Genre: Science Fiction

Goodbye, Lunar: WINTER (2015) by Marissa Meyer

Goodbye, Lunar: WINTER (2015) by Marissa MeyerWinter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4) by Marissa Meyer
Published by Feiwel and Friends on November 10th 2015
Pages: 824
Goodreads
five-stars

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?

It’s time. Time for me to share with you my thoughts on one of my favorite books of 2015, and my most anticipated release for 2015.

The final installment in the Lunar Chronicles: WINTER!

What I Loved

Like many of you I had a bit of trepidation about reading Winter—only because I didn’t want the series to end. At the same time, I spent all those months leading up to its publication extremely excited about its publication. Winter was probably my most anticipated release of 2015, and in the School Library where I work, I threw a party to celebrate the release of Winter for the 5th and 6th grade readers who were excited about the book.

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What’s cool is that more 5th and 6th graders are now reading the series since I started talking about the books!

Don’t you love when you spread your excitement about a series with other readers and they get excited too!?! That’s only one of the many wonderful benefits of working as a librarian!

But, back to Winter! What did I love about this book? First of all, I appreciated the many references to the Snow White source tale that made their way into Winter. Whether it’s a reference to the huntsman, the fear that Winter is more beautiful than Levana, or the threat of a poisoned apple, Marissa included just the perfect number of references to the original fairy tale to make Winter an even more compelling novel.

I also loved the way this last installment in the series featured the reunion of all the star players, and continually shifted between their different perspectives. We get close to Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress all over again throughout the story. 

When CRESS ended, I was really interested in how things would pan out between Cress and Thorne, so of course I was really excited every time Winter switched to a scene about Cress and Thorne’s relationship! What are Thorne’s feelings towards Cress? Would the two ever have that heart to heart we all wanted them to have? I read Winter waiting to see if my questions would be answered…

Speaking of relationships though, I can’t forget to mention Cinder and Prince Kai—loved, loved, loved all their interactions in this book. I especially appreciated the way Prince Kai supported and encouraged Cinder in her journey for justice for Lunar as well as Earth. She wanted to make things right, and Prince Kai showed himself as someone whose heart wanted the same.

And of course, I was on the edge of my seat, wondering what would happen to Scarlet and Wolf. Would Scarlet escape the clutches of the evil Levana? Speaking of Levana, was she redeemable? Well, I won’t give away anything here, but I will say I was completely satisfied with the way everything resolved in the story.

I just wish there was more!

Illuminations of Spirituality

I can’t share my thoughts on Winter, and not mention a few aspects of the story that I think highlight some potential areas of spirituality. I won’t go into great detail in this post about these aspects, but these are dimensions I think could bring up discussion about some of the deeper issues in the story.

-Cinder’s desire to see social justice established throughout the realm of Luna and also on Earth.

-The notion that deep down the members of the “Wolf Army” were still the authentic individuals they had been before they had been “turned.”

-The sacrifice of Ryu for Winter.

-The way Winter was in tune with the animal world, and her connection with the animals she interacted with.

-The deep friendship between Iko and Cinder—two beings that are completely different, and yet their connection was life changing.

Who Should Read This Book

Anyone who started the Lunar Chronicles with Cinder absolutely must finish the series by reading WINTER. This series is epic, and each novel builds on the previous one. Winter is fabulous in the way it weaves together the stories of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter, and Levana, culminating in a tense, exciting, and rich conclusion.

The Final Illumination

This book was just about flawless in the way that Marissa wrapped up all the loose ends from the previous installments.

I am in love with these characters; they seem like dear friends that I now have to say goodbye to. And yet I don’t—as I can read the series over and over again. I sincerely wouldn’t mind if Marissa informed us she was just going to keep writing about this universe and these characters. I would read every book she wrote! Fairy tales are near and dear to my heart, but just as dear are reworked, expanded, and even subversive fairy tales. I appreciated the way that Marissa infused life into these fairy tales but also adapted them and colored them so that they fit within the science fiction setting she created. It really was wonderful!

five-stars
What Katie Read

Waiting on Wednesday: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Waiting on Wednesday: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay KristoffIlluminae by Amy Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Published by Alfred A. Knopf Incorporated on October 20, 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Love & Romance, Science Fiction, Survival Stories, Young Adult
Pages: 608
Goodreads

For fans of Marie Lu and James Dashner comes the first book in an epic new series. This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she'd have to do.   This afternoon, her planet was invaded.   The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that's little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra--who are barely even talking to each other--are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.   But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what's really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again!   Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents--including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more--Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

New WoWA Planet Invaded! The Year 2575! A narrative told partly through emails, IMs, and medical reports!

A character whose name sounds the same as mine!

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This is all included in the upcoming science fiction young adult novel, ILLUMINAE! Can you tell I’m excited?

Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff have teamed up to bring us this thrilling read from Knopf Books for Young Readers this October. Start the countdown!

Why I’m Waiting:

It’s common knowledge that I love Fantasy and Science Fiction–you don’t have to twist my arm to convince me to read a new title in this genre or try out an author I’ve never read before. Ever since I took a course in grad school on Fantasy and Science Fiction for Children/Young Adults and then taught it as well, I’m always on the lookout for new favorites in the genre. And we know there are A LOT of new fantasy and science fiction published for children and young adults every year.

I have high hopes for this one due to its creative narrative structure, which includes emails, IMs, military files, and interviews. I love books that employ techniques like this to tell their story, so I’m looking forward to diving into Illuminae. Also, this sounds like a fantastic book for my college students to read, specifically due to the creative way the story is told. And, this book is long–it’s 600 pages. I love long books!

I saw Jenna’s review on Goodreads and got even more excited!

And today’s your lucky day…there are 39 hours left to enter to win a signed and annotated ARC of ILLUMINAE! You can enter over at Cuddlebuggery. You do realize that by giving you this information, I lessen my chances of winning the ARC for myself. But I’m willing to make sacrifices to get you excited about this book and to spread the word.

If you pass this opportunity up, it will not be good! However, if you miss the giveaway, just grab your time machine, head back, and enter to win. No biggie.

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This weekly meme is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Be sure to link up so we can visit your Waiting on Wednesday post.

What book are you waiting on this Wednesday??

What Katie Read

Fairest (2015) by Marissa Meyer [Lunar Chronicles 0.5)

Fairest (2015) by Marissa Meyer [Lunar Chronicles 0.5)Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Published by Macmillan on January 27th 2015
Genres: Fairy Tales & Folklore, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 272
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Mirror, mirror, on the wall. Who is the Fairest of them all? Pure evil has a name, hides behind a mask of deceit, and uses her "glamour" to gain power. But who is Queen Levana? Long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress in The Lunar Chronicles, Levana lived a very different story—a story that has never been told . . . until now. New York Times –bestselling author Marissa Meyer reveals the story behind her fascinating villain in Fairest, an unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes a special full-color image of Levana’s castle and an excerpt from Winter, the exciting conclusion to The Lunar Chronicles.

“Love is a conquest! Love is war!”

Finally. We have the story of Queen Levana in Fairest!

Illuminations:

Since I’ve been on a long road trip across the country, I immediately downloaded Fairest from Audible the day it came out! Since reading the first three books in the Lunar Chronicles, I can safely say I am a HUGE fan of Marissa Meyer and will read anything she writes. Listening to the audiobook was a treat—I thought the narrator was FANTASTIC and I really couldn’t stop listening. The perfect scenario for a long day on the road.

Thank you, Marissa Meyer for writing this book!

First, a strong point in this book is gaining a deeper understanding of Queen Levana. I have to be honest. During many moments in the story, I felt bad for Levana. As a child, she is terribly burned, becomes disfigured, and because of that, she feels forced to take on a false appearance—and from a very young age. This was pretty sad.

She has the power to “glamour” others, and that means she can take on the appearance of a dazzingly beautiful woman. But the sad fact of it is that we don’t really get to “see” Levana. She’s not able to share who she really is, and this inevitably affects her relationships. Especially her relationship with Everett Hale. (Not sure if that’s the correct spelling–I’m going off of the audiobook!) If only Levana had been less manipulative and more secure in herself. How would things have turned out differently for her and the people in her life?

Well, unless there’s some fan fiction where Levana makes different choices, we won’t know that. I really appreciate how the Lunar Chronicles are books that appeal to younger readers, but illuminate characters that aren’t one-dimensional. They make choices–some good and some bad–and there are consequences for those choices. These characters are flawed and gifted. Levana obviously has power. She also possesses some positive attributes. For example, like all of us, she wants to be loved. But the choices she makes in response to the circumstances that surround her have consequences. And she has to deal with those consequences. It’s sad that she doesn’t make better choices, but no matter how you look at it, there are multiple points in the story where she can clearly make a different choice. But she doesn’t. And in this way, we see her fall into further decline. And the Queen Levana we meet in Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress makes more sense.

I don’t know about you, but I thought Levana’s sister, Channery, was pretty twisted. Did that girl have issues! We talk about how “evil” Levana is, but what about Channery? I look forward to some interesting discussions with other readers about her character.

I appreciated the way that Everett tried to “help” Levana—at least in his own way. He definitely went through some difficult times, but with the arrival of his daughter, Winter, he rallied and showed himself to be an inspiring father. But Levana’s actions in the last part of the book….I won’t even talk about that.

Who Should Read This Book:

Obviously if you have read the other books in the Lunar Chronicles, you’ll want to read Fairest. I don’t know about you, but when I heard Marissa Meyer was writing a book giving us the backstory to Queen Levana’s character, I was intrigued. Even if you haven’t read the other books, Fairest is a fascinating glimpse into the life of the evil queen we think of as loosely based on the character of the witch in Snow White. Enjoy books that explore the perspective of the villain and show how that villain came to be who she/he is? You’ll love Fairest!

The Final Illumination:

Marissa Meyer does it again! In Fairest she’s created fascinating and complex characters with an exciting plot, and manages to weave in other Lunar Chronicle story lines. For example, I was excited to discover more about Winter and Selene’s relationship; I won’t say anymore about this though.

I thought I was impatient for Winter before, but I can tell you that I’m even more impatient now. In fact, I think some kind of party will have to coincide with Winter’s release.

Was Fairest all you thought it cracked up to be?? (No pun intended). What did you think?

Suggested Age Range: 13 and up

 

 

four-half-stars
What Katie Read
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