Winter by Marissa Meyer

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Title: Winter

Author: Marissa Meyer

Published: November 10, 2015 by Fiewel & Friends

Genre: Sci-fi, Young Adult, Fantasy

Stars: 5         Content Rating: 2

Synopsis: Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mark her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? Fans will not want to miss this thrilling conclusion to Marissa Meyer’s national bestselling Lunar Chronicles series.

******

To start I want to mention that I gave this book 5 stars. I almost want to go back and give all the books in the series 5 stars! Ha ha. My main requirements for a 5 star rating are 1) must be super dooper good. 2) wanting to recommend it to my friends. 3) must be willing to buy it if I haven’t already and read it AGAIN.  When I started this series I didn’t really know what what I was getting into. It had a lot of hype and I bought Cinder and had it FOREVER before I actually read it. Each book the series and characters get more and more interesting. I love fairytales and these retellings are one of a kind and so true to their individual fairytales yet so completely their own as a whole that I am simply AMAZED.

Cinder is a Cinderella retelling in which you meet our main girl and her Prince.

Scarlet is a Red Riding Hood retelling complete with wolves and Grandma.

Cress is a Repunzel retelling with Cress being trapped in her “tower” and then being saved by her thief.

Winter is a Snow White retelling with the Evil Stepmother and poisoned apples.

Honestly .. I am in LOVE with how all this has worked out. The way all these characters are apart of each others stories and the overall BIG PICTURE. This series is set in the future. It is sci-fi. That might sound weird to some of who you think that it’s not your thing but I really recommend you give it a chance. It’s not all weird planets and languages and aliens. It is only the Earth and the colony that lives on the moon called Luna. With some space travel in between and very futuristic touches here and there.

Winter is the story about Queen Levana’s step daughter. She is so beautiful that Levana used her mind manipulations to make Winter scar her own face. Winter decided from a very young age she didn’t want to be like Levana and she stopped using her Lunar Gift which has made her hallucinate half the time. Because she doesn’t use her gift she has no glamour to hide her scars. Even with those scars on her face she is more beautiful than the Queen.

Winter has one childhood friend who helps keep her sane and not so lonely. Jacin has loved Winter his whole life and will do anything to protect her. As the one of the Queens guards he has access to Winter and she is all that matters. He temporarily helped Cinder in Cress’ story and was labeled a traitor. Now he is back on Luna and to prove his loyalty the Queen has asked him to kill Winter.

Cinder and the others have a plan to start a revolution on Luna. Will the people believe Cinder is who she says? Will Levana fall for their trap? Prince Kai knows his part to play but if Cinder fails will he really marry Levana and make her his Empress? Maybe Cress will give Thorne a talking to and they will finally be together? I love Cress and Thorne. They might be my favorite. Can Winter and Jacin help the crew and still live to see each other again?

This book had the same feels as Hunger Games/Divergent as far as the Capitol has all this luxury and wealth and the outer districts are poor providing everything for the Queen. Very District 12. Not hard to start a rebellion when these people have been treated awful and been taken advantage of for years. Having Princess Winter helps. The people adore her and have hope that their lost Queen will be the start of a different life.

So much happens in this book! I really can’t think of anything I didn’t like. I was surprised and sad and anxious in parts. I wasn’t ever bored or thought that it was predictable. As a fairytale retelling that is what you expect. I mean its a “retelling” so you kind of already know what is going to happen but I didn’t feel this way in these books. I enjoyed them so much! This series also has two novellas which are next on my list. I didn’t realize that Fairest was novella 3.5. Keep that in mind as your making your way through this series. Happy reading friends!

The Lunar Chronicles:

 

Alex & Eliza by Melissa De La Cruz

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TitleAlex & Eliza

Author: Melissa De La Cruz

Published: April 11, 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Genre: Historical Romance, Young Adult, Fiction

Stars: 3.5           Content Rating: 1

Synopsis:  Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.

1777. Albany, New York.

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

******

I hate to admit it but this book took me quite a long time to actually read. I bought it because the cover is beautiful and the synopsis sounded like a perfect love story. (I am a sucker for romances) It was the book I was most excited to read this month besides ACOWAR. I had started it and even though it was good I kept getting distracted with other things. I read 3 other books in-between the time I started and then actually finished. That being said it was still really good. I will tell you why after I make a confession.

I should start all reviews with a confession. It seems like I am confessing something every time I write down my thoughts. Usually it is because I felt like I should have known something that I didn’t.

Confession: I didn’t realize this is based off of a true story. Nor did I realize that Alex is THEE ALEXANDER HAMILTON. Like the founding father and writer of The Federalist Papers.

The name really did sound familiar when I was reading but they call him Colonel Hamilton through out the book and I didn’t catch on. I did do a little bit of research (meaning I used wikipedia, haha) and found that this love story is surprisingly accurate with the dates and family names and all that. It is still work of fiction but I love when a writer can fill in the historical blanks with a story such as this. Now I know who Alexander Hamilton is but I still didn’t know that there is/was a broadway show called Hamilton and about his life. Apparently it is absolutely fabulous. I would really love to see it. The author, Melissa De La Cruz says in the acknowledgments that it was her inspiration for this novel. The more I looked into it the more I want to know and I wish I would have done even this little bit of research before I read the book.

This story is about a young Alexander Hamilton. He has come to America to further his education and is an amazing writer studying law. Before he can finish schooling the school closes since war is brewing and Alex finds himself as aide-de-camp to General Washington. He is sent on several missions but finds himself at the Schulyer’s to deliver a message to General Philip Schulyer on the night of a ball. A ball that Mrs. Schyuler was throwing in an attempt to marry off her three oldest daughters. All of whom are very headstrong, smart, independent women. Alex meets Eliza there. He falls for her there. She however is upset by the new he gave her father and doesn’t want anything to do with him!

2 years later she finds herself on the road to Morristown, NJ. All the soldiers are there waiting out winter and her Aunt Gertrude helps her husband, The Doctor. Between giving a vaccination for the small pox and helping the wounded Eliza tries to keep her distance from a certain young Colonel. Try as she might Alex is pretty determined to get in her good graces.

The pressures of war time and the uncertainty for the future that it brings and the pressures from family make and shape Alex & Eliza’s love story. Eliza is from one of the oldest families in America and she is expected to marry well. At one point she points out that social rank is part of the reason they were fighting in a war. It is funny that I read tons (I mean tons and tons and tons) of romance novels. Quite a bit of them are set in England 1800’s. The British aristocracy is so normal in that setting and I never really considered America being that way. In America anyone can climb the ranks of society if he had enough money. Right? You really feel the pressure Eliza’s parents put on their girls to marry well. There wasn’t that many wealthy families at the time. Nor very many eligible young men.

In this story you get a good feel of the time. You meet General Washington along with some of the big name Generals and a Major Andre. I honestly thought Major Andre was a made up character and he is not. I had no idea. This story was not quite what I was expecting. It didn’t suck me in at the very beginning like I thought but I would definitely read it again. Especially now that I know most of these characters are based off real people! It is a good historical romance. A proper romance and one that I am so glad was written and shared! As always, happy reading friends!

Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright

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Title: Lies Jane Austen Told Me

Author: Julie Wright

Published: EXPECTED publishing date is November 7, 2017 by Shadow Mountain

Genre: Romance

Stars: 3            Content Rating: 3

Synopsis:  Ever since Emma read Pride and Prejudice, she’s been in love with Mr. Darcy and has regarded Jane Austen as the expert on all things romantic. So naturally when Emma falls for Blake Hampton and he invites her home to meet his parents, she is positive an engagement is in her future. After all, Blake is a single man in possession of a good fortune, and thus must be in want of a wife.

But when it turns out that what Blake actually wants is more of a hook-up than a honeymoon, Emma is hurt, betrayed, and furious. She throws herself deeper into her work as CMO of Kinetics, the fastest growing gym franchise in the nation. She loves her work, and she’s good at it, which is why she bristles when her boss brings in a consultant to help her spearhead the new facilities on the East Coast. Her frustration turns to shock when that consultant turns out to be Blake’s younger brother, Lucas.

Realizing that her love life is as complicated as anything Jane Austen could have dreamed up, Emma must find a way to let Blake know that it’s time for him to let her go and to let Lucas know it’s time for him to love her back.

******

I received an early ebook copy of this book from Netgalley. It will be available in November. Overall I really liked the concept of this story. A girl named Emma, who is a die hard romantic and loves Jane Austen wants the happily ever after. Emma is smart, business minded and dedicated to her job. When her boyfriend, Blake, invites her home for the weekend she had originally said no but decides to surprise him. Surprise him she did when he is there having dinner with another woman.

Emma decides she needs to break up with Jane Austen. What does she know anyway? Jane Austen died a spinster. Every chapter begins with a quote from a Jane Austen book. Which I really love. Emma goes back to work ready to throw herself into her job when she is told she will be working very closely with a new consultant. This new consultant just happens to be Blake’s brother, Lucas. As they get to know each other they find that they have lots in common. Lucas is not Blake’s biological brother but was adopted when he was 13. The Hampton family is very wealthy and Mrs. Hampton has lots of charities. Lucas was left at a homeless shelter when Mrs. Hampton found him and brought him home. Emma’s mom left her and her dad when she was 5. They both like the same things and you can tell there is a connection between them but because Lucas loves his brother  (and doesn’t think he is good enough) he is constantly trying to push Emma and Blake back together.

Like I said at the beginning, I loved the concept of this book. I love Jane Austen. I love a good romance, but I found myself wanting to skip parts. Yes, it’s awful that Emma’s mother left her and she is dealing with abandonment issues but it gets brought up A LOT. Also, you know early on that she doesn’t want to be with Blake and she drags that relationship out way too long. She can’t decide what to do about the brothers. Who is she going to pick and it’s all silly because she loves Lucas but it doesn’t get to that until the end. THE VERY END. She inter monologues quite a bit as well. So as much as I wanted to love this book, it just didn’t do it for me. Maybe by the time the final print is done in November she will have made a few changes?

The Valiant by Leslie Livingston

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Title:  The Valiant (The Valiant Book 1)

Author: Lesley Livingston

Published: February 14, 2017 by Razorbill

Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Stars: 4          Content Rating: 4

Synopsis:   Princess. Captive. Gladiator.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.

When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.

Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.

Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.

******

This was an amazing read. Let me clarify, I actually listened to this one. This was an amazing book to listen to. The narrator was incredible. She spoke with a British accent which makes sense because Fallon is from “The Island of the Mighty.” (Britain) The narrator did all the accents and voice changes and did them very well. I really enjoyed listening. It added a little something extra that I would not have gotten if I read it myself. Since I listened I’m afraid I don’t know how to spell anything! I’m going to have to go to the library and borrow the book just to know how to spell everyone’s names!

Alright. I went to the library. They do not have this book (sigh). I guess I will have to just buy my a copy!

-3 Weeks Later- 

Alright.. I bought it. I’m holding a new hardback copy in my hands and it is STUNNING. Now I can look at it for reference. Ha ha. But seriously.

As always I don’t like telling you all about the book. What fun is it to read a book that someone has already told you all about? That is what the synopsis is for. This book reminded me of the movie Gladiator with Russell Crowe. Only way more bad A because it is princess warrior in the arena kicking butt. This story follows Fallon’s journey from princess to slave to gladiator and what it means to be free.

Her story starts out as a young warrior Princess of the clan. It is her birthday and she can finally join her father’s Royal War Band. She also realizes that she is in love with her best friend Mael who wants to marry her but because she wants the to be in the war band first, she tells him to wait and they will get be warriors together and be married after. Her father refused to see his other daughter killed in battle and denies her a place in his war band. Instead (not knowing of the affection between Fallon and Mael) offers her hand in marriage to Mael’s older brother Aeddan. Honestly, all this is the first few chapters of the book. I was HOOKED. When the narrator said, “Chapter 2” I about died. No way did all this happen in one chapter. No way was I this into it and interested that fast. I was. Oh. I was.

She gets captured to sell as a slave. The captain of the this particular ship seems to recognize her sword and knows she will catch a huge profit. As they travel along making their way to Rome, Fallon finds herself chained to a girl from the North. She is a Viking warrior named Elka. They immediately don’t like each other but I think it’s common for the best of friendships to start out that way.

Fallon gets sold to the Lady Achillea. She is expected to fight for the entertainment of Rome and She wants no part if it. She wants to escape. Fighting in the arena for sport has no honor. Becoming a Gladiatrix is not part of her plans. The harder she tries to fight the sisterhood the more she realizes how much she needs it. She needs a home. She needs family. She needs to fight for her freedom in the arena. After she earns her freedom she will help others with theirs.

Along the way of finding friendships and mourning all that she has lost she finds Cai. They have a thing. It’s a little bit wierd because I don’t feel like these two have a very strong connection. I wasn’t in love with the idea of them. They don’t seem to have the same level of spark that you get at the first of the book with Mael.

I felt like this story was a really fun one. I haven’t read one like this before and the characters were so full of personality and interesting to get to know. For example; one if the other fighters that Fallon has to spar with is called Meriel. She has red hair and fights with a net and trident. (Kind of cheesy because obviously I am thinking of Ariel from The Little Mermaid) The friendships that were made in the sisterhood were strong. They are are fighting for the same thing and helping each other. Cai is there supporting Fallon. Helping her reach the dream of being free. There are some twists and surprises along the way.

Fallon meets Julius Caesar and Cleopatra. You get a feel of ancient Rome and I love when books can bring in a little history. I really enjoyed this read and recommend it to those who love a princess warrior fighting for what is right and finding who she is along the way.

Frostblood by Elly Blake

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Title: Frostblood (Frostblood Saga #1)

Author: Elly Blake

Published: January 10, 2017 by Little Brown Books

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Stars: 4           Content Rating: 4

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.

******

This is one that I listened to on Audible and the narrator was amazing. I haven’t had a narrator that wasn’t yet and so far I would recommend Audible to everyone. I have only started recently listening to books because I have found it to work out well for me. While my hands are busy doing other things around the house or while I’m doing other hobbies I can listen to my books! Multi-Tasker over here!

Frost blood starts out with our girl Ruby. She lives in a small village with her Mother who is the village healer. Ruby looks up to her mother and her kind and patient ways.  The Frostblood King has hunted down all Firebloods he can find. Now they are scarce, either leaving to another land to hide or dead by the kings men. Ruby’s grandmother had told her the old stories and tired to help her control her gift but Ruby has a temper and is no closer to controlling her fire when the King’s men storm through her village and find her. Her mother tries to save her but the Captain of the guard kill her and Ruby can not control her fire. Her uncontrollable rage and fire destroy the village.

She wakes up in a cell. She spends months in the King’s Prison, starving to death and being picked on by the guards. One night an old man and his guard come find her. They offer her a deal, in exchange for them breaking her out she will help them kill the King. They take her to the Abbey and introduce themselves as Brother Thistle and Arcus. Brother Thistle is the most powerful Frostblood Ruby has ever seen. He has so much control over his ice. Her lessons to learn how to control her own fire start every day with Brother Thistle. Arcus is also a very strong Frostblood but his icy demeanor always throws her off. This understanding between Ruby and all at the Abbey is very precarious. There is so much bad blood between the two peoples that it is hard to trust them and they certainly do not trust her. Ruby questions everything Brother Thistle tries to teach her and Arcus is always there pushing her buttons.

Arcus can’t let Ruby in too close. He has a goal to help his people and that is to get to the King. He can’t let some hot headed little girl get in is way. He has never seen anyone with so much fire… and so little control. He was burned badly when we was younger. So badly that he never takes his hood off. The scars scare people. The only way to keep Ruby on her task and to stop asking questions is to act indifferent but the longer they train together the harder it is and the more he doesn’t want to to send her to the King.

Though out all this in the book you get the little looks and touches from these two. It’s a little different. Neither one of them want to like each other. He is ice and a she is fire. The build up is quite amazing actually. I like books where there is lots of build up. Stories of when they meet and then all of a sudden they can’t keep their hands off each other, I’m always thinking “really?” ” you just met” “you don’t even know each other” and it gets old really fast. For different reasons they push each other away only missing each other when they do.

As Ruby learns more control and learns more history of their peoples they trust her enough to let her in on their full plans. Not to kill the King but to save him. According to the old stories the throne the king sits on is cursed. It seeps into the king and makes him powerful and blood thirsty. Destroy the throne and save Frostbloods and Firebloods alike.  Ruby is NOT okay with this plan. She does not get her much needed revenge. She needs her revenge, doesn’t she?

The kings men find her before they can set their plan into action and Ruby decides to fight. Fight in the arena as the Kings champion to live another day and hopefully find away to exact her revenge. Can she do it or is the King and his throne too powerful? Will she have to do it alone or will her icy Arcus come and help her?

I really loved this story. The characters were fun and interesting. The story was different and new. The pace was good and the build up to the plot and the love story was perfect. The sequel Fireblood comes out this fall and it is definitely on my radar.

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

everythingeverything

Title: Everything Everything

Author: Nicola Yoon

Published: September 1, 2015 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Genre: Young Adult, Romance

Stars: 4             Content Rating: 5

Synopsis: My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

******

Very interesting read. Fast paced. Great read to spark conversation. We are reading this book in our small book club and I don’t think we will be grasping for things to talk about.  This story is written almost like a diary. An 18 year old Madeline narrates but also doodles, draws diagrams and writes poetry in the book. I believe this style of writing is what makes the book go so fast. Many pages are emails and IM’s. I actually enjoyed it. I think it added some fun and humor to the book.

Madeline is sick. Her house is all white and sterile. They have a special air filtration system that is constantly purifying the air. Her room is all white. Her shirts are white. The only color in her room is the spine of her beloved books. Who needs to go outside and experience the world for yourself when you can do so through books? She has a very rare allergy disease. Pretty much anything can kill her since they don’t know her triggers. Therefore, her mother who is doctor and a nurse -Carla, protect her by keeping her inside and away from EVERYTHING.

One day a family moves in next door. A mom and dad and 2 kids. One just happens to be a very cute boy whose room is right across the way from hers.  Curiosity gets the better of her and she plays spy. It doesn’t take long to see that the father is an abusive drunk. The boy, Olly, sticks up for his mom when he can and hides on the roof the rest of the time. Through a series of bundt cake murder attempts (you will understand when you read the book) these two start emailing. Emailing turns into instant messaging and before you know it they are friends. Eventually she has to tell him about her sickness and he tells her about his dad.

Its quite the ordeal to meet Maddy. You have to get a physical. You have to get some weird “decontamination” thing done, but Olly did it. Behind her mom’s back. Carla didn’t think it was a good idea but Carla also thinks Maddy needs a friend. So they convinced her and before you know it they are meeting in person. It’s all butterflies and teenager goosebumps and giddiness.  All of a sudden Maddy is not contently happy in her little white room reading books. She wants her own experiences. Maddy realizes this and how dangerous it is to have these thoughts so she pushes Olly away and becomes depressed without his friendship. Now I say friendship but they love each other. Part of the fun in the book is following their romance story.

Now how does someone even cope with the idea that you can never go outside? She has never been outside. No friends. No activities. Everything she does has to be online. When she decides she wants to live… what does that even mean?! She decides to take a trip. Even if it kills her. Will it? Maybe she will find a cure. Maybe she will die. This book could easily have you in tears of happiness at the end or heartbreak. I dare you to find out! Happy reading!!

They made this book into a movie! It comes out May 19, 2017.  Everything Everything Movie Trailer