Winter (The Lunar Chronicles Book 4) – Marissa Meyer | BOOK REVIEW

โ€œ๐šƒ๐š‘๐šŽ ๐š™๐šŠ๐š•๐šŠ๐šŒ๐šŽ ๐š ๐šŠ๐š•๐š•๐šœ ๐š‘๐šŠ๐šŸ๐šŽ ๐š‹๐šŽ๐šŽ๐š— ๐š‹๐š•๐šŽ๐šŽ๐š๐š’๐š—๐š ๐š๐š˜๐š› ๐šข๐šŽ๐šŠ๐š›๐šœ, ๐šŠ๐š—๐š ๐š—๐š˜ ๐š˜๐š—๐šŽ ๐šŽ๐š•๐šœ๐šŽ ๐šœ๐šŽ๐šŽ๐šœ ๐š’๐š.โ€ ๐Ÿ‘‘ ๐ŸŽ ๐Ÿ“–

๐Ÿšจ ๐•Š๐•ก๐• ๐•š๐•๐•–๐•ฃ ๐”ธ๐•๐•–๐•ฃ๐•ฅ โš ๏ธ

Quick Synopsis:

The fourth and final book of The Lunar Chronicles follows Cinder and her friends on their crusade against evil Queen Levana of Luna. As with every LC book, we are introduced to a new protagonist, the beautiful and crazed Princess Winter – driven mad by her refusal to use the powers of manipulation every Lunar is born with. Winter joins the fight, accompanied by her loving and loyal guard, and helps begin a revolution against Levana, but will they succeed?

Review:

Itโ€™s been a very long time since a series has drawn me in like this. Despite the last book being 823 pages, not a single word felt unnecessary. The characters develop realistically, there is even a magical version of mental illness, and to top it all off – a lost princess with a cybernetic gun-arm. What more could you want from a book series?

Marissa Meyer has a brilliant approach to this fairytale sci-fi, using every new book to develop her existing characters, whilst giving us a few new core ones to fall in love with. Winter is no different.

In Book 4, we are introduced to Princess Winter; step-daughter to the tyrannical Queen Levana. We see how Winter has become weakened and abused by her step-mother, and yet – despite never using her glamour – is still cherished by the Lunar people.

Marissa Meyer is also brilliant at approaching relationships in a loving yet realistic way. She acknowledges Captain Thorneโ€™s floozy past. She writes of deep first loves, experienced by a petite Rapunzel character (Cress) who falls in love with the mere idea of the Captain.

We see Emperor Kai and Cinder deal with the complications of living on two different planets, and we finally get to see how a red-headed farm girl and her mutant wolf boyfriend cope with the reality of being together.

Ratings:

Overall Series Rating > 5 ๐ŸŒŸ
Book 1 Rating > 5 โญ๏ธ
Book 2 Rating > 4 โญ๏ธ
Book 3 Rating > 4.5 โญ๏ธ
Book 4 Rating > 5 โญ๏ธ

๐™ณ๐š˜๐š•๐š˜๐š›๐šŽ๐šœ ๐™ฒ๐š•๐šŠ๐š’๐š‹๐š˜๐š›๐š—๐šŽ – ๐š‚๐š๐šŽ๐š™๐š‘๐šŽ๐š— ๐™บ๐š’๐š—๐š | Book Review

โ€˜๐šƒ๐š‘๐šŽ๐š›๐šŽโ€™๐šœ ๐š—๐š˜ ๐š‹๐š’๐š๐šŒ๐š‘ ๐š˜๐š— ๐šŽ๐šŠ๐š›๐š๐š‘ ๐š•๐š’๐š”๐šŽ ๐šŠ ๐š–๐š˜๐š๐š‘๐šŽ๐š› ๐š๐š›๐š’๐š๐š‘๐š๐šŽ๐š—๐šŽ๐š ๐š๐š˜๐š› ๐š‘๐šŽ๐š› ๐š”๐š’๐š๐šœ.โ€™

๐™ณ๐š˜๐š•๐š˜๐š›๐šŽ๐šœ ๐™ฒ๐š•๐šŠ๐š’๐š‹๐š˜๐š›๐š—๐šŽ – ๐š‚๐š๐šŽ๐š™๐š‘๐šŽ๐š— ๐™บ๐š’๐š—๐š

๐—ฆ๐˜‚๐—บ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜†:

Dolores Claiborne has a story to tell. But not quite what the police had expected. Dolores Claiborne has a confession to make… (taken from the blurb).

๐—•๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ธ ๐—ฅ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐˜„: 4/5 โญ๏ธ

A good read if youโ€™re looking to dip into Stephen Kingโ€™s mind without delving into the abyss that is The Green Mile (Iโ€™ve never been brave enough!)

The main character, Dolores Claiborne, spends a long time telling a long story – and every word is necessary.

The book is written primarily in a one-person stream of consciousness, in the voice of a 66-year-old housekeeper and carer from Little Tall Island, Maine.

Stephen King has always been a truthful, visceral author, and he has no problem capturing the voice of an old, troubled woman.

My only qualm was that I struggled to get into it due to the way itโ€™s written, but once you get over the colloquial style – it sucks you in.

Would highly recommend!

Let It Snow โ€“ John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle| A YEAR IN BOOKS

Title: Let It Snow

Authors: John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

I donโ€™t usually reach for festive books โ€“ let alone romance novels – but the combination of a cute cover and John Greenโ€™s name caught me initially. And then I started reading, and the book reeled me in all by itself.

As the book came out in 2008 โ€“ I am very late to the game with this one โ€“ I doubt you need an in-depth summary of the plot, so Iโ€™ll give you a brief one.

Let It Snow follows the story of Gracetown, a small American town in the middle of nowhere. Itโ€™s Christmas Eve and love โ€“ and the worse snowstorm for fifty years โ€“ is in the air.

The book is written in three parts, one part per author, and they take us on a journey through Gracetown as the snow takes its toll on cars, cheerleaders, and relationships.

All the characters in the novel are individual and brilliant in their own right, but my favourite pair had to be Stuart and Jubilee. They are the beautiful result of kindness from a stranger and a derailed train (a train whose passengers make quite the effect on Christmas Eve).

Stuart is a heartbroken, sweet, brotherly guy who opens his home to Jubilee on Christmas Eve when she bravely ventures away from the train in search of warmth. His over-bearing but harmless, Jewish mother is determined to get the two of them together and makes it her personal mission in life to do so.

Jubilee has found herself alone on Christmas Eve after her parents are charmingly arrested in a brawl at a Flobie House sale, and she gets sent to California to spend the holidays with her grandparents.

But then, as her day gets worse and she ends up in a Waffle House full of cheerleaders in an attempt to escape the broken-down train, a handsome stranger invites her home for Christmas.

I could spend hours talking about this book โ€“ and I probably will to my S.O (feel sorry for him!), but you would probably get bored of hearing about it, so Iโ€™ll make my point.

Let It Snow is a charming, witty, off-beat Christmas romance novel, that shows that every story has another side, that every loner, weirdo and shy teen deserves love, and that Christmas Eve is the kind of day where magic can happen โ€“ even in a snowstorm.

Star Rating: *****

Audiobook Review and Reflect: Talking As Fast As I Can – Lauren Graham

laurengraham

I’ve just had that ‘staring-at-the-wall-with-a-fresh-book-shaped-whole-in-my-heart’ moment. Loralie Gilmore (I mean, Lauren Graham) just spent four hours reading me a book.

I was in the city today, so I’ve been on a lot of trains and tubes. It was a new experience to listen to someone talk to me as I tapped in at London Bridge Station, or raced down the stairs to catch the next Northern Line tube. Her soothing voice filling my head. She had me in fits of laughter, followed by bursts of sadness or melancholy. I suspect I looked slightly deranged on public transport today.

In the background, as I absorb and write this review, There She Goes – The La’s, plays quietly through my headphones. I felt the need to listen to The Gilmore Girls soundtrack; stopping Stars Hollow from leaving me straight away. There’s a warmth in my fingertips that I only get when I need to write.ย  It’s late, so I’ve got a hot chocolate sat, steaming in my chilly office space, waiting to be sipped.

It is strange, listening to her voice. I can picture her, sat with her legs curled up on a comfy sofa, coffee cupped between her hands. She’s telling me her story, her life. But it’s like hearing a familiar tale with a whole new character. I know it, and yet I don’t.

Loralie Gilmore raised me. I was Rory. Luke was my step-dad. Books made me safe. I’m back in Stars Hollow, however now it has that dewy glaze of a warm memory. That’s what it’s like listening to Lauren Graham read Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore To Gilmore.ย 

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Talking As Fast As I Can is a charming, delightful book, and makes for an interesting audiobook on Audible. Graham takes us on a journey from Kindergarten to the end of filming Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life.

She shares a lot, the usual witty anecdotes, but also some deep, personal information that anyone may have left out. Lauren Graham’s attention to detail is also someone quite wonderful to observe. She goes on a tangent about a blue coat from The Gilmore Girls set for several paragraphs, which is simply enchanting to read.

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Lauren Graham makes every single word seem and sound magic. Speaking in particular for the audiobook, hearing her read the book herself gives it an added layer of intimacy which is missing from some audiobooks. You can hear the laughter in her voice when she recalls a conversation with a beloved friend. Her tone carries the weight of the time they found of Gilmore Girls was over. She sounds… affected. It is beautiful to listen to.

I realize this is more of a Lauren Graham worship than a review of her book as a format, or as a piece of writing. Perhaps I have been influenced because I listened to it rather than read it. But all I know for sure is, Loralie Gilmore just told me a story, and I loved every minute of it.

If you are a fan of Gilmore Girls, of Parenthood or just of the wonderful Lauren Graham as a human being, I strongly urge you to read or listen to this book. It’s life-affirming, charming and downright enjoyable to consume.

 

Gilmore Girls Spotify Playlist:

 

Alan The Christmas Donkey | Recent Reads

โ€‹Recent Reads: Whilst on the train back from Wales recently,  me and my mom ended up reading Alan The Christmas Donkey by Tracy Garton. 

It’s a sweet, funny book all about the donkey sanctuary the author set up twenty years ago, and the donkeys she adopts along the way; the most mischievous of all being Alan. 

It’s a quick read and a good laugh, and quite an eye opener to the amount of work that goes into these sanctuaries. Worth a read! 

They have a website where you can learn a little bit more about their donkeys: http://www.radcliffedonkeys.com

The Fault in Our Stars | Book Review

tfios-melissaholden94I spent a long time avoiding this book, and I feel like an idiot for it.

I did cover the topic briefly in my John Green article I posted a couple of weeks ago, but the general premise is that I was swayed by other people’s opinions and basically didn’t get John Green’s work a chance.
I didn’t give his books the time and devotion to reading that they deserve, and believe me when I say: I regret that and I plan on catching up pretty damn quick.

The Fault In Our Stars was first published Januaryย 2012 under Penguin – the sixth book by John Green -, and has since sold 10.7 million copies worldwide.ย  The movie adaptation came out in 2014, and the screenplay was co-written by the author himself, which attests for how close a resemblance the screen version has to the original novel.

green_2The plot (in case you’ve been living under a rock – as I have!):ย (Sourced from Amazon UK)

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

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Hazel: 16-year-old Hazel-Grace has accepted her cancer-ridden fate and is pretty much living in her day to day routine, waiting for death. Her coddling mother thinks Hazel has depression so often forces her to socialize with other ‘cancer kids’.

She has been living with cancer for a long time, so has since grown used to life with rubbish lungs. She gets on with school and reading and seeing friends when she can, and is pretty settled – if unhappy – wth her routine. But when she meets Augustus Waters at a ‘cancer kids’ meeting, all that goes out the window.

03f45905f29d65c365f67d5498014173Augustus Waters: Originally introduced as your typical tall, dark and handsome, Gus is a one-legged cancer survivor and romantic lead of The Fault In Our Stars. He is quick to admit his attraction to Hazel, and is not deterred by her initial rejections of a relationship.

Originally introduced as your typical tall, dark and handsome, Gus is a one-legged cancer survivor and romantic lead of The Fault In Our Stars. He is quick to admit his attraction to Hazel, and is not deterred by her initial rejections of a relationship. He is weird as he as beautiful, so he’s a perfect match for our main girl.

Van Houten:ย Van Houten, the author of Hazel’s favourite (fictional) novel, An Imperial Affliction, is the typical example of ‘never meet your heroes’. He’s a drunk, a fool and a rude old man who doesn’t feel he should waste his time writing a sequel to Hazels’ cherished book, let a lone answer some of her questions. He has some secrets of his own, but they aren’t revealed until later on, making him somewhat of a bitter but one-leveled character until the end.

3f10f7365f73d9b28ffccb50e24a844d1eb8755616c22a72abb09a3ec295b4bdRomance:ย Neither Gus or Hazel are your typical love interest, however – which makes this a far more interesting read. It’s not just your average star-crossed lover’s tale (although there is some element of Shakespearean tragedy towards the end of the book).

Cancer:ย I can’t review the book without mentioning one of its main themes: cancer sucks. There is no beautification of cancer in this book as far as I am concerned, and I am so glad for that.

John Green wrote from experience about the issues and pain and day-to-day suffering of a ‘cancer kid’, so it stands to reason that his depiction of two teenagers with cancer would be more or less accurate.

I personally knew someone who had this sucky illness, and there were places in this novel that sent a shiver down my spine: because I had seen them happen in real life. It cannot have been easy for Green to write this, and particularly as there was such a backlash concerning it, so for that alone; I applaud him.

The Fault in Our Stars continues to raise money for The Teenage Cancer Trust, click here if you would like to find out a bit more about the charity.ย 

Overall review: I really wish I hadn’t waited four years to read this amazing novel, and I am happy to say that it’s up there with my favourite novels. It is a heart-wrenching, beautiful novel that is very hard to put down. So for god’s sake – read it.ย download

Other Recommendations:

If you’re interested in reading books about Cancer and how disastrous it can be from a true-life perspective, I recommend Discussing Wittgenstein by Ann Drysdale.

Plot: (Sourced from Amazon UK)

Launched at the 2009 Hay festival, Discussing Wittgenstein picks up the story of Philip Grey and Ann Drysdale after their near death-bed marriage and Philip s return home. It is the end of a remarkable love story, but it is also much more; a tender, poignant testimony to how personal mythologies are built and survive. Discussing Wittgenstein is an elegy to the human spirit and to our quest to shape experience into meaning.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children: Movie Review *SPOILERS*

miss-peregrines-photo1Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is one of those wonderful books that make you feel like the author is running around inside your imagination.

I have already written a full book review, which you can read here, but suffice it to say, this series has found its way into my heart, and I can’t wait to read Hollow City.

Now on to the movie adaptation:

I went to see it last night (the movie’s second night on the big screen in the UK), and whilst I was amazed by the casting, I did have just a couple of issues with the movie (but it was still amazing!)

Jake’s best friend

Not read the book, and you’re wondering who I’m talking about? EXACTLY! Jake has a moody best-and-only friend back home in the States…who doesn’t exist in the movie. He plays a pivotal role in Abe Portman’s death scene in regards to actually getting Jake there, and yet in the movie he has been replaced by a random female co-worker of Jake’s.

Smart-Aid

Speaking of work, they have glazed over the very reason Jake works for Smart-Aid… his family own it. It is seen as a rite of passage within the family to work in a branch of Smart-Aid before you are eventually promoted upward into the offices, just like his mother.

In the movie, he’s just a shelf-stacker with a businesswoman for a Mom and a flaky, bird-watching Dad.

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Emma and Olive

Unless I read the book totally wrong… Emma has switched peculiarities with another character. In the book, Emma has control over fire, meaning she uses a fireball to help defeat a Hallow, guide them through the bogs in the dark, and set a building on fire.

There is even a very touching comment about the warmth of her hands on Jake’s face as they embraced. Olive was the one with the air control.

This article explains more in-depth as to why their powers were swapped for the movies.

Dr Golan

…Is a woman in the movie and a man in the book. There is also a much smaller focus on the Golan-Jake relationship than there is in the book, although that is not necessarily a bad thing as it gives us more time to focus on Jake and the peculiar children.

Jake and Emma

Although I still like the teen-electricity between these two characters in the movie, the book adds a completely different layer to their budding-yet-complicated romance.

jake-and-emma

The book contains much more teenage angst and awkwardness, whereas in the movie, Emma seems a lot more angry towards Jake rather than clumsy and romantic.

The book lets us see how Jake feels about Emma, and how weirded out he is that he is falling in love with someone that could possibly have been his Grandmother if things had gone a little differently.

The movie adaptation also has a lot less kissing – there is A LOT of kissing in the book – which is probably due to more of an emphasis in the movie that the peculiar children are just that: children.

Overview:

I love the book, I love the movie… just in different ways. Both mediums are worth delving in to, but I can definitely see some readers not liking the movie, and vise-versa. There have certainly been some questionable changes, and some aren’t really worth the big-to-do. But can we have more romance in the sequel, please? I liked that part.