Cinderellarama!!!

After watching the live action Cinderella in September, I fell back in love with what can easily be considered the most classic fairy tale princess story of all time. I decided that it would be the perfect time to read a book that had been on my TBR list for over a year, so I picked up Cinder by Marissa Meyer. While I was reading that book, I stumbled across another Cinderella retelling story — Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell. That’s when it hit me! I needed to hold my own battle of the books to determine the ultimate Cinderella retelling story! Cinder and Mechanica are our first two contenders. Let’s get to it!

I already have a review of the amazingness that is Cinder, so I’m not going to talk about the specifics of it here. If you want to read that review you can find it here.

With that being said, let’s take a look at Mechanica. I was very excited to start reading this book. The cover is stunning and the synopsis totally had me wanting more. I mean just listen to this description on Goodreads.

“Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn’t want a fairy tale happy ending after all.”

I went into this book thinking that it was going to be a cool, almost steampunk version of the classic story with a very independent protagonist making a new life for her all by herself. The book did accomplish some of that, however it left a lot to be desired. I did enjoy the overall plot of the story. It was a nice, refreshing take on what is a very well-known story. I thought the story would be very similar to Cinder, but there really aren’t many similarities between the two. The ending was unexpected and is something I haven’t seen in many fairytale retellings. Some people might not love it, but I don’t really have a problem with it. My big problem with the book is that nothing really ever happened and a lot of problems were still unresolved by the end of the book. The first half of the book was pretty much spent building this world and the characters, but it could have easily been summarized in two or three chapters at the most. It was really hard to get through the book because I was so bored. There was no real character development and I didn’t really care for any of the characters. Overall, I feel like the book had potential to be very innovative retelling, but it really missed the mark.

With this in mind, it is obvious that we have a very clear winner. **Drum roll** Cinder is the champ! It was innovative and fun with very nicely developed characters and a unique setting.

If you know more Cinderella retellings that you would like to see face off against the winning book from this round, please let me know in the comments. Also, if you want to see more book battles, let me know which ones you would like to see. Until next time! 🤓

Review: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

In this series, Marissa Meyers retells some of our favorite childhood fairytales with a uniquely futuristic twist.  Let me preface this by saying that I loved loved LOVED this series. I have been putting off writing this review because I was having a hard time trying to put all of my excitement into words. Whenever I started talking about this series, my explanations came out in squeals, grunts, and all sorts of incomprehensible noises. This series was really fun and completely caught me off guard. I was not expecting to love it so much.

There are currently three books, Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, in the series and a companion novel Fairest that provides a different point of view. This review does not include the companion novel as I will be reviewing that separately.

With that said, let’s dive into the books.

The first book in the series is Cinder. Like the name implies, this book is a retelling of the classic tale of “Cinderella” except Cinder is a cyborg.  She lives with her stepmother and her two stepsisters. Cinder is a renowned mechanic, who slaves away for her stepmother. There is a deadly plague that is terrorizing the world and people are desperately trying to find a cure. After Prince Kai asks her to fix his droid, Cinder becomes entangled in intergalactic politics that can change the fate of the universe as she knows it.

This book was a very fast read. I got sucked in from the beginning and enjoyed every minute of reading the book. There was action, suspense, romance, and mystery, basically everything that makes a good page turner. I absolutely loved Cinder as a character. She was smart, resourceful, and independent, while also being vulnerable. I gave it a solid 5/5 stars.

Next, Scarlet is the retelling of the story of “Little Red Riding Hood”. Scarlet lives on a farm in France with her grandmother. Her grandmother has been missing for two weeks and Scarlet is trying everything to find her. She meets a street fighter named Wolf who unlocks secrets about her grandmother’s whereabouts and more. Their story actually becomes intertwined with Cinder’s story becoming different parts of one cohesive plot. I absolutely loved how the two stories connected. It is very well written and creative. This book was my least favorite in the series because the beginning was a little slow for me. However, the ending left me excited for more. I gave it 4/5 stars.

Cress is the third installment in the series and it is based off of the story of “Rapunzel”. Cress is stuck in a satellite orbiting the Earth for many years. She is an amazing hacker and programmer. Her story becomes entangled in the stories of Cinder and Scarlet in the beginning only to be separated from them later. I can’t say much more without spoiling the first two books, so I’ll just leave it at that. This book was a very exciting read. A lot of loose ends start to get tied in this book, while some new problems are also introduced. The book reminded me of the movie Tangled, which is one of my favorite movies. The dialogue between Cress and her love interest was very reminiscent of Flynn Ryder and Rapunzel, which made me thoroughly enjoy reading it.  Overall, I gave this book 5/5 stars.

This series is amazing and I can’t wait for the fourth book Winter to come out this winter.

If you’re looking for a fun young adult sic-fi book with fantasy elements, this series is perfect. I don’t always read sic-fi books and I often take a while to get through them because I start to lose interest. That wasn’t the case with this series. I wouldn’t classify this as a true sci-fi book, but it definitely has elements that sic-fi readers will enjoy. I loved how the book retells stories that are so nostalgic to us in a way that is completely different from the original story, while still having the base plot of the story woven in. It even has little excerpts from the original texts of the stories inserted before each part of the book, which I really enjoyed. You have to pick this up and read it for yourself to truly understand how beautifully written this book is.

Review: A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

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I had never heard about this book before I saw it in the book aisle of Target. The cover immediately caught my attention. It’s just so cute and girly and fun. I thought it would be a fast little read in between reading several different series.

I think the summary of the book on Goodreads really explains what the book is about without giving anything away. “The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.  But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together….”

The other thing that intrigued me was that it is written in 14 different perspectives, none of which are the two main characters. It’s even written in the point of view of a squirrel and a bench. At first, I thought it might be a little too overwhelming to have so many different narrators, but the author made it very easy to keep up. Each time the narrator changes, there is a little subheading with the name of the narrator and who they are (for example, it would say “Catherine (barista)). My favorite narrators are the squirrel and the bench. It could have gone horribly wrong, but the narration is written in such a cute and funny way. I was pleasantly surprised that neither of the main characters ever narrated the story. It was new and refreshing.

In terms of plot, this book needs to be appreciated for what it is. It is not a deep, insightful book about our societal roles or anything like that. It is a simple, cute love story. It is funny and heart warming. The plot isn’t anything revolutionary, but it is well-written. This book is like a piece of plain milk chocolate. It isn’t fancy or elaborate. It’s just sweet and simple. If you really like books like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, I think you will enjoy this book.

It is a fun, summer read and is a nice palette cleanser between books. I give it 3/5 stars. I don’t love it, but I did enjoy the story.