Cinder (#1) by Marissa Meyer

Published: 5th January 2012 (print)/26 September 2017 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Puffin/Bolinda Audio
Pages: 387/10 hrs and 3 mins
Narrator:  Rebecca Soler
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Young Adult/Science Fiction
★   ★   ★  ★   ★  – 5 Stars

A forbidden romance.
A deadly plague.
Earth’s fate hinges on one girl . . .

CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.

Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.

This is not the fairytale you remember. But it’s one you won’t forget.

I recently reread this book and it reminded me of all the things I loved about it. I loved that the Cinderella elements are there but it doesn’t follow the strict story either. Meyer inputs creativity and uniqueness into this age old tale and it shines because of it. The pumpkin carriage, the stepmother and the shoe are there but this is so much more than a fairytale telling. This is about cyborgs and colonies on the moon threatening war. The world Meyer has created is detailed and complicated but you fall seamlessly into this world and there was never a moment when I didn’t understand what was happening, why it was happening, or lost among the technical talk, the little that there is.

Set in the far future there are wonderful elements of our history present but a lot more new history to discover. Meyer doesn’t lump us with history lessons or attempt to provide long exposition chunks about what has happened in the world, instead she seamlessly weaves in=t through the entire novel, so that even as the final chapters close in we are still learning about this future world and those in it. At the same time though, not everything is explained, Meyer doesn’t need to give us every piece of detail and accepting this future and the developments is no issue at all as the focus remains on the brilliant story unfolding instead.

Cinder is a great character to focus on, her sarcasm, wit, and vulnerabilities make her relatable and ironically human given her cyborg components. There is detailed exploration of other characters such as the prince, Audrey her stepmother and other characters. The only one I felt left out was Pearl, I felt she was pushed aside as the obnoxious step-sister and not explored as well as the others but what is shown provides a component of her character at least.

The cliff-hanger Meyer leaves us with invites you to immediately jump into the next novel. So many revelations and unanswered questions but there is also a satisfaction because Meyer rewards us with an influx of answers and then pushes us on with more temptation and elements that feel finalised at the time but may not be that way.

If you love fairytale retellings, or love futuristic worlds where it’s not a dystopian wasteland then you should 100% read this series.

You can purchase Cinder via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

Long Lost Review: Me Before You (#1) by JoJo Moyes

Long Lost Reviews is a monthly meme created by Ally over at Ally’s Appraisals which is posted on the second Thursday of every month. The aim is to start tackling your review backlog. Whether it’s an in-depth analysis of how it affected your life, one sentence stating that you only remember the ending, or that you have no recollection of reading the book at all. 

Published: 1st April 2012Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Penguin Books, Limited
Pages: 502
Format: Paperback
Genre: Romance
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars

Louisa Clark is an ordinary young woman living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A love story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

I heard about this book when the movie was to come out and managed to read it before I saw the film. Always a good practice because you pick up a lot more story that way. I remember some parts quite well, and others not so much. I recall loving their relationship. The love/hate thing they had going on: his bitterness, her desire to please. The outsiders play their own roles and stitch everything together but while they are developed characters in themselves there is a lot of focus on Louisa and her own journey and how that journey is reflected on and impacted by Will.

This is a romance, but it also about friendship and compassion; understanding someone else and truly loving who they are. The emotional connection is always more fulfilling than the physical and Moyes mixes both in this together without making it all about the romance. It comes naturally, comes slowly, but it also shares the pages with a wonderful story about people being people and real life unfairness.

This is a really important novel because of the themes it covers: choice, quality of life, the right to die with dignity. Moyes doesn’t throw the issue in our faces, but she does take us through both sides in a way, telling us why each side has a valid point through a natural story progression and character interaction. I am glad she went with the ending she did. I think it was important not only as a message, but to the story and it was respectful to the characters.

Louisa is strong but also lost at times. I like that she got to discover who she was through Will, not that she became someone because of Will. He helped her stand on her feet and she helped him soften around the edges and see the colour of life again. I went from disliking Louisa to enjoying her character and in a small way the same is said for Will. His brashness comes from his circumstance, his first impressions are from a long and weary life and I enjoyed his growth as well as Louisa’s.

Moyes is a vivid writer, I could picture the walk to the castle, Lou’s quaint little life and her family situation. Her own suffering and suffocation is evident and I think Moyes created unique characters that all still mash together as family is want to do. On top of one another but with love as well.

I enjoyed this more than I thought I would and I liked seeing not only the different kind of story than I was used to reading, but that Moyes gives Lou such wonderful uniqueness and quirkiness unabashedly and with pride without making her the butt of jokes or less because of it.

Archie and the Bear by Zanni Louise

Published: 1st May 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher: 
Little Hare, Hardie Grant Egmont
Illustrator: David Mackintosh
Pages: 40
Format: Paperback Picture Book
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

No one listens to Archie when he says he is a bear so he leaves home and goes into the woods where he makes friends with a bear. A very small boy in a bear suit and a very large bear share the fun of pretending, adventuring in the woods, and a honey sandwich next to a warm fire on a cold day. Which is really the boy, and which is the bear? It doesn’t matter—you are who you say you are. 

I am discovering that books where big things are friends with small things are my jam and I love that so many picture books incorporate this. Louise tells the story of Archie, the bear who people keep mistaking for a boy. When Archie is sick of people calling him a boy, he goes into the woods and finds a real bear, a bear who thinks he’s a boy.

This is a wholesome story that is told beautifully. There is heart and friendship and Mackintosh’s illustrations add gravity and a touch of magic. I felt the story slow down as I looked at these beautiful illustrations and though nothing is said of time or place, it felt like it was in an older time, somewhere in some small eastern European village and while that sounds obscure, it’s where my mind went and I loved it.

Mackintosh’s illustrations offer fantastic scale in regards to Archie’s size in relation to the world and to the bear. He uses a mixture of watercolour and rough pencils and masters capturing scale and magnitude about the expansiveness of a forest as well as the confines of it. I couldn’t help but admire the skill he had in perfectly executing so many different styles and techniques and marrying them to Louise’s words.

The story explores the two new friends as they discover each other’s worlds and teach each other their skills. I wasn’t sure how this would end but Louise finds a sweet ending to a sweet story and one that makes you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.

You can purchase Archie and the Bear via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks

Angus and Robinson | Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Novascapes: A Speculative Fiction Anthology compiled by C. E. Page

Published: 30th September 2014Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Invisible Elephant Press
Pages: 228
Format: ebook
Genre: Speculative Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Each story in this collection is a brief glimpse into a world both like and unlike anything we could ever imagine. The light and dark aspects of human nature are played out on the canvases of these worlds, though the players are not always human. Minotaurs, mermaids, vampires and dinosaurs compete for space alongside devils, angels, aliens and completely indescribable entities. Novascapes transports you from one side of the multi-verse to the other and leaves you breathless and wide eyed at the possibilities of simple existence.

Novascapes is a collection of short speculative fiction stories by authors either from or originally born (or connected in some major way) to the Newcastle, Hunter and Central Coast regions of NSW, Australia. The stories are as varied and wonderful as the authors who penned them.

There’s nothing quite as good as a great collection of short stories to give you little mini adventures and insights into strange and mystical worlds. What makes these short stories wonderful are the speculative nature and the fact that each of these authors have created stories that covers so many different narratives no two are alike.

The stories vary in length and there is a mixture of light hearted and darker stories. The speculative fiction aspect makes them wild and fanciful but not too outrageous or unbelievable. There is suspense, magic, and adventure and the range of different characters means you aren’t always reading about humans, even if it speculative humans.

There are dark tales about dark creatures and humorous exhilarating tales about magic and creatures from other world. Each author tells an intriguing story and the collection offers an array of different approaches to the speculative genre. If you are interested in short stories this is a wonderful collection, and a great chance to read some stories of authors that you may have never read before.

You can purchase Novascapes via the following

Booktopia | Book Depository

Angus and Robinson | Wordery

Fishpond | Amazon Aust | Amazon

What If? by Randall Munroe

Published: 24th September 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 John Murray
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Genre: Non-Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars

Randall Munroe left NASA in 2005 to start up his hugely popular site XKCD ‘a web comic of romance, sarcasm, math and language’ which offers a witty take on the world of science and geeks. It now has 600,000 to a million page hits daily. Every now and then, Munroe would get emails asking him to arbitrate a science debate. ‘My friend and I were arguing about what would happen if a bullet got struck by lightning, and we agreed that you should resolve it . . . ‘ He liked these questions so much that he started up What If. 

Far more than a book for geeks, WHAT IF: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions explains the laws of science in operation in a way that every intelligent reader will enjoy and feel much the smarter for having read.

When I saw this I picked it up straight away because I had to read it. I have been a massive fan of Munroe’s comic XKCD for years and now with a chance to read an entire book filled with the humour and science of the comics was hard to ignore.

The premise of the book is Munro answering What if? questions submitted by people through his website. As the tagline explains: Serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions. Not all of the online submissions were answered and there are a few “Weird (and Worrying) Questions” highlighted to show some of the stranger ones which are a delight in themselves.

Munroe amazingly has a lot of maths and science to back up even the most absurd questions, and even when things aren’t logically or physically possible, he works around it with a slight bend of physics or realistic possibility and shows you how it would happen if all the cards fell perfectly.

What makes this even more fun is the book is filled with Munroe’s drawings, simple interactions between his stick figure characters and illustrations of how these various scenarios would play out. It’s not just comic conversations, there’s also drawings of explanations and Munroe adds tables and graphs, all in his recognisable style.

Some of the questions are common ones such as “What would happen if absolutely everyone jumped at the same time?” But along with actually answering the question (short answer: nothing) with clear and understandable science, Munroe takes it a step further and gives another fascinating yet horrifying answer which you don’t think about. This was when I first really truly realised how marvellous this book was because Munroe takes it a step further and looks at what happens after that when you have 7 billion people in one location having just jumped who now need to get back home. Short answer: chaos.

There are also some brilliantly absurd and strange questions that people have submitted and even though I had never thought about I’m really glad I now know what would happen if you set off a nuclear bomb in the eye of a hurricane or what would happen if suddenly one day all your DNA disappeared. Some are also genuinely fascinating to discover like “When (if ever) did the sun finally set on the British Empire?” and “How much Force can Yoda output?”

There is humour and excellent jokes and the footnotes peppered throughout are a delight in themselves to read, also a mixture of genuine sources and Munroe’s own thoughts. One of my favourite questions is “What would happen if you made a periodic table out of cube-shaped bricks, where each brick was made up of the corresponding element?” A question which is logical enough, but it is the drawings that go with it that add an extra layer of brilliance as Munroe tries to explain not only how some of them would just float away, but how each box would react differently with the others nearby.

If you like maths, science, XKCD or love knowing about things then this is the greatest book. If you aren’t into these things it is still readable because while it isn’t entirely dumbed down, Munroe explains it in a way that you can still understand, and with wonderful cartoons to accompany explanations you still have a lot of fun learning.

You can purchase What If? via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries