What I Read in July

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to read as much as I would have liked to this month. I’ve practically been living at work and when I was at home, I was too tired to focus on any books. I also made the mistake of starting What I Read In, along side a book series and was seriously struggling to get rid of my book hangover for the rest of the month. It made reading anything else all the more difficult and disappointing.

SPOILER ALERT!
If you haven’t read The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, and intend to, you might want to skip the first three books on this list.

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer

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Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner – Goodreads

Last month I read Cinder, the predecessor to Scarlet and it set the bar pretty high. I’m enjoying these dystopian twist on fairy tales and was excited to read the Red Riding Hood version. The format is something I’m loving and Meyer’s writing is great (except I did notice a lot more repetition in this one). I also appreciated that she didn’t go OTT (coughCharmaineHarriscough) when recapping events from the previous book. She sneaked them in there when I wasn’t paying attention.

However, I was not as captivated by Scarlet as I had been expecting. In this book we have two intertwined storylines: Cinder’s (which I won’t go into detail about as it will completely ruin the ending of the first book) and Scarlet’s search for her grandmother, accompanied by Wolf. Whose name I did not care for, despite the fact it is 100% relevant to the story. Scarlet and Wolf, let’s just say, I don’t love it. It feels a bit much and typical of a young adult novel – which it had not been totally adhering to, until  this point. I was disappointed. Yet, this is not necessarily bad and I could overlook it until it was time to embrace it. I was just a bit scared it’d go all Twilight-y which, thankfully, it didn’t. I found Cinder’s storyline to be far more interesting, as well as the history of Queen Levana’s cruelty. She is a huge bitch and they always make for the most intriguing characters. Everything about the Lunar people is captivating and the more I learn, the more I love the intricate world that Meyer has created. Despite all my complaining, I still found this book to be of a high standard and a worthy sequel in this series.

Rating: 3.5/5

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

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…Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder… 
– Goodreads

Okay, so I know this synopsis is completely vague but I am not giving ANYTHING away.

Cress is loosely based on Rapunzel, which is not one of the fairy tales I loved as a kid. Yet, I adored Cress in the Lunarverse. She’s tiny and gentle, with a profound sense of loyalty and a strong conscience. Although she’s written as being a bit on the emotional side, it’s not annoying in the slightest. It serves its purpose. I lived for her interactions with Thorne (introduced in Scarlet). The story has taken a much darker tone and some questionable things take place, but all this brings out the best in the series. This ended up being my absolutely favourite book from The Lunar Chronicles.

It took me a few days to get through this (because work took up a lot of my time) but when I had the time to read, I couldn’t put it down. I was so impressed with the majority of this, although one aspect of the ending which did not seem entirely thought out, as if she just wanted to wrap it up and move onto the next book, but it wasn’t necessarily bad (I just have a lot of feelings). Speaking of that, we are introduced to Winter, the namesake of the final book of the series, and I was immediately intrigued. I can’t wait to start on the next one.

Rating: 5/5

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer

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Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mark 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 – Goodreads

Winter was introduced to us in Cress and I didn’t have very high hopes for the book, solely on that brief introduction. I thought this might go down the silly route. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Let’s just say this book is messed up. Meyer deals with Winter’s mental illness in a strong, take-back-the-control way that I really admire. This was the longest book in the series and by far the best (also longest at 800 and something pages), although I feel like it should have been written for adults. It would have been much darker and more of a satisfying series. I finished it at 3 in the morning, simultaneously furious and ecstatic. Up until Winter, I hadn’t cared for Scarlet or Wolf, but by the end of it I was a moderate fan. Obviously I’m still all about Cress, Thorne and the unsung hero that is Iko. I also loved the complicated and terrifying Levana.

My only issue is the final chapter, but this is down to my personal preference. I’m not about wrapping things up neatly and closing the book. I like things to be left open, with possibilities. IMO, this is the only downside to the series. I would like Thorne spin-offs where he and Cress travel the skies in the Rampion, fighting injustices and occasionally stealing stuff. A bit Firefly-esque. I could 100% see him as a slightly less grumpy Mal. I want to know what Wolf thinks of other vegetables. Does he like cauliflower? I must know. What happens to Levana? Does Winter get help? I need closure Marissa!

Rating: 4.5/5

That Night by Chevy Stevens

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As a teenager, Toni Murphy had a life full of typical adolescent complications: a boyfriend she adored, a younger sister she couldn’t relate to, a strained relationship with her parents, and classmates who seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. Things weren’t easy, but Toni could never have predicted how horrific they would become until her younger sister was brutally murdered one summer night. Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of the murder and sent to prison.

Now thirty-four, Toni is out on parole and back in her hometown, struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Prison changed her, hardened her, and she’s doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back. This means having absolutely no contact with Ryan, avoiding fellow parolees looking to pick fights, and steering clear of trouble in all its forms. But nothing is making that easy—not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who doubts Toni’s innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni’s life hell in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. No matter how hard she tries, ignoring her old life to start a new one is impossible. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out what really happened that night – Goodreads

This isn’t the type of book I would normally go for. I’m not into the crime dramas that populate book charts and store shelves. I understand why they are popular, but they don’t often do it for me. I’ve bypassed that era of my fiction education and I moved on, so very long ago. Yet, something kept pulling me back to That Night and I actually enjoyed this book. After watching Making A Murderer, stories like these no longer seem so far-fetched. Probably because stuff like this happens a lot.

The chapters were a nice contrast between past and present, clearly defined and thus easy to differentiate between the two. Toni is the quintessential 90s angry rock chick, with a chip on her shoulder, and becomes somewhat hardened and cold towards pretty much everyone. The reason I found it so easy to like her is because, deep down, we have all felt the way she has at some point in our lives. Misunderstood, alone, hated, treated unfairly – need I go on? Her parents just made me angry, and I’ll leave it at that. Plus, everyone knew a girl like her arch nemesis Shauna, as a teenager.

Most of the ending is clear from the first quarter of the book and automatically, I was disappointed. I’m not sure whether its supposed to be quite so clear to everyone else or not, but I didn’t love that I wasn’t able to be excited about figuring it out. There was one thing that I didn’t see coming because it’s hinted at only once and I was quite surprised. Not in a good way.

The story itself is well written, interesting but flawed in many respects. My main issues are the characters. I really enjoyed Toni and the ‘family’ she creates in prison. It’s all a bit Orange Is the New Black (the TV series, not the awful book) which brought a bit of life to those parts of the story. However, Ryan bored me. I couldn’t find anything about him that was interesting and I found myself wondering why Toni was so obsessed with him. You get bits of information about several different people, but nothing that would lead you to know anything about them really. For example, Ashley. She is brought into the book suddenly (but not unrealistically) and her existence doesn’t make much difference, to be frank. You know two important facts about her, but nothing is done to explain why they are important. I feels a bit half-baked, in that respect.

Rating: 3/5

The Department of Alterations (Crewel World #0.5) by Gennifer Albin

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In a world woven of secrets, a woman seeks a back-alley tailor for a sinister procedure, but she can’t escape from her own tangled web of lies.

The women of Arras are expected to fall into assigned roles, serve as loving wives, and provide healthy children into the world’s tapestry. But perfection comes at a price and not even the looms of Arras can manipulate away every problem in the fabric of life. Something Karoline Swander knows all too well. She has a respectable job, an important husband, and she’s about to commit treason – Goodreads

Yes I know, another young adult dystopia series. In my defence, some of them are great and I enjoy them. After reading this short story as a prelude to the first novel of the series (and forgetting everything about Crewel in the first place), I had no clue what was going on, but I liked it.

Rating: 4/5

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2 responses to “What I Read in July

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