Book Review: Of Dreams and Rust

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 12.35.05 PMTitle:  Of Dreams and Rust

Author: Sarah Fine

Series?  Sequel to Of Metal and Wishes

Cliffhanger? No

POV: First person, present tense. One narrator.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Author’s Website:
http://sarahfinebooks.com/

My Rating: 1.5 of 5 stars
(half a star for good writing, and well, I did finish the book after all)

About the Book (from goodreads)
In the year since the collapse of the slaughterhouse where Wen worked as her father’s medical assistant, she’s held all her secrets close. She works in the clinic at the weapons factory and sneaks away to nurse Bo, once the Ghost, now a boy determined to transform himself into a living machine. Their strange, fragile friendship soothes some of the ache of missing Melik, the strong-willed Noor who walked away from Wen all those months ago—but it can’t quell her fears for him.

The Noor are waging a rebellion in the west. When she overhears plans to crush Melik’s people with the powerful war machines created at the factory, Wen makes the painful decision to leave behind all she has known—including Bo—to warn them. But the farther she journeys into the warzone, the more confusing things become. A year of brutality seems to have changed Melik, and Wen has a decision to make about him and his people: How much is she willing to sacrifice to save them from complete annihilation?

My review
Some books should remain stand-alones.  Of Metal and Wishes is one of them.  I loved the first book, and still recommend it, you can see my review of it for details.  Initially, I was really excited about a sequel.  And the cover is just so pretty!!  The first book concluded the Phantom of the Opera story, so I was curious what direction this book would take.  While I did wonder if it would be more romantic than the first book, since the mystery of the factory ghost is no longer, I was still optimistic.

At first I thought I liked this book.  I was super happy to get back into the world of Wen and Melik.  I was caught up in the excitement of seeing what happens next for the characters.  Unfortunately, it was not the same world or people I remember.

Writing and Plot
The writing is good, just like I remembered.  I actually think this book is more quotable than Of Metal and Wishes.  But even with good writing, the plot sunk the story.  And so many plot cliches!!  It is slow paced, with mostly internal conflict.  And annoying internal conflict over a forced love triangle at that!

Lets Add a Love Triangle!
In Of Metal and Wishes, there was no question who had Wen’s heart.  She was intrigued by mysterious Bo, but he was not a love interest.  Now Bo loved Wen, but it was more obsession, stalkerish “love.”  Wen sympathized and even grew fond of Bo, but she never had a romantic attraction to him.  Enter the sequel: Of Dreams and Rust. Wen is confused about who she loves!  She might love Bo and feels like she might belong with him.  And then there is Melik, who held her heart during the first book.  She loves him too!  But Wen is not sure if Melik loves her back, even when it is glaringly obvious.  For the rest of the book she has conflicted feelings for both men.

And she won’t communicate with either of them!  The communication in this book is annoyingly bad. They spend far too much time trying  to sort out their feelings and trying to guess what the other person is thinking. Even Melik does not communicate with Wen.  But the Noors typically say everything on their minds!  And the lame excuse that he is trying to be more Itanyai for her did not help the believability.

That Ending
I’m also REALLY mad about how it ended.  I will put that in spoilers for you. The war machines are coming and Wen gives a conditional promise to go with Bo back to the factory, but only if he helps stop the war machines.  Bo becomes friends with Melik’s younger brother Sinan because he is mechanically inclined. [Highlight to reveal spoiler]  (In the battle against the war machines Sinan dies.  And of course, everyone blames Bo and acts like he is a horrible monster.  Bo runs away leaving Wen behind.  Now to the part that made me angry. Wen sees how well Sinan and Bo got along, and thinks they would have become excellent friends. It is insinuated that Sinan would have become obsessive about machines like Bo to the point that it might be better that he died than see that fate.  Now, I could be reading into that, but that is the definite the impression I got.

With Bo gone, Wen and Melik realize they are meant for each other and run off in a cave to have sex.  (non-descriptive, but still) Fine, whatever.  The problem is, Bo shows back up because there is a second waves of war machines.  And seeing Bo sends Wen into confusion between the two men – again!!  Ugh, sooooooo annoying.  Bo and Melik put aside their differences once more to fight off the evil Itanyai war machines.  Both die, but we only see Bo’s death scene – making it obvious that Wen only thinks Melik is dead.  Wen, seeing that she really loves Bo, kisses him at the moment of his death.  He is later lauded for he bravery and selflessness, and even credited with ending the war because the Itanyai realized the Noor had a machine of their own, referring to Bo.

Enter most typical and predictable ending ever:
Wen becomes delirious because of some injury she had.  She dreams of Melik, but later wakes up to find him still alive.  Wen and Melik realize that they were meant for each other all along (for the fourth time since the book started, so it really doesn’t mean much any more), and with Bo gone there is no confusion or competition.  So cheesey!!  [End spoiler]

Sorry for the long spoilery digression, but sometimes the story itself is the best way to explain my feelings for it.  In fact, I will write a summary of the book to farther show my disapproval of the sequel.  You can read it and save yourself the time of reading the actual book.

 

Of Dreams and Rust: A Summary

Wen: I’m so in love with Melik! I dream about him and even say his name in my sleep!

Factory worker: We will send war machines against those evil Noor to rid our selves of them once and for all!

Wen: Oh no! I must go warn Melik so he does not die!!

Melik: Wen, why are you here?

Wen: Oh no, I thought he loved me, but he is fighting on the side of the Noor and killing people. How could he love me if he is doing that?

Melik: What are you talking about? I was helping you and the Itanyai prisoners. I even helped them escape and gave you the opportunity!!

Wen: Oh, that’s right. And I didn’t escape with them because I loved you! And now I see you love me too!

passionate kissing

Bo: I saw that! How could you love that below the scum of the earth Noor? You belong with me!

Wen: You are right Bo. I should be with you. I don’t even know if Melik loves me!

Melik: So you have spent the last year with this Bo machine guy. This is why you don’t love me any more.

Wen: But Melik, I do love you! I will stay with you forever, if only I knew that you loved me back.

Bo: The village will be attacked. Wen and I will run away so we are not harmed.

Wen: But I cannot stand to think that Melik, the love of my life, might die. You must save him, Bo! If you save him, I will run away with you and never think of Melik again.

Bo: Yay! I win. I will have Wen forever!

Melik: They are acting all loving. I must act distant and brooding so Wen knows of my jealousy.

Wen: Melik is not talking to me. He must not love me! I was right to stay with Bo.

Melik: I might die, but I do love you Wen. Very much.

Wen: You might die, so I too will proclaim my love for you, Melik.

passionate kissing

battle occurs

Melik: One of my beloved men has died and it is all that Bo machine’s fault. I must kill him!

Wen: No! Don’t kill him!

Melik: I see you are still in love with Bo.

Bo: I saw you kiss Melik before the battle. You are really in love with him. I will leave you and you will never see me again.

Wen: Oh no! Bo is gone, and I don’t even know if Melik loves me!

Melik’s Mom: Wen, why are you not comforting Melik during his sorrow?

Wen: Because I don’t know if he loves me!

Melik’s mom: Of course he loves you! You are the only one who can comfort him!

Wen: Yay! He loves me! We should run off in a cave and have non-descriptive safe for YA book sex!

Melik: Now we both know that we are meant to be together.

Bo: I’m back. And more war machines are coming to mow down the Noor. I will stop them. It is the only way to right my wrongs.

Wen: I said I loved Melik, but do I really want him forever? Maybe I should be with Bo.

[Highlight to reveal spoilers]

Melik dies in fiery battle

Bo: I’m hit!  I’m dying!

Wen:  Oh, Bo!  Now I see that I really do love you.  If you weren’t dying, I would have run off with you!

passionate kissing

Melik: But I’m not actually dead.  I love you, Wen!

Wen: Now that Bo is dead, I don’t have to choose between the two guys, woohoo!! I love you too, Melik!  I will be with you forever.

Melik: Bo was a hero.  He ended the fighting between the Itanyai and the Noor.

Wen: Bo was a great man, but not as great as you, Melik! I’m so happy to be pregnant with your child!

[End Spoiler]

 

Other things to be noted
There is a fair amount of war violence in this book, but no more graphic than the first book.

There are quite a few passionate kisses.  The idea is presented that marriage is not forever. And there is a non-decriptive sex scene.

Some nonsense about what happens after death that leave many possibilities open, including reincarnation. I skimmed it and can’t remember details.

Advertisements

Novella Review: Glitches by Marissa Meyer

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 10.47.11 AM

Title:  Glitches

Author: Marissa Meyer

Series?  Prequel to Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles)

Cliffhanger?  Leads right into Cinder

POV: Third person, past tense, one perspectives

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

This novella is a prequel to Cinder and tells the story of Cinder moving in with the Linhs.  I read this novella after Cinder.  I plan on reading them in publication order, but you can hope over to Marissa Meyer’s post about what order these books should be read.

I am not a huge fan of novella prequels or other such stories.  I usually find them too short and lacking.  That was not the case with Glitches!  I found it beautiful and emotional.  Maybe it is because I read it immediately following Cinder, but I really could connect with the characters.

I have a greater respect for Peony now.  In Cinder I thought she was just a plot device, but in Glitches, we see how she treats Cinder from the beginning.  It was beautiful and heartbreaking to see Peony and Cinder trying to play together.  They are just young girls trying to have fun, but Adri does not see it that way.

This book also showed how Cinder learned mechanics by working on Iko.  While Iko’s humor is not really involved in the story, we do see the back story and why Cinder becomes connected to Iko.

Glitches is a great novella, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes the Lunar Chronicles.

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

cinder

Title:  Cinder

Author: Marissa Meyer

Series?  Yes.  Book 1 of 4

Cliffhanger?  Sorta

POV: Third person, past tense, multiple perspectives

Publisher: Square Fish

Author’s Website:
http://www.marissameyer.com/

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars

About the Book (from author’s website)
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.

My Review
I feel the same way about Cinder as I did about Storm Siren.  No, actually I liked Storm Siren better.  A half start better.  :)  Cinder was a great book, but I would have liked it more if I was younger. The writing was great and kept me interested, but it was way too predictable.

Of Robots and Cyborgs
In Cinder, cyborgs are people who need robotic limbs or other robotic parts. They are look upon as outcasts.

There was one problem with this set up, we never knew how much of Cinder was robot and how much was human. I was fine with the limbs and whatnot, but her eyes are robotic, and it appears her brain worked robotically (this is more apparent in the novella Glitches). Yet Cinder was supposed to still be human. This bothered me in the first part of the book, until I read a review that it was never explained. After that I gave up trying to figure Cinder out and just went with it.

Iko was Cinder’s cute sidekick.  Iko is an android with a faulty personality chip that causes it to say things that normally would not be social acceptable.   Again we have the problem of a blurry line between robot and human.  All the other androids in the story were clearly recognizable as robots, but Iko seemed quite human to me.  That aside, he was quite cute, and had the funniest lines.

Cinder
I really liked Cinder as a character. Other than the cyborg part, she was a fleshed out character.  Her motives made sense as she tried to make the best of her situation.  She is a strong, smart protagonist.  I really liked the parts where she was working on something.  It showed that she was gifted with working on the mechanics of the robots in her society.

Plot
The story was really, really predictable. This is one of the main reasons I think I would have liked it better when I was younger.

Cinder has this orange light that flashes in her eye when someone is lying. I kinda felt like I had one too. I knew the moment the author was feeding us misinformation. I also was able to guess lots of things well before they happened.

Despite this, the plot worked.  There were obvious ties to Cinderella, but the story made sense in the futuristic setting.

Peony
Peony is the younger stepsister.  While in the most Cinderella stories we are not suppose to like the stepsisters, here we are suppose to like Peony.  She is more sympathetic to Cinder.  When we are first introduced I thought I might like this twist, but I quickly regarded Peony as only a plot device. Everything that she did or happened to her was solely to advance the plot.  [Spoilers: highlight to view] (Peony got sick so Cinder would be sold off and find out that she was Lunar. Peony entered a new stage of the illness at the most annoying moment, all so Cinder would not find out she was the princess.  She died so Cinder would turn off her comm and not hear from the prince.  And if course, her dress was saved so Cinder would have one without a fairy god-mother.)

What Made the Story Great
Now that I have all that out of the way, I can talk about why I liked this story.  This twist on the classic story was great.  A Cinderella story involving interplanetary relations?  Now that is a great idea!  Seriously, I loved that we heard from Kai, the prince, and learned more about the political situation.  And Kai was just awesome.  He had the pressure of the world (and the moon) on his shoulders.  He wasn’t perfect, but he truly wanted to help his people any way he could.

I also loved how things happened at the ball.  It is just like the original story, where everyone is looking at this strange girl who arrived late, but they are not looking for the reason you think.

In Conclusion
Despite the problems I had with this story, I did enjoy it.  It was a fun, quick read.  I will be reading the next books in the series.

Book Review: Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine

71BHySg5phLTitle:  Of Metal and Wishes

Author: Sarah fine

Series?  Duology – book 1 of 2

Cliffhanger?  I didn’t think so, but some people do

POV: First person, present tense. One narrator

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Author’s Website:
http://sarahfinebooks.com/

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the book
There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.

Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her… for a very long time.

As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her… and she might go down with it.

 

My review

I have read some pretty amazing books this summer.  I had hit into a couple books that were not impressing me, and I wanted another book that would blow me away.  I checked 6 books out at the library hoping at least one of them would be something I love.  I wanted an amazing book that would draw me in and make me not want to put it down.  Of Metal and Wishes did exactly that for me.

Of Metal and Wishes is a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera.  I am somewhat familiar with the original story.  While reading this book, I actually wished I know The Phantom of the Opera because I was so worried about what would happen to the characters!!  I also thought this retelling might be really scary or spooky, but it was not any more spooky than the original story.  So nothing to worry about there!

Setting
Apparently this book is set in Asia, and possibly futuristic Asia.  I wouldn’t go into it hoping to find anything on Asia culture though.  And it is not futuristic in the least!  Unless in the future all women revert back to wearing ankle length dresses. This book had a historical feel to me, and nothing particularly Asian.  However, this was not a problem for me.  It is possible that I am so use to reading fantasy and taking the world I am plopped in as it is presented to me, that I never really bothered about where this book takes place.

The Protagonist
I loved Wen almost immediately.  In the beginning of the story, she impulsively challenges the factory ghost to prove his existence, and her wish is granted at the expense of someone else.  Wen is guilt ridden and considers herself to be very selfish.  I disagree with Wen.  She is not selfish, nor is she selfless.  She is real.  Sometimes she acts selfishly and only looks out for herself, but she also deeply cares about those she loves.  She looks out for her father and does whatever she can to keep him from falling into debt to the factory owners.

While I am squeamish about all things medical and have loudly announced that I will not do anything in that field, I actually really liked see Wen take care of patients.  I could tell that she cares about the factory workers and their health.  She knows that injuries and sickness mean taking time off that these men cannot afford.

The Love Story
Wen is attracted to one of the new workers at the factory, and he obviously likes her back.  It is slow, getting to know each other over time and falling in love.  So much better than insta-love!  The slaughterhouse “ghost” takes a particular interest in Wen, and she is drawn in by the mystery surrounding him.  This could be considered a love triangle, but it does not feel like one.  The only reason Wen is interested in the “ghost” is curiosity.  She does not know him.

Melik
Melik comes to work at the factory with a group of other Noors.  The Noors are looked down upon as being less than human.  Wen has this attitude when she firsts encounters them.  Slowly, she comes to see them as people.  While their culture is different from her own, they are not sub-human.  Melik easily gets the other Noors to rally with him in any situation, but he is not portrayed just as a strong leader.  He is quiet and contemplative.  He considers those around him, and tries to look out for his people to the best of his ability.

What I absolutely loved
I seriously loved everything about this book.  I loved how Wen’s character felt real and flawed, yet strong.  I loved how the struggle to survive in this cruel factory felt so hopeless, yet the characters still found hope.  I loved the Noor’s struggle to be seen as equals, and learning that some people did see them that way.  I loved learning more about the factory “ghost”.  While he remains mostly mysterious, we do start to see his motives and why he is considered both cruel and kind.  I loved the way I had to know what happened and could not put the book down.

Reason I knocked a star off the rating
There is an underling threat of rape that becomes more pronounced in the second half of the book.  The underboss is described as liking underaged girls…..and 16 is considered underage…..
These is some inappropriate touching.
Most of this was subtle at first, but by the second half of the book I felt this aspect of the story was overdone and not really necessary.

Other things to be noted
– Wen does not believe in God, Satan, or any spirits.  This is why she was skeptical when she heard of the factory ghost.
– Factory workers send prayers and wishes with offerings to the factory ghost.
– The story takes place in a slaughterhouse, so there is talk of killing cattle. There is also discussion and almost constant fear of a terrible accident causing injury or death.  While nothing is really described or even gory, it still disturbing.

Book Review: Golden: A Retelling of “Rapunzel” by Cameron Dokey


51LiUq4kmRL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
Title:  Golden: A Retelling of Rapunzel

Author: Cameron Dokey

Series?  Part of the “Once Upon a Time” series.  As far as I can tell, they are unrelated fairy tale retellings.

Cliffhanger?  No.

Publisher: Simon Pulse

 

 

My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

About the book:
Before Rapunzel’s birth, her mother made a dangerous deal with the sorceress Melisande: If she could not love newborn Rapunzel just as she appeared, she would surrender the child to Melisande. When Rapunzel was born completely bald and without hope of ever growing hair, her horrified mother sent her away with the sorceress to an uncertain future. 

After sixteen years of raising Rapunzel as her own child, Melisande reveals that she has another daughter, Rue, who was cursed by a wizard years ago and needs Rapunzel’s help. Rue and Rapunzel have precisely “two nights and the day that falls between” to break the enchantment. But bitterness and envy come between the girls, and if they fail to work together, Rue will remain cursed…forever.

 

My Review:

The premise of the story is interesting. We have a bald Rapunzel being raised like a daughter to a sorceress. For a while there is nothing about hair or a tower or a prince. And it quickly convinced me that Rapunzel would never grow hair. So how is this a retelling of the famous story?

I also found it very intriguing that the sorceress’s gift was to see into the hearts of others, and she could reflect that heart back to them. While at first this was only an interesting feature to the story, it plays a major roll later.

The book started out interesting, but slow. Cameron Dokey takes a lot of time to build the world that Rapunzel lives in. And as I said before, it is not recognizable as a world past Rapunzels lived.

It does work out in the end though. We get a tower, hair(not Rapunzel’s), and a prince, though none of them came about the way I thought they would. The only thing I did have figured out was Rapunzel was never to grow hair.

I really liked the ending. The sorceress’ gift foreshadows and leads the whole story. It is all about what is seen in the heart. It is about true motives, loyalty, and learning to love.  I don’t want to give anything away, but there was one particular scene at the end that was very sweet, and made of point of making room for others in your heart.

While the story line and premise was very interesting, I did have a few problems with the writing style. Cameron Dokey personified everything. And I mean everything! I don’t mind personification, but it was way over used.

Another writing device that was over used was telling something in the beginning of the chapter, then taking the whole chapter to explain it. Such as, “It was the cat who decided things in the end.” Then taking the whole chapter to explain how the cat even fits in. And it did not actually ‘decide’ things; it just created a diversion and a bond between two characters. Again, I don’t mind authors that do this, but it was overused in this story.

Overall, I liked the story, but the writing could have been better. I like that it was not the typical Rapunzel tale. Although it is not a favorite, it is a good little book.