The Whimsical Mama

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Top Ten Tuesday #96: Top Ten Books Set Outside the US July 19, 2016


Each week, the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish think up a fun theme for the week and participating bloggers around the net join in. The theme for this week is:

Top Ten Books Set Outside the US

I decided to go with actual locations other than fantastical realms for this week.


  1. Die for Me by Amy Plum. Oh, Paris. I love you.


2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. This book only strengthened by desire to visit Prague!


3. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. Historical (fantasy) England, but England nonetheless!


4. Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz. Various locations around Europe, South America, and even Tartarus.


5. The Falconer trilogy by Elizabeth May. Victorian Scotland!


6. Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. England and Scotland (with visitors from other nations too)


7. Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer. Ireland, England, Russia, and some other locations too!


8. Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Scotland and France!


9. His Fair Assassin trilogy by Robin LaFevers. Duchy of Brittany and France.


10. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. Beijing, France, Africa, the Moon.


Where have books taken you?




*Review* Cress by Marissa Meyer March 30, 2014

Rating: 4 stars
Pub Date: 4 February 2014
Publisher: Macmillan, Feiwel & Friends
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Fairy Tale Retelling
Format: hardcover, signed, personal copy
Status: Book three of The Lunar Chronicles series

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

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had 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 of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

My Thoughts:
After much lusting over Cress, I finally got my hands on a copy. I was supposed to be a part of an ARC tour, but the ARC was lost in the mail mid-tour. Very devastating and disappointing! My wonderful hubby and incredible BFF Mary (Mary Had A Little Book Blog) concocted a surprise for a fourth wedding anniversary gift. I love Marissa Meyer. She did a signing in Texas. Mary lives in Texas. I got signed books for my present! I did have to wait til I got to hang out with Mary when she came in to visit family and go on her epic book events tour, but it was worth the wait. Plus I got to see my Mary! (:

I absolutely love the retelling/remaining Marissa has done. I love the Disney princess movies, as does my toddler daughter, but I adore that Marissa is taking these timeless classics and turning them into pretty kickass heroines. As a mama, I want heroines my kiddos can look up to and Marissa has delivered on that three times now.

Of the heroines so far, Rapunzel is probably my least favourite in origin. Cress, however, is perfect. She’s more than slightly off her rocker, but 1.) that’s to be expected after essentially growing up in solitary confinement and 2.) it adds depth to her character and gives her tons of room to grow. I loved seeing her relationship develop with Thorne after being a bit obsessed with him. It was nice to see a portrayal of how a one sided infatuation can develop into a budding friendship.
I was very happy to see everyone back from Scarlet. Cinder seems to be adjusting slowly to the idea of her identity and is striving to learn all she can about her gifts. Scarlet is still spunky as ever and I can’t wait to see how things go between her and Princess Winter. After seeing the vicious side of Wolf, it was a great relief to see a tenderness fully develop between him and Scarlet. I love how devoted he is to her and how determined he is to save her. Queen Levana is as wickedly evil as ever and I get a sick enjoyment out of her wickedness. Haha. And Emperor Kai. Oh, I love Kai. The events that transpire at the end had me in a fit of giggles. I really, really, REALLY hope things work out for him and Cinder. REALLY.

What kept this from being a 5 star review is jumping around from the points of view. It’s a necessary evil for the story, and Marissa does a great job, but it just felt a bi disruptive to me this time around. I’m not sure why. Probably because I have two toddlers running around who live to keep mama on her toes.

Cress definitely moves the action and story along as well as sets up for the series finale, Winter. It’s going to suck waiting for a year, but I’m sure Marissa will make it worth it! From the teasers she’s been putting up on Twitter, it definitely feels like it will be! Weaving together four fairy tales is a Herculean task, but Marissa Meyer is making it look easy. I highly recommend Cress and the rest of The Lunar Chronicles without a single bit of hesitation.

About the author:
I live in Tacoma, Washington, with my fiancé and our two cats. In addition to my slight obsession with books and writing, I’m big on road-tripping, wine-tasting, and hunting for antiques. I’m represented by Jill Grinberg.


*Review* Cinder by Marissa Meyer July 30, 2013

affiliate links used

 Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles

Rating: 5/5 stars
Pub date: 3 Jan 2012
Publisher: Square Fish by Macmillan
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale, Science Fiction
Format: Paperback, special edition, signed, obtained through giveaway on Mary Had a Little Book Blog

Disclaimer This is entirely my own opinion of this work and in no way is affiliated with Marissa Meyer or Square Fish. I have not been compensated for reading or reviewing this work. I review based on the Goodreads rating system of stars.

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.

Growing up, I loved Disney. I loved several of the Disney princesses. I HATED Cinderella. I always thought she was a great priss. However, when I started hearing the hype over Cinder, I was greatly intrigued. When Mary announced her giveaway, I was instantly drawn to Legend and Cinder. Being the third winner, I expected I wouldn’t get either, but was ecstatic to see Cinder was still on the list. I immediately picked it. I had a few other things to read first, but seeing how popular Cinder and Scarlet were, I went ahead and requested Scarlet from the library. I was surprised how quickly I received it. I hit a lull in Reached and needed to step back for a bit. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to renew Scarlet, I quickly pounced on Cinder. I’m glad I did!

I’m always fond of strong female protagonists, but it is quite refreshing to see a female in a typically male dominated profession. Even when Prince Kai comes along to bring his broken android to her, he is expecting a man. His reaction reminded me a lot of Neo and Trinity. Whoa, whoa, whoa, you’re a GIRL?! A nice change from the classic tale, Cinder is more of a tomboy. I can relate to this. I’ve never been a girly girl, even now as a mother of a daughter, I like girly things occasionally, but not overly girly things.

Cyborgs. I’ll admit, I wasn’t terribly crazy about this idea at first. I dislike the Terminator movies, except for the last one with Christian Bale, but I only watched it FOR Christian Bale. I’ve never really been into the whole robot thing. It works with this world. It’s hard to estimate just how far into the future this is set. It takes place almost 130 years after World War 4. (I’m happy to say) World War 3 hasn’t even occurred yet in 2013. I’m feeling this is probably set in the 3000s. That being said, that much robotic technology and advances is acceptable to me. Forcing too much technological advances in novels irritates me.

New Beijing. This really interested me. I’ve read several reviews that were upset with the location setting saying that it wasn’t true to the Chinese culture. I didn’t go into it expecting a true Chinese culture representation because the name of the city is NEW. Two more world wars have occurred since the founding of this city. Obviously a lot has changed in the world. Each day cultures are blending more and more. I like the idea that Cinder is still assumed to be European, but raised in an Asian family. The idea of the Commonwealth and the other global conglomerates really interests me. I hope there is further detail in the future books. Just the basic detail of the rulers of each nation just intrigues me more. The Eastern Commonwealth is ruled by a monarchy. Some of the others are monarchies, some are elected, some aren’t quite clear how the ruling process is. I also like the idea of a colony on the moon. It’s crazy to think that here in 2013, the farthest man has ever been has been to the moon. The universe is infinite and we have explored so little. Even though it’s cliched and I’m not a Trek fan, space really is the final frontier.

The architecture also interests me. After so much time passing from now to the time of Cinder, it is interesting to think how things have changed architecturally and what they think of things we’ve built recently (if any still exists after two world wars and a new plague)

Letumosis. Of course, it’s expected that travelers will bring about new diseases to locations never before exposed. Letumosis is carried by Lunars (moon inhabitants) much like smallpox was carried by the Spanish/English/French settlers brought to the New World when they traveled and how the rats carried the fleas that carried Bubonic plague. It sounds as though travel between Earth and Lunar is strictly monitored and rarely allowed, so it makes Letumosis all that more mysterious. No cure is known and Lunars have developed an immunity to it. It sounds as if few families haven’t been struck by the plague at some point since it started wreaking havoc on Earth.

Princess Selene. No major spoilers, but I called it. Meyer really pulls a good one with this twist. It’s as obvious as it can be, but still leaves that feeling of doubt in your mind. When it clicks, you still ponder if it really could be THAT obvious. After that passes, the legend of the missing princes really feels like the legends of one of the princes in the Tower surviving the War of the Roses or the Grand Duchess Anastasia or one of the other sisters surviving the assassination of the Russian family. Supporters of a side will always cling to rumours when they spread like wild fire.

The ball. Really, what would a Cinderella retelling be if there wasn’t a ball involved? I think it’s a nice twist on the traditional tale, though.

It’s very interesting that there are two “evil” figureheads in this book. Directly, Cinder must deal with her “evil step-mother” who is actually her legal guardian. She despises Cinder and is absolutely horrid to her. The second figurehead is the Queen of the Lunar. With the Lunar gifts, she is overly mysterious and corrupt. She constantly lies and rumours abound about her.

It is interesting with the approach of Cinderella and her Prince Charming. It isn’t love at first sight, love because of who he is, or smushy overly romantic crap. It feels like an actual relationship beginning. Reluctance, friendship, attraction. It will be interesting to see how the relationship will play out. Happily ever after as man and wife or just friends?

I’m rarely a fan of cliffhangers, but this one was well done! Will Cinder run? If she runs, where will she go? Will she accept her fate? What does she do know that she knows what she does? So many questions are spinning, but it is interesting to have them spinning and not be upset over the cliffhanger. Maybe it’s because I have book two in my hands. I may change my tune once I finish Scarlet and have to wait til 2014 for the continuation if the cliffhanger is set up the same way.

I enjoyed this book very much, and it is definitely to be re-read and shared with my daughter when she gets bigger. I’ll share it too, with my son, if he’s interested. That’s another wonderful thing about this, it’s not overly girly and isolationist in it’s style. It easily could be enjoyed by a guy too. Or at least, in my opinion it could be.

Recommended for: Readers who like science fiction, modern tellings of fairy tales, female protagonist in a male dominated field
Not recommended for: Readers who prefer true retellings of fairy tales, futuristic technology, someone expecting lots of Chinese culture due to the setting


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