What’s On My Kindle: Cinder – Book One of the Lunar Chronicles

I had heard so many good things about Cinder on blogs and vlogs that naturally I chose it as my form of procrastination the week before finals (yep, shudder in yer boots – finals). Unfortunately I just couldn’t get into the beginning. I don’t know if I was restless from doing so much academic reading, but try as I might I couldn’t connect with the story. I normally am not a massive sci-fi fan – aside from Dr.Who – aliens and robots don’t appeal to me as a reader (or viewer). But finally, finally, the week after the finals I sort of fell into it and I couldn’t put it down.

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Basically, Cinder, which is book #1 of the Lunar Chronicles, is about Linh Cinder – a female cyborg mechanic who can boast both an evil stepmother and stepsister (the other sister is meant to be good). There’s also a prince, an evil queen, and an old pumpkin car waiting to become an enchanted mode of transportation. Well, sort of. Here’s the Goodread’s synopsis:

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.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Doesn’t that sound like a good read?! Alright, I actually didn’t think much of the blurb either – but there were so many reviews saying that the book was great that I just had to read it. It’s like peer pressure for book lovers.

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Anyways, Cinder takes off towards the middle of the book – and there is a certain part where you realize who Cinder is – which is way before she figures it out – and then everything following that will basically have you on the edge of your seat because suddenly everything gets way more intense. As for Cinder herself, as a character I thought she was alright. She has the basics for a great female character – she’s sarcastic, feisty, even a little comedic but she’s also really slow on the uptake and really self-deprecating, which is great for who and where she is during this book but boy am I ready to see who she matures into for the following books (Scarlet, Cress, and Winter).

As a leading male character, I was not overly thrilled with Prince Kai. But to be fair we haven’t really had time to see him develop as a character. I felt like he gave in to Levana so easily, and after being so promising at the beginning of the story he just seemed to quit too fast towards the end. I know, I know, he’s in a no-win situation but I feel like I’d have to side with Captain Kirk on this one – I just don’t believe in a no-win situation. Queen Levana makes all evil stepmothers (including Cinder’s) pale in comparison – she’s cruel, evil, plays terrible mind games, and is pretty much just the Dolores Umbridge of the story. The story ends sort of on a frustrating cliff-hanger – and trust me, it’s not at all like the classic fairy tale (in a good way!).

All in all, I can’t wait to read the next books in the series. I don’t think I’ll pick up the next two until the third one comes out – I’m the sort who prefers to have them all in hand rather than having to wait. If I had to star this, I’d give it 3.75 stars – if you like fantasy or sci-fi then you will love this one!

Pick it up from Amazon for your Kindle here!

Title: Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles
Author: Marissa Meyer
Pages: 448 pages
Genre: Fiction, YA – Teen, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Macmillan Publishers, Square Fish

What’s On My Kindle: Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

I’ve been a fan of Sophie Kinsella since my sister gave me a copy of her first Shopaholic books back in middle school. This particular book of Kinsella’s was recommended by Natasha Polis of YouTube book vlogging fame – you can find her channel, Tashapolis, here (she’s pretty awesome)! “Can You Keep a Secret?” is a story about Emma Corrigan, Emma is a typical 20-something who just happens to have a fear of flying. It’s this fear of flying combined with some bad turbulence that leads her to spill all her secrets to the guy sitting next to her on the plane. Only it turns out that that guy who now knows all her secrets also is the head of the company that she works for!

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I immediately fell into the story in the worst sort of way. You know how it is – where you’re grinning at the page like an idiot and you can’t hear someone call your name even though they’ve said it like three times. I mean, I’d like to consider myself a pretty smart reader, I’m familiar with le Carre, I’ve dallied with Shakespeare, I’ve even read literary essays, and have had a subscription to Businessweek since I was fourteen – so what if I’ve never read Proust and can’t ever bring myself to start finish Anna Karenina – the point is I can’t even be bothered with things like literary devices or the impossibility of the plot when reading “Can You Keep a Secret?”. I never worry about things like world hunger or the greater implications of our main characters’ life decisions. Or that the chances of getting a complimentary upgrade on a flight are even crazier than the chances of meeting (and falling in love with) a self-made millionaire. Really – that doesn’t happen in the real world. But Kinsella sure makes me wish it did! She knows her reader, and she gets that sometimes we need a fairly large dose of wish-fulfillment.

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I loved the character of Emma, I felt like she was generally just a sweet person and I really sort of resented the other characters who, I felt, took advantage of her personality (ehem, her family, her coworkers, *cough* maybe even Jack). I loved the plot, I mean Kinsella books function as literary cotton candy – they don’t necessarily have great nutritional value but they do have plenty of sentimental value, and summer just wouldn’t be complete without it. I laughed, I got misty-eyed, and at the end I felt unsatisfied and ardently hoped for a sequel. So basically, if you’re looking for a sweet story that has loads of humor and the perfect amount of drama – get your hands on Sophie Kinsella’s “Can You Keep A Secret?”!

You can pick it up from amazon, here!

Title: Can You Keep a Secret?
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Pages: 400 pages
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Random House, Delta Press

What’s On My Kindle: The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

It’s been such a long time since I’ve been able to pick up a piece of fiction and finish it. If the book doesn’t suck me in within a few pages, chances are I won’t keep to it. In addition to my literary pickiness I’ve recently been in sort of a fiction reading slump – nothing has really sparked my interest. At least that was the case until this weekend, where I finally got around to opening The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley – a book I had downloaded onto my Kindle ages ago, but hadn’t really felt up to reading.

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Here’s the description/blurb from amazon:

“History has all but forgotten…In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown.

Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors and starts to write.

But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory, making her the only living person who knows the truth-the ultimate betrayal-that happened all those years ago, and that knowledge comes very close to destroying her…”

Basically, the book centers around Carrie – a writer who is working on a novel about the 1708 attempt to return James Stewart to Scotland and the throne. Carrie’s writing becomes almost entirely based on the memories she seems to have inherited from her ancestor, Sophia – now the main character and heroine of her tale. I’m not going to spoil it all for you, but if you’re in a reading slump this is one of those really great I-stayed-up-all-night-reading books.

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The history woven through the tale ensures that this tale is not purely a romantic novel, giving depth to the story and kindling an interest in the reader (at least this reader) to do a little research of her own into the time period where our main character is meant to exist. The writing of the characters and detail of the setting just make this an entirely engaging story.

Personally, as a reader, I’m not the biggest fan of time travel nor am I the biggest fan of parallel storylines. But it was written in such a way that I became just as invested in Carrie’s life as I was in Sophia’s. And despite the plot twist (at hello, 72% of the way through) I hung on and was rewarded with a satisfying – if not unsatisfying in the way all good books are – ending.

Although there were a few bumps, it still rates for me as a great book, one that pulled me out of a reading slump and one I have happily added to my collection! Find it here on amazon.

*SPOILERS*: If you haven’t read the book, then read no further! This next bit is for readers who have already read The Winter Sea and wouldn’t mind commiserating over it.

First off, I loved the dynamic between Stuart, Graham, Jimmy and Carrie. They read so well to me! It was easy to picture and sympathize with all four of them. Also, I loved that Kearsley wasn’t so heavy handed with the romance – which would have cheapened the book in my opinion.

I also really love Sophia’s interaction with most of the other characters. I especially loved the character of the Countess, and wish that there was more development or storyline featuring her. She came across as such a strong female character, I definitely could see her having a story of her own.

What I Didn’t Love:

Her leaving Anna behind. I mean after she “meets” (and I say that so as not to spoil anyone who hasn’t read the book and has scrolled down too far) McClelland, I get why they ditch Anna – but prior to that, I just don’t get it. In fact after her and McClelland make their plans I still don’t get it – that decision feels far more selfish to me then what I’m guessing the author intended – which leads me to my second point…

What is with the implied incest there at the end??? So weird, so just NO. It really detracted from the book for me. Up unto that point I would’ve even been up for an epilogue – more story to tell me what happened to Sophia – but instead I was like “ew! what!? why? why would you just drop that in there and run?!”. Also, I could’ve done with more interaction between Carrie and Graham and wouldn’t have minded if she ditched the genetic memory storyline altogether – it was unnecessary, as I reader I had already suspended disbelief the second I found out the character was having memories from hundreds of years ago.

Have you read The Winter Sea? What are your thoughts on this book??? Let me know in the comments!

What’s On My Kindle: The Tuscan Sun Cookbook by Frances Mayes

As much as I love the feel of an actual physical book, I live in NYC where space is something I don’t have – so I rely on extensively on my Kindle to store all of my favorite stories. The most recent addition to my digital library is The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen by Frances Mayes. The author of the acclaimed Under the Tuscan Sun (from which the movie starring Diane Lane was based) has published this collection of inspired recipes.

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I saw Under the Tuscan Sun when I was in middle school and I fell in love with the sweeping views of Tuscan countryside, the field of sunflowers, the dilapidated but incredibly charming villa Bramasole, the parade of characters. But there was one scene that got me everytime (besides when Frances begins renovating her house), when Frances begins to cook. Bread, pastas, artichokes, wine, and poached pears only manage to rate two minutes of the movie but it always stuck with me. The food all looked, well, welcoming – which is why I was thrilled to read The Tuscan Sun Cookbook.

Frances writing style has always appealed to me, and her narration of this cookbook is as warm and enchanting as ever. The cookbook includes more than 150 recipes, with Frances guiding us through each. The recipes do not come across as complicated, instead they capitalize on the heart of Tuscan cooking – where ingredients are “left to shine, not combined with a list as long as your arm or tortured into odd combinations”.

The photographs make me wish I owned this in hardcover – where it would be much loved, and quite possibly end up with sprinkles of flour between the pages along with other wayward ingredients.

If you’re in the market for a good cookbook with simple recipes and an engaging narrative, this one is for you. Find it here.