Saturday, December 19, 2015

Review: Winter by Marissa Meyer

By the time you read this I will be in the air, flying over the ocean or an entire continent to meet my family in India. I wanted to post more than just once in December and, having finished Winter in the midst of my finals, this is my last post of the year. I will post copiously about my adventures when I return, not to mention a list of my Top Five Books of 2015 but, for now, I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a very happy new year. Thanks for sticking with me this year, especially through the past few months of limited posts but I'm hopeful that I'll have a large backlog of posts stored up with all the reading I'll be getting done this holiday break (and especially on the flight). Anyhow, just wanted to say how much I love my readers, your comments, and your encouragement--you're the BEST! :)

Title: Winter (Lunar Chronicles, #4)

Author: Marissa Meyer

Rating: 4 Stars

Color me surprised, I actually enjoyed this final installment of the Lunar Chronicles. I wasn't a fan of Cinder but I loved Scarlet and then I found Cress to be an absolute disappointment. So, naturally, I expected to adore aspects of Winter but I wasn't sure how well this series, one I had such a rocky relationship with, would wrap up. But every wonderful, special aspect of these series truly comes to a head in this installment and the conclusion is bittersweet but worth it.

Admittedly, this is Winter's story but it feels very much like a finale, wrapping up the loose ends of all of these characters' lives. I've grown to love and admire Cinder, her growth steady yet believable. Moreover, her relationship with Kai has been so thoroughly developed over the course of these books that I really enjoyed seeing it simply be in this installment. Much like the relationship between Scarlet and Wolf, Kai and Cinder are a rock solid team. We never feel anxiety about the future of their love and it's a relief to be able to rely on their relationship in the midst of so much turmoil.

Speaking of turmoil, the political nature of this series comes to a head in this installment which I adore. Levana's depravity and insanity is clear through the telling of Winter's story as she orders Jacin, Winter's guard, to kill her and then works tirelessly to destroy Winter's image and beauty among the people of Luna. I love how Meyer doesn't hesitate to expose just how terrible Levana's rule has been and as someone who adores a good backstory, the payoff was worth it in Winter. Not to mention, Levana is a worthy villain--one who isn't easy to defeat--so the revolution that Cinder wants to begin isn't always so easy as it seems.

Yet, my favorite aspect of Winter was watching the two remaining love stories--Cress and Thorne and Winter and Jacin--resolve themselves. Cress and Thorne, as we know, have a great deal of leftover tension from the previous novel and their interactions are frought with all the things left unsaid between them. Jacin and Winter, though, have an entirely new dynamic--one I absolutely LOVE. Snow White is by far my least favorite fairy tale but Winter and Jacin I adore. Jacin protects her and cares for her, but he also respects her and admires her bravery. Winter, meanwhile, can trust Jacin in a way she cannot trust others in her life and Jacin, instead of simply seeing her beauty or her crazy sees her potential. Their love story is wrought with hurdles--after all, Jacin in merely a guard while Winter is a princess and, moreover, is tasked with killing her--but I enjoyed it all the more for that.

Winter isn't the conclusion of one of my favorite series but it is a fantastic finale to a series that has its positives and negatives both. I am the first to admit that this isn't a perfect series and while I wouldn't endorse it the way many of its fans do, it's engaging, interesting, and original in a way few YA series are. It doesn't contain love triangles or weak heroines, it features diversity and it elaborates on messages we've all been told as children and applies it to the later stages of our lives as well. Winter was a treat and I wish I had enjoyed the rest of this series as much as I did this finale (and Scarlet) but I still look forward to what Meyer has to write in the future. A worthy ending, indeed.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Monthly Rewind: November

So...November wasn't a great month in terms of posting, or reading for that matter. But, it was a much-needed break type of month. I did a lot of reading for my classes and my final papers and rested over Thanksgiving break and spent the rest of this month really sorting out what I wanted to do next summer, next semester, etc. I booked tickets for a conference I'm attending, organized a huge weekend-long choir concert, and applied to study abroad. So, it's been a really busy month, socially, so forgive my limited online presence. I will definitely be getting a lot of reading done over the holidays so come January, I will actually have reviews to post! For this month, we'll probably be seeing some more mini-reviews, likely, and hopefully another post or two I can wrangle up to end off 2015. Mostly, I just want to say that I'm so grateful to have such a loyal readership despite the fact that my blogging presence has really been diminishing this past year. 

3 Things About My Life This Month

1. Thanksgiving! I spent Thanksgiving with my best friend and I had such a good time! We visited Longwood Gardens, ate some truly fantastic burritos, and made tacos from scratch. It was filling, restful, and most importantly, fun! 

2. Diwali! So I had midterms throughout the month of November (again!) and Diwali was in the middle but, regardless, Diwali was amazing. It's always such a lovely, relaxing few hours and Indian food always makes everything that much better.

3. I cut my hair! hair used to be half-way down my back and now it's just by my ears. I hadn't cut my hair in two and a half years and now it's about 11 inches shorter than before, which is crazy! But, I love it.

Best Book I Read This Month

Power to Choose: Bangladeshi Women and Labor Market Decisions in London and Dhaka by Naila Kabeer. I read an excerpt from this for my class on Gender and Power in South Asia and promptly bought the book to read the entire story. Kabeer is an economist who has done extensive research on microfinance and the impacts of that on gender are powerful and compelling. I loved this book and as an economist and feminist myself, microfinance fascinates me. I've read quite a few other nonfiction books on microfinance this month so if you're interested in the issue, just let me know and I'd love to provide some recommendations. 

Obsession of the Month

Scandal! I started over Thanksgiving break, am already a little over half-way through Season 2, and am 100% obsessed. Needless to say, this will carry me over through to February when HTGAWM is back on TV. ;)

3 Things I'm Looking Forward to in December

1. Last Day of Classes! I love all of my classes SO MUCH this year--like, I cannot even explain how much I love both my classes and my professors--but I'm really excited to just be done. I'll have time to sleep in, study, and then just ace those finals and get a much-needed break. This semester has been so incredibly rewarding, not to mention a ton of fun, but it has also been a LOT of work.

2. I'm going to India! For the first time in five years I am finally going to India and I can't wait! I'll be spending New Years with my cousins and visiting the Taj Mahal, among other historic sites, with my grandparents. I've never been to North India so I'm really looking forward to spending time as a tourist in the country I was born in.

3. Reading! I'm finally going to have time to read! I desperately want to finish up Winter which I just barely started, Cam Girl, and Ilona Andrews's newest novel to say the least. I've missed reading so much so I'm really looking forward to just curling up with a book for a few hours.

How was your November? Any fun Thanksgiving stories? Any plans for December? Christmas? New Years? Vacation? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below! :)