Waiting on Wednesday: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting.  This week I’m choosing Heartless by Marissa Meyer.  The show stopping cover was released last week exclusively on EW.com along with an excerpt of the upcoming novel.  I’m so excited to see what Marissa Meyer has in store for us next plus we already know how great she is at fairytale retellings.  Heartless is a prequel to Alice in Wonderland and it tells the story of the Queen of Hearts prior to when she started ordering “off with his / her/ their/ your head!” in Wonderland.  You can read the excerpt here.

Heartless

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king’s marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.

Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans. (via Goodreads)

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Tea & Book Chat: Winter by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #4)

**Warning! If you haven’t read Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Fairest which are the first through fourth books in The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book Cinder, and the fourth book Fairest, instead if you’re not caught up on the series yet!**

I can’t believe that the end to The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer is already upon us.  It’s been so long sinceCinder debuted and each year we’ve been introduced to new characters in a new installment, all of whom contributed to the major overarching storyline.  I vividly remember being drawn to the gorgeous design of Cinder‘s cover and I devoured the entire story in one sitting because I was so enthralled.  While there was some predictability within the series, I still found myself loving almost every minute of their action packed adventure (with the only lack of interest surrounding Scarlet and Fairest).  Winter is absolutely the greatest series send off I could’ve ever wished for.  I’ll be gathering some of my thoughts in this review but if you’re looking for a very in depth account which includes spoilers, you should check out the video Cassie, Melissa and I recently posted where we discussed Winter for our Spines With Wines book club.

Meyer struck the perfect balance of characterization and world building in her development of The Lunar Chronicles.  I was fascinated to learn about Luna’s landscape and political system, as well as the republic currently operating on Earth.  The descriptions of some of the places in the palace, particularly Levana’s Throne Room are so easy to envision and the need for rebellion is evident.  While all of the aforementioned elements intrigued me, I do believe it’s the characters who kept my heart in the story.  I struggled with reading Scarlet, not finding myself as interested in her story but I continued reading because I had to know what would happen to Cinder and Prince Kai.  When I got to the third installment, Cress, I couldn’t have been more pleased that I decided to continue.  Cress and Thorne easily became my favorite characters and their romance is so endearing.  There are four definitive ships, each with a very different type of love and each of which I grew to deeply care about.  And not a single one is a love triangle.

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The newest character who we caught a brief glimpse of in Cress and Fairest is Princess Winter.  I initially liked her and as the story progressed I grew to love her.  She’s the perfect fractured fairytale counterpart to Snow White.  Winter is so kind that she would rather give up the use of her Lunar gift to her own detriment than make a potentially bad decision for someone else.  She’s fair and just and while many view her as slightly nutty, Winter’s mind is much more sound than she’s given credit for.  I loved the scenes between Scarlet and she and their way of getting along is heartwarming.  As for the rest of the crew, Thorne is hilarious as ever, Cinder is forced to make tough choices after she becomes the face of the rebellion under her true identity as Princess Selene, Kai and Cress show bravery beyond measure, Iko provides the perfect amount of comic relief, and Levana is just as evil as ever.

Final Thoughts: Winter by Marissa Meyer is the perfect conclusion to The Lunar Chronicles series.  If you’re a fan of fractured fairytales, you should not hesitate to start the series.  I would suggest reading the books in publication order (despite Fairest being a prequel) and I would encourage anyone to give Princess Selene and her squad an opportunity to work their way into your heart.  Every thing is wrapped up nicely and the conclusion is satisfying.  The Lunar Chronicles is indeed a fairytale from start to finish.

Rating 5

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters? (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Waiting on Wednesday: Stars Above: A Lunar Chronicles Collection by Marissa Meyer

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting.  This week I’m choosing Stars Above: A Lunar Chronicles Collection by Marissa Meyer which is a collection of short stories about the characters in The Lunar Chronicle series.  Usually I’m not overly interested in short story collections but I just finished reading Winter and this new collection promises an epilogue and I NEED it.   NEED IT.  Plus there’s a pretty new cover! It kind of reminds me of The Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard cover and it’s so beautiful it’s jaw dropping.

Stars Above

The enchantment continues….

The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

The Little Android: A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles.
Glitches: In this prequel to Cinder, we see the results of the plague play out, and the emotional toll it takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch….
The Queen’s Army: In this prequel to Scarlet, we’re introduced to the army Queen Levana is building, and one soldier in particular who will do anything to keep from becoming the monster they want him to be.
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky: Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.
The Keeper: A prequel to the Lunar Chronicles, showing a young Scarlet and how Princess Selene came into the care of Michelle Benoit.
After Sunshine Passes By: In this prequel to Cress, we see how a nine-year-old Cress ended up alone on a satellite, spying on Earth for Luna.
The Princess and the Guard: In this prequel to Winter, we see a game called The Princess
The Mechanic: In this prequel to Cinder, we see Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective.
Something Old, Something New: In this epilogue to Winter, friends gather for the wedding of the century… (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

BookTube: Spines With Wines Book Club: Winter By Marissa Meyer

Last night, Cassie, Melissa and I reconvened for our second monthly Spines with Wines book club! This month we read Winter by Marissa Meyer which is the conclusion to the Lunar Chronicles series.  We had feelings.  You can watch the full book club below and share your feelings on this series ender!

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Kristin

BookTube: February Wrap Up

I’m posting this video a little late seeing as how we’re already about halfway through March, but better late than never!  In my monthly wrap up videos I’ll be giving mini reviews for all the books I read that month along with a star rating since I don’t always have the opportunity to write a full review for each book I read during the month.  I also just became a Book Depository affiliate!  So if you’re looking to purchase some discounted books with free international shipping (for instance, those neon Hunger Games books from my January Book Haul) I’ll make a small commission if you use this link: http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=superspacechick

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Tea & Book Chat: Fairest By Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #0)

Fairest by Marissa Meyer acts as a prequel to The Lunar Chronicles series and it gives us the full backstory of Queen Levana.  (I’ve previously reviewed the first book in the series, Cinder.)  The book was marketed as a full length novel with illustrations but it’s only about 200 pages and the only illustration is on the front and back inside covers.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s an absolutely stunning illustration of the palace on Luna and I could stare at it for hours, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting.  We also get to read the first three chapters of Winter which is the final installment in The Lunar Chronicles which is being released in November (after being pushed back).

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It’s so rare for us readers to get a full 200 page novella dedicated to a villain’s past and I’m so grateful that we were allotted the opportunity with Levana.  However, her backstory did not make me pity her or help me to understand why she is the way she is.  Levana is a terrible person through and through and she’s been making awful decisions since she was a child.  She is manipulative and constantly uses her powers to get what she wants.  She feels no remorse about taking the lives of those who oppose her and enslaving those who she craves acceptance from. I loved getting to read about the early stages of the development of letumosis, and about the younger versions of Princess Selene and Princess Winter.  I also can see why Levana is acting the way she currently is towards Prince Kai in the current storyline.

Fairest is a quick paced read that any reader would be able to consume it in one sitting.  I didn’t like that it wasn’t broken up into chapters (but instead with little section breaks).  It also did nothing to make me feel pity for Queen Levana.  If anything, I just want Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Prince Kai to defeat her even more.  At times it was hard for me to read Fairest because the things Levana did made me really uncomfortable.  While it’s not necessary to read Fairest if you’re involved in the quartet, I think it enriches the story which makes it worth checking out.  I’m glad that I finished the book despite how mad it made me at points.  There are so many past events that relate to what’s transpiring in the main storyline that any Lunar Chronicles fan will be pleased overall with the novella.  Plus it’s a small fix to help us until Winter!

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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. (via Goodreads)

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Top 10 Books

I decided to split my top books of 2014 into two categories as well.  I think it would be a shame to leave out some of my favorite things this year just because they hadn’t been published in 2014.  For a more in depth look into my reading habits and tastes this year, you can view my end of year book survey!  And Don’t forget to check out the Top 10 Comics, and Top 10 TV Shows, Top 7 Movies, & Top 5 Broadway/Off Broadway Shows of 2014! What were your favorite books this year?  Is there anything your particularly looking forward to reading in 2015, new or otherwise?

Top 5 Books Published in 2014

1) Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

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2) The Unbound (An Archived Novel) by Victoria Scwab
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3) Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
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4) We Were Liars by E. Lockheart
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5) Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

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Top 5 Books (I Read) in 2014

1) The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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2) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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3) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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4) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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5) The Diviners by Libba Bray

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Tea & Book Chat: Cinder by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #1)

Marissa Meyer’s debut novel, Cinder, quickly became a book that I could not put down.  In fact, I became so attached to the characters and the story that I ended up reading the entire 387 page book in just one day.  Cinder is a modern day Cinderella tale that blends science fiction with fantasy, creating a whimsical yet bleak dystopian society aptly named New Beijing, which formed following the end of the Fourth World War.  Adding to the science fiction aspect of the story, Cinder is cyborg, a lower class citizen in the ranks of New Beijing’s caste system, with a mechanical leg who suffered a traumatic event early on in her childhood, just before she turned 11.  An event of which, Cinder has no recollection of.  All she is aware of is that her father saved her life and soon after lost his own, leaving Cinder to live with her evil stepmother Adri, evil stepsister Pearl, loving stepsister Peony, and their hilarious android Iko who has an affinity for wearing jewelry.

Times are tough in New Beijing, as the entire county is becoming infected with a very deadly virus called Letumosis.  There is no known cure for the disease, also referred to as the plague, which hits suddenly and quickly progresses through the four stages of the disease before finally resulting in death.  Prince Kai’s father, the current Emperor, becomes infected with the disease along with Cinder’s stepsister Peony, before a cure can be discovered.  Once Peony’s illness is discovered and she is brought to the hospital to be placed in quarantine, Adril decides that the entire misfortune is somehow Cinder’s fault and as her legal guardian, she volunteers Cinder to join the Cyborg Draft and to become a test subject at the hospital.  They inject her with the disease, but miraculously, Cinder’s immune system seems to fight off the virus and her body is clear within a matter of hours.  She develops an interesting relationship to her less than truthful doctor, becomes more closely involved with Prince Kai, and learns some very shocking information about her past in the process of her volunteered research.  And of course, in true Cinderella fashion, the book spends many pages building up the excitement of big celebratory ball that is being held by Prince Kai in his castle during the final chapters.

Just when it seemed that their world couldn’t possibly face any other hardships, a race of humans who left planet Earth to inhabit the moon, called The Lunars, show up to negotiate a marriage to Prince Kai in exchange for continued peace between the colonies.  While Prince Kai detests Queen Levana, he is faced with the  difficult decision of marrying her in an effort to protect his people.  Queen Levana is shockingly beautiful due to a false facade that she is able to project to the people on Earth.  One line that I particularly loved in the novel conveyed the notion that truth cannot be hidden from mirrors.  Which is why The Lunars demanded that all mirrors be removed from the premises before they arrived on Earth.  In addition, any prior communication with Earth had always been done with a shield so they’re able to avoid revealing their true forms.

I really enjoyed this fractured fairytale.  Cinderella has never been one of my favorite fairytale princesses because she has always seemed slightly useless, but Meyer turns cyborg Cinder into a memorable heroine.  The book was full of foreshadowing which enabled me to figure out the plot twists early on, but despite being able to tell what was coming, I was still excited for all of the big reveals.  As I mentioned before, I ended up reading the entire book in one day because I had to watch the next series of events unfold.  I also liked how the beginnings of each section were prefaced with a quote from Cinderella which previewed the upcoming portion of the story which was about to be retold.  I’m very fond of the books cover art as well.  The artist made Cinder’s skin translucent so that you can see her mechanical leg which translates the fragility of the glass slipper into the fragility of her artificial limb.  She’s depicted wearing a striking red pump which pops against the shadowy background, and the title font is the perfect choice.

Cinder ends with a major cliffhanger, but luckily, the new paperback version of the book includes a bunch of extras that any book lover would appreciate.  There was an added short story called Glitches which brings us back into Cinder’s past before the events in the book occurred, an in depth interview with Marissa Meyer, twelve discussion questions which would be very interesting to discuss whether you are hosting a Cinder book club or simply pondering them on your own, and a seven page preview of Meyer’s next book.  Cinder is the first book in a four book series called “The Lunar Chronicles,” that Meyer will be releasing between 2012-2015.  Her second book, Scarlet, which twists and retells Little Red Riding Hood, will be available in bookstores nationwide this Tuesday February 5th.  Following that, Rapunzel’s story will be reimagined in Cress, and Snow White’s in Winter.  I am very much looking forward to continuing on with the series and discovering how each of the fairytales retellings will intertwine and relate to The Lunars.

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Kristin