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Muggle-Born.net is a blog mostly on young adult book reviews. My name is Cialina, and I am a college student living in New York City. I love Harry Potter, coffee, and bookstores.

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Cress by Marissa MeyerCRESS by Marissa Meyer Book Review
Series: Lunar Chronicles, #3
Publication Date: February 4th 2014 by Feiwel & Friends
Rating: – Exceeds Expectations |

Book Summary: Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

Cress by Marissa Meyer Book Review Overview:

  • Cress is a great addition to the wonderful cast of characters
  • The third book in the series does not lack action, but it does build up to the final installment
  • The Lunar Chronicles is one of the few series that just keeps getting better with each additional book.

One of the dilemmas I face as a book lover is trying to get hooked on a series. These days, I always find myself reading the first book in a series, but I never get around to reading the others. Reading a whole series takes a lot of commitment, and it takes more than just liking a book.  Beyond an interesting plot, the characters and the world-building needs to be spot on. I need to care about the protagonist even after the first book comes to an end.

Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series continues to be a hit with the third book, Cress. A classic fairy tale character inspires each book in the Lunar Chronicles series. Cress is loosely based on Rapunzel.

Cress picks up immediately where the last book, Scarlet, leaves off. I’m always worried that after waiting a long period of time for the next book in the series, I’ll forget just about everything that happened in the previous book. Luckily, I was able to jump back into the world that Meyer has created without much confusion.

Cinder and her friends are still fugitives on the run. Queen Levana of the Lunar colony is determined to catch and kill Cinder before everyone finds out that Cinder’s true identity is Princess Selene, the rightful heir to the throne of Luna. Despite the price on her head, Cinder knows she cannot hide forever. She needs to stop the marriage between Queen Levana and Prince Kai. Though the Queen promises an alliance between Luna and Earth, Cinder knows that she cannot be trusted.

Cress introduces a character that becomes Cinder’s newest ally. For years, Cress has been locked up on a satellite and forced to spy on the Earthens. A master hacker and programmer, Cress is the mastermind responsible for keeping Lunar activity undetected by the people on Earth. But Cress knows that she is being taken advantage of and she knows that she must put an end to Queen Levana’s reign. Cress agrees to use her knowledge to help Cinder overthrow Queen Levana for the exchange of her rescue from her satellite prison.

Cress is a wonderful addition to the vibrant cast of characters. Each character has such a developed back story that readers really get to know each one of them. Despite the large number of characters and alternating perspectives, the narrative does not get confusing. On the contrary, the multiple storylines keep the pages turning. I’m invested in all of the characters and I never find myself skimming chapters not told in Cinder’s perspective.

Being the third book in the series, my biggest fear that all 400 pages would be filled with lots of development and very little action. Despite the fact that the plot does build up to the final book in the series, Cress does not lack action. The plot continues to thicken in Cress with lots of jaw-dropping twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. Meyer continues to delve into the origins of letumosis, a deadly disease that has plagued Earth and killed thousands. Dr. Erland gets one step closer to developing a cure. With the help of Cress, Cinder uncovers more about Queen Levana and her nefarious plans to take over Earth.

Marissa Meyer is one of the few authors whose series just gets better with every additional book. Cress is an action-packed page-turner with unforgettable characters. You’ll never want to leave the world of the Lunar Chronicles and you’ll be waiting eagerly for the final installment.

About the Author

Marissa MeyerMarissa Meyer lives in Tacoma, Washington, with her husband and three cats. She’s a fan of most things geeky (Sailor Moon, Firefly, color-coordinating her bookshelf . . .), and has been in love with fairy tales since she was given a small book of them when she was a child. She may or may not be a cyborg. Cinder is her first novel.

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Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Four Stars - , , , , , , , | Words 1266 words

Forgive Me, Leonard PeacockFORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK by Matthew Quick Book Review
Publication Date: August 13th 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: – Exceeds Expectations |

Book Summary: In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say good-bye to them properly. I want to give them each something to remember me by. To let them know I really cared about them and I’m sorry I couldn’t be more than I was—that I couldn’t stick around—and that what’s going to happen today isn’t their fault.

Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.

But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school’s class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.

In this riveting book, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made—and the light in us all that never goes out.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock Book Review Overview:

  • Unforgettable protagonist; abrasive but he worms his way into your heart
  • Found myself glued to the pages; I couldn’t stop reading

Matthew Quick, author of the New York Times Bestseller Silver Linings Playbook, introduces readers to an unforgettable protagonist in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.

Today is Leonard’s birthday. Today also happens to be the day that Leonard will kill himself with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol. But first, Leonard needs to give presents to the four people who matter most to him. Then, he’ll shoot his former best friend before he kills himself. As the day progresses, Leonard slowly reveals how he has reached rock bottom in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick.

My initial reaction when I started reading Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock was: Oh my God, this main character is such a jerk. I don’t think I’ve ever come across such a depressing, pessimistic teenager. Clearly, Leonard suffers from a myriad of psychological issues from depression to abandonment issues. He’s at the end of his rope, and he doesn’t think there’s anything worth living for in the future.

But Matthew Quick is such a talented writer. I didn’t even realize just how much I got attached to Leonard until I was halfway through the book and I found myself yelling at Leonard not to shoot himself. I was glued to the pages, eager to find out what would happen.

As it turns out, Leonard had a pretty messed up childhood. He’s not just some teenager acting up for attention, and his actions are truly a cry for help. Towards the end of the book, there’s nothing more that I wanted to do than hug Leonard.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a relatively short read, but it packs a lot of punch. Leonard is an unforgettable main character. He has an abrasive personality, but before you know it, Leonard Peacock will worm his way into your heart.


About the Author

Matthew QuickMatthew Quick (aka Q) is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, which was made into an Oscar-winning film. His work has been translated into twenty-eight languages and has received a PEN/Hemingway Award Honorable Mention, among other accolades. Q lives with his wife, novelist/pianist Alicia Bessette.

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Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Four Stars - , , , , , | Words 948 words

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A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan HalpinA REALLY, AWESOME MESS by Brendan Halpin and Trish Cook Book Review
Publication Date: July 23rd 2013 by EgmontUSA
Rating:  – Poor

Book Summary: A hint of Recovery Road, a sample of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and a cut of Juno. A Really Awesome Mess is a laugh-out-loud, gut-wrenching/heart-warming story of two teenagers struggling to find love and themselves.

Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy.
Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin’s summer took a quick turn for the worse. His parents’ divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock bottom.

Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog– and Emmy definitely doesn’t. After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook.

Justin and Emmy arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends.
A funny, sad, and remarkable story, A Really Awesome Mess is a journey of friendship and self-discovery that teen readers will surely sign up for.

A Really, Awesome Mess Book Review Overview:

  • Unlikeable protagonists but diverse and interesting cast of secondary characters
  • The plot gets out of hand and I ended up skimming the last half of the book

I picked up A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin on a whim. I was looking for something to read, and A Really Awesome Mess kind of reminded me of a younger-self favorite: Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story, a novel about a teen who ends up at a psychiatric facility after a suicide attempt. A Really Awesome Mess tries to follow in the same vein by mixing mental health with humor. Unfortunately, A Really Awesome Mess is unsuccessful.

Emmy and Justin arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school for messed up teens. But Emmy and Justin refuse to admit that they both have problems. Emmy had always felt like an outsider in her own family. She was adopted from China, and she looks nothing like her family. After a scandalous photo of her spread around her school, Emmy retaliates by spreading rumors on Facebook. Justin was never able to properly cope with his parents’ divorce. When he overdoses on a handful of Tylenol, Justin hits rock bottom. In A Really Awesome Mess, Emmy and Justin make new friends and learn how to cope with their problems.

One of the downfalls of A Really Awesome Mess is that the two protagonists, who alternate narrating the story, are not likeable. To be honest, they’re quite annoying. At first, I thought that this would be the kind of story where you hate the main characters, but you end up growing to love them. This was not the case. As the story progressed, the more I rolled my eyes at the characters. It was really hard to empathize with them when I didn’t even like them.

A highlight of A Really Awesome Mess is the diverse cast of secondary characters. Emmy and Justin are forced to work as a team with others in their anger management class. Mohammed, Chip, Jenny, and Diana all had distinct personalities. So even if there were a ton of people to keep track of, it never got confusing.

I enjoyed the group’s dynamics, but then the plot takes a turn for the worse. The antics that the group gets into just get utterly ridiculous. I know I’m probably not supposed to take this book all that seriously. But to be honest, I really didn’t find myself laughing throughout the book. There were a few lines that deserved a chuckle, but for the most part, A Really Awesome Mess was silly, not funny. I had to resist rolling my eyes in a few scenes, and I ended up having to force myself through the last half of the book.

Once I reached the climax of the story, it was difficult to take the protagonists seriously. It’s hard for me to feel like they accomplished anything in terms of getting better. The characters never felt sincere to me when they came upon their turning points.  I never really felt that Emmy or Justin improved by the end of the book.

Overall, A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin is a mess not worth reading. The unlikeable protagonists will just have you rolling your eyes from beginning to end.

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Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Two Stars - , , , , , | Words 979 words

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.
- J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

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