Since I ended up reading a total of six books last month, I’m breaking up my February book reviews into two parts so this won’t be an even longer post, especially as I tend to ramble when writing reviews. Let’s dive in with my first book, which was the NovelTea Book Club pick for February.
“Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.” – via Goodreads
I was split pretty much down the middle on what I thought of this book. There were many sections that resonated with me, most notably her chapter on fear and also the idea that we are allowed to enjoy the process and result of what we create. I completely agree with her that the idea of being a ‘tortured artist’ is so over-romanticized, and in many cases a harmful school of thought. However, there was also a lot that I completely didn’t agree with. Her entire line of thinking when it comes to inspiration, while unique, is very different from my own. And while that is completely fine, and more power to her for being true to what she believes, it does make it hard to get anything out of a large portion of this book since it’s all based on that idea.
I also found I didn’t really like the tone of this book. And I can’t really put my finger on why. A lot of it just felt contradictory. Mainly because there is a particular point in this book where she goes on to basically bash self-help books…within a self-help book SHE wrote. Oh yes, she tries to say that Big Magic ISN’T a self-help book, just a book she wrote because she ‘truly enjoys thinking about the subject of creativity.’ And I could have maybe bought that…until the next chapter which talks exclusively about how if you’re someone who is considering a creative living career perhaps you should skip college and avoid crippling debt. I’m sorry, there is no discussion there. She is just simply doling out advice (as she does a ton in this book) and it’s advice that is entirely inapplicable to her since she already HAS attended college and has a degree in writing. And doling out advice is great! But I feel like she refuses to acknowledge that Big Magic IS a self-help book and it’s annoying. I feel like it makes her come off as pretentious, and occasionally condescending.
So while there was a lot I didn’t agree with, there was a lot I liked about it, and it was a quick easy read which is why it earned the three star ‘Enjoyable’ rating. It was enjoyable, at least more so than it wasn’t.
“Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.” – via Goodreads
This was a re-read and I found that I actually enjoyed it more the second time around! The first time I remember liking it, but finding it predictable, and obviously that element is removed when reading it for a second time.
I really enjoy the character of Cinder. She is well fleshed out, consistent in her decisions and choices, and most importantly, feels real (no cyborg pun intended). Her character goes through dilemmas and crisis of conscience, and puts rational thought into her decisions. I really appreciate this, especially when it comes to the her love interest, Prince Kai. Even when she finally admits to herself that she has a crush on him, and may even be in love with him, it doesn’t suddenly overwhelm her and cause her to make ridiculous decisions. She still thinks rationally and does what she thinks is best, even if it’s to her own detriment.
As for the world, I really enjoy the futuristic world Marissa Meyer has created. Despite the fact that it’s not exactly realistic (meaning I can’t see our future ever heading in that direction) I like what she has come up with in terms of class discrimination between cyborgs and humans, and of course, the Lunars. I like Queen Levana as a villain because she is unsympathetically evil. I’m so sick of the sympathetic villain…give me a good old fashioned villain who just wants power and I’m happy. Queen Levana seems to have that going on for now! However, I do think her ‘plan’ to dominate Earth is extremely, well, silly. I mean, if her powers of mind control work as well as they do on the masses in the book, there is really no reason for her not to come down and just take over. I don’t see why she’d have the desire to go about it ‘legally’ by marrying Prince Kai, especially since her plan after marriage was to go against her word and just take over anyway. Just do it! Though that would put a damper on the rest of the plot/book.
Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable retelling of Cinderella. It’s a quick read, with good characters and a fun world to jump into!
“Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.” – via Goodreads
This was such a hard book to rate, because I honestly did like about 50% of it. So why only two stars? Because this book suffers from a trope that I can no longer tolerate. Apparently I’m getting grouchier as I approach my 30s but I just can not stand InstaLove. Two characters falling in love not only at lightspeed, but also for no apparent reason. I just can’t take it.
Scarlet introduces us to two new main characters to follow: Scarlet herself, a red headed gal living on a farm with her Granny (who has gone missing, and is also the most important person in Scarlet’s life), and Wolf, a mysterious boy who we learn escaped from a cult-like gang. At first, I was really annoyed by his name being ‘Wolf’. I mean, I know, you’re playing off of Little Red Riding here, but really, just Wolf? Be a little creative about it. Anywho, I actually really liked Wolf’s backstory – the idea of the ‘wolves’ being a gang/cult and so on. That was nifty. But as you learn more, or I should say, as Scarlet learns more, it’s looking more and more like Wolf has something to do with Grandma’s disappearance. And eventually you learn that yup, Wolf absolutely knows where her Grandma is the whole time. And yet somehow, she is inexplicably drawn to him, and they fall in love. In a matter of days.
Are you kidding me?! First off, there is no basis for attraction between these two other than looks. And I get that…initial physical attraction is pretty much a necessity for beginning any relationship. But other than his muscular appearance, all Scarlet knows about Wolf is that he’s freaking scary (she sees him almost kill someone in a fist fight) and that he is potentially involved in her Grandmother’s disappearance. Ah, now that’s a recipe for romance. Listen, I don’t care if Stephen Amell has kidnapped my Grandma; he doesn’t get a goddamn free pass just because he’s built like Adonis. This trope frustrates me so much, because except for this one (huge) thing, Scarlet is a good, smart character. But this really ruined such a huge part of the book for me. I just wanted to smack her upside the head and scream WHY ARE YOU FALLING FOR A GUY WHOM YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT AND YOU DO KNOW HELPED KIDNAP YOUR GRANNY?!?! Ugh.
Anywho, now that that’s out of my system, let’s get on to what I did like. Which was the plot line that followed Cinder. She ends up arrested at the end of the first book, and this book entails her breaking out of prison, coming to terms with her true identity, and in general figuring out what the hell she’s going to do about saving the planet from Queen Levana. She’s got a lot going on. I think I appreciated Cinder’s character even more in this book as even though she is still completely in love with (now Emporer) Kai, that isn’t her priority. Or even really on the table at all. She knows it can’t be, and it certainly can’t be her focus. More important things are at stake. Thank you, character with brains. Please give Scarlet a talking to. I didn’t really enjoy Cinder’s sidekick (whose name I have honestly forgotten); I didn’t find his personality amusing at all and felt he really brought nothing to the table in this book.
I do want to read Cress because I really am loving Cinder’s storyline, and I know that the character of Cress is intimately involved in that, and I must see how it progresses. Hopefully, it will be a better installment than I found this to be!
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A round of applause for you if you made it to the end of this! Like I said, I ramble on when it comes to talking about books (or movies, or shows. I’m a rambler.) Part two of February book reviews is coming next week!
Have you read any of these? What did you think? Let me know in the comments! And if not, what did you read in February?