Review: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Fairest by Marissa MeyerPublication Date: January 27th 2015

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Pages: 256

Genre/Audience: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Format: Ebook

Source: Bought it

Other Books From Author: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress (and short stories set in The Lunar Chronicles Universe)

Goodreads . Amazon

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From Goodreads:

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told … until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

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My initial thought upon finishing Fairest : Levana is insane and I love it.

This novella is really more of a character study of Levana, and is hard to talk about it without spoiling the book and the entire series, so read it at your own risk. It doesn’t advance anything in the main plot, but it gives a hint of what to expect from her. Nothing will stop her from achieving her goals.

I love that she wasn’t redeemed. That she wasn’t even the least bit justified in her actions. Of course, this is from her point of view, so she thinks that everything that she is doing is for the sake of Luna. She has become so caught up in her desire to control everything and everyone, that she doesn’t even realize what she is doing anymore. Throughout the story she reminded me a lot of Cersei Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Levana has a twisted way of perceiving love. She is manipulative, vindictive and cruel. She has suffered most of her childhood at the hands of her parents and her sister, and her outward ugliness encouraged her to perfect her glamour. But in doing so, she has lost track of who she really is and of what it means to be loved.

So she manipulates the man she loves and she controls the people of Luna, she uses her glamour almost desperately in an attempt to make those around her adore her. She is jealous of her sister, because she believes she is more fit to be a queen, but her circumstances have prevented her from doing so. She secretly hates herself and she has a lot of internalized misoginy, she hates other women, especially those she consider beautiful and/or weak. Channary isn’t better than Levana in any way; she is cruel and careless. She throws her own sister in the fire and the fact that she seems to care for her baby daughter doesn’t redeem her in my eyes. She is just as vicious as Levana.

I said it is more of character study, but it still has some plot and a very interesting one, of how Levana became Winter’s stepmother. A lot of the stuff that happen were already acknowledged by the rest of the series, but it was nice to wrap up how it all came together.

In the end, I really enjoyed this. I like character studies, I like villains. I enjoyed the fact that Levana was a full villain, motivated by nothing more than her own madness and desire for power (even if those were shaped by certain tragedies on her past). I believe that strong female villains are just as important as heroins or anti-heroins. We want female characters of every shape and form and this story, as is the entire Lunar Chronicles series is a step in the right direction.

Bonus: The first four chapters of Winter are amazing already and the pain of the wait has officially begun!

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“Why couldn’t she be anyone ? Why couldn’t she be the one person she wanted to be? Perhaps the trouble was that she could never quite figure out who that person was.”

“She knew the holograph wouldn’t hurt. But she also knew that fire was dangerous, and illusions were dangerous, and being tricked into believing things that weren’t real was often the most dangerous thing of all.”

“She hated mirrors. Hated their reflections, their truths. Hated how she seemed to be the only one who hated them as much as she did, even when everyone in the entire court walked around with glamours every bit as fake as her own.”

“Her sister’s words came back to her, thundering in her ears, filling up all the hollow places in her heart. Love is a conquest. Love is a war. Here is what I think of love.”

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YES! If you are a fan of the series this is a must have/read, as are the other short stories companions. While not adding anything and not being necessary to the comprehension of the main story, this is still an enticing read. Personally I adore this series and will read anything to do with this world and its characters. It is also a really quick read. If you haven’t read the series up until Cress yet: DO NOT read Fairest. It should be read in publication order, because SPOILERS.

I need to buy this entire series in hardcover because the covers are gorgeous and especially this one, because the beautiful illustration wasn’t available on the ebook. See this link.

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Have your read Fairest yet? What did you think? If not, are you interested?

Are you a fan of The Lunar Chronicle Series? Do you like stories about true villains or prefer the typical hero’s stories?

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Top 5 Wednesday #4 ANTI-HEROES

Top 5 Wednesday is a feature created by Lainey from the youtube channel gingerreadslainey.

This week’s topic is: Favorite Anti-Heroes

From TV Trope: an antihero is a protagonist who has the opposite of most of the traditional attributes of a hero. (S)he may be bewildered, ineffectual, deluded, or merely apathetic. More often an antihero is just an amoral misfit.

Misfit, not always doing things in the “proper” way and not usually having the conventional look of a hero were the characteristics I used to comprise my list.

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Number 5

Batman (from Dark Knight Universe) by Frank Miller

Batman is a hero, right? Well, he fights crime in Gothan city, but his methods aren’t always ideal. He takes the law into his own hands, being both judge and executioner; he kills, he’s anarchic, etc. There are some controversy on whether he is really an antihero, but Frank Miller says he is, soooo

Number 4

Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Unlike Michael Fassbender, Rochester is ugly, he is amoral, he is broody, he does things without thinking of the consequences. He is also a Byronic Hero:

The Byronic Hero … is invariably courteous toward women, often loves music or poetry, has a strong sense of honor, and carries about with him like the brand of Cain a deep sense of guilt. He is almost invariably sympathetic in spite of his ‘crimes,’ none of which involve unnecessary cruelty. 

Number 3

Marv from Sin City by Frank Miller

Marv is strong, ugly, has mental issues, kills people with his bare hands. But he has a strong sense of justice. He kills the bad guys, he seeks to repay debts, he respects women (to an extent). He is a classic noir anti hero.

Number 2

Tyrion Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire Series

Tyrion, what to say? He uses whores, he throws money away, he is “ugly” (book Tyrion is much worse than show Tyrion – he actually lost his nose, has different colored eyes, and a much uglier scar), he plots, he does more stuff  (no spoilers!). But he is kind where others aren’t, he tries to work in King’s Landing, to make the realm a better place. And still he is hated by most of those surrounding him. Anti hero!

Number 1

Severus Snape from the Harry Potter Series

I don’t to spoil anyone who hasn’t read HP (these people exist! they are no myths!), so maybe don’t read this:

But I just have to say that even though Snape was once affiliated with Voldemort, even though he committed acts of evil, he redeemed himself by working for the side of good. And he has love in his heart. He is my favorite character of the series. That is all.

Sadly, there are only men in this list. The only female I count think of was Regina from Once Upon A Time (who is my favorite character of all time for everything), but since she is not from a “book” I decided not to include her for now. But I need more female antiheroes to root for! Are they out there? Am I missing them on stories I’ve read because the anti-hero idea is more fit to a male role in my subconscious? Maybe a character I like is an antihero and I couldn’t see her that way because of preconceptions of what the term means?

Or maybe they don’t really exist?

What about my list? Do you agree with these characters? Do you have an argument for them being/not being anti-heroes? I want to know!

Tell me about your favorite antiheroes and heroins.

Waiting On Wednesday #5

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine , that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas – a retelling of sleeping beauty after the “happily ever after”. I got more interested in it after finding the author’s blog about feminism in fiction. It is awesome, go check it out.

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab – parallel universes and Victoria Schwab? I need it!

Both are expected to release by February 24th!

Top Ten Books I’d Love to Read If I Had A Book Club (Adult)

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

These are some adult books I think would be great to have discussions about with a book club. I need to read them!

  1. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson – Mystery, complicated main characters and exploring themes of abuse and human trafficking. I actually read the second one of this trilogy because I received it as a gift, without ever having read the first, and I’ve see the movie. So I really need to get on that. A book club would help!
  2. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – another one with mystery and dark themes that would be perfect for discussion.
  3. The Magicians by Lev Grossman – magical university and unlikable main characters? Let’s do this!
  4. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami – I’m not entirely sure what this one is about, but it seems to have some complex themes and it is literary fiction, so it’s great for an adult book club!
  5. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – a book about family dynamics, with mystery and it’s historical fiction. It seems like it would be a lot to talk about.
  6. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov – Gotta have your polemic books, right? I’ve been interested in this one, but kind of afraid to read it. It would be good to have some help.
  7. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – I love time travel and this is a book that deal with the consequences of it on everyday life. It’s a lot to consider. Another book club ideal.
  8. The Storied Life of AJ Firky by Gabrielle Zevin – a book about books! And love and transformations! Let’s read it!
  9. The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman – I want to be a little blind for this one, but I know it’s about stories and it is dark. Sounds like something worth reading with others.
  10. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – Last years Pulitzer winner is a chunker. I want to, but I’m not sure I could read it on my own.

What about you? Have you read and recommend any of these books? What are the books you would like to read with your book club? Link me to your lists!

Making Up For Monday #1

Making Up For Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Tiffany at An Avid Reader that asks some fun literary questions.

This week’s question:   How many physical books do you own?

That was tough! I don’t have that many books, because I’ve been buying mostly ebooks lately. The majority of these books I have accumulated for the past 10 years, give or take. I also don’t have a lot of bookshelf space, but hopefully that will change when I move to my own apartment.

I have a mix of books in Portuguese and English (I think most are Portuguese because it is how I used to read most as a kid/teen, but I read mostly in English now).

Soo, here is my bookshelf tour:

(WARNING: Image heavy!)

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My TBR Shelf:

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And the Total of Physical Books I own is:

245

(unless I counted wrong) – “My True Love Gave to Me” is not on the shelves because it is the physical book I am currently reading. And there are some other books that aren’t on the shelves, but hanging around the mess of my room (some of them may appear on the blog in the future, like my Wreck This Journal and One Page at a Time books)

How many books do you own? Link me to your shelves!

Sunday Post Week #1

The Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. 

This is a post to include news and things that have been going on the blog and my life.

Last Week on the Blog:
What I’ve Been Doing:
Taking a break from exams, and marathoning all seasons of Game of Thrones!
Currently Reading
  • Still working my way through the short stories of My True Love Gave to Me (only two left!)
  • Listening to The Glass Sentence on audiobook (audiobooks are still hard for me, but I’m trying!)
  • Started The Bone Season (already 100 pages into my Ebook and loving it so much!)
Next Week:
  • A mini tour around my bookshelf and I count how many physical books I own (it is not a lot, I think);
  • A review of Fairest by Marissa Meyer (as soon as it comes out I will read and review!);
  • A haul of the books I bought this month and a wrap up of what I read;
Giveaway:
There’s still time to enter the January 2015 New Release Giveaway Hop here and on the other blogs!
Elsewhere:
  • Check out this great spreadsheet from All About Books to organize your 2015 reads and generate statistics at the end of the year!
  • Not exactly new, but Elizabeth from Books And Pieces has a great playlist of Science Fiction History videos. Worth the watch, especially if you want to know more about the genre.

 

Share your links with me!

Review: When I Was The Greatest by Jason Reynolds

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When I Was The Greatest by Jason Reynolds

Publication Date: January 7th 2014

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Pages: 240

Genre/Audience: Contemporary, Young Adult

Format: Ebook

Source: This week’s free read on PulseIt

Other Books From Author: The Boy in The Black Suit

Goodreads . Amazon

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From Goodreads:

In Bed Stuy, New York, a small misunderstanding can escalate into having a price on your head—even if you’re totally clean. This gritty, triumphant debut captures the heart and the hardship of life for an urban teen.

A lot of the stuff that gives my neighborhood a bad name, I don’t really mess with. The guns and drugs and all that, not really my thing.

Nah, not his thing. Ali’s got enough going on, between school and boxing and helping out at home. His best friend Noodles, though. Now there’s a dude looking for trouble—and, somehow, it’s always Ali around to pick up the pieces. But, hey, a guy’s gotta look out for his boys, right? Besides, it’s all small potatoes; it’s not like anyone’s getting hurt.

And then there’s Needles. Needles is Noodles’s brother. He’s got a syndrome, and gets these ticks and blurts out the wildest, craziest things. It’s cool, though: everyone on their street knows he doesn’t mean anything by it.

Yeah, it’s cool…until Ali and Noodles and Needles find themselves somewhere they never expected to be…somewhere they never should’ve been—where the people aren’t so friendly, and even less forgiving.

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This book surprised me in a good way. I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into it, but I saw that it was free to read this week on PulseIt and I had seen some good reviews about this one and Reynolds’ new book: The Boy in The Black Suit. I also thought it would be a good idea to read this for the Dive Into Diversity challenge.

The reason it surprised me is because it is a book about boys. And normally, when I read a book about boys I feel “excluded” somehow. Like I am not a part of the conversation, like it’s “boy’s club” even if I do end up enjoying the book. But that wasn’t the case with this one; I really felt like Ali, Noodles and Needles could have been my friends, just hanging out. I know it is not necessary to relate to everything that you read in order to like it, but when I read a book, I want the author to be able to take me to that place, to make me forget that I am not a part of those characters realities. And this book did that.

There really isn’t much of a plot, it is more of a “snippets of life” kind of book. There are some dramatic things happening but there isn’t a clear arc. That wasn’t a negative for me, and in fact I think it worked particularly well for the intentions of this book. I also liked how present and involved Ali’s parents and his sister were in the story, unlike in most YA. Family plays a major role in teenagers lives, but that often gets ignored in books for the sake of plot or romance, but this one explores this aspect really well. This book discusses a lot of delicate issues about family, friendship, community, loyalty, and even crime – not too much of this last one, but there is something about the temptation and the stigma of crime always being around one or two of the characters (I don’t want to reveal anything). I think these were handled in a realistic way, not sugar coating anything, but maintaining an optimistic view and message at the end of the book.

One final thing I have to praise this book about is how real the characters feel; their voices, their issues, the things that happen to them feel like something that could happen, that does happen in real life. I have never lived in Brooklyn or anywhere near, but Ali, his friends and neighborhood feel very similar to experiences I’ve seen or heard about, close to home. What I am trying to say is that, even though these issues have an important and specific background they are also a part of human life all around the globe. And that is why it is important to read diversely, because it helps us realize that we may come from different places, religions, skin color, sexuality and everything else, but we are all still human and go through a lot of the same problems and emotions.

Overall, I don’t really have any negatives to talk about, other than it was too short! I could have read a lot more about these characters and stayed with them for a while longer. It wasn’t a favorite, because it just didn’t have that indescribable “wow factor” for me, but it was still really good and worth reading. I want to read Reynolds’ new book soon!

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Yes! I think this is something that everyone should give a try, especially if you are intending to read more books by POC, this author is definitely one to look out for.

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Have you read this book? What did you think? If not, does it sound like something you would pick up? Do you feel the same way I do about “boy books”? Also, tell me about life where you live. Do you have close contact with your neighbors? Is it dangerous? Calm?

I’m trying to improve the format of my reviews (which is why things keep changing), so I would I like to get your opinion on that. Do you like this format? What do you think I should change? Anything that you felt needed to be included or that wasn’t necessary?

Popular – a memoir: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen 

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Popular – a memoir:     Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen

Publication Date: April 15th 2014

Publisher: Penguin

Pages: 259

Genre/Audience: Non-fiction, Autobiography, Young Adult

Format: Paperback

Source: Bought it

Goodreads . Amazon

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From Goodreads:

Stuck at the bottom of the social ladder at pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren’t paid to be here,” Maya Van Wagenen decided to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell. Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline, and a strand of pearls help Maya on her quest to be popular?

The real-life results are painful, funny, and include a wonderful and unexpected surprise—meeting and befriending Betty Cornell herself. Told with humor and grace, Maya’s journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence.

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When I was in high school, I wanted to be popular. I was never really bullied or anything, but I had zero confidence in who I was or what I wanted. But I knew that I wanted to be popular, to be loved. That didn’t work out; I could never talk to strangers nor did I make that many friends during that time. I didn’t realize that being popular had a lot less to do with being “famous” and recognized by everyone (which I sometimes was) and a lot more to do with having true friends (which I not always had).

Like Maya, I even tried popularity guides I could find, but eventually I would abandon them and return to my introverted, flip-flop wearing self (my life changed when I switched from flip-flops to ballet flats, no joke). I didn’t wear makeup or nail polish nor did I shape my eyebrows until I was 20 years old (that’s around the time I discovered beauty gurus). Also, my clothes were always untidy and a bit too loose. Basically, I was a mess. But when I fell in love with makeup and nails (because of all the pretty colors and possibilities), I grew out of my shell and started to feel a lot more confident. I cared more about my grooming, and I placed myself better in the world.

People say your outside beauty doesn’t matter, but I found that when you feel good about your outside, your inside shines through. Or at least it helps a little bit.

I am still a hardcore introverted; I prefer to be alone rather than anywhere else and I don’t express myself very well verbally (as in talking out loud). But I got a lot better. Going to med school and having interactions with strangers on a daily basis also helped.

What I’m trying to state with this introduction is how much I related to and understood the things that were going on with Maya and her friends on this book. I could definitely see myself in a lot of the situations she describes, especially the ones when she feels excluded from the groups, and unsure of where to place herself. This was a very poignant read.

The book doesn’t feel like non-fiction or even a memoir. It reads like a novel, or a diary, and right from the beginning you will think Maya is a friend, telling you her story. The writing is very entertaining and engaging. There’s a lot about her family life as well as pictures, which really enhance the experience. It feels like you are truly getting to know her. And it is not just about being popular or following quirky 1950’s advices. Maya’s life doesn’t revolve solely on her appearance or school status. She has to deal with her family’s money difficulties, with moving to new places all the time and with living close to the Mexican border, drug busts at her school, and her favorite teacher not being around anymore. Also, some things from Cornell’s book are outdated or just downright ridiculous for our time, but Maya does them anyway, for the sake of her experiment. Needless to say, the reactions she gets from people aren’t always what she expects.

However, I would say the writing is more middle grade than young adult. The author is fairly young; she wrote this and conducted the experiment in 2012 when she was 13. Sometimes, her experiences feel a little sugar coated and too easily resolved, which is probably also due to editing. I assume they would want the book to have an overall positive message, especially for young kids who are struggling with social situations. Maya sounds a little too good sometimes, in the way that she is always starting up conversations and trying to include everyone. This didn’t take too much away from my enjoyment of the book, but I thought it was important to point out.

Overall, I really liked it, it was funny and super quick to read! It even make me cry at some points, which I was so not expecting. I can cry with really silly things though, so don’t take this to mean this is sad book, because it is really very optimistic.

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“Maybe real popularity comes from when you take time to listen to someone else. When you actually care about them.”

“We all love each other, deep down, and when we see another soul in pain we can’t help but hurt too.”

“I wanted popularity; I wanted other people to like me. But it turns out most people are awaiting to be discovered too.”

“Real popularity is kindness and acceptance. It is about who you are, and how you treat others.”

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Yes! If you are a teenager, if you were ever socially awkward, if you want a quick funny read. I would say some people may not like the super optimistic views of the book, or agree with the advices concerning body figure that come from the 1950’s book that Maya finds. But generally, it would probably be enjoyable to most tastes.

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Have you read this book? Did you like it? If not, does it sound like something you would want to read? How was your high school experience? I want to know!

Also, I’m trying to improve the format of my reviews (which is why things keep changing), so I would I like to get your opinion on that. Do you like this format? What do you think I should change? Anything that you felt needed to be included or that wasn’t necessary?

Top 5 Wednesday

Top 5 Wednesday is a feature created by Lainey from the youtube channel gingerreadslainey.

This week’s topic is: Authors You Would Like To Meet

 

Number 5:

John Green – I love his books and his videos, and he just seems like this great and intelligent person. I would really like to meet him.

Number 4:

Alexandra Bracken – She has become one of my favorite authors due to The Darkest Minds series, and I still want to read more by her. She also seems like a really sweet person based on her social media.

Number 3:

Rainbow Rowell – Another one of my favorites, of course! I love her writing and her ideas, and would really like to meet her!

Number 2:

Meg Cabot – One author I grew up with and read thousands of books from. Meeting her would be amazing.

Number 1:

JK Rowling. Do I need to explain this? If I ever met JK Rowling there is a chance I would be fangirling so hard that only grunts would come out of my mouth. Not very impressive.

So what were the authors you would like to meet? Link me to your top 5 or comment/reblog if these are on your list too. =)

Waiting on Wednesday #4

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine , that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff – It will probably be really sad given that it is about suicide. But it has music, and romance and coming of age elements. I think it is going to be a good one.

The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne – A very intriguing and creepy sounding thriller. I am not normally a fun of this sort of thing, but for some reason I really want to see what happens in this one.