Monthly Archives: February 2013

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Forget everything you know about the traditional Cinderella story. 11235712

There are no glass slippers and fairy godmothers to be found here. Here, mechanical limbs and elbow grease abounds.

Cinder is not some weepy damsel-in-distress crying in the ashes. She’s a cyborg. And not just any cyborg, she’s the best dang mechanic in the New Bejing. Too bad her lazy stepmother and selfish stepsister Pearl hate her guts and the youngest sister Peony is hardly ever allowed to hang out with her. After her adopted father died, she just became another burden for Adri. Even though her income supports the whole family, Cinder is not considered a member. Or even human.

Yet when the handsome crown prince comes to Cinder’s stall for help with his android, he doesn’t see her mechanical limbs–they’re hidden by her long sleeves. Instead, he sees a girl with a funny personality who doesn’t kowtow to him like everyone else. But before she can see where this romantic intrigue will go, a nearby vender is struck with the plague that is blighting the city and chaos ensues.

Should she tell the prince she isn’t what she appears to be?

On top of that, Cinder’s life is shattered when Peony is diagnosed with the plague and her stepmother “volunteers” her for the cyborg medical experimentation draft that none have returned from. How will she get out alive?

And did you think the plague was all? Oh no, a new alliance with the evil Lunar queen must be forged–and the prince’s hand in marriage is on the table. Imminent war and mass death is in the cards if they don’t figure out how to placate Queen Levana. It’s up to Cinder to help save the kingdom when the medical researchers realize that there is something special about her… All she can do is hope the queen doesn’t catch wind of her gift.

This book was very cute. Cinder had a good rough and tumble nature that set her apart, and her little android Iko’s spunky personality was adorable. I liked the combination of teenage girl and machine, and the way she used her mechanical parts to her advantage. Wouldn’t we all like to know when someone was lying? And it would be really handy to have a storage compartment hidden in your calf!

I WISH I had the evil queen’s powers, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of what the crazy Lunars have to offer. I liked that this story was geared (no pun intended) towards young girls, but the underlying message is that what you see on the outside isn’t what matters. You can have a beautiful face but an ugly heart. Sometimes it’s better to have skills than to just be another snooty girl unwilling to get her hands dirty.

It’s your personality chip that counts. ;P

4 bolts and cogs of 5

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Quote of the Day: Margo Lanagan

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“You are pure-hearted and lovely, and you have never done a moment’s wrong. But you are a living creature, born to make a real life, however it cracks your heart.”

-From Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan


Quote of the Day: Lena Coakley

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“We live between the two great silences: the silence that existed before the world began, and the silence that waits for us at the end of all things.”

-From Witchlanders by Lena Coakley

 


Pure by Julianna Baggott

Pure Ok, I’m just gonna jump straight to the point. Pure by Julianna Baggott has all the makings of a great dystopian novel. Futuristic, yet devastated civilization. Haughty “better” class. Something terrible that sets the lower class apart from the higher. Missing family members. Love interest.

Booyah.

In this instance, the decimation to society was caused by a global nuclear bombing. No one is clear on how or why, just that billions of people are now dead. Our story takes place in the remains of the United States, near Baltimore. Inside a biosphere-like “Dome” are the Pures. These are the people unaffected by the blasts–no scars, no fusings, no missing limbs. They were “lucky” enough to be in the Dome before the Denotations. Outside are the Wretches. These are the people who survived the bombings and the resulting radiation, but who are deformed because of it. We’re talking people fused together (Groupies), people fused to inanimate objects (whatever they were standing next to/holding at the time of Detonation), and people with terrible mutations.

Pressia is a Wretch–left with no parents and scant memories of the Before–she has scars on her face and a doll’s head fused to her hand. For some reason she can’t yet fathom, she is special to the people inside the Dome. Partridge, on the other hand, is a Pure. Not just any Pure. The only living son of the Pure’s leader. When his father slips and says something that leads Partridge to believe his mother may still be alive somewhere outside the Dome, he can’t take action fast enough.

When these two teenagers from VERY different places meet, it will change everything they thought they knew about themselves and their places in the world.

Is being Pure really everything?

Baggott did a GREAT job illustrating her ruined earth. You can really see the bomb-riddled world in your mind’s eye, and she created a number of interesting beasts to go along with the atmosphere. I like the social commentary about how looks set us apart from others, and how they’ve always been used to classify someone ugly as “less” than someone attractive. Not to mention a nod to the terror a nuclear war would present–not only the bombing but also the aftermath.

I felt this story was very cinematic. It held a very fast pace throughout, and switched between character perspectives frequently. There’s no room to get bored here. I LOVED the descriptions of the Wretches, and how their various mutations and deformities began to define or symbolize them as a person. How they learned to adapt was incredible.

I HIGHLY recommend this book. A new favorite for sure. Watch out, Hunger Games.

5 birds in your back of 5 7304563548_f9a5656a24_z


Eona by Alison Goodman

Remember when I told you guys a couple months ago that I had a total Mulan fantasy growing up? (Ok, I still have it, but thats beside the point). Eon fed it, and the sequel Eona totally fanned the flames. Who doesn’t want to have amazing sword-fighting skills and dragon magic? Not to mention a handsome prince vying for your affection…

Far from being some cheesy Yu-gi-oh or Dragonball Z crap, Goodman blends ancient Japan and China into one mythical empire sustained by dragon energy. The Dragoneyes are the sacred liaisons between the creatures and the kingdom. Now that Eona has revealed her untraditional femininity, danger faces her from multiple directions. With all of the other Dragoneyes massacred except the evil Lord Ido, it is up to her alone to save the empire from Sethon’s army. EONA_jktmech-3.indd

But an ancestor’s ancient rage looms over Eona–fueling her violent urges–and Kygo’s feelings for her may only be putting his life in danger.

Will love or the quest for power win this epic battle?

Can’t you just see the movie trailer already??

I loved this book, and despite it being more than 600 pages and having a horribly tacky cover. (Seriously, don’t judge it. It looks like something for anime fans, but it isn’t). I thought Eona had great character development, and this book lacked the slow-moving scenes of the first book. I thought it was a success on Goodman’s part to install a love triangle in the saga–and it was so well executed that I found myself going back and forth between which man I was rooting for. Dela the she-male advisor to Eona was by far my favorite character. I really admired her strength in the face of adversity and how she balanced the two aspects of her personality.

5 hua of 5


Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day!

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On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee

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Holy mother of…. This is a huge book. Nine hundred pages of food. A whole immense chapter dedicated to milk alone. Sugar plums dancing in my head. It could be either a dream or a nightmare.

It was pretty damn amazing. I found myself not feeling like reading it, but once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down.

McGee covers pretty much every food’s composition, history, and even name etymology. I, for one, had no idea the word “avacado” was derived from the native word for “testicle.” (The shape I guess??) Makes me snigger every time I make guacamole. The amount of research this book must have taken… incredible. I read the 2004 updated version–the original 1980’s one was ONLY 724 pages.

But while interesting–this is one beast of a book. Don’t be fooled–you will learn a lot if you stick with it–but it will take a LONG time. It’s less of an instruction manuel, and simply a basic food origin and preparation guide. It will tell you WHY you should add salt to pasta water, but not give you a recipe for vodka sauce. It’s very science and history-based.

The chapters were broken down by basic categories: milk, meat, fruits, vegetables, sauces, grains, etc… Some were more fascinating than others. All were about 70 pages long. The milk and meat were infinitely more page-turning than the fruits and sauces. I caught myself dozing a bit on those….

The two end chapters are dedicated to kitchen utensils and the four molecules that make up all food: fats, carbohydrates, proteins, and water. These should have been in the very beginning instead of the very end because they could have helped with the basic understanding of the rest of the chapters. I don’t get the order, but they were short anyway.

I really recommend this book for all cooks, or even just for people into food history. This is a very educational compendium. It’s like if you took everything Wikipedia had to say about food (that was true) and put it all in one place. Amazing. There should be one in every kitchen!

4 persimmon pastes of 5