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Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA Science Fiction / Retelling
Released: January 1 2012 by Feiwel & Friends
Source: Purchased

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.
For quite a long time now, I'd had my eye on Cinder but just never got round to reading it. Why? I honestly have no idea. I mean, it's a cyborg Cinderella in the future! What could be cooler than that? So when the time finally came round for me to pick up Cinder, I had no doubt that I found enjoy it (even though I sort of spoiled the end for myself by looking to see how many chapters there are, whoops) and even though I did have a couple of little problems, I really did enjoy this book.

Cinder is a science-fiction retelling of the classic fairy tale Cinderella, and follows a cyborg mechanic called Cinder, who lives with her legal guardian and her two stepsisters in the futuristic city of New Beijing. The main thing I liked about Cinder's story is how unique it is compared to the original fairy tale. Obviously the bare bones of the tale are there, but the way it has been twisted and turned into something different just completely amazed me. I've not read anything like Cinder before. Ever. This was such a new and thrilling experience to me that I found myself constantly returning to the book to continue reading. There were very few moments that I found boring and the only times where I could feel my eyes getting heavy was when I needed to go to bed (I actually finished this book just after 4 in the morning, I was up so late reading it). I also liked that even though I found myself guessing what would happen next based on the original story, my guesses were always wrong and the story would go in a completely different direction to what I was expecting. However, my only problem with the story is that I'm a bit conflicted over the end. While I do like how the story came to a close, I don't really like how I was just left hanging. I wanted to know what was going to happen after the last page, and I wish there could have been more.

I absolutely adored Cinder's characters. Even the ones I hated because they were written so well. Starting with Cinder herself, I think she was an awesome main character. I was always routing for her and at times I really felt sorry for her, especially when she was on the receiving end of some abuse from Adri and Pearl. What I loved the most about Cinder is that even though is the 'Cinderella' of the story, she was never fully submissive. I loved seeing her stand up for herself, even when it was pretty futile. Speaking of Adri and Pearl, I loved how much I hated them. They were so vile and horrible that I was seriously waiting for Cinder to start breaking some noses. That never happened, but a girl can hope. The intense hate I have for them really shows how well written they were, especially Adri. Not only was she mean, she was manipulative, sneaky, and just plain abusive. No wonder Cinder wanted to leave her house. As for Prince Kai, I feel like he could have been developed a bit more. All I really knew about him was that he's the prince and he's under a lot of stress due to his father being fatally ill and the Lunar queen wanting to form an alliance. That's pretty much it.

Another issue I had with Cinder was the world-building. I don't feel like there was enough back story surrounding the futuristic setting. This early on in the series all I got was that there was a fourth World War, after that the nations merged together (almost 1984 style, but not quite and with more freedom), the Moon is now inhabited by aliens with brainwashing abilities, and people are dying from a plague. I can understand why there is so little back story surrounding the Lunars, with them being mysterious and all, but I want to know more about what happened on Earth. Hopefully I'll know more as the series progresses.

After having read so many first-person narratives for quite some time now, it took me a very, very short time to get used to the narrative, and once I was over it, I really enjoyed Marissa Meyer's writing style. It had a sort of fairy tale element to it, but it was still very clearly science-fiction writing. I loved the descriptions and how vivid they were, as I could totally visualise what was going on and how things looked and played out.

Despite my few little nit-picks, I really enjoyed Cinder. I loved how unique the story is, despite the little world-building there is, and the characters were so well written. I'll definitely be continuing on with this series very soon!

What I Love About Disney

When I was a kid, I did read fairy tales (I don't really remember being read to, I remember reading myself a lot more clearly), but I loved the Disney movies so much more. Even now, I'm not very well-versed in fairy tale retellings (apart from Angela Carter's stories from The Bloody Chamber, which have more likely scarred me for life), but I am aiming to change that this year and introduce myself into the world of retellings (especially since my first venture didn't go too well because I wasn't too impressed with Maleficent). So as a part of this challenge, I'm going to talk about my main gateway to fairy tales: Disney movies! And I mean, come on, who doesn't love Disney movies? (i will admit to leaning further towards Studio Ghibli these days because their movies are beautiful, but Disney is in charge of their English dubs, so...)

Stacking the Shelves | December 2014 + January 2015

Stacking the Shelves is a book haul meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

I was too busy to do a Christmas haul last month, so I figured that it would be better to put it together with my haul for this month because for me, student loan money immediately means new books (it also means rent and other important things like booking my holiday in the summer but whatever). Oh, and this might be my last haul for a while because I'm going to try (emphasis on 'try') to put myself on a book buying ban because I need to save money for food and stuff. Also, I'm thinking about maybe putting my book hauls into my monthly recaps since it feels a bit redundant to have a book haul and then have a recap separate.
Click the covers to be taken to Goodreads!



For review:
Ah, so many books, not enough words to talk about all of them. So I'll just say this: I. Am. Excite.
Did you get any books? Leave me a link to your haul and I'll pop by!

Review: Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper by J.L. Bryan

Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper
Author: J.L. Bryan
Series: Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #1
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy / Horror
Released: September 13 2014
Source: From the author
Rating: ★★★★

Add to Goodreads | Purchase on Amazon
Ellie Jordan’s job is to catch and remove unwanted ghosts. Part detective, part paranormal exterminator, Ellie operates out of Savannah, Georgia, one of the oldest and most haunted cities in North America.

When a family contacts her to deal with a disturbing presence in the old mansion they’ve recently purchased, Ellie first believes it to be a typical, by-the-book specter, a residual haunting by a restless spirit. Instead, she finds herself confronting an evil older and more powerful than she’d ever expected, rooted in the house’s long and sordid history of luxury, sin, and murder. The dangerous entity seems particularly interested in her clients’ ten-year-old daughter.

Soon her own life is in danger, and Ellie must find a way to exorcise the darkness of the house before it can kill her, her clients, or their frightened young child.
What's better than private detectives and ghosts? A private detective who deals with huntings ghosts, that's what. As soon as I got the review request for Ellie Jordan I was immediately intrigued, and even though I was in a bit of a funk when I first read it, I still enjoyed the book, and now that I've reread it, I'm ready to give a proper review of this awesome series beginning.

Ellie Jordan follows the titular Ellie Jordan, a P.I. dealing with hauntings, and her assistant Stacey, who have been given the job of investigating a haunting at a former boarding house with a rich history in Savannah, Georgia. However, the ghost they find there proves to not be just a regular ghost who's playing tricks, and the job immediately gets more serious. Reading Ellie Jordan was a sort of roller coaster experience for me because every time the  book built up to a scary moment, it was like going up the lift hill of a roller coaster. I knew what was coming (not just because I was rereading), but I was still caught off guard once the scare arrived. And I haven't been spooked by a book like this for quite a time, and that made me realise that I wouldn't be cut out as a ghost trapper. I really liked being able to see what the ghosts did during the night, and also how Ellie and Stacey monitored it before jumping into action, which was very different to what I've seen and read before. Since I'm not well versed in the paranormal or anything to do with ghosts, everything felt very new to me and I felt like I was learning along with Stacey as she followed Ellie's lead. I don't think there was ever a moment that I thought ran slow or was boring because I was engrossed all the way through.

My favourite part of Ellie Jordan is definitely the characters: they're so well constructed and believable that I couldn't help but love them. Starting with Ellie, I loved reading from her POV and how she has been written is awesome. She's tough and knows what she's doing, which doesn't stop her from doing her job, not even being scared or badly affected by the ghosts she's trying to get rid of. I did have an initial worry that Ellie was going to be an extremely cold character all the way through the book, but she does open up more as the story progresses, which came as a bit of a relief for me. As for Stacey, I liked how she was obviously new at parapsychology and didn't know the ropes as well as Ellie did, but she wasn't an idiot and she learned quickly from both her own mistakes and what Ellie taught her. I also loved the dynamic that the two of them had together; they always had each other's backs and always supported each other, no matter how hard things got.

A really important part of Ellie Jordan that I absolutely loved is how the method for trapping ghosts and the way that ghosts act is explained in full detail. This was extremely important for me because if the trapping method wasn't explained I would've sat scratching my head all the way through the book wondering how and why things had happened. I also loved all of the backstories surrounding the house and also Ellie herself, but I mainly liked how it wasn't all just dumped on me in one go, but was instead revealed as the story progressed, which kind of kept me both informed and in suspense at the same time. As for the ghosts, I loved how nasty they got. I'm talking Anna Dressed in Blood and above levels of nasty. These are some of the most hardcore ghosts I've ever seen, and the way that they have been written just amazed me. If exploring haunted places means running into these mean ghosts, I'd probably stay outside and wait for everyone to come back.

For a long time I've prided myself on not really getting scared or spooked when reading, but that's mainly because I used to read during the day when there's light and nothing to jump out at you. The fact that I read Ellie Jordan at night added to the scare factor and during some of the book's more intense scenes, I found myself itching to turn the lights on because I could feel myself getting really spooked thanks to how the ghosts are described and the imagery that is used. I could really picture how grotesque these creatures could be and I just kept going and going through the story to see what would happen. Even though I was spooked, I just didn't stop.

Overall, I really enjoyed Ellie Jordan; and after reading it for a second time, I think I enjoyed it even more. I loved the characters, the way that the ghosts are trapped, and most of all, I loved how creepy and spooky the atmosphere gets. Even though I was rereading this time around, I still got spooked while reading late at night. And by late at night I mean around three in the morning, because this was just so good. I'm definitely looking forward to continuing on with this series!

The Nostalgia Is Killing Me

While I was away, I unknowingly revisited my childhood. And it killed me. Like, really badly.

(image source)
Exactly like that. This is, like, really weird for me because I've never really been a nostalgic person. The whole idea that once you turn a certain age you sort of abandon all of the things you liked as a child just doesn't sit right with me. And I don't mean things like music because my music taste grows all the time and it's very rare that I'll just stop listening to a band or artist. What I mean is things like video games or TV shows that I enjoyed as a child, and even still enjoy now because I don't think that there should be an expiration date on things that you truly love (and while I'm on that, it's perfectly fine to outgrow things that you liked when you were younger. I used to be obsessed with Evanescence when I was in my early teens. But once they went away for a while I grew out of them, and now they kind of make me cringe a little bit because it reminds me of who I was when I was a lot younger).
So, what I wanted to do for this post is share with you guys the things that have made me so nostalgic that it hurt. And this is going to be a painful post to write because even though I aim to make the things I enjoy as timeless as possible, these things still remind me of when I first encountered them as a child.

My Blogging Manifesto

Since I will hopefully be making big changes to my blog this year, I feel like it's about time that I wrote my blogging manifesto.

From now on, I will:

Put effort into every single one of my posts:
If something that I write is total garbage or a total mess that doesn't make any sense, I won't post it. I do like my posts to have a bit of a rambly feel to them sometimes because that's the way that my brain works, but if something is just unreadable then it's going to fail. I'm also going to take more time to proofread my posts instead of just finishing and clicking 'publish', because some of my posts have typos in them that I haven't picked up on until a week after they've gone live.

Try to stick to my schedule, but not feel guilty when I don't have anything to post:
Running out of ideas sucks, but I don't want to force myself to write something when I have literally nothing to say because what I'll put out will end up being total shit. And it’s okay to not post every single day; it's not the end of the world.

Put life first every single time:
University work does take up quite a lot of my time, but so does running this blog. Whenever I need to focus on work, then I'll push blogging to the side since it will always be waiting for me to come back.

Let myself go:
Because my life becomes consumed by academic writing, it ends up seeping its way into my blog posts, and that just doesn't sound like me at all. I want to develop a writing style that is more quirky, and more "me", but one that is still easy to understand. I've said this a couple of times before, but I still feel like you guys don't fully know me yet, and the best way to show who I really am is through writing.

Interact with other bloggers instead of just staying in my little corner:
Yes, this again! I always complain about how I'm not social enough and don't have very many blogger friends, but this year I am determined to change that. I'm definitely better at replying to tweets that I receive (when i get them), so instead I'm going to tweet other people and form some friendships. Yay!

Comment on new-to-me blogs, and not just the ones in my reader:
My main bad habit with commenting is that I tend to comment on the same blogs over and over again. Instead, I'm going to comment on blogs that are new to me, as well as my favourites. More new friendships!

Write more bookish posts:
I feel like I'm kind of drifting away from being a book blog, and even though I don't exclusively want to blog about books (I kind of never have), I feel like I don't really talk about books enough. There's nothing wrong with wanting to talk about my other interests, but sometimes I get the feeling that those non-bookish posts overshadow my book posts. I would participate in more bookish memes (I was considering participating in Top 10 Tuesday, but Tuesday is my review slot and I already do my own non-bookish top 10 lists, so nah), but I think that two memes is enough for me. A long time ago, my blog schedule was review-meme-review-meme and that's just not good.

Not review every single book that I read:
At the minute, this is my current habit, and it's kind of bugging me. I do try to read as much as I can, but obviously I can't review every single book that I read and then post them on here or even on Goodreads. I may decide to do mini reviews in the future, but we'll see.

Take part in more blogging events:
I love seeing events going on in the blogosphere, and I often want to join in too, but sometimes I just don't know what I could do for them. My main goal for this year is to take part in some events that I find interesting, and just have fun with them. Even if all I can come up with is reviews, that's okay because at least I'm participating.

Remember why I blog:
I still consider myself to be a pretty small blog, so I tend to get hung up over pageviews and comments and stuff like that because my readership has gone down quite a lot since I stopped blogging in September 2013 and then came back in January last year. I still want to work on getting my numbers back up, but I need to remind myself that numbers and stats aren't the reason why I do this. Success doesn't just happen overnight and I need to work at things rather than expecting them to happen.

What's on your blogging manifesto? Do you set guidelines for yourself or do you just go with the flow?