Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Reading Level: Young Adult
Location: YA Meyer (released January 3, 2012)

In this inventive, futuristic retelling of Cinderella, Cinder works as the top mechanic in New Beijing. As a cyborg, part human and part machine, she attempts to keep a low profile, hiding her abnormalities from the rest of the population to avoid being ostracized. Unfortunately, Cinder catches the eye of the sexy Prince Kai who is struggling with the pestilence spreading through New Beijing as well as the unwanted attentions of the ambitious and ruthless Lunar queen. A marriage alliance with Luna would mean the total takeover of New Beijing but what happens when the Prince unwittingly falls in love with Cinder, the cyborg with a mysterious past? It seems that war with Luna is brewing and Cinder may be involved in more ways than one.

There is a lot to love about this book so we’ll start with the good things. The story is incredibly unique and avoids the pitfalls of sticking zealously to every aspect of the classic Cinderella tale. Cinder is a wonderfully realistic character.  She is tough and confident, but has insecurities and flaws which hold her back at times. In other words, she is not perfect but it is her imperfections that make her genuine. She still has a lot to learn about herself and the world around her which should make for some interesting, future books. The supporting characters also show some depth, particularly Prince Kai and the doctor.

Now for the bad stuff, I really had only one legitimate complaint for Cinder and it is that the descriptions, particularly in the beginning of the book, are horribly lacking. This book takes place in New Beijing (what was once China) and yet none of the characters are described as having any features that one would associate with Asian people today. With the disturbing lack of diversity in young adult literature, I felt this was a wasted opportunity. This lack of descriptive information holds true for the droids (robots that serve humans) and overall setting as well. Considering this is a futuristic novel with a cyborg as the main character, I definitely expected more details than what was provided 150 pages into the book. Of all the books I have read, this is the first time I have ever had this complaint so I tend to think it valid for this title.

This one issue aside, I definitely enjoyed Cinder. It kept me reading ravenously to the early morning hours to see how it would all end and yelling in exasperation when I realized that it was the first in a series.  I have a feeling Cinder will have to work hard to get to her happily ever after, no magical fairy godmothers here! I, for one, am looking forward to the ride.

The Bottom Line: Cinder is an imaginative, futuristic spin on the classic Cinderella story that wisely avoids the pitfalls of sticking too close to the original material.  The likeable main character is both strong and vulnerable. I have a feeling readers will be happy to cheer for her through the upcoming books in this series. Fans of dystopia and fantasy should definitely find something to like here although I think it will appeal more to girls.

The publisher provided me with an Advanced Readers Copy for this review. Cinder will be released on January 3, 2012

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nicholas St. North and the battle of the nightmare king

Title: Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King Book 1 of The Guardians series
Author: William Joyce
Location: J Joyce W.
Level: 7-10 years old

This is the first book in The Guardian series and quite a good start. Nicholas St. North captured me and even after reading the last page I was still in its grasp. It is a well written, imaginative, adventure that is almost a prequel to Santa Claus. This is not a Christmas story and there is no mention of the jolly fellow. Instead it is a story of Omberic, the wizard who protects the town of Santa Claussen, and the man in the moon finding someone who can help them defeat Pitch, the nightmare king And no this book is not likely to give you nightmares. I haven’t read a book like this since The Tale of Desperaux. If your child isn’t reading at the level of this book read it to him/her. You will be creating a childhood memory.

Bottom Line:
I loved it! Imaginative and adventurous. Slightly scary in a what’s going to happen way. Nicholas St. North is not jolly or caring at all, but with the help of Omberic and a little girl he begins to transform into a different person. Who knew Santa had such a colorful past!