and nice, but distant; Kyo seems always to be angry and Shigure is laid-back writer.

Although all of these characters are different, especially Yuki and Kyo, both of them envied each other for different reasons and they showed it in peculiar ways, a.k.a. a lot of fights.

The artwork is amazing! I love this girly style with the big eyes and the swoon-worthy male characters. I cannot wait to see more of it again.

Overall this experience was an amazing one! I loved to re-read this book and feeling all nostalgic about it. There were parts that were very funny and I still had to laugh despite the familiarity of these scenarios.

I didn’t want to continue reading until I had this review up because I didn’t want to mix up the events that happen in the next few volumes, but now I cannot wait to dive back into this world!

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Bridge of Snow by Marie Rutkoski // Review

A story about a God and a little boy.

bridge-of-snow-m.rutkoskiGenre: Fantasy, YA

Publisher: Tor Books

Publication Date: January 28, 2014

32 pages, e-book

series: #0.5 in the Winner’s trilogy

Synopsis: Goodreads

This is a little story about Arin as a little boy, whose mother tells him a story of a God.

I don’t want to tell you anything about the content. It’s such a short novella; I’ve read it in about fifteen minutes.
I wanted to get back into the story of Kestrel and Arin and decided that before I continue with The Winner’s Crime, I should read this short novella first.

It definitely sparked something in me. Arin as a young boy is vulnerable and easier to read and understand than how we know him from The Winner’s Curse or The Winner’s Crime. I loved seeing this perspective of him.
Since I’ve read this little novella, I definitely have a soft spot for Arin.

There was also a glimpse of his mother and her love for him seemed to show through the e-ink pages. I loved that.
The story his mother told him was in such a soothing narrator ‘voice’, it made the experience much more interesting.

The writing was phenomenal. Beautiful and poetic, it blended in with the story so well. It was definitely an amazing short read.

As I was finished with this novella, I couldn’t wait to get back into the world of Kestrel and Arin. Although I didn’t love The Winner’s Curse that much (my review can be found here), this novella really got me excited for it.

So if you are unsure whether you’ll like the writing style or the hint at the main story of this trilogy, I highly recommend reading this before starting with The Winner’s Curse. Or if you didn’t like the first book that much and are not sure whether to continue or not, then read this! It’s such a beautiful novella.

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