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I’m a Fairy Tale Fan: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Hola! It’s time for a book review!

Cinder by Marissa MeyerA 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 center 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.

I adore fairy tales. Always have. I also love fairy tales re-told. I love a well done retelling of a favorite classic, and they’re even better when there is a little twist thrown in. Cinder is Marissa Meyer’s debut novel and she has created a science fiction Cinderella and done it very well. What a bold and cool idea! Actually, parts of it reminded me of one of my favorite sci-fi shows of all time, Firefly. It was mainly the use of the Chinese language and the science fiction backdrop, but also the mix of the super sterile futuristic settings (like the research hospital) and the dirty, crowded medieval town-ish setting (like the market where Cinder’s booth is located). Additionally Cinder reminded me a little of Kaylee, from Firefly, who is a tomboyish mechanic but is also sweet and feminine like Cinder. Kaylee Firefly

Cinder is a fun character. I like that she is both smart and strong but also deeply insecure and vulnerable. She knows who she is and works with what she has, but also is sharply aware of how the rest of the world views her. Cinder feels the pain of people treating her like she’s nothing, but doesn’t let it consume or inhibit her. Sometimes I thought she was a little whiny, in the way she buts heads with her evil stepmother, but it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the story. It could have been the narrator’s interpretation of Cinder that I just wasn’t fond of. Overall, however the narrator, Rebecca Soler, did a great job and I actually liked her better in this story than others I’ve heard her narrate.

The story is set in a futuristic, and slightly dystopian, China. The city of New Beijing is exactly what I would think a crowded plague ridden city would be like – crowded, dirty, and bustling. But, on the other hand, New Beijing is also a bastion of technological innovation and scientific research. Knowing that China is a major world power today adds to the believability of this setting. Also, an Asian retelling of Cinderella makes the story more exotic than your average everyday European backdrop.

Romance. Yes it is a huge factor in every fairy tale. To be honest though, I wasn’t that impressed with Prince Kai. Maybe, there will be more of him to appreciate and get to know in the following books, but for now I think his character was a little bit lacking. Oh well.

I’ll also add that I loved the plot twist. Although I did suspect it earlier on, my guessing didn’t ruin the story for me. Actually I was so excited that I yelled, “I knew it! I knew it!” while driving (and listening).

Speaking of listening, I received the audiobook version of the Cinder from Macmillan Audio, which was so nice of them! Thank you to MacMillan! So, this book counts toward both the 2012 Debut Author Challenge and the 2012 Young Adult Audiobook Challenge. YAY!

Cinder is a read that will be enjoyed by older middle grade readers and up who are looking for a new and interesting take on a classic fairy tale.

Author: Marissa Meyer

Publisher: Macmillan Audio (January 3, 2012)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 10 hours and 6 minutes

Narrator(s): Rebecca Soler

Series: First in a series, The Lunar Chronicles

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book: Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles

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Just Finished: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

In my opinion, a good contemporary romance is always welcome. Tonight I finished reading Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. After reading the summary online back in January, I knew the statistical probability of me loving this book would be high, and it was! As you can see, my reading/cuddle buddy, Oliver (aptly named, because there is an Oliver in the book!) provided company while reading. I’ll be posted a review in the next few days!

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Book Trailer of the Week: Insurgent

20120330-000014.jpgI am a huge YA Dystopian fan and one of my favorite titles that I’ve recently read in this genre is Veronica Roth’s Divergent. Well, it’s getting closer and closer to May, when the second book
in the series, Insurgent, is released! I’m so incredibly excited to continue following Tris and Four and find out why happens next to the factions.
Well, today’a trailer is for Insurgent
and was recently released. I think it’s a very well done an exciting trailer that has me pumped or the book! Watch it to see for yourself!
Book trailer for ‘Insurgent’ by Veronica Roth.

 

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It’s a History Mystery! Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould

Hello again!  Today’s book review is about a book I read for the 2012 Debut Authors Challenge hosted by The Story SirenCross My Heart by Sasha Gould.

Venice, 1585.  When 16-year-old Laura della Scala learns that her older sister, Cross My Heart by Sasha GouldBeatrice, was drowned, she is given no time to grieve. Instead, Laura’s father removes her from the convent where he forcibly sent her years earlier and orders her to marry Beatrice’s fiancé, a repulsive old merchant named Vincenzo. Panicked, Laura betrays a powerful man to earn her way into the Segreta, a shadowy society of women who deal in only one currency—secrets. The Segreta seems like the answer to Laura’s prayers. The day after she joins their ranks, Vincenzo is publicly humiliated and conveniently exiled. Soon, however, Laura begins to suspect that her sister’s death was not a tragic accident but a cold-blooded murder—one that might involve the Segreta and the women she has come to trust.

I must admit I was drawn to the cover of Cross My Heart.  I mean look at it — it is gorgeous!  I love the way in which the girl’s gown become the image of Venice with the buildings, canals and gondolas.  Gorgeous and smart.  Smart because Venice is almost a character in and of itself in this book so it makes sense to feature it on the cover.

When I was a Social Studies teacher (before I was a librarian) the 7th grade curriculum covered the history of the Mayas in ancient Latin America.  We studied their culture and the fact that, although there are many theories, no one really knows exactly why the Mayas abandoned their cities.  The Mayas were a history mystery, as I’d tell the class to help them differentiate between them and the Aztecs or Incas.  So, I love my historical fiction mixed in with a bit of history.  Cross My Heart is just that.  The story opens with the mysterious death of a young Venetian woman.   Gould totally grabbed my attention with this one.  I was hooked and once I was hooked I couldn’t put it down. Also, there’s a huge twist that I totally didn’t see coming, but once it did it made total sense.

Sometimes when a story begins with suspense like this one, it starts to fall off towards the middle, but I was pleasantly surprised when the story continued to intrigue me.  One of the major driving forces of this continued interest was the Segreta.  I love the idea of a secret society of powerful Venetian women using secrets to pull the strings of politics in the city.  I only wish we could have seen a little more of the Segreta and the way in which they use their power (maybe a sequel?).

Cross My Heart is a light, but suspense filled historical fiction debut that I would recommend to readers who like some mystery mixed in with their history!  I think older teen girls would enjoy this one more than boys as well (since there is a hint of romance too!).

Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould 2Also, there is another cover I keep seeing floating around but I’m not sure which is the official one.  It  lends the book an extra air of intrigue, and would appeal more to teen readers, but I just love one above.

Author: Sasha Gould

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books (March 13, 2012)

Format: Ebook ARC from NetGalley (THANK YOU!)

Length: 272 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: Cross My Heart

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Top Ten Tuesday: Historical Fiction Titles I’ve Read and Enjoyed

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish to showcase book and help other book bloggers get to know each other better.  This week’s theme was supposed to be “Books I’d Play Hookie With” but I just couldn’t get into it, so I went a different route.

Did you know I was a history major in college?  Yes, its true!  I love learning about different time periods and thinking about what life must have been like during those particular times. I also really enjoy historical fiction, but I tend to read less of it than any other genre because it doesn’t circulate at my school.  I try to focus on reading those things that my students will check out, so I can be informed on their tastes.   Because of this I haven’t been able to read a lot of Young Adult or Middle Grades historical fiction, but I decided that I’d let you know which ones I have read and have enjoyed.  So, this week’s Top Ten is focused on ten Historical Fiction titles I’ve read and enjoyed (in no particular order).

The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell BartolettiThe Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti 

Based on the true story of teenager Helmut Hubner, who dares to tell the truth about Hitler in a World War II Germany.

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy BlundellWhat I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

A coming of age story of age story involving a girl and the scandal that surrounds her family’s vacation to Florida in a Post World War II United States.

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack GantosDead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (MG)

Part fiction and part memoir, Jack Gantos tells the story of one  strange, mysterious and humorous summer in his childhood.

Woods Runner by Gary PaulsenWoods Runner by Gary Paulsen (MG)

On the cusp of the American Revolution young Sam must rescue his parents when they are kidnapped by Red Coats.

Cross My Heart by Sasha GouldCross My Heart by Sasha Gould (YA)

A girl navigates life in Venetian society while trying to discover the secrets surrounding her sister’s mysterious death.

May B by Carolyn Starr RoseMay B.: A Novel by Carolyn Starr Rose (MG)

A girl struggling with dyslexia on the prairie is sent away to help a newlywed couple only to be abandoned in the middle of an extremely harsh winter.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'DellIsland of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (MG)

Karana is the Indian girl who lives alone for years on the Island of the Blue Dolphins where she struggles to survive and undergoes personal discovery.

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and TR SimonZora and Me by Victoria Bond and TR Simon (MG)

A fictionalized tale of the childhood of writer Zora Neale Hurston in which she and her friends uncover a mystery in their hometown of Eatonville, Florida.

Billy Creekmore by Tracey PorterBilly Creekmore by Tracey Porter (MG)

An orphan boy  travels from the coal mines of West Virginia in the early 1900s to the world of a traveling circus, in search of his past, his future, and his own true identity.

The Sacrifice by Kathleen Benner DubleThe Sacrifice by Kathleen Benner Duble (MG)

The year is 1692 and witches have been found in Salem, Massachusetts.  Panic begins to spread to Abigail Faulkner’s town of Andover causing life  to quickly and  drastically change for Abigail and her family.

What do you think of the list?  I’m sure there are tons of historical fiction titles I haven’t read yet.  Do you have any recommendations for my future reading?

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In My Mailbox (9)

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In My Mailbox is a weekly meme created by The Story Siren to highlight new books and allow book bloggers to get to know each other better.

This week was slow in the book department, but what I did get was so fun and exciting!

Such a Rush by Jennifer EcholsI came home from an incredibly busy (but good) day at work to find an envelope stuffed into my mailbox. I had forgotten I had requested anything, and was pleasantly surprised to see I’d received a print Advanced Reader Copy of Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols! (THANK YOU SO MUCH!) I can’t wait to read this one! She also personalized the autograph! How awesome is that?!

Such a Rush autograph
So, there you have it! What did you get in your mailbox this week?

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Tasty Thoughts on The Hunger Games Movie

Okay, so I will preemptively say that although I don’t think there are actual spoilers in this post, if you’re afraid then stay away!

Hunger Games movie posterMy husband and I went to the midnight showing of The Hunger Games movie Thursday night!  What an experience!  I’d never been to a midnight showing before and I’m so glad I did for this one.  There was such an energy of excitement and community  in the theater.  I even made friends with the teenage girls next to me and we discussed cute boys and books.

So, what did I think of the movie?   Overall I was incredibly happy with the film adaptation of one of my favorite books!  It has some small flaws, but they were so minor I’m not even going to discuss them here.  I want to focus on why I loved The Hunger Games movie, so here are some reasons why I loved it!

1. Jennifer Lawrence.    I mean, come on!  This girl is the real deal (She’s already been nominated for an Oscar ie. Winter’s Bone)!  I can’t even imagine any other actress playing her, she did such a good job.  She played Katniss’ strength and vulnerability to a T and her fake “smile for the Capitol” act was so awkward (in a good way) and believable.  At the risk of sounding mean, someone on Twitter summed it up by saying, “I just feel sorry for the Twilight fans; they got Kristen Stewart.”

2. Caesar Flickerman.  Stanley Tucci was fabulous as the flamboyant talk show host.  In my mind he and Jennifer Lawrence completely stole the show.  Every time he was on-screen I was enthralled laughed so hard Cesear Flickermanat that almost insane and also charming smile.

3. The costumes. Costume designer Judianna Makovsky is a genius!  From the garish fashion of the Capitol to the stark clothes of The Seam, I was in awe.  The two are strongly juxtaposed against each other and the result is pure awesomeness.  I also particularly loved how the clothing of District 12 was very reminiscent of fashion during the World War II era.  Maybe its the History Major inside me, but it makes so much sense that they’d go that way.

4. The Tribute Parade scenery.   Was I the only one thinking, “Uhhh Nazi party?!”  RueThe way the banners hung reminded me of Nazi Germany circa 1939, which makes total sense because the Capitol mimics this similar totalitarian regime.  Again its the History Major inside of me, but that was what came to mind during that particular scene.

5. Rue.  Oh the cuteness is just too much!  Those sorrowful yet hopeful eyes killed me!  Oh please tell me that there will be Rue flashbacks  in the Catching Fire and Mockingjay movies!

6. The Peeta flashbacks.  I was wondering how Gary Ross would explain the strange history between Katniss and Peeta and I was very pleased with the almost stilted way he chose to do so.  You saw the story in actual choppy images, which was great because  my memories don’t flow like movies or plays, they’re all Peeta Breadchopped up into scenes.  (Hopefully that doesn’t mean I’m crazy).

7. The Father flashback.  Again, I loved the choppy way of showing this part of the story.  But I also thought the timing was right.  Ross chose to make this what Katniss thinks of while unconscious from the Tracker Jacker stings.

8. Fox-Face.  I’ve always been intrigued by Fox-Face, the sly and mysterious Tribute form District 5.  The scenes where she is just dashes in, grabs what she needs and dashes out again are so funny!  I love how Katniss keeps coming across Fox-Face and is both amused and hugely respectful of her.  I think Katniss feels a small semblance of connection with Fox-Face.

9. The Cave Scene.  I LOVED the book’s version of the cave scene and all the kissing. But I’m actually kinda happy that the movie’s version was much milder. Hollywood has a tendency to make romantic scenes mildly pornographic, so I’m surprised that they chose to do a chaster version.  I’m glad, I like my imagined version much better anyway  hehehe :p

10. Effie and Haymitch. These two were so well casted.  I’ve always liked them and their reluctant Hunger Games movie ticketpartnership and the film does a good job of illustrating this.  It seems like they don’t hate each other, but that they do put up with each other. In my dream world Effie and Haymitch would eventually realize they’ve loved each other all along!

Obviously there were tons of other things I enjoyed about the movie, but this post would be miles long if I wrote about all of them!  Have you seen it yet?  What were your thoughts?  (PS Don’t mind the creepiness of the picture, it was dark and I wanted to get close enough to read the ticket!)

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Book Trailer of the Week: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

It finally came, the The Hunger Games movie! And for now all I can say is: I LOVED IT! Yup, will post more about this later as I process the greatness for a few more hours. :) It is officially Spring Break in my neck of the woods so let’s talk book trailers!
Cinder by Marissa MeyerThanks to MacMillan audio I’m currently listening to Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Cinder had such amazing press and I’ve heard/read nothing but good things about it. I’m currently on Chapter 14 and I’m really digging this futuristic take on a classic fairy tale, Cinderella. Check out the book trailer below to learn more about it!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Spring Break To-Read List

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and Bookish.
Its March in Florida which means is Spring! The weather is hitting the mid to high 80s again and we’ve had the AC more than once this past week. Also, my county’s Spring Break starts next week which is fabulous! I love spring Spring Break because a. I don’t have to work, b. I get to work out in the morning, c. I get to do tons of reading! I have a few books I’d like to finish over the break and some I’d like to begin. So, today’s top ten list is all about the books I’d like to read over my Spring Break.

First, the books I’d like to finish:

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner1. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Cinder by Marissa Meyer2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cross My Hart by Sasha Gould3. Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould

Now, for the books I’d like to start:

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins1. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale2. Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater3. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen4. Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

Above World by Jenn Reese5. Aboveworld by Jenn Reese

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E Smith6. The Statistical Probability of Falling in Love by Jennifer E. Smith

Serephina by Rachel Hartman7. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

I’m sure I won’t be able to get to all of these, but its worth a try! What are you hoping to read this Spring? Is there anything I need to add to my list?