Geekerella by Ashley Poston

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“Geekerella” by Ashley Poston

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“Anything can happen once upon a con…

When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.”

This was just one of those fabulous books that completely took me by surprise! My sister had told me about the premise of “Geekerella,” and although I thought that it sounded like a really fun, cute read, I was a bit skeptical. Sometimes the descriptions of books are better than the books themselves (as we all know), especially when it comes to contemporary retellings of a classic story or fairy tale. That being said, Ashley Poston hit it out of the park with her retelling of “Cinderella,” and I cannot recommend it enough to all of my fellow fangirls out there!

There have been a LOT of retellings and remakes of “Cinderella” (not all of them good), and with it being one of my all-time favorite childhood movies and stories, this book could have totally put me off. Despite everything that could have gone wrong with this retelling, Ashley Poston did such a great job of creating likeable, charismatic, and nerdy characters that I connected “Geekerella” and its characters instantly. I also loved the “Star Trek” vibes that were present throughout this book, and I swear that Ashley Poston must have based part of “Geekerella” on Hilary Duff’s “A Cinderella Story,” because both my sister and I saw the parallels between the two retellings. I loved the geek-tasticness of the heroine and hero and nostalgia that this book evoked in my while I was reading it; “Geekerella” was exactly what I needed as a fangirl, and its adorable cover didn’t hurt matters, either.

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Throughout “Geekerella” I found myself  completely on board with the story and how it unfolded because Ashley Poston truly UNDERSTANDS the fandom life! Things that I normally have issues within contemporary novels I was willing to overlook because the whole time Elle just preached to the choir about the horrors of having something you love remade or turned into a sequel. Can I just tell you how relateable she was at times, despite being fictitious? Elle was super adorkable, and I loved seeing a fellow fangirl properly represented in the soul of this heroine, and I thought that Darien was the perfect match to her nerdiness.

Darien was SO ADORKABLE it hurt!

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As much as I loved Elle and could relate to her fangirl heart, Darien was my favorite part of “Geekerell.” He was so charming and endearing, and he tugged at my heartstrings multiple times. His and Elle’s “meet cute” through a vengeful review and the Con directory was pretty hilarious and unique, and I enjoyed the two of them being apart for most of the book; I felt like I got to know them both better that way until the real meet cute happened. Before and after his and Elle’s official meeting, I loved the nerdy dedication of Darien and was completely charmed by his character. I also really loved his agent and long-time friend from before he became famous. Their relationship was great, and it added another dynamic to Darien’s character that made him even more likable as the story progressed.

“Geekerella” was the perfect fluff read for any time of the year. Normally I dislike contemporary books with an absentee, lazy, or overbearing parent, but in the case of the story being told, I thought that Ashley Poston did a great job of reinterpreting that aspect of the “Cinderella” fairy tale for a modern audience. Ashley’s choice and approach to Elle’s Fairy Godmother was also pretty comical and creative. From the characters to the small tweaks from the original fairy tale, “Geekerella” was the perfect balance of geeky, cute, with a dash of nostalgia. I personally loved this retelling of “Cinderella,” and if you like all things nerdy and fun, you should definitely give this book a try.

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Winter by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #4)

Winter by Marissa Meyer

“Winter” by Marissa Meyer

4 out of 5 stars.

Everyone thinks that Winter is crazy, and they might be partly right because of her refusal to use her Lunar gift to manipulate people. Despite that, though, Winter is loved by the people of Luna because of her kindness and beauty, and Levana can’t stand the fact that the Lunars respond better to their mad princess than her, their queen. With a step-mother who is constantly aiming her cruelty at Winter, the young and kind princess has no one to turn to for solace except her childhood friend, Jacin. But with her guard and friend gone for so long from Luna and no word from him, and Winter fears for his safety. Then, as if the stars smiled on her, Jacin has returned and Winter has hopes that everything can return to normal, but what the young princess doesn’t know is that nothing on Luna will ever be the same. Cinder is on her way.

Cinder worries for the safety of her friends as they plan the rescue of Scarlet and how to unseat Levana, but all of them have come so far that there is no stopping what they started and no going back to who they used to be. Everyone in Cinder’s group is up for the fight, no matter what their ends they might meet on the unforgiving planet, and the lost princess wonders if maybe her team is just enough to save Earth and Luna from Levana’s terrible reign.

Okay, so I enjoyed reading “Winter” by Marissa Meyer, and despite its huge size *cough* 827 pages *cough,* it was also a quick read. Marissa Meyer definitely has a simple and addictive writing style that made the pages fly by, even when your out of practice with reading. It was about three weeks since I’d had enough time to sit down and enjoy a fun book when I picked “Winter” up, so it was awesome to take the time to read it despite the busyness of school during that time. “Winter” was the perfect book to get me back into reading for fun and I enjoyed Marissa’s last installment in “The Lunar Chronicles” series. Alright, let’s begin this review by talking about Marissa’s newest heroine, Princess Winter.

I loved Winter as a character. I liked how differently she read than all of the other heroines of this series, and I thought that it was interesting seeing Winter “interact” with her step-mother Levana. Levana was despicable, but despite her cruelty towards her step-daughter, Winter turned out to be a compassionate and kind individual, and I loved getting to know her. I personally think that, out of all of Marissa’s female characters, Winter had the most compelling back story and present circumstance in this series, especially since Winter suffered from the Lunar sickness, and that in itself only added to Winter’s dynamic character. Cress was, and still is, my favorite female character from “The Lunar Chronicles,” but Winter is a close second. Winter was definitely a heroine I cheered for during this book, and I enjoyed all the sections of this book where she was present. Another thing that I really loved about Winter’s character was the connection she had with her best friend and guard, Jacin.

I had really liked Jacin in “Cress” and was curious about his back story while I read the third Lunar book, but I never got to see enough of who Jacin was in it to fully understand his motivations. Waiting nearly two years for “Winter” to come out was pure torture, so finally getting to really know Jacin (and Winter) ended up being exciting, and I’m happy to say that his character did not disappoint.

Jacin appeared to be a more closed off character in “Cress” and it was great to see him around Winter who was the only person to get past his armor. Everything about his job and the environment of Luna had taught Jacin to protect himself and those he loved by acting detached and uncaring. Despite how Jacin pushed everyone he loved away, Winter became his one exception, but in this book, it was evident that he was beginning to feel the need to distance himself a little bit because of Levana’s skill at using love and compassion against people. I thought that it was really interesting who Jacin “became” due the environment that he was subjected to because of how wicked and cruel Levana was, and I found the measures he took to protect those he loved to be sad but also understandable. Another thing I enjoyed about this character was that he did not necessarily side with Cinder and her revolution; Jacin obviously despised Levana and the current Lunar government for all of the torment they had put him through, the threats towards his family, and his fear that Winter would be hurt or killed, but he also didn’t just jump blindly onto the lost Princess Selene’s side just because she was the true heir of Luna. That intrigued me as well as made me like his character even more, but the cherry on top that made me love Jacin as a strong male lead was his and Winter’s relationship.

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Jacin and Winter made me smile and my heart happy. I shipped them a lot and loved the parts of this book where they were together or just working towards protecting and helping one another. They weren’t an icky lovey-dovey couple, but their relationship was still super sweet, and I loved that they had a long history as friends before their romance began in “Winter.”

Although I really enjoyed “Winter” as a book and a conclusion to a good series, I didn’t quite fall in love with it in its entirety; I adored anything and everything that involved Jacin, Winter, Cress, and Thorne, but sadly, there was not that much of them in this book, which was disappointing to me. I was sad at times while reading “Winter” because the majority of it was about Cinder and her revolution rather than Winter for which the book is titled; I expected a lot more of the girl it was named after than I actually got and that was a bit frustrating at times. Don’t get me wrong, Cinder was a good character, but both her and Kai are a little bit, I don’t know, flatlinery? They are great people, but I don’t feel like they are the most compelling characters like Winter and Jacin were, or adorable and fun like Cress and Thorne had been in this series, and the amount of Cinder overtook all of the other characters who were far more interesting and dynamic. I get that “The Lunar Chronicles” started with Cinder and was building up to this revolution, but the sheer amount of it took away from some of the fun of this series because other characters that I wanted to see more of got neglected. At times I wanted to (immaturely) stomp my foot and demand more Winter and Jacin or Cress and Thorne, and although “Winter” was a fairly fast and light read, I felt a bit disconnected because the characters that had drawn me into the story took the backseat. If a 100 pages of Cinder and her rebellion had been removed and exchanged for more Winter and Jacin or Cress and Thorne, I would have gladly thrown five stars at this book, but alas, it was not to be…Okay, since I believe that the other characters of this series deserved time in the center stage, I am only going to graze over Cinder and Kai.

Cinder and Kai were sweet, good-hearted individuals, but I haven’t ever found them to be very interesting or dynamic characters. I don’t dislike them, but I also didn’t get that feeling of cheering them on when I read their sections of “Winter,” and I just kind of kept reading so I could get to the small snippets of the characters that I did love. I do feel that Marissa Meyer did a good job of helping both Cinder and Kai to remain true to themselves while still growing as individuals, and that was nice to see as a reader. I did find it interesting, though, that Scarlet got nearly as much page time as Cinder, and I definitely did not expect that in “Winter.”

I think after hundreds of pages of barely getting any Cress or Thorne time that reading so much from Scarlet’s perspective started to irritate me towards the end of this book. I was not particularly fond of Scarlet in her own book, so I was quite happy to move onto more Thorne and lots of Cress in the third book of “The Lunar Chronicles,” but then it switched back to Scarlet and Cinder during “Winter.” This bother me a bit because, once again, I wanted the person for which the book was named to take up the most page time and to have the largest presence, yet it was Scarlet and Cinder who dominated most of this book. I’m happy for the fans who adored Cinder and Scarlet from the start of this series and that they got their epic finale, but I was a little sad that I didn’t get as much of my beloved Cress and Thorne.

Thorne…*sighs* I just loved this character so much throughout this entire series, and my only problem was that there just wasn’t enough of him in “Winter”! While reading this book, I just fell in love with Thorne all over again, and I was happy to see him grow as a person while still staying very much himself. One of the things I was sad about, though, with my time spent with Carswell Thorne was that he and Cress were apart for a long time in “Winter.” I adored the fact that he played a large role in coming up with some of the plans for Cinder and that he was being brave and courageous, but I just REALLY wanted more time with him and Cress together in this book!

I do have to appreciate that the time she and Thorne spent apart allowed Cress to really grow into herself as a character. This girl was just the cutest, sweetest character in “The Lunar Chronicles,” and she was so brave to put her life on the line repeatedly to save her friends. I loved that Cress had no powers, yet she figured out ways to help those she loved and bravely walked into the line of fire to help Cinder in her revolution. All I’ve got to say is, never underestimate the power of a fangirl who knows how to work a computer!

In the end, I enjoyed “Winter” despite the lack of Thorne and Cress and Winter and Jacin, and that the moments I did get with these characters were fabulous. I really appreciate as a fan how well Marissa Meyer tied up her story of Luna and Earth, the revolution, and how each of the characters evolved throughout this series. “Winter” by Marissa Meyer was a really sweet, well-wrapped up conclusion to an equally sweet series.

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson (Fairy Tales #6)

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“The Golden Braid” by Melanie Dickerson

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: November 17th, 2015

4 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads Summary:

The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.

Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man around. And her skills as an artist rival those of any artist she’s met. But for a woman in medieval times, the one skill she most desires is the hardest one to obtain: the ability to read.

After yet another young man asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides they need to move once again, but this time to a larger city. Rapunzel’s heart soars—surely there she can fulfill her dream. But Mother won’t let her close to a man. She claims that no man can be trusted.

After being rescued by a knight on the road to the city, and in turn rescuing him farther down the road, Rapunzel’s opportunity arrives at last. This knight, Sir Gerek, agrees to educate Rapunzel in order to pay back his debt. She just has to put up with his arrogant nature and single-minded focus on riches and prestige.

But this Rapunzel story is unlike any other and the mystery that she uncovers will change everything—except her happily ever after.

Thank you Thomas Nelson and Kerri Potts for being willing to send me a review ARC of “The Golden Braid.” In no way has this affected my review.

 Gosh, this was a cute book! I absolutely adore the original “Rapunzel” fairy tale, so I was really excited to read “The Golden Braid” and find it to be super enjoyable! “The Golden Braid” was a very sweet and endearing retelling of the old fairy tale, and I really enjoyed reading it and getting to know Melanie’s newest cast of characters.

Rapunzel was a very endearing heroine, and I liked that Melanie Dickerson wrote a female character who was as sweet as she was strong. Normally the female characters in fairy tales are the ones who are portrayed as male-dependant and are only marriage minded, especially when they take place during the medieval times. That was the culture of the time, so I get why authors usually write females that way, but the truth of that time doesn’t always make for the strongest of heroines. Melanie, however, made Rapunzel a far more balance character by having her save the hero of this story at one point and desire things like education and more independence. Rapunzel wanted to learn to read and write, something that very rarely taught to anyone outside of the upper classes, and even more seldom to women, during the middle ages. Despite that, however, Rapunzel was determined to learn all she could about the world, especially how to read and write. She was a really sweet character in “The Golden Braid” but she was also determined to search out as much life as possible, and I felt like Rapunzel had a good balance of feminine and independent qualities for the era she grew up in.

Besides the fact that I liked Rapunzel’s balance of being a good example of how femininity and gentleness are types of strength, I really enjoyed seeing her evolve as a character. Her mother, Gothel, was vehemently against men and she raised Rapunzel to believe that all men are wicked and only wanted to hurt females. Rapunzel was more skeptical towards the male sex because of that and even though she was not as extreme as her mother in her beliefs, it affected her outlook on life. I really liked this aspect because it kept Rapunzel from being obsessive over finding a man to take care of her; she learned to be independent, and although she wasn’t against finding someone to love someday, that wasn’t not her heart’s only desire. l found that really refreshing and it was nice to see a female character with other desires and goals that she wanted to accomplish, and who didn’t obsess over the potential love interest.

Sir Gerek was no Flynn Rider (A.K.A. My soul mate) but he was still a really good male character. He was definitely rough around the edges and a bit gruff, and he and Rapunzel did not hit it off right away because of his more abrasive demeanor. Gerek, although seemingly tough and standoffish, ended up being a really great character with a kind side to him, and I even liked that he initially distanced himself from Rapunzel because it meant that there was no insta-love between them. With both of their more twisted and broken growing up experiences, Rapunzel and Gerek were not the “dive in love” kind of characters, and that was super refreshing from the insta-love romances that have saturated the YA and Adult fiction markets in the past. Gerek was, to begin with, a bit of an oaf in the fact that he didn’t like being saved by Rapunzel and having to teach her to read German and Latin as repayment for her helping him, but as he got to know Rapunzel, he began to really appreciate and admire her for her kindness and natural intelligence. Obviously I didn’t like his initial oafishness towards Rapunzel besides the fact that it prevented love at first sight from occurring, but I did love that I got to see so much character growth on the part of Sir Gerek.

I ended up enjoyed this book a lot because of Melanie’s great characters and the romance that never felt forced. I love that authors are beginning to realize that most readers want to see character growth and for the hero and heroine to slowly learn to care for one another, rather than empty-headed protagonists who fall instantly in love. “The Golden Braid” had a romance in it, yet I never felt like Melanie tried to foist upon me some nauseatingly forced love story that was trying to be ridiculously “perfect.” Yeah, there were times when this story was maybe a little too sweet and situations a bit too convenient, but it was a fairy tale, after all, and that is to be expected. I liked neither Rapunzel nor Gerek ever pursued anything up until three-quarters of the way through “The Golden Braid,” and so when the romance finally happen, it felt more believable than a lot of other books I’ve read in the past within this books genre.

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I liked that the romance between Gerek and Rapunzel slowly bloomed, and another thing that I enjoyed about “The Golden Braid” was how it connected to the previous book, “The Princess Spy.”

“The Golden Braid” and “The Princess Spy” by Melanie Dickerson overlapped one another in this series, and I really enjoyed that aspect. It was interesting to see the previous book’s situations from different characters’ perspectives, and I thought that it was creative of Melanie to do that because of how interconnected the whole series already was. One of my favorite parts of reading this book was figuring out how different scenes in this book aligned with ones from “The Princess Spy.” It was fun to see what was happening behind the scenes when Hagenheim was being taken over by Lord Claybrook, who I had gotten to know in “The Princess Spy.” (No worries, that’s not a spoiler!)

“The Golden Braid” is definitely my favorite Melanie Dickerson book in her “Fairy Tales” series, and I had such a great time getting to know these new characters. I would recommend it to all YA readers, young or old, because of what a quick, fun read it is, and I am so excited that someone wrote another wonderful version of my favorite fairy tale. Well done!

Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer

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  “Off the Page” by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van leer

4 out of 5 stars.

Delilah is the luckiest girl in the world. After having fallen in love with a character from the fairy tale book, “Between the Lines,” Delilah is granted her wish and Prince Oliver is brought to life and into her world. Pulled straight from a fairy tale means that adjusting will be difficult, but both Delilah and Oliver are excited to start their new adventure together beyond the pages of a book.

As wonderful as the thought of a beloved character coming to life is, the truths of reality are much more difficult to accept. Adapting to his new life is challenging, and to make matters worse, the book Oliver was taken out of is trying to correct itself, which means that it wants him back. Fighting against the book, maybe even fate itself, Delilah, Oliver, and their fictional and not-so-fictional friends try to make one last go of getting their happily ever afters. But then tragedy strikes, and each of them wonders whether anyone can ever truly have a happy ending in reality, or if they must accept the bitter truth that such things can only happen in fiction?

There were three different perspectives in “Off the Page,” and I enjoyed each one of them. Edgar, Oliver, and Delilah were fairly cookie-cutter characters, and at times their voices seemed to blend together a bit. Despite that fact, however, I grew to enjoy their voices for what they were: narrators of a “fairy tale.” Most of the traditional fairy tales tended to have multiple characters who all seemed to have the same voice, and so that aspect of “Off the Page” didn’t really bother me once I had adjusted to the fact that they acted much younger than I am used to characters acting. This was not a survival story where sixteen-year-olds were fighting for their lives, this was a fairy tale with a twist about a couple of kids in high school. Once I had accepted that, I began to enjoy reading from the three different points of view.

Edgar, Oliver, and Delilah were all cute characters despite their sometimes immature actions. Delilah irritated me at times because she seemed to be the most selfish and thoughtless of these three perspectives with her expectations of how things should unfold. Delilah wanted situations to go her way, and I can’t fault her for that because we all do it at times, but I disliked that most of the time she didn’t consider other people’s feelings. Despite that, though, I ended up being okay with this character because she grew a lot as an individual in “Off the Page.” As long as a character turns their attitude around and grows as a person, then I’m fine with them starting out a little bit vain and juvenile; it’s when they don’t learn anything that I’m bothered with attitudes.

Edgar and Oliver were cute, if not a bit juvenile, but I grew to like their perspectives as the book went on and I thought that they were sweet characters. I had a difficult time at first connecting to Oliver and Edgar, but eventually I adjusted to the kind of book “Off the Page” was and could then fully enjoy these two boys. They both had their moments of selfishness and weakness, but they also had times of heroism, bravery, and hope in the face of what looked like insurmountable odds. They were darling and I liked them.

All three characters experienced forms of personal growth, and I liked how each of them learned to be more selfless and sacrifice what meant the most to themselves to help someone else. Hope, selflessness, and creativity were the underling themes of “Off the Page,” and I thought that Jodi and Samantha did a very good job of making their characters, and in turn, their readers think about how far those three items go in the real world. With them, we as individuals could do SO much in the world to improve it. In the end, I liked Edgar, Oliver, and Delilah and how they grew in their awareness of others besides themselves.

I think the hardest part about this book for me was getting through the first hundred and fifty pages. I went in with the understanding that it was going to be a super sweet and completely unrealistic story, but I was prepared. Somehow despite my preparation, I still found myself growing a little nauseous and/or irritated at times because of  the characters’ actions, and that initially made it hard for me to connect or get attached to the different people in “Off the Page.” Maybe it was because I hadn’t read the companion to this book, “Between the Lines,” but I had a hard time getting into this story and characters in the beginning. I was a little worried for the first third of this book, wondering off and on whether I had wasted my money on a pretty cover with a lackluster story, and I just was not invested in the story or characters.

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I kept reading despite this because I honestly did want to love “Off the Page,” and around page one-fifty, I got my wish! Once it got to that point things started to get interesting, the plot and character relationships from the first book started making sense, and I began to enjoy all of the characters perspectives. I was happy how either I or the book shifted a bit, and once I got to that point I started to really like “Off the Page” beyond its stunning map and gorgeous cover design.

Surprising to me in this book were the parts that made me choke up; I didn’t expect to almost cry in this book, but I teared up multiple times before I finished it. There are two very emotional parts that made my heart break for the characters involved in them, and I thought it was interesting how Jodie Picoult and Samantha van Leer decided to approach the topic of death in this book since it was so overly sweet. Bravo on their part for almost making me cry while reading what I had expected to be an excessively happy story.

There’s a plot in the previous book, “Between the Lines,” that involved Edgar’s mother Jessamyn rewriting her fairy tale book so that Oliver could get out and become a real person, and it instantly made me think the show “Once Upon a Time.” Now, let’s remember that “Between the Lines” came out two or three years ago, way before the Author in “Once Upon a Time” was ever mentioned. I’ll be honest, the way “Between the Lines” and “Off the Page” went down, I wondered if the TV show might have jacked that idea without people knowing it. It was just so darn similar in that someone (an author) rewrote a fairy tale to influence reality, and it felt like the show had taken that plot line or been inspired by “Between the Lines.” This was probably me going off of the theorizing deep end, but I just thought that the similarities between the plots of the book and show were kind of interesting!

I know that I am giving “Off the Page” the same number of stars as Sarah J. Maas’s “A Court of Thorns and Roses” even though Sarah’s was epic and it blew my mind; there were a couple of things that I didn’t love in it that kept me from giving it a five star rating. With “Off the Page,” however, I graded it on a different scale. This book was on the cute chick lit scale whereas Sarah J. Mass’s “A Court of Thorns and Roses” was graded on the epic fantasy scale. “Off the Page” accomplished what it was attempting to do for readers, it had an inventive and sweet premise, and it ended up being a well-written and cute story. Personally, that equals a really good, sweet chick lit book to me, and it was a fairy tale story on top of it. One blogger who liked this book said that it was “puke inducing cute,” and that’s exactly what this book was born to do. It was meant to be overly sweet and unrealistic with a few moments that made you cry, and I feel that “Off the Page” deserves a four star grade because it accomplished its goal. Not a lot of authors or book can say that for themselves, so I commend the authors on creating such an adorable fairy tale and picture perfect story.

Overall, “Off the Page” was a really sweet story that was endearing for its humorous moments and its tearful truths. It had moments of true and sincere depth, and I loved those pieces of this book. I think that young readers as well as older ones will fall in love with this book. If you love fairy tales and happily ever afters, then “Off the Page” is the book for you!

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #2)

Sorry everyone! I re-read “Scarlet” by Marissa Meyer just a couple of weeks ago, and I really wanted to revise my previous review; I didn’t know quite how to revise it, so I ended up deleting it completely. Feel free to skip this if you want!

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“Scarlet” by Marissa Meyer

4 out of 5 stars.

Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother has been missing for over two weeks. No one will believe Scarlet when she says that Michelle Benoit would never leave Scarlet like this, without warning. She just wouldn’t! Everyone in the small village of Rieux, France, believes that Michelle Benoit is crazy and that Scarlet must be too since she is Michelle’s granddaughter. But Scarlet knows better than to believe in what they say about her guardian, and despite all of her grandmother’s quirks, Scarlet knows, without a doubt, that she would never just abandon her grandchild. With this in mind, Scarlet sets out on a perilous journey to find her grandmother and save her from her (assumed) kidnappers before it is too late.

Though Scarlet is determined to find her grandmother and she will have to do it alone since no one else wants to help, but she has no idea where to start. How do you find kidnappers who took an old woman off of her own farm without leaving a shred of evidence? How can Scarlet find a bunch of…well, ghosts? Lucky for Scarlet, she stumbles upon someone who might be able to help hunt her grandmother’s kidnappers down and lead Scarlet to the older Benoit. But it is not without great cost to Scarlet.

Cider has been stuck in a cell for far too long, and she is ready to break out and set her plans into motion. Thorne, however, is not a part of those plans. A fellow prison mate, Cinder accidentally breaks into his room while trying to dig (or drill) her way out of prison. Carswell Thorne and Linh Cinder are complete opposites. He’s a human, she is a cyborg. He has enough conceit and self-absorption to fuel an entire spaceship, and she only wants to be free from her wicked Lunar aunt and to save the boy she loves. The list goes on and on, but the one thing that they do have in common is the most important: Carswell Thorne and Linh Conder both want to escape.

Though inconvenient at first, the company of Captain Thorne is quite entertaining, and Cinder soon finds that escaping prison can create an unanticipated camaraderie between two people. And right now she needs all of the friends she can get. Cinder just hopes that she and Thorne will be able to find this Michelle Benoit before any Lunars do, or else it is game over for Cinder and anyone that is close to her.

As Scarlet and Wolf journey through the south of France all the way up to Paris, they find out that they each have their fair share of secrets; ones that they didn’t even know about. Can this unlikely duo make it to Paris before it is too late? And what about Cinder and Thorne? Will they arrive in time to save Michelle, or will Cinder be too late again?

Marissa Meyer is a creative little thing. Her world building is fabulous, her characters are fleshed out very well, and her pacing is done wonderfully. “Scarlet” takes place over only a few days, but I felt that I had spent so much more time with these characters than I actually had, and it made me feel as if I gained a few new friends along the way. If you are a person who prefers the “get-to-the-point” kind of book, this may not be your favorite book. It is well written, but I could see how some people could feel like it is a bit drawn out. I usually feel that way, too, but lately I have had a couple of books (“Deception”,and “Unravel Me” to name just two) that were more drawn out for the time period they took place over, but they never seemed to drag. I loved them for being long, yet very engaging, and “Scarlet” was one of those books for me. I got to know the characters so much better because of it and I felt more involved in their stories than I usually would. Speaking of characters…

Scarlet herself was a very likable heroine. She was spunky and strong without being too overbearing. Her fierce loyalty to her grandmother made me respect her a lot, and I enjoyed following her around her little town of Roux and a bit of Paris. I think nearing the end she got a bit snippy for my taste, but it wasn’t bad at all (just not my ideal). One of the things in “Scarlet” that I think about now is her and Wolf’s relationship and how fast it happened. “Scarlet” takes place over a forty-eight hour (give or a take a few) period, so traditionally I would call their fondness for each other of the insta-love variety, but while reading it I didn’t feel that way at all. I have to hand it to Marissa for making their relationship feel way more developed in “Scarlet” than their time together warranted.

Wolf was a good guy character, and I liked him a lot during the first half of the book; it’s not that I didn’t like him in the latter half, it is just that I can only take so many dark looks and so much internal brooding. He is just not my type, but he is still a very good main guy character.

Speaking of my type, I want to talk about Carswell Thorne.

jen lawrence

Yeah, Thorne is so my speed. Tall (because I imagine him that way and because Marissa never said otherwise in this book), blond, charming, and super cheeky. *Giggles* I REALLY liked him. He is the comedic relief in “Scarlet” and I kinda want him and Cinder to end up together, though I know they never will.

I feel that Thorne also has a lot more depth of character than you think he does. In “Scarlet” he acts like he is way too into himself for his own good,

look how handsome I am

but why would he go to such links to help Cinder, risking his life, if that was all there was to him? There are just small things here and there that make me think that Captain Carswell Thorne is smarter than he acts, kinder than he seems, and is a hero underneath all that sarcasm and false bravado (although he truly does have some SWAG going on).

swag thor loki

I don’t know exactly why, but I adored his character and I cannot wait until “Cress” because I want to find out more about who he truly is, and well, I just want to read more about this cheeky boy!

My favorite characters aside, the whole cast and crew of “Scarlet” were great. Marissa Meyer did a great job of intertwining past characters with the new ones in “Scarlet.” The world building gets even better in this book, and I hear that “Cress” is even better for explaining the Lunar world! Overall a fantastic read! The “Lunar Chronicles” are a great, fresh take on some of our favorite fairy tales, or if you are just in the mood for an enjoyable, well-written sci-fy/fantasy book! I loved this book and I am soooooo looking forward to “Cress” this coming February.

Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

doon by carey corp and lori langdon“Doon” by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

Publishing Company: Blink (Zondervan)

Release Date: August 20th, 2013

4 out of 5 stars.

 Life sucks. A lot. And Veronica Welling knows this all too well. After finding her boyfriend cheating on her with a fellow cheerleader, in her school’s hallway no less, she feels completely betrayed by a person she had called a really good friend; he wont be holding that title anymore!!. Yup, life sucks. But for Veronica, it has always been that way. Her dad had left her and her mother on Veronica’s birthday long ago to fend for themselves, and ever since then, life hasn’t been much fun. With her dad gone, Veronica became a constant reminder to her mother of their abandonment. No father, and now no mother to take care of her, Veronica learned to be independent early on in life. To top it all off, her mom found some nasty dead-beat to date; the creeper even has the audacity to leer at Veronica with her mother in the room. And her mom blames Veronica for his nasty stares! Yeah, Veronica is ready to get out of podunk Indiana as soon as she possibly can. If only…

After a generous invitation from her long time best friend, Mackenna, Veronica has hopped onto a plane bound for Scotland. She is looking forward to being thousands of miles away from her drama back home, but troubles are wearisome creatures that never seem to stop gnawing at you, no matter how hard to try to get away from them. A few hours after arriving in Alloway, Scotland, Veronica gets a call from back home, and it’s her mother calling to say that Veronica will have a stepfather soon. Yaaaay!!!!! The only thing keeping her from jumping off of the deep end at this point is Mackenna. Well, Mackenna and the handsome blond boy who keeps showing up. First he appeared right after Veronica ended it with her cheating boyfriend, and then the second time was after her mom had called with the news. Each time he appeared out of nowhere, and then disappeared like a ghost. But for some odd reason, Veronica can’t shake the feeling that he isn’t a ghost. And she is determined to find out just how real he is.

Mackenna worries about her friend. Veronica and her have always been close; read each others’ minds kind of close. This time is no different, and Kenna knows it. Something is wrong with her good friend and it’s not that she just broke up with her boyfriend (someone Kenna had advised against dating, by the way), or that her mother had sprung “stepdaddy” news on her. No, it’s something very different, but Mackenna can’t put her finger on it. Kenna isn’t sure she can be the strong, stable one; that’s what Veronica had always been good at, and she had always been the theatrics that had spiced up their long-time friendship. Now that Veronica is off in never-never land, their roles are reversed, and Kenna doesn’t like it. And what is with Veronica’s odd fascination with any and everything “Doon?” It’s just a fanciful Scottish legend that someone made up! But her friend, on the other hand, seems to think it’s very real, and Veronica is determined to find something Mackenna isn’t sure, no, is positive doesn’t exist.

Much to Mackenna’s dismay, Veronica’s determination to find Doon is unswerving, and it eventually leads to them actually discovering Doon. Kenna and Veronica find themselves to be in a medieval-looking land, where, nearly upon their arrival, they are taken as prisoners to the beautiful castle. The dungeon which they are thrown into, however, is not so pretty. Yeah, Doon is “awesome” in Mackenna’s opinion. But soon the girls will find out that Doon is far more magical, and dangerous, than they could have ever imagined. As the peace and safety of Doon is threatened, Kenna and Veronica soon discover that their futures are inexorably intertwined with this kingdom and the fate of its people. But can these two girls really save Doon and themselves, or are they destined to be the ruin of Doon?

Before I start my review, I just wanted to say thank you to Zondervan publishing and Gwen who generously sent me an ARC copy of “Doon” so I could review it before its release date. Thank you so much!!

“Doon” by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon was a lot of fun to read. I was really surprised by it because I have never read a book quite like this from Zondervan, but it was a very pleasant kind of surprise. Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon did a fantastic job of creating a magical and fun world that was so enjoyable to discover alongside some very entertaining characters. It was so fun to read, and the writing style as well as the creativity of the story were fantastic. “Doon” was a well thought out book, and the characters were really fun to follow.

Mackenna was my favorite. She was funny and sarcastic, but also a really good friend. I found it interesting how Carey and Lorie showed Kenna’s struggle with being stuck in Doon, a place she hadn’t believed existed; it would be really weird and hard to wrap your head around a place like that, but also kind of amazing, too. Throughout the story, Kenna was a strong person (without being overpowering), and stayed true to her character, but she also grew a lot. She was such a funny and good friend to Veronica despite being dragged into another “world” against her will. It was also interesting to watch her spiritual struggle. The only thing I regret is that I didn’t get to read from her perspective as much as Veronica’s. I wish it had been fifty-fifty because I just loved Kenna.

Veronica was a good character too, but it took me about half way through “Doon” to start to “like, like” her. I guess I felt more connected to Kenna because she had a more realistic view on the whole “magical world” thing, whereas Veronica was ready to jump ship into the unknown without any thought as to what might happen because she just wanted to see some boy she doesn’t even know. She had a pretty bad life, but still, that is kind of messed up! That aside, I thought that Carey and Loriedid a great job of showing her growth, which was of the gradual kind. She stayed true to her character but had definitely grown by the end of the book.

Last but not least, the guy characters. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t really like James, Veronica’s love interest. I have seen this kind of character a few times in books, and I wasn’t a fan of his kind of character in those books either. There is no fault on the authors’ side, I just don’t go for the quiet brooding, misunderstood, cocky types. For me he was just a flat-liner who occasionally elicited enough emotion from me to be irritated with him. And his and Veronica’s relationship set off my gag reflex once in a while, so I just wasn’t a huge fan of them together.

Duncan, James’ brother, on the other hand, was adorable! He and Kenna were really cute together (*sighs*), and despite the fact that Veronica and her are in Doon for only a fortnight, I felt like their relationship was very believable. I felt like, while reading “Doon” that they had spent a lot more time together than they actually did. Duncan was funny, charming, and so enjoyable to read about, especially from Mackenna’s perspective. Duncan actually reminded me a little of Stiles (from Teen Wolf) because of how endearing he was, and Kaleb (from Hourglass and Timepiece by Myra McEntire) for multiple reasons I am still contemplating. Duncan was a surprisingly well-rounded character for how little page time he got. I cannot wait to read more about him in the next book!

Overall, “Doon” was an awesome read and I am very much looking forward to the next in this series. I really hope, though, that Mackenna is the main voice in it! That would be amazing!!! Well done Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon.

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