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review 2015-12-23 13:07
Thoughts: Head Over Heels
Head Over Heels - Jill Shalvis

Head Over Heels -- Jill Shalvis

Book 3 of Lucky Harbor



Head Over Heels is definitely my favorite of the first three Lucky Harbor books. I had been looking forward to this book for a few reasons, one of them a bit shallow, but what are ya gonna do?

First of all, I was the most interested in reading about Chloe since she was first introduced in Simply Irresistible. She just seemed so much more complex than the other two sisters, but probably moreso because she’s the less standard type of Romance novel heroine I have typically seen reading a lot of contemporary romances. Second, we will have seen much more interaction and have a bit more backstory on Chloe and Sawyer by the time their love story rolls around (unlike Maddie and Jax’s instalust to instalove story). And as much as second chance romances are more believable in the relationship developing arena (for Tara and Ford’s love story), I sometimes also like to see a developing romance in progress without pre-storyline emotional ties being an issue.

Finally, Sawyer is Lucky Harbor’s town Sheriff--and I like men in uniform with hero-style jobs. Yes, this is my shallow reason for being more interested in this book.

Romance-wise, the romance between Chloe and Sawyer is extremely sweet and cute, very wonderfully developed over the course of the book. With a case of opposites attracting, a straight-laced sheriff and a free-spirited “wild child”, the two seemed to be meant for each other. But in regard to what actually occurs in Head Over Heels these two have earned their Happily Ever After™.

The Story:
Chloe is the free-spirited “wild child” with a penchant for wanderlust and, according to the Lucky Harbor Facebook newsreel, a knack for getting into trouble. Of course, we get to see over the course of the book that Chloe’s trouble-making life in Lucky Harbor borders more on a Robin Hood-like vigilantism than actually just getting in trouble for the sake of getting into trouble. But for the past six months that she has been living in Lucky Harbor with her newly found half-sisters, Chloe has finally found a place she feels like she’d love to call “Home.” And to be able to call someplace home, she’s slowly started to show her sisters that she, too, would be able to settle and whittle down her wanderlust ways.

But Chloe is far from wanting to change her free-spirited personality.

Meanwhile she has drawn the attention of town Sheriff, Sawyer Thompson, who is somehow determined to save her when she’s in distress, or keep her out of trouble as much as possible. In turn, Sawyer’s altruistic nature and hero complex has also drawn Chloe’s attention as well.

In other Lucky Harbor news, there’s a new Cute Guy in town who is now the center of our Lucky Harbor gossip crew’s attention; two of our three half-sisters are currently engaged with one sister’s wedding pending; and some intrigue may be afoot in the more secluded wooded areas around Lucky Harbor.

My Thoughts:
To be totally honest, once again it is my love for the characters of Lucky Harbor that keeps me so hooked on these books, and the fun, crazy humor in the narration. Chloe and Sawyer’s love story isn’t all that unique even with a much more non-standard heroine as Chloe. And to be totally honest, without the wonderful bantering between these two, they’re courtship (if you could call it that) might have been kind of bland since they spend more time than not either having “Moments” together or trying to seduce each other.

And then you get some mundane, side tangent stuff such as a look at the everyday happenings of Lucky Harbor town sheriff and what he has to deal with on a regular basis; which is great, but almost too mundane to be of significance. Granted, it shows you more insight into Sawyer’s personality and his day-to-day life, but it’s not really all that exciting even if some of the events are newsworthy.

On the other hand, Chloe’s self-development was actually quite interesting to follow as she goes from traveling all over the place and being without roots, to finding a place she could see herself settling down into, if only her sisters and the people of Lucky Harbor would give her a chance. And the heart of the matter is, you also get to see the thought process in Chloe’s mind, wrought out from years of growing up following her equally wanderlust-y mother and having no real place to truly call “Home”. I also think it’s great that, even in her process of finding a group of people to belong to, she doesn’t completely banish her free-spirited attitude towards life.

Again, Chloe is the much more complex of the three sisters, which is probably why I loved her book so much more than the first two, even if I had a blast reading all three of them.

The romance developing between Chloe and Sawyer, though not all that unique, stands out in their interactions with each other. After professing their attraction and their interests to each other, they actually spend more time trying to be in each other’s presence as much as they can manage. And they spend a lot of their developing friends-with-benefits relationship building a rapport, learning about each other, and in general, trying to take care of each other in their own little ways.

Sawyer may be a commanding caveman at moments, but with Chloe, I love how he’s so sweet and thoughtful, especially during those times when she needs someone to lean on the most. And during sex, I’m absolutely thrilled that an asthma attack doesn’t completely scare him off and instead, he goes and learns how to best give Chloe pleasure without putting her in the hospital since Chloe has admitted that she cannot have sex without straining her asthma and ending up in the ER. If that doesn’t scream “sweet” for the Lucky Harbor sheriff, I don’t know what does.

The sexy times in this book were probably much steamier and hotter for that fact, even if they were already kind of hot and steamy by their own merit.

The romance between Chloe and Sawyer is so much fun to follow, and as I love Head Over Heels more than the first two books, I also love this couple more than the first two as well. As I already stated, despite the implied “Meant for each other” vibe that the whole polar opposites attracting plot device gives off, I’m satisfied to say that the love the between these two was actually developed and outlined really well. They got their Happily Ever After™ because they earned it--not that other couples don’t deserve theirs as well, but we actually get to see the relationship slowly develop from mutual attraction and lust, to friendship, and then finally a much more caring and deeper love for one another.

Final Side Thoughts:
I have every intention of continuing into the rest of the Lucky Harbor series. The writing is witty and fun with a great dose of humor infused. If the character interactions are going to continue in the same vein as what I’ve come to love in the first three books so far, then I know I’ll enjoy the rest of the books. Certainly, it will be hard to replicate the awkward, yet tightly-knit, sweet and loving continued development between the three half-sisters, but I’m holding out that we’ll still get to see a bit of them here and there throughout the rest of the series.

And skipping forward to peruse the summary blurbs of the rest of the Lucky Harbor works, I’m pleasantly surprised to see a return to Chloe and Sawyer in a side novella--although it does happen to be listed as Lucky Harbor #12.5. Nine more novels and another short story and another novella to go before we come back to my favorite Lucky Harbor couple...

I am absolutely anal enough to read everything just to make sure I get to that last novella at the proper chronological moment, even if I don’t know if I’ll enjoy all of it.





This book is a pre-chosen participant in the following Reading Challenge(s):



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review 2015-12-19 10:12
Thoughts: The Sweetest Thing
The Sweetest Thing - Jill Shalvis

The Sweetest Thing -- Jill Shalvis

Book 2 of Lucky Harbor



It's safe to say that The Sweetest Thing is much like my impression of it's preceding book, Simply Irresistible. It's formulaic as a typical love story with an overused plot device.

HOWEVER, that is where my complaints stop, honestly. Because sometimes you just need something lighthearted and fluffy to make your day, and, so far, the books of Lucky Harbor seem to fit this definition very well. Much like Simply Irresistible, The Sweetest Thing is fun and enjoyable, with a lot of strange, nonsensical humor and some laugh-out-loud moments. It's sexy in its own way (even if the sex wasn't really all that hot to write home about), and it touches the heart in just the right places.

The continuation of the three half-sisters in getting to know each other and the continuation of their new lives in Lucky Harbor is a treat. I may have liked The Sweetest Thing a bit more than Simply Irresistible if only because the love story was slightly more in-depth. And also, there was a lot more bonding going on between the three sisters, something that I had wished we could have seen more of in the first book. So I'm glad we're seeing more of it in this second book and I'm hoping to see more still, in the third book.

I might have had some feels at some point thanks to the three of them.

The Story:
Picking up from where the first book left off, Tara Daniels has chosen to stay in Lucky Harbor to help her sisters revive their mother's dilapidated, rundown dockside inn. A lot of renovations and rebuilding are in progress and the small, cozy business will be seeing it's grand opening soon. And, of course, Tara is at a crossroads in her life (as are all Contemporary Romance heroines), not quite sure whether to remain in Lucky Harbor with her sisters after all is said and done, or run away back to Texas where she'd been raised most of her life and do... whatever.

Tara's life is kind of out of sorts after her recent divorce and inheriting her mother's inn with her two half-sisters. But things are only going to become more complicated still. Her old childhood first love, Ford Walker is doing whatever he can to get back into her good graces (as well as into her bed), and after what had happened between them seventeen years ago, Tara's not sure if she can withstand another round of deep passion followed by disappointment and heartbreak. After all, it's not like Ford wants the same things she wants for her life.

To make matters even more interesting, Logan Perrish, Tara's ex-husband, shows up in Lucky Harbor determined to reconnect with Tara and make their marriage a thing once again.

Meanwhile, youngest sister Chloe is still on her wild streak, Maddie and Jax (from Simply Irresistible) are in the honeymoon phase of their relationship (as they disappear at odd moments to consummate like bunnies), Lucille the town gossip is running a Facebook poll on which man will win Tara's heart, and a seventeen year old girl arrives in Lucky Harbor set on learning about her origins. There might have been a lot of male posturing, wet t-shirts on boats, some sailing, and maybe a washboard abs contest in a bar as well.

My Thoughts:
To be frank, a lot of things happen in this book, even if not all of it significant. It almost feels like the next ten episodes in a story arc of a long running mini-series sitcom, or something like that. New characters are introduced vaguely and the next big coupling pair starts up a probable relationship with sexual tension and everything by the time the end of the book rolls around (hint: it's Chloe and Sawyer, and I've been most looking forward to their book since day one, Head Over Heels).

But the story line itself is nothing unique: A set of young lovers were wild and passionate during their teens, but had a bumpy First Love story, ending in heartache and separation. Years later, the powers that be give them a second chance by bringing the two back together for whatever reason, but both parties have their own reserves about getting too close lest they be burned once again, but they just can't seem to keep their hands off of each other.

Of course, to complicate matters, let's throw the ex into the little mess that's already complicated enough (even if the mess really didn't need to be complicated in the first place, but what do I know about relationships?).

What makes The Sweetest Thing so much more than just a typical love story, however, are really the characters and all of their interactions, relationships, and bonds with one another. I simply love the developing care and love between the three half-sisters, Tara, Maddie, and Chloe--how they've started to take care of each other in subtle ways, but how they also bond in a straight-forward, harsh-love type of way. They say what they feel, they get mean if they have to, and they're not afraid to dish out jokes or make each other's lives miserable so long as they maintain their biggest goal: Getting to know each other better as sisters and surviving each other together.

In and around the sisters are other great friendships and relationships to be had as well. Jax, Ford, and Sawyer are as good as brothers. Lucille and other of the elderly women are like mother hens and an extensive and over-imaginative gossip network. Everyone in the town of Lucky Harbor are good people without an evil bone in their bodies. Even if they side with certain people on certain matters, they don't do it by rolling over other people.

Again, sometimes you just need a light, fluffy romance with a heart-warming setting to make your day. Because even while The Sweetest Thing isn't the most unique story line in the world, just the character interactions make me all grinning and fuzzy and smiley and awe-ing. It's a pretty great feeling all with a Happily Ever After™ tying everything together.

Also, a lot of Tara's little quips and quotes are pretty awesome. And there's nothing wrong with some weird situations that just make you gape a bit or give a hearty little "Ha!" at how well it tickles your funny bone.


Chloe came up behind them. "Hey, thought we were doing yoga this morning."

"I get enough exercise just pushing my luck," Tara said, still watching the houseboat through the binoculars.


"Change is good but dollars are better."

-- Tara Daniels' recipe box of quotes


The inn's first real guests arrived as scheduled [...] Maddie and Tara checked them in together, and Chloe gave them a gift basket full of her natural products. The wife fingered through the items, cooing at the bath salts, the herbal teas, the...

"Massage oil?" the woman asked, lifting the bottle. She had to slip her glasses on to read the label, "Edible strawberry massage oil," she said out loud. "Perfect for that special someone. Put it on your--Oh my."

Mia gaped.

Maddie covered Mia's eyes.

Tara looked at Chloe in horror.

Chloe laughed and reached for the oil. "Whoops, I was wondering where that went. Here, try this instead." And she quickly replaced the oil with body lotion.

"Oh," the woman said, sounding greatly disappointed. "Could I maybe have both?"

"Well, sure." Chloe handed back over the oil. "Enjoy."


Mia giggled [...] and then Maddie snorted. She slapped her hands over her mouth, but it was too late, and the sound of it sent Mia into a new fit of laughter. Chloe promptly lost the battle as well.

"It isn't funny," Tara protested. "They're going to be up there doing... things." But her daughter was still cracking up, and Tara felt the helpless smile tug at the corners of her own mouth at the sound of it, and the next thing she knew, they'd all slid down the wall to the floor laughing like loons.






This book is a pre-chosen participant in the following Reading Challenge(s):



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review 2015-11-13 09:24
Babbling Rambling Review: Winter
Winter - Marissa Meyer

Winter -- Marissa Meyer

Book 4 (final) of Lunar Chronicles


**Based on Snow White



This book is immensely long.


But the FEELS!  The FEELS!



I had heard rumors before the publication that the book would be 800+ pages, but I didn't really believe it.  How much more material could Marissa Meyer possibly come up with to close the series?  Apparently, there was still plenty of material to be had on this last long stretch of the Lunar Chronicles.


Still, even with the confirmed 826 pages noted on my Kindle version of the book, I was still of the "I'll breeze right through this" mindset.  Because I'm delusional or something.  Granted, given more "Me-Time-Reading-Time", I probably could have finished reading Winter within two days (by my meticulous and overly anal calculations, I found that it takes me approximately 90 seconds to finish reading one Kindle page and thus, I had found that it would take me approximately 15 hours to finish an 826 page book--yes, I do things like that).




This book just kept going on and on and on and I had almost been afraid I'd never get to the big conclusion.  


However, the length of the book was totally worth it.  While there were moments when I found myself feeling the drag of the book's length as well as some unnecessary tangents, I can assure many people that the entire time I was reading Winter, I was pretty much:


And maybe a little bit


And despite how long the book felt and despite some moments of frustration, when the end finally came around, I found myself flipping the page one more time and feeling kind of empty and disappointed that it was all over.  I probably would have settled for some epilogue or extra material or some other unnecessary wrap-up just because I wanted more.


More Thorne.  More Cinder and Kai.  More Scarlet and Wolf.  More Thorne and Cress.  More Winter and Jacin.  More Iko.  More story.  More Thorne.


Did I mention more Thorne?


The conclusion of both Winter and the Lunar Chronicles series, however, concluded very well and very ideally, tying together all the character lines and story tangents; even bringing back some old running gags and closing up the fairy tales that each book had been based upon.



More than anything in the series, I loved the characters and how they kind of formed a ragtag rebel group who all had absolutely no idea what they were doing, but were all so determined to do what they needed to do to save the world.  I loved all their interactions and all the relationship lines, and I dare say that I loved some of the bonds and friendships formed even more so than the resident romance couplings.


First and foremost, while I've always loved every character in this series (except for Levana, she still scares the crap out of me), I've always felt that Kai was dull and carbon-copy standard as a YA main male character.  But in Winter, it was as if something finally snapped in our beloved Eastern Commonwealth Emperor's mind and he just let himself go.  And I loved that he just didn't care for propriety or image anymore.


It was great, because then I ended up being more happy for the romance between Cinder and Kai.


Then again, Cinder was a ball of frustration that I'm not even quite sure how to explain.  In the first book, she was sympathetic and relatable with lots of potential for greatness.  The following two books after gave her so much growth and so much badassery that I really, really looked forward to seeing her go to action and kick some Levana butt.  But in this last book, it's like Cinder finally reached her story development peak and we're continuously at a standstill.


No matter how much planning she put into every single one of her moves, it always seemed like she never planned for that "worst case scenario", and so each and every single time something started working for her, the evil queen would retaliate and it would knock Cinder and her gang a few paces backward much too easily.  I'm not going to deny that it got frustrating after the third or fourth time this happened.


And then sometimes her strategies just felt kind of feeble.  When we learn what the rebel group's plan was once they got onto Luna, I was actually wondering:  "Wait.  What?  That's your big plan?  That's it?  That's so fragile."  Because there was just so ways that a plan like that could have just collapsed before it even got started.


The above reasons had had me contemplating docking a star for a couple hundred pages of book.


Fortunately, in the end, I decided that I just really loved this book, no matter the flaws and the frustrations.


The characters definitely make up for a lot.


I'm so happy that we get to see more of the story from Cress' and Scarlet's points of view.  I'm still in love with the Wolf pre-Scarlet-abduction and love how he can still turn into an adorable young, innocent boy because of her.  Scarlet, of course, is still her badass self and despite the fact that I've always lamented that she has no room for development because she's already kickass enough for every, I'm glad that we get to see more of her in her badass action mode.


Already stated, I'm a lot happier getting some more story from Cress' POV, if only because she's also quite adorable in her own little way and not quite so naive as she had been in the last book.


Winter and Jacin were an excellent inclusion.  Winter may be insane and delusional as a result of not using her Lunar gift, but in a way, her ramblings sometimes made a lot more sense than a lot of stuff most sane people would say.  Coupled with a good, loving heart, it really IS hard not to fall in love with her.


Jacin was alright as another typical YA broody alpha hero, but when put together with Winter, their relationship really just radiates sweet and cute and adorbs to the max.  They might actually be my favorite of the romances in the series, because it's one that's actually quite simple in spite of the fact that it was a complicated situation.


Finally, Thorne and Iko are definitely my two favorite characters in the entire series--possibly Thorne moreso than Iko.  Thorne and Cinder, as I'd already stated in a previous post, are my ultimate favorite friendship bond in this entire series from the moment they break out of jail together to the ultimate showdown at the end of Winter--always so snarky and ready with the insults and quips, but also caring of each other even if they hate to admit it.


Thorne just oozes charm as the rogue who masks everything in a shroud of humor, and lets off a presence of laid back unconcerned attitude in all situations.  But he wouldn't hesitate to follow his friends into battle and is a lot more heroic and altruistic than he gives himself credit for.  I can't explain it, but I'm totally in love with this guy.  His romance with Cress was super sweet and super scattered, but it was still cute.


Iko is just plain awesome.  That is all.



In conclusion:

I loved this book.  Despite the hiccups here and there, and some sometimes awkward conversation between certain unlikely pairs of friends, and some draggy moments wherein I may have felt the novel was a couple hundred pages too long...  In the end, I don't think I'd change any of it for the world.


It was written very well, and honestly, narrated much more smoothly than the previous book even with all the multiple character POVs.  Winter was much easier to follow than Cress had been--no sudden abrupt chapter cliff hangers, no sudden switches from one group of characters to another without warning.  It was perfect.


Winter is a wonderful conclusion to a wonderful series.  And even though, for the past three books I'd always felt there was something missing, something not quite there to make me fall completely in love with the series even if I love the world and the characters, I think Winter pretty much fixes my opinions of it all.


This is an excellent book and has been a wonderful reading experience.  I definitely look forward to The Princess and the Guard novella coming out in a few months, and I wouldn't object to further story taking place in the same world even if not with our beloved characters.  I also wouldn't say no to an "Adventures with Captain Carswell Thorne and Crew"... or something similar to it... you know.  If Ms. Meyer is ever so inclined.





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review 2015-10-06 03:26
Another Squee... and Some Thoughts: Six of Crows
Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows -- Leigh Bardugo

Book 1 of The Dregs



**Scroll down past all the fangirl squeeing for more coherent thoughts.



And, FYI for anyone wondering:

**This book takes place in Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse, during a different timeline, but does not really require that you have read The Grisha trilogy first.  There are certain references, but they wouldn't deter you from enjoying this book and are merely weaved in as part of the history and world building of this timeline and setting.





Right after finishing the book: (before I got some sleep)


And about the characters and the storyline:


The overall book experience after giving it some thought: (still haven't gotten to sleep yet)


The one year I have to wait until the next book comes out: 

when I realized the ending was going to be a cliff hanger

(spoiler show)




Official Story Blurb: (Because I can’t even begin to do justice to summing up what this book is about.)

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.



Actual Coherent Thoughts: (a few hours after I got some sleep)
I think I might have liked this one even more than I liked The Grisha trilogy. It took a little while, but once the story got rolling, everything was just full of AWESOME and FEELS and so, so much WONDERFUL!

This book was sort of tagged as being a YA High Fantasy Ocean’s Eleven, which was what got me so excited in the first place, because: OCEAN’S ELEVEN. But being that I did love Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, it’s not like my anticipation had no ground to stand on.

And boy did this book deliver. This book is about an impossible heist, but this book presents to you so much more than just that.

I have to admit, however, in terms of atmosphere, Six of Crows DID have a darker one than what I would relate with Ocean’s Eleven, though not by much. As evidenced by the reveals and the histories of our characters and of how the Grisha world has become in this timeline, things are tragic, dark, and quite depressing; but at the same time, things are intriguing, gritty, and very intense.

There’s a certain amount of risk when compiling a large number of characters into one story, as well as using a changing POV between each of these characters, even if that POV is still third person. I admit that in the beginning I’d felt slightly overwhelmed as each character was introduced, but the way in which the author handled it was excellently done.

While our main story line breezed along, little snippets and small reveals were given to us through each character: about their personalities, about their histories, about their lives, about their thoughts, about their ideals, and about how they relate with the world they live in... it was actually better than I’d expected... and then some.

Six of Crows was just plain awesome. It’s a great introduction to this new series in a familiar world that fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy will appreciate. And while there is a massive amount of world building and character setup and story outlining, it never feels like a prologue of information dump at all. And despite the fact that the book takes place in an already established world from a previously written series, it doesn’t feel reliant on that series at all to comprehend the goings on of this one. There is enough reiteration of the Grisha world to understand it, but not so much that it feels unnecessarily tedious; and there is even more to learn about this new era in the Grisha world, expanding from what we may already be familiar with.

For me, there were few moments of drag and sometimes the characters felt like they were a little more detached from the goings on of their own story than I would have liked. But in the end, Six of Crows was simply an amazing new story with a well thought out plot, and colorfully created characters, easily likable and relatable.

Kaz Brekker is the infamous almost anti-hero who gives off an unrelatable persona at the beginning, but who has so many layers and so much complexity that you can’t even begin to decide whether or not you like him.

Inej was so freakin’ kickass that I don’t even care that she’s the typical girl with a heart-of-gold, but a sad, tragic past, who is trying to figure out where her place is in this world. Her reputation is the “Wraith” and she dispatches seasoned warriors before they even realize she’s standing right beside them. And then goes on to save everyone’s asses even while staying hidden in the background.

Nina and Matthias were a little bit harder to like, but that’s only because they spend so much time tangled in their own drama of hate between two large groups of people. They represent what has become of the Grisha world after the events of the Grisha trilogy, as well as an all too familiar and real conflict of the real world: hatred of two peoples due to the persecution of one based on fear and differences. It’s thought-provoking… but I wasn’t too drawn to either of these two characters or their problems.

Though Nina certainly grows on you and comes off quite endearing with her sarcasm, her boldness, and her unabashed presentation of herself in honest form. It’s quite refreshing actually.

Matthias is a stick. In the mud. With random quips.

Jesper and Wylan may have only been sort of, kind of side characters beside the other four, but they were tons of fun with their own brand of complexities and so much more potential to build on their characters. I expect to see even more of them in future books and learn more about them.


May I sum up this review with this particular gif once more?



Some Asides:
I half read and half listened to the audiobook of Six of Crows, and to be totally honest, while it was narrated rather well by a nice group of voices, I couldn’t help but wonder why we didn’t just utilize each voice for their proper character portrayals. It was a little distracting at times to try to figure out who each narrator was trying to portray in each of their versions… and then you had one guy who didn’t even try to give each of the characters a distinctive voice.

Anyway… I still enjoyed listening to most of the audio, but I have the distinctive feeling I might have been in even more awe if I’d just read the book traditionally. Not that that’s much of a concession since I’m giving the book several “AWESOME”s and a 4.5 Star rating anyway. So who am I trying to kid?

I loved this book, audio or not.

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review 2015-09-04 13:46
Brief Thoughts: Fairest
Fairest - Marissa Meyer

Fairest -- Marissa Meyer

Book 3.5 of Lunar Chronicles


**This is a "novella" (and I use the term loosely because it's a pretty good length for a novella) that chronicles the life of Queen Levana with snippets into her childhood and insights in her relationships.  It takes place in the timeline pre-Cinder, but it is probably a good idea to read the first three books before reading Fairest if only because this novella also gives hints of other characters from the series.


***There are some things I mention that could spoil some of the details from books written prior to Fairest, so if you have not read Cinder, Scarlet, or Cress, you may not want to read this short review.




Levana has always been a character in the Lunar Chronicles series who both appalls me and frightens me with her scary, evil acts and twisted logic. It's safe to say that this lengthy novella doesn't really make a point to help endear the evil queen to anyone and further cements my reasons for not liking her.

However, at the same time, you also get a good sense of her history with her family, specifically her elder sister Channary (Cinder's biological mother), and many of the other people around her on Luna from mere acquaintances to court thamaturges to the man she falls in love with and the young stepdaughter he brings into her life, Princess Winter. It makes you kind of understand the antagonist of Queen Levana a little bit better--why she is the way she is, even if none of it justifies any of her actions and behaviors, whether they were from her childhood, teenage years, or in the current time line of the series.

Fairest is a really good, well-written novella for the Lunar Chronicles world and certainly puts Levana's life story into perspective. Although after following Levana's rise from spoiled, self-centered, and delusional teenage girl to manipulative, evil queen with a sincerely twisted logical way of thinking, I'm stuck in a place where I'm not quite sure whether to continue loathing her or if I really should be pitying her. Because Levana seems to know that what she's doing isn't a hundred percent morally correct... and yet she does it anyway by justifying all of her actions with her own version of "For the Greater Good of All" reasonings. And yet, at the same time, you can't deny that a lot of her reasonings stem from a selfish "For the Greater Good of Levana", even if she can't seem to see it herself.

This is truly an incredibly written story following the readily detestable antagonist, because rather than full out hating Levana, I became more fascinated with how her twisted logic worked and am looking forward to seeing how her end will come about--if she'll ever see reason or if she'll continue on with her own twisted logic to justify all her evil actions.

Again, Fairest is definitely an incredibly written novella! And despite Levana being one of my least favorite characters in the Lunar Chronicles world, I certainly came to like this story more than the main books in the series (aside from the first book, Cinder, that is). It's simple and straight forward and that is probably the beauty of Fairest.

And the FEELS! They came... and they came with such an unexpected punch that I'm still kind of feeling the jolt. That ending! O.O




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