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The Reading Jackalope

How to Catch a Wild Viscount

How to Catch a Wild Viscount - Tessa Dare Romances live and die on their heroes and unfortunately Luke is the WORST kind of asshole.

Romancing the Duke

Romancing the Duke  - Tessa Dare This was September’s pick for Vaginal Fantasy, and as I finished it before the hangout it totally counts as having been read in time. Yup. Totally. It’s a light, fluffy read that had me crying with laughter in some spots and grimacing in frustration in others, so kind of a mixed bag. The first half of the book was completely and utterly delightful and ridiculous and then somewhere in the second half, it just kind of all fell apart. Part of the reason for the falling apart though, is my distaste for certain aspects of modern romance tropes and plot formulas. It’s also completely ahistorical and regency-era in name only, which again didn’t bother me until there was just one too many historic details I was supposed to ignore in order to keep reading.

Isolde Ophelia Goodnight is an impoverished woman who inherits a castle. Ransom, Duke of Rothbury, is the inhabitant of said castle and he doesn’t’ remember ever selling it. Ransom agrees to hire Izzy as his secretary while they figure out exactly what is going on and then romance. The plot is one of the big things that fell apart for me. The romance, the main part of the plot was great. However, there is a major villain who never appears ‘on screen’, even though his/their machinations are what set the whole thing in motion. Even worse though is that after the characters declare their I-love-yous this villain is swept aside, again off screen, with a deux-ex-machina. I get that romance novels are mainly about getting the two characters together, but for me the other plot elements are just as important. Don’t introduce a plot line you don’t plan to actually wrap up is what I’m saying. Unfortunately, that particular problem is pretty rampant in modern romance novels, and it’s one of the reasons I’m not a huge fan of the genre.

And then there’s the ‘historical’ setting. This book was terrible, TERRIBLE, with any sense of history or place. I can’t even pretend to call it a historical romance because it so completely ignored historical dress, society, social mores, and just everything. And that was fine, for the most part I’m ok with ignoring some of those things for the sake of plot. I adore urban fantasy for crying out loud, I am familiar with the suspension of disbelief. There were just one too many moments that required my suspension of disbelief for me to fully enjoy the novel. I can’t even pinpoint the exact moment where I finally reached the moment that I couldn’t take it any more, but I know it was around the later half of the novel.

Those complaints aside, this book had me crying with laughter in more then a few places. The romance between Izzie and Ransom is adorable and believable. The female friendship that develops between Izzie and Abigail, the vicar’s daughter, instead of rivalry is refreshing. I adore the skewring of Byronic heroes that Ransom represents. As a spoof on gothic novels, I think the book could have been a bit more developed along those lines and yet I think it was well done. Izzie’s sensible and down-to-earth nature speaks to me. All of these things considerably raised the book's rating in my opinion.

Once Broken Faith (October Daye #10)

Once Broken Faith - Seanan McGuire This book has quite a bit of emotional impact. McGuire enjoys nothing more then ripping Toby’s heart out of her chest, shredding said heart to pieces, and then displaying the shattered remains to the reader like so much art. Once Broken Faith is no exception to this rule. While I was certain that Toby would come out of this alive, seeing as she’s the main character, she’s the only one who I felt had that protection and boy does McGuire like her characters bloody. I was reminded again in this book that Toby is essentially a vampire (which is super amusing given that Tybalt is a were-cat, so you’ve basically got the vampire/werewolf dynamic going on here without ever using those terms.)

Despite the emotional impact of the book, now that I’m thinking of various plot lines I do have one minor quibble. There is one specific plot line, involving the sea-witch, another changeling, and an old enemy of Toby’s that didn’t really have any relevance to this particular story though it will likely play out in future novels. In fact, it felt very much like that plot line originally had a stronger influence on the A plot but the ties were dropped as the novel developed and now it’s little more then a C, or even D, plot. However, despite that one complaint, the rest of the novel is furiously plotted and McGuire’s pacing is pretty much flawless.

Rilla of Ingleside

Rilla of Ingleside - L.M. Montgomery So we finally come to The Great War. This has been slowly building for four or five books now, each book has had some hint about this major event and how it will effect the characters. If I'm to be honest, I don't think I've read this book more then once or maybe twice. The first time I read it, I was very young and the character death really bothered me, so I didn't re-read it very often if at all. Is that a spoiler? It's war, the book is about WWI, I think it's a given that one of the characters is going to die. However, I enjoyed it much more this time, even despite the heavy handed and melodramatic pronunciations as the war started and got worse. Seriously, there are not one, not two, but three premonitions from one character and of course you've got Walter's Piper who shows up numerous times.

The book opens on Susan reading notes in the paper about the Blythe and Meredith families, completely ignoring the headline of some archduke who was assassinated. We move on to Rilla, not quite fifteen, a few weeks later as she prepares to head to her first dance. And it's a marvelous dance, she even spends some time with the dreamy Kenneth Ford (son of Leslie from House of Dreams). However, all that is ruined, RUINED, as someone comes in to say that Britain has declared war on Germany. The dance continues afterwards, but of course it's not the same. And then, well it's the war, as told from the point of view of Rilla at home with her brothers and friends slowly joining up one by one to head out to the trenches. She adopts a war baby, which I'd completely forgotten about, organizes a Junior Red Cross, and does what she can to stay brave and true as the world turns inside out around her. It's the everyday details that made me enjoy the book, from Susan's exasperation with Woodrow Wilson as the US dallies about, to little Dog Monday waiting faithfully by the train, they give a pretty good look at life for these women.

One thing to note, apparently this book has been edited to remove some of the anti-German sentiment Montgomery wrote, and then it was added back in when a new edition was released in 2010. It looks like the version I have on my kindle is the newer version, per this site's accounting of the differences. Though I ought to double check. I will say, the character of Whiskers on the Moon (whose real name escapes me) who is supposed to be a villain, is both more ridiculous then I remember and more sympathetic to this modern reader then Montgomery probably intended.

Rainbow Valley

Rainbow Valley - L.M. Montgomery Rainbow Valley is the seventh Anne book and WWI marches ever closer, the mentions of the war are a lot stronger here then in previous books and Montgomery's foreshadowing was, occasionally, heavy handed. I'd forgotten how very little of the Blythe family is in this book, let alone Anne, instead it's mostly about the Merediths and their adventures and scrapes. However, despite those two complaints, I really do enjoy this one. In many ways, this book is a return to what Montgomery does best, simple romance and adventurous children.

Mr. Meredith is the new minister and a widower with four children. Mr. Meredith is what one would call the absent minded professor stereotype and so for the most part neglects his children rather shamefully. I'll be honest, re-reading the book this time, I found John Meredith to be kind of an idiot and I had a very hard time sympathizing with him. He's a very strong predecessor of the notions that men don't actually take care of their children, fathers are babysitters and daddies don't do housework. It was aggravating. Even worse was his occasional pleas, silent and out of earshot, to the woman he was courting in this novel to come and save his family. Dude, if you could pull your head out of your books for one second you could do it yourself. UGH. He courts a woman and marries her and it's sweet. But what makes the book so enjoyable are the Meredith children, the girls Faith and Una in particular. Their many misadventures had me laughing quite a bit. Add in the orphan Mary Vance, who gets adopted by her spiritual mother Miss Cordelia Bryant/Mrs Marshall Elliot, and the recipe is there for a spirited good time. The Blythe children are occasionally mentioned as co-participants in the scrapes, and twice Walter Blythe has the 'premonition' of a piper who would cal the boys far away to some terrible destiny.

Anne's House of Dreams

Anne's House of Dreams - L.M. Montgomery Anne's House of Dreams is probably my least favorite in this series. I can't give it more then three stars; if I'm 100% honest, and it wasn't an Anne book, I'd probably bump it down to two stars. This is the most self-indulgent book of the series, and there are very few gems in the cast of characters. Plus, and this is completely silly I acknowledge, "the race that knows Joseph" doesn't have the same ring as "kindred spirits".

So here we are, Anne is 25 and FINALLY marrying Gilbert. The newly minted Dr. Blythe is taking a position in Four Winds (on the sea side of PEI? I don't know, somewhere that isn't Avonlea) and so he and Anne get a house there and set up shop. Over there we meet a new cast of characters, the only one I really like being Miss Cornelia Bryant whose opinion on men and Methodists is that they're both equally useless. Also included are the extremely tragic, pathetic, ill-fated but extremely beautiful Leslie Moore and the story teller Captain Jim.

I think the story that most irked me in this book is Leslie's story. It is beyond soap-operatic in it's ridiculous tragedy. And what irritates me even more, is that she holds herself aloof from the world because she's so tragic (this doesn't bother me so much) but when Anne tries to get close her partial failure is justified because she doesn't really know tragedy. Guys, I'd like to remind you this is the girl who spent the first eleven years of her life unwanted and unloved. And these eleven years are brushed off as being a minor thing compared to the things that Leslie has seen. It is beyond aggravating. But the final capper is when tragedy does strike Anne's life, and a really sad thing does happen in the book, that's when Leslie finally thaws completely because now she can really relate to Anne. NOOOOOOPE.

Miss Cornelia is hilarious, and straight out of the Rachel Lynde type of characters. She brightened the book every time she came into it. And her proclamation of "isn't that just like a man" after some terrible story, was just perfect. Captain Jim is someone I can tell Montgomery wants me to like, but I mostly found him annoying.

I think this book is worth reading if you're reading all of the Anne books for the first time, but honestly I tend to skip over it when I re-read the series.

Anne of Windy Poplars

Anne of Windy Poplars - L.M. Montgomery This novel follows Anne during the three years of her life post-college and pre-marriage. She’s a principal at a small high school on the other end of PEI from Avonlea, and has to deal with a whole new set of small town prejudices. The novel is told both in the letters she writes to her fiancé (do you like how I’m pretending that you don’t already know who that is?) and in third person, it’s an interesting mix of formats. Once again the novel isn’t so much of a plot heavy novel as it is a series of short stories strung together by familiar characters.

So, interesting facts about this novel? There were two different versions published, Anne of Windy Poplars in the States and Anne of Windy Willows elsewhere. But beyond just the title change there were some minor changes made to the stories themselves because the American editors felt that some of the stories were too disturbing for their readers and asked Montgomery to change them. They aren’t a lot, and the differences have been catalogued here. Honestly the differences are so minor, and it’s REALLY amusing to me to see which stories were considered too scary for the American (women) readers. I think I need to track down a copy of Anne of Windy Willows to read.

Also interesting, because this was published in 1936 it hasn’t yet passed into the public domain here in the US, meaning that some collections of the Anne books don’t contain it (or Anne of Ingleside, published in 1939). I bought a kindle collection of Montgomery’s work, because I enjoy reading books on my kindle and this collection has some books I haven’t read yet, however it only has six of the eight Anne books. I found that really weird and this set me off on the Google search that still hasn’t quite ended. Publishing is weird guys. Fortunately I have a paperback copy.

Anyway, the story is lovely and I really enjoy Anne of Windy Poplars. I’ll be honest, knowing that it was published much later in Montgomery’s life does explain the different feel of the novel, as I find it the most haunted of the Anne books. This book just has a very October feel to it, and I’m sorry but I just can’t explain it better then that. Also little Elizabeth is probably my favorite of the ‘sprite’ children that are in Anne’s life, even if I think her story was probably wrapped up a bit too easily.

Anne of the Island

Anne of the Island - L.M. Montgomery Like most of the Anne books, there isn’t really much of plot for the book it is instead a series of interconnected stories that slip through the years like ‘pearls on a string’, though this one probably has one of the strongest plots of the series. Anne is in college along with Gilbert Blythe and Charlie Sloan from Avonlea as well as Pricilla Grant, her friend from the high school she attended in the last book. Anne also gets no fewer then five proposals in this book, and it is something of a love story. The main romance has been building for some time and the moment when it finally pays off has probably ruined me for a lot of romance novels. The other proposals seem to be there mostly to take some of the romantic shine and expectations Anne had developed about proposals. For all that Montgomery is essentially writing a romance novel, she had no fear at taking potshots at the overblown romance novelists of the day as she shows the rather prosaic ways that men and women court each other, and how expectations built by those novels can actually blind us to what love really is.

As with the previous two books, I can practically recite this book from memory. The many stories from when Anne and Pricilla meet the flighty, silly Philippa and become fast friends to the adventures of Rusty the cat and beyond all play out like familiar songs, except for a few chapters in the last third. I’m not sure that I have ever before read the entirety of this book as some of the stories this time were completely new to me as I forced myself to read all the book. You see, Anne makes a terrible, wrong, bad, HORRIBLE decision about a two thirds of the way through the novel and I must have skimmed the chapters between that decision and when she finally rectifies it starting the very first time I read this novel and have done so for every re-read since, excepting this one. I didn’t completely skip them, as some of the stories between that BAD, HORRIBLE, WRONG decision and the moment she fixes it are just as familiar as all the other stories, but some were completely surprising. Even on this re-read, the temptation to skip over the parts where Anne was being stupid and WRONG was quite high, but I forced my way through and was charmed by the ‘new’ stories.

Anne of Avonlea

Anne of Avonlea - L.M. Montgomery While I really still enjoy this series, and even this book, I can't quite give this book the same praise that I gave Anne of Green Gables. Anne is growing up, and her inquisitive tongue and bright, mischievous nature are tempered a bit by age and experience (if 16-18 can really said to be age and experience). I don't mind this at all, and Anne is still a delight to read about. However, I feel that Montgomery felt she needed a mischievous child to get into scrapes and amuse her reader and so gave us Davey Keith, one of the orphan twins Marilla adopts early in this book. Unfortunately, there is a lot of "boys will be boys" attitude surrounding Davey, and while younger me was just as amused and charmed by him as I was by a younger Anne, this grown-up me is really annoyed and aggravated at the crap he pulls. He often and frequently uses his twin sister (the angelic, quiet Dora) as the subject of his rather mean pranks and while he's punished for them, there's definitely an air of "well, boys" about it.

Even more troubling then Davey is a small passage about Paul Irving, Anne's favorite student. Paul is very like Anne in that he's a very imaginative child and very sensitive, but Montgomery stresses that he's not a 'sissy boy' and he's respected by the other boys because he can fight just as well as they can. It's a clear rejection of boys who don't fit into the masculine model of the late 1890s, early 1900s.

Still highly enjoyable and readable. And the nostalgia factor is strongly in play here.

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables  - L.M. Montgomery I've lost track of the number of times I've re-read this book as it has been a favorite of mine for a long time. The book, and it's follow up books, are classics for a reason. During a recent bout with insomnia I decided to pick it up again and was charmed all over again by Anne and her scrapes.

This time around I noticed the ages of Mathew and Marilla, they're mentioned to be in their sixties which is a lot older then I had originally pegged them. I think my younger self skimmed over that particular section and decided they were 'old' and thus about as old as my parents, however my parents are in their 60s now so I greatly underestimated that. It does give quite a new spin on the novel to realize that the Cuthberts are old enough to be Anne's grandparents.

The other thing I really noticed on this read-through is how terrible Anne's early life must have been. She's eleven when she finally comes to Green Gables, and her early life is told quite quickly by Anne to Marilla, but those few details are heart-breaking.

The novel is still hilarious and touching, even after all these many re-reads. Anne's scrapes and speeches are written with charm and wit, and even though you know exactly what's going to happen the humor shines through. I still laugh when I read about the incident with the raspberry cordial, or the 'vanilla' cake. Anne is every little girl who wants so desperately to be grown-up and dignified, and to the great credit of the novel that desire is never mocked.

In the Black

In the Black - Sheryl Nantus The book starts out well enough, our heroine Sam is the captain of a pleasure ship full of courtesans (think a ship full of Inaras) who is also running from a terrible past of some kind. Our hero is of the Texas Ranger lone wolf cop good guy trope. There is a murder aboard the pleasure ship and the two must work together to figure out who done it. It’s a sci-fi/murder mystery/romance mash-up, and really just sounds like it should be a fun read. I thought each genre was mostly given it’s due, with romance being the heavily favored genre. But the sci-fi details were fun, and the mystery was more then just a contrivance to throw the two characters together. There’s enough world-building here to make me think the author has more in store for future books then just throwing characters together for hot sex in space.

My problems with the book started pretty early, but were generally minor nit-picky writing things that I could have brushed over if the rest of the book had been decent. Things like, why does a book published in 2014 have paperback books on a ship where space is so limited that the mechanic is specifically mentioned as only being allowed to have three changes of clothing? If the book had been published in the 90s I could have bought it as amusing past-future tech problems, but electronic books were well established by 2014. Small details like this really throw and annoy me. There were other things, for example I’m not sure the author really understood that dialogue is something the characters hear not see. There’s an exchange where Daniel (our hero) is talking about his AI and calls it ‘Etts’. Sam (our Heroine) asks about ‘ET’, as though she’d seen it written and not just heard him say ‘Etts’. He even corrects her and says, ‘It’s pronounced Etts, actually’. It’s just such poor writing that it annoyed me.

However the moment I gave up on the book was just after the two characters met. They were going over the murder scene with the dead person’s body in the next ‘room’, and flirting so heavily that I had a hard time remembering they were supposedly investigating a murder. The characters thoughts turn to sex so often and so easily that it felt more like they were young teenagers rather then adults. It got a little ridiculous. And things continued on in that vein for far too long. I understand this is a romance novel, but if you’re going to investigate a murder, maybe that should be your priority rather then the abs of your counterpart.

I don’t think this is a terrible book, but it really wasn’t my cup of tea. I’ll be giving the rest of the series a pass.

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories - Ken Liu really good collection of short stories. even the ones that didn't make my list of favorites were excellent. best of all, actual short stories and not novel briefs.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Brontë The Tennant of Wildfell Hall is Anne Bronte's novel about the depredations of alcohol. It is essentially a primer for the temperance movement, and yet it's also wildly feminist for it's time and rather snarky in some places. I wouldn't say I loved the novel, but I enjoyed it.

The novel is two stories, one about Gilbert Markham and one (the far more interesting, and lengthy story) about Helen Huntingdon. Gilbert is a young wealthy farmer, going about his wealthy farmer business when a young widow moves into Wildfell Hall. At first he's quite bothered by her cool demeanor, but as he comes to make her acquaintance he's drawn in and the two fall in love. However the young widow, Helen, has a terrible secret. She's on the run from her verbally abusive, alcoholic husband and isn't really a widow at all. When Gilbert professes his love to Helen, she reveals her secret and tells him her rather tragic tale.

I enjoyed this story quite a bit, even if the moralizing annoyed me in many places. However, in order to write the story she wanted where Helen is a heroine and not some tarted up hussy, Anne needed to make sure that her heroine embraced the most strict morals of the day so there are moments where Helen comes off rather preachy. This Victorian moralizing gives the book a very preachy feel, and dates the book quite a bit for when you peel back the surface of what modern readers would find old fashioned and dated, you get a very modern heroine. Helen leaves her husband. She flat out refuses him his bedroom rights, and when she feels she and her son can no longer abide in his presence she runs away in the night. There's a reason this book hit the world with shockwaves. A wife forbidding her husband her bed (we're talking sex here) just wasn't done, and yet Helen is extremely sympathetic because of her strict adherence to Victorian morals. My one complaint is that Helen is the cheese that stands alone, there is at least one other example of a good woman trapped in a marriage with an alcoholic asshole, however he reforms and the marriage is for the better for all that it's rather plain the two are mismatched in the extreme.

The other reason I really enjoyed the book was because I sensed that in some respects Anne was taking swipes at the novels of her sisters. I kept thinking that if the Brontes were alive today Emily and Charlotte would have been die hard Twilight fans and Anne would have written scathing blog posts about how Edward and Jacob are terrible love interests and Twilight promotes all kinds of abuse. Anne's complete takedown of the Byronic hero in this novel was a delight to watch.

There's a bit where Helen's aunt is trying to convince her not to marry Huntingdon and when Anne say's that she likes him despite his faults and her aunt replies, "To be sure, my dear; and the worse he is, I suppose, the more you long to deliver him from himself." That moment cemented that the book and I would get along just fine. All during the courtship I kept yelling, 'RED FLAG. RED FLAG" and I could tell that Anne wanted me to be yelling that (or whatever the Victorian equivalent would be). The book delighted me in how it eviscerated the 'brooding but sexy man' trope and pointed out that someone so obsessed with his own troubles isn't really the best relationship material.

It is not, as I said, a perfect book. The moralizing was annoying and detracted quite a bit from the book. Near the end I started skimming quite a bit as Helen's willingness to martyr herself in order to be a good Victorian woman made me roll my eyes. As I said, it keeps Helen sympathetic to the Victorian reader, but to the modern reader it makes her a bit bland. I can't say spineless, because Helen is nothing if not full of steel, but the final act of the book does detract some from that steel to a modern reader.

The Shadow of the Bear

The Shadow of the Bear - Regina Doman Shadow of the Bear is a 'retelling' of the Grim Fairy Tale Snow White and Rose Red, the one where they have a bear suitor. You have to specify because there are a couple of Snow White/Rose Red fairy tales and I remember being confused about that when I was younger. I put retelling in quotes because the only real changes to the fairy tale is that it's set in the modern era and all characters are human, otherwise nothing really changes. It's this lack of difference that annoyed me and lowered my rating for the book.

If you've read Snow White and Rose Red, then you know this story. Snow White and Rose Red are two impoverished, but beautiful sisters. Their mother introduces them to a bear, who visits often and becomes their friend. They learn that he's a prince held captive by some evil dwarves who want his money. They free him and he marries one or the other, which one depends on the version. It's a pretty decent fairy tale, and I really do enjoy it. I don't think it's my favorite of all time, but maybe top ten.

As I love fairy tales, I love their retellings. However, I find that a good retelling comes at the story from a new point of view, or uses the base of the story to explore an event in the modern world. The best retellings don't just retell the story, they recreate it. This book doesn't do that. It does nothing with the story to make it new, as it really was just the simple story without the enchantment or dwarves. And the lack of enchantment and dwarves kind of takes all the magic out of the fairy tale. The thing is, I could see this tale working well if the author had decided to do more with the prison system (the enchantment here) and show how unjust it can be. But again, it was just a big nothing.

I was also annoyed at the rather preachy tone of the book. I don't really mind religion in my novels, but I do think it needs to have a purpose. Here the religious aspects felt added on to make the book Christian. Rather then telling a Christian tale it was a story with Christianity inserted to make it sellable to certain populations.

This review has gotten pretty damning and I need to come up with something I enjoyed about the novel. It was light and simple. Very easy to read and while I didn't really enjoy it, it also didn't offend me. I did like the characters. They were very well developed, and felt true to their fairy tale origins without stepping over the line into caricature.

However, finally, and perhaps most ironically, there were elements of wish fulfillment that felt unrealistic and naïve. There is a scene where Rose confronts a boy who had assaulted her the night previous. And while her rage was understandable and admirable, I didn't quite believe his submissive, conciliatory response. His response was the one you imagine happening after telling of catcallers rather then the actual response you'd get should you do so. I get why it was put in there, telling girls not to take men's crap is never a bad thing, but it just didn't read as realistic and I wasn't in the mood for that kind of fantastical wish fulfillment.

All in all, it's a fairly mediocre read. It's not horrible and I think if I were a more inexperienced reader I would have enjoyed it quite a bit. I think I would have liked it quite a bit if I'd read it as an actual teenager, but it wouldn't have been a novel to stick with me throughout the years.

Untying the Moon

Untying the Moon - Ellen Malphrus, Pat Conroy lyrical, haunting, and engrossing. full review later.

The book is more of a character study and thus has little actual plot, though if I had to pin it down I'd say that the novel follows Bailey Martin through a few years of her life as she comes to grip with the death of her mother and reconciles her wandering spirit with romance and the needs of those who love her.

I will say that the plot takes a turn in the last third that I was not expecting. This turn doesn't come out of nowhere, but it changed what I thought the novel was trying to say. I'm honestly still deciding if I liked that turn or not. However, the novel is strong enough and not plot driven, that my quibbles with a plot turn don't change the fact that this is one of the better books I've read this year.

Honestly, if you're at all drawn to language and the skill of a writer in putting pen to page you should absolutely read the book. The prose is simply gorgeous. It is this prose that kept me enthralled for hours, and Malphrus's skill in capturing a moment or an idea is enviable.

I love the character of Bailey Martin, a woman who is unapologetically a wanderer. She wanders in and out of people's lives, keeping only a few permanent connections, as she wanders up and down the east coast. Her one permanent place being the home town she grew up in.

Winter

Winter - Marissa Meyer Winter is the conclusion to Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles and neatly wraps up the story in a tidy little bow, maybe a bit too tidy if I'm honest. I'm not exactly sure what happened here, but I did not enjoy this entry as much as the previous books in this series. I blew through the Lunar Chronicles sometime last year and thought they were excellent YA, but I had been putting of reading this one and ended up skimming through most if it and outright skipping huge swathes of it.

As a final novel in the series it's hard to lay out the plot without getting spoilery. Cinder and her team of rebels are finally facing down the evil queen Levana and instigating the civil war that has been coming for four books. That's it, and perhaps that's the problem. While there are a lot of side plots as people get rescued, and then captured and then rescued again or start mini-rebellions only to find themselves overwhelmed by the superior Lunar forces, there just isn't that much to this book. It just feels very predictable.

There's also the problem of too many point of views. I think Meyer wanted to give all of her characters screen time, but they dragged the plot down and actually highlighted how flat the characters were. Also, Cinder's prince, whose name escapes me, is boring and his POV chapters were both completely unnecessary and utterly boring.

Another issue I had is that the Lunar ability to manipulate people was exposed as kind of ridiculously overpowered, and perhaps badly thought out, through the overuse of it. It was terrifying in the first few books, but as this book was set completely on the moon and we dealt with the Lunar people, the power just became ridiculous and exposed a weakness in Meyer's world building.