The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank BeddorTitle: The Looking Glass Wars
Author: Frank Beddor (Blog, Twitter)
Series: The Looking Glass Wars #1
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Pages: 408
Publisher: Speak
Format: eBook
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The Myth: Alice was an ordinary girl who stepped through the looking glass and entered a fairy-tale world invented by Lewis Carroll in his famous storybook. The Truth: Wonderland is real. Alyss Heart is the heir to the throne, until her murderous aunt Redd steals the crown and kills Alyss's parents. To escape Redd, Alyss and her bodyguard, Hatter Madigan, must flee to our world through the Pool of Tears. But in the pool Alyss and Hatter are separated. Lost and alone in Victorian London, Alyss is befriended by an aspiring author to whom she tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Yet he gets the story all wrong. Hatter Madigan knows the truth only too well, and he is searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland so she may battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts. Summary from Amazon

I’ve been meaning to read this series for a few years now because of a recommendation from a friend. The story sounded very interesting; I just didn’t take the time to read the first book in the series until now.

At first I started reading The Looking Glass Wars without any prior knowledge of Lewis Carroll’s original stories besides the movie adaptations. I was a little confused going in, so I put off reading The Looking Glass Wars and read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass first. After reading the two originals, I was a little worried I wouldn’t like this series because I didn’t enjoy Carroll’s novels very much. Fortunately, I enjoyed The Looking Glass Wars much better than the original because the story at least had a plot which made sense and the characters were fun.

I really liked the idea of Alyss Heart being real and that her story had just been twisted by Lewis Carroll. It made for some fun adventures, especially with adding Redd as an antagonist and Dodge Anders as a love interest. It was much more my type of story this way.

It took me about a third of the book to get into it, however. The first part of the book follows Alyss as a child and how she winds up in 19th century England. It was okay and it gave some back story, but I liked the book much better after she had grown up and returned to Wonderland.

I also thought there was a lot of telling and not showing. There was enough action that I could overlook it once Alyss grew up and returned to Wonderland. But, the telling and not showing lent to my boredom with the first third of the book.

I’m glad that I gave it a chance, though, and didn’t just stop reading it. I look forward to reading the other two books to see how this trilogy will play out.

three-starsthree-starsthree-stars

The Return of the King by JRR Tolkien

The Return of the King by JRR TolkienTitle: The Return of the King
Author: JRR Tolkien (Website)
Series: The Lord of the Rings #3
Genre: Classic, Fantasy
Pages: 290
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: eBook
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While the evil might of the Dark Lord Sauron swarmed out to conquer all Middle-earth, Frodo and Sam struggled deep into Mordor, seat of Sauron's power. To defeat the Dark Lord, the accursed Ring of Power had to be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom. But the way was impossibly hard, and Frodo was weakening. Weighed down by the compulsion of the Ring, he began finally to despair. Summary from Shelfari

I’ve finally finished The Lord of the Rings. It was such a fun journey to experience reading this for the first time. I’m so glad to finally have read this series.

The Return of the King was such a great ending to the series. Even having seen the movies, I was still on the edge of my seat, wondering how things would end. I was surprised by the amount of things that were different than the movie, especially the whole part with the Shire.

Just like with The Two Towers, I didn’t like the way the book was split. I wanted the chapters to be interspersed. But, I was glad that the “fellowship” did get back together in the end for a few chapters. (It’s interesting to me that only one member of the fellowship perished.) I actually really liked that once the ring was destroyed, there was still a lot to do and wrap up. There was a real ending and not just a 20-page epilogue like so many books written today.

I really liked how everything wrapped up. It seemed that all the characters got what they deserved in the end, good or bad. I got teary-eyed at the end because I was saying goodbye to characters that I had grown attached to. It was just a fantastic epic tale from beginning to end.

four-starsfour-starsfour-starsfour-stars

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder by Marissa MeyerTitle: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer (Blog, Twitter, Facebook)
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #1
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction, YA
Pages: 390
Publisher: Feiwell and Friends
Format: Hardcover
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Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder's brain interface has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it "a matter of national security," but Cinder suspects it's more serious than he's letting on.

Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder's intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that's been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter's illness, Cinder's stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an "honor" that no one has survived.

But it doesn't take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for. Summary from Dust Jacket

Wow! Just wow! I had heard Cinder was awesome, but I really didn’t realize how awesome it was until I read it. I loved Cinder, absolutely loved it! It’s definitely a favorite!

Going into this, I had heard that the plot was very predictable. I was worried that would make me not like it. On the contrary, while I figured out the big secret about 40 pages in, it only made me want to keep reading. I wanted to find out how the characters found out. I wanted to find out what this would do to the story if anything. I just wanted to know what happened! I was completely 100% entranced by this story.

I love the concept of this retelling of Cinderella. It love the sci-fi/dystopian feel Marissa Meyer gave to this classic story. It helped bring the story to life and give it new meaning!

I absolutely adored the characters, even Queen Levana, the antagonist. The bad guys are characters you love to hate. I haven’t loved to hate any bad character this much since Professor Umbridge. Cinder was awesome. She was strong yet vulnerable, confident yet shaky, pretty yet damaged. She had a lot of depth to her. And, Prince Kai … oh how I loved Prince Kai. He was awesome as Prince Charming.

My only issue is that I started reading this series before Winter (the final book in the series) is released! I held out for so long! And, I’m sure I’m just going to devour Scarlet and Cress and then I’ll be waiting for Winter until the end of next year! Why did I start reading this now?!

Seriously, I’m so excited to see how this story continues. I can’t wait to read Scarlet. But, I need to exercise some self-restraint so I’m not waiting too long for Winter.

five-starsfive-starsfive-starsfive-starsfive-stars

The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien

The Two Towers by JRR TolkienTitle: The Two Towers
Author: JRR Tolkien (Website)
Series: The Lord of the Rings #2
Genre: Classic, Fantasy
Pages: 334
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: eBook
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The fellowship was scattered. Some were bracing hopelessly for war against the ancient evil of Sauron. Some were contending with the treachery of the wizard Saruman. Only Frodo and Sam were left to take the accursed Ring of Power to be destroyed in Mordor--the dark Kingdom where Sauron was supreme. Their guide was Gollum, deceitful and lust-filled, slave to the corruption of the Ring. Summary from Shelfari

I’m not sure how to review The Two Towers. I have a lot of feelings about it and I’m not quite sure how to word them. I can say that some of my feelings are mixed. But, overall, I liked The Two Towers a lot.

I love how epic the journey is. I love how complex everything is. While I enjoy simple stories, I really enjoy complex ones that have a lot of facets to them. You can tell Tolkien really thought through the overarching story and not just the current story in the current book.

As I said in my review of The Fellowship of the Ring, I really love Tolkien’s writing style. (I didn’t at first when I started The Hobbit, but it’s definitely grown on me.) But, I have to admit that I was a little happy there were less songs this go around.

I still love Sam. I think he’ll remain my favorite to the end. And, I love Faramir. He’s so honorable, slow to react, intelligent, and compassionate. I loved every scene with him in it. He’s such a stark contrast to Boromir. He’s now my new favorite secondary character.

Okay, now for my mixed feelings. Now that I’ve finished The Two Towers, I didn’t like the way the book was split. Having two “parts” in the book is fine, but I didn’t like that the first half was just Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Merry, and Pippin and the second half was just Frodo, Sam, and Gollum. I want the chapters to be interspersed. It might make it a little harder to follow, but I think it would make it more intense. And, at the same time, it would cure the cliffhanger ending! I really hope that I don’t have to wait until Book 6 to know what’s going on with Frodo and Sam.

Also, why did Tolkien have to add giant, creepy spiders to the story! Shelob totally creeped me out. I swear I tweeted more during the last two chapters of The Two Towers than I did for the entire rest of the book. I’m going to have nightmares! At least, that’s over with and I can enjoy The Return of the King without worrying about her anymore.

I’m very excited to finish this trilogy. I can’t wait to see how it ends bookstyle.

four-starsfour-starsfour-starsfour-stars

The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal

The False Princess by Eilis O’NealTitle: The False Princess
Author: Eilis O'Neal (Website, Twitter)
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, YA
Pages: 319
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Format: eBook
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Princess and heir to the throne of Thorvaldor, Nalia has led a privileged life at court. But everything changes when she learns, just after her sixteenth birthday, that she is a false princess, a stand-in for the real Nalia, who has been hidden away for her protection. Cast out with little more than the clothes on her back, the girl now called Sinda must leave behind the city, her best friend, Keirnan, and the only life she's ever known.

Sent to live with her only surviving relative, Sinda proves inept at even the simplest tasks. Then she discovers that long-suppressed, dangerous magic runs through her veins, and she realizes that she will never learn to be just a simple village girl.

Sinda returns to the city to seek answers. Instead, she rediscovers the boy who refused to forsake her, and uncovers a secret that could change the course of Thorvaldor's history forever. Summary on Dust Jacket

I decided to read The False Princess because of my book club. I actually hadn’t heard of it before and I thought it was The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen, a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while.

Even though The False Princess wasn’t the book I was thinking it was, I’m glad I had a chance to read it. It was a very fun story. It kept me guessing until the end because of the twists and turns the author took us on. I did guess who the antagonist was pretty early on, but I didn’t realize the whys or hows which was enough to keep me interested and on the edge of my seat.

I loved the concept of the story–a girl believing she was the princess for her entire life and then finding out she wasn’t. It made for an interesting story and adventure. I thought it was fun to watch Sinda adapt and leave her life behind, yet still cling to a few things from her past. It was exciting to see her grow into her own person.

My favorite thing about this story, other than it being a fantasy with magic, is that there is no love triangle! Hallelujah! I’m so sick of love triangles that it was refreshing to see other conflict in a story for once. I ended up loving the protagonist and her love interest that much more too.

The only thing I wish is that this were a series. I want more! But, at the same time, it’s nice that everything ended nicely. There are some questions left unanswered and some things left unexplored, so a sequel could be possible, but if not, the ending was very satisfying.

four-starsfour-starsfour-starsfour-stars