Cinder Review

Author: Marissa Meyer

Series or standalone: Series (Lunar Chronicles #1)

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Publisher & Date of Publication: Feiwel and Friends, 2012

Source: Library audiobook

Summary: “Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interference has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.

Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.

But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.” (Goodreads)

Review: Cinder is, hands down, one of the best books I’ve read in awhile. I’ve had my eye on the Lunar Chronicles for years, but I was skeptical. I don’t embrace sci-fi well, and, as much as I love fairytale retellings, I couldn’t get past that. However, I loved the world in Cinder. Meyer did a fantastic job world building.  New Beijing and the world order in Cinder were easy to imagine. As someone who does not typically dabble in sci fi and fantasy novels, I appreciated this.

The best aspect of Cinder was the characters. Cinder, Kai and Iko are so likeable and I grew very attached to them very quickly. Meyer also crafted her villains well. Queen Levana and Cinder’s stepmother are vile and I loved to hate them. I can’t wait to see what happens to them throughout the series. Cinder and Kai’s relationship was somewhat insta-lovey, but it worked. Given the circumstances of the novel, the insta-love fit, and I still completely bought the relationship. I was rooting for them from the moment they met.

The only flaw I found with this novel was the I had the twist/revelation predicted very early on. I saw it coming, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. Overall, I highly recommend this book.

Rating: 5 stars

My Favorite Summer Reads

Hi, everyone! Since it’s we’re in the height of summer, I want to share some of my favorite summer reads. All of these books are fun, but they do have some substance to them.

These are my favorite summer reads (in no particular order):

Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt

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This novel is about a broken-up couple named Jordan and Courtney who, despite their current status, still decide to road trip together to the college they are both attending. Two-Way Street is criminally underappreciated and under-read. It’s a quick, fun read which makes it perfect for the summer. However, I will say that this book is melodramatic and full of angsty teenagers, so if that is not your thing, I would not recommend this book.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series by Ann Brashares

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This is such a quintessential summer read. All the novels take place during the summer and follow a group of friends who magically all fit into a pair of thrift-shop jeans despite having very different body types. I love this series. It has its frustrating aspects (I’m looking at you, Lena and Kostas), but the characters are all relatable and following their paths to adulthood almost makes you feel like you’re one of them

Whatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross

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Whatever Life Throws at You is sports romance that takes place during baseball season. Here is my full review of the book!

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

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This book is so sweet. It captures first love well and is a quick read. While this book does get heavy, it still captures the warmth and fun of a summer read. I actually recommend all of Huntly Fitzpatrick’s books as great for the summer.

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

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Taking place over a summer, the main character, Emily is forced out of her comfort zone by a to-do list left by her best friend Emily who has disappeared. I read this book in a single sitting the summer it came out, which says a lot given that it’s over451 pages. Also, the cover just screams summer.

Thanks for reading!

Cinderella Ate My Daughter Review

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Author: Peggy Orenstein

Series or standalone: Standalone

Genre: Nonfiction

Publisher & Date of Publication: Harper, 2011

Source: Library Audiobook

Summary: Sweet and sassy or predatory and hardened, sexualized girlhood influences our daughters from infancy onward, telling them that how a girl looks matters more than who she is. Somewhere between the exhilarating rise of Girl Power in the 1990s and today, the pursuit of physical perfection has been recast as the source of female empowerment. And commercialization has spread the message faster and farther, reaching girls at ever-younger ages. But how dangerous is pink and pretty, anyway? Being a princess is just make-believe; eventually they grow out of it . . . or do they?

 

In search of answers, Peggy Orenstein visited Disneyland, trolled American Girl Place, and met parents of beauty-pageant preschoolers tricked out like Vegas showgirls. The stakes turn out to be higher than she ever imagined. From premature sexualization to the risk of depression to rising rates of narcissism, the potential negative impact of this new girlie-girl culture is undeniable—yet armed with awareness and recognition, parents can effectively counterbalance its influence in their daughters’ lives.” (Goodreads)

 

Review: I expected a lot from this book. I wanted it to be a great feminist read that I could one day look back on and utilize when raising a daughter(s). Instead, Cinderella Ate My Daughter, was lacking. First, I should probably preface this by saying that I am, more than likely, not the intended audience for this book. I am not a mother trying to raise a daughter in our current media landscape and I am a child of the 2000s, the decade she picks apart the most. I fondly remember Lizzie McGuire and That’s So Raven, two shows she dissects in the book, and I grew up unabashedly listening to Britney Spears and the Spice Girls, other sources of Orenstein’s critiques. Additionally, I am History/Gender Studies double major, so none of this information was revolutionary for me.

In this book, Orenstein covers a wide array of topics from body image and the sexualization of children through beauty pageants to the gender scripts girls are handed at birth. The information she provides on these topics is important, albeit a bit shallow. This book is only 245 pages, so there was plenty of room to expand. The book also lacked intersectionality. Race was touched upon briefly toward the end when Orenstein discussed watching The Princess and the Frog. Additionally, socioeconomic class was not really touched upon as much as it could have been. Instead, the book mostly focuses on white/upper-middle class experiences, like her friend spending hundreds of dollars at the American Girl store on doll furniture for her daughter. That, to me, was almost more shocking than the baby beauty pageants.

Overall, this book would be good for someone who is inexperienced with feminist literature or has a burgeoning interest in gender studies. Personally, it left me longing for a reread of Bad Feminist.
Rating: 3 stars

Modern Romance Review

Author: Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg

Series or standalone: Standalone

Genre: Nonfiction

Publisher & Date of Publication: Penguin Press, 2015

Source: Library Audiobook

Summary: At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?…For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Andrew Cherlin, Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before.

In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.” (Goodreads)

 

Review: Modern Romance is a well-researched, informative book on what today’s dating world is like. Ansari and the team of social scientists he worked with spoke with people of all ages and from around the globe to find out what dating is like in the world of technology. Most people my age (21) can probably relate a lot more to the information in this book than I could. I have never used dating apps or even social media to meet guys, so the portions of the book that discussed that were lost on me. However, I have been in a relationship for over a year, so the sections on social media lurking were definitely relatable. The sections that discussed dating in other countries were the most interesting portions of the book. The dating culture of Buenos Aires was eye-opening, albeit cringey, and the lack of a dating culture in Japan provided great insight into how different romance can be in other parts of the world.

I highly recommend listening to this as an audiobook. I know that if I had read the physical book, I would have been bored. Hearing Aziz Ansari’s narration is a must for the full delivery of the humor in this book. Otherwise, it would be dry and the jokes would probably fall flat. Modern Romance was entertaining enough, but Aziz Ansari’s narration was the main source of entertainment, not the actual information in the book. I would recommend this to people who are curious about online dating and haven’t dabbled in it yet. I imagine that for someone who is experienced with it, this book wouldn’t be telling them anything new.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Stardust Review

Author: Neil Gaiman

Series or standalone: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher & Date of Publication: HarperCollins, 2006

Source: Scribd

Summary: Hopelessly crossed in love, a boy of half-fairy parentage leaves his mundane Victorian-English village on a quest for a fallen star in the magical realm. The star proves to be an attractive woman with a hot temper, who plunges with our hero into adventures featuring witches, the lion and the unicorn, plotting elf-lords, ships that sail the sky, magical transformations, curses whose effects rebound, binding conditions with hidden loopholes and all the rest.” (Goodreads)

Review: I’ve been trying to broaden my reading horizons lately, so I decided to start with Stardust. I already knew I loved the story because the film adaptation of Stardust is one of my favorite films. However, my love of the film definitely did detract from my reading/listening experience.

As always, let’s start with the positive. The writing in this book is beautiful. This is my second experience with Gaiman’s writing; I’ve read Coraline  prior to this. I prefer Stardust’s style. I found it to be a lot more eloquent and magical which adds to the fairy tale feeling of the novel. The descriptions were beautiful and I really loved the subtle humor that was present in the book. The humor was darker than the humor in the film, but it was still great.

The characters in the novel were fantastic, as well. Tristran’s father is really fleshed-out, unlike the movie. The first part of the book actually follows his father and his adventures when he was young. I enjoyed having the background on the character. Yvaine was also a really lovable character. She was very sassy which is always one of my favorite traits in a character. Her interactions with Tristran were sweet, albeit very toned down. The romance in the novel is a lot more subtle than in the film. I feel like I almost missed it, in a way. I listened to this as an audiobook which could be a reason why I feel like I missed it. Perhaps if I had actually read the book I would’ve picked up on it more. Despite this, I still loved Yvaine and Tristran’s relationship.

Now on to the negatives. I first just want to make a disclaimer that if I had read the book before watching the movie I wouldn’t have any negatives; this book would be completely perfect. However, because I saw the movie first and loved the movie so much, I definitely had some disappointments. My first was the lack of Captain Shakespeare. In the film, Captain Shakespeare is played by Robert De Niro and he’s one of my favorite characters. He’s a pretty big character, as well. However, in the book, he’s really not a big deal. I found myself wanting more of him. There was also a lot less drama. In the book, the subplot of the evil queen seemed to be resolved way too quickly. The ending just felt too easy.

Rating: 4 stars

*Note: This is a prewritten review from mid-2016*

A Quick Note

Hi everyone, it’s Angela!

It’s been over a year since I’ve posted anything on this blog. Working full-time last summer and junior year of college left me with little time – and little want – to read. However, I really want to get back into reading and blogging, so I’m back! I’m really looking forward to getting back into the community!

Thanks for reading!

Book Shuffle Tag #2

Hi everyone, it’s Angela!

I’ve already posted a Book Shuffle Tag but I had so much fun doing it that I wanted to do another. Let’s get started!

White Flag – Dido

        

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken and The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare. This song is, in my opinion, the ultimate shipper anthem, therefore I chose books that have my literary OTPs. Nicholas and Etta from Passenger were perfect despite their instalove beginning. Also, Magnus and Alec from TMI. Malec is so important.

7 Years – Lukas Graham

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling. To me, this song is about how bittersweet it is to grow up. In this series, we follow Harry as he grows up over 7 years, so it fits very well.

Perfect – One Direction

Nowhere but Here by Katie McGarry. This song, for some reason, made me think of Oz. This song has a slight bad boy vibe to it and it automatically made me think of Oz and his relationship with Emily.

Be My Forever – Christina Perri feat. Ed Sheeran

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. This song is just as cute as Anna and Etienne are.

Ghost – Ella Henderson

What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick. Just like the song, this book is about not being able to escape the memory of a relationship. The book’s definitely not as peppy as the song, but it’s just as good!