Book Review: Fairest

Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marrisa Meyer
Release Date ~ January 27, 2015
Feiwel & Friends ~ Macmillan
ISBN13: 9781250060556
Review copy received from Raincoast Books for review

*Please note: there will be very small, minor spoilers for the previous books in The Lunar Chronicles. I will not include any details - but suffice to say, I will mention who the main antagonist for the series is. This review is nearly spoiler-free for the series.

Goodreads Synopsis:
In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now. 

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

The Lunar Chronicles has been a delightful series so far, and news that a prequel was coming had me eagerly awaiting its arrival. In particular, the fact that Fairest focuses its attention on Queen Levana, the main antagonist in the first three books of The Lunar Chronicles and I'm assuming the last one as well.

Fairest is exactly what a prequel should be, as it narrates some of Levana's personal history and she came to be the Queen of Luna as we readers now know her.

As an aside, I would recommend reading this prequel after having read Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress - I also think it fits in well before Winter, but then again I haven't yet read Winter! Basically, I would suggest reading the books in the order in which they were released. I enjoyed Fairest because I was already familiar with many of the central characters in The Lunar Chronicles series, and if you haven't read the previous books I think you'll miss many of the little clues or truly appreciate some of the details.

  1. Evilness: nature versus nurture?

    At this point in the series, many of us have been horrified by the rumours surrounding Queen Levana and the actions she has taken. And I was deeply interested to read Fairest so I could learn more about Levana's mind and her personal life. I like that Marissa Meyer didn't just leave Levana as a villain - she gave her a back story and made her feel more like a real character than a ghost. But we aren't given any easy answers in Fairest - it wasn't clear to me at all whether Levana's character worsened over time because of events in her life, or if that was just the way she had always been. It's an interesting question though, and I appreciate that Marissa did make it as clear cut.
  2. A character-driven story, but also some world building:

    Up until this point, we haven't had much information in the series about Luna in general. None of our characters have spent much time there, so this is our first through glimpse into the world of Luna. Even better, we have a historical perspective on it - the events in Fairest take place in the past from the point of the other books in the series. So yes, we have the gift of hindsight but it also makes it much easier to understand why the events in the previous books have taken place. While the story is really about Levana, it can't help but explore some of Luna as well.
  3. The best villains in a story are still characters:

    I'm never enchanted with books that make a character a villain simply because the plot demanded it. I suppose I view life as shades of gray that I can't make that black and white distinction - a villain is still a person, or they should be at least. There needs to be that depth of the character, and it's a true sign of a writer's strength if they can flesh out the dimensions of their antagonist. 
Fairest is as heartbreaking story, and one that needs to be read. When we see people do horrible things, it's natural for us to wonder "why?" This book is the answer to that question in The Lunar Chronicles.


Book Review: The Financially Confident Woman

The Financially Confident Woman by Mary Hunt
Release Date ~ December 2014 (Reprint)
Baker Publishing Group
ISBN13:  9780800721466
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. 

Goodreads Synopsis:
Too many women feel like they lack the know-how to take control of their financial lives. But it's not the level of their knowledge that's the problem, says personal financial expert Mary Hunt; it's their lack of confidence. Being in debt isn't a money problem--it's an attitude problem. And Hunt is here to help women develop a confident, capable attitude toward money so that they can take control of their finances. 
Using the lessons she's learned from her own hard-fought battle with debt, Hunt empowers women to develop nine essential money habits, including giving, saving, investing, rejecting unsecured debt, preparing for emergencies, getting what you pay for, and more. She also includes a six-week action plan to help women get started right away.

Happy New Year! I'm back in 2015 with a brand new book review, featuring a book that's a little bit different from what I typically review here.

Like many others, I like to use the ending of one year and the beginning of a new year as a time to reflect and focus on my goals. As I've gotten older, one of those goals has involved finances. The Financially Confident Woman appealed to me for that reason.

  1. Pragmatic advice for women:

    One of my favourite aspects of this book is that Mary Hunt writes to women to provide her readers with some basic financial knowledge and tips. Her advice is practical and clear, which is particularly important when finances can be confusing for some people. I appreciated that Mary Hunt dealt with more than simple budgeting or healthy attitudes towards money (which are important), but she delves further into the topic. She also approaches important topics like investing and retirement savings.
  2. An important read for her target audience:

    There is clearly a target audience for that book, and if you don't fall within that category, then this isn't the right book for you. But for everyone else, this is a worthwhile read. It's concise and I liked the attention placed on long-term finances (which many people don't consider early enough on in life). Mary Hunt writes from a Christian perspective so she places a heavier emphasis on giving via tithing and donations, for example. But she's also writing to women who do not have much experience with managing finances - whether it's because of youth or the fact that they've had their husband manage finances.
  3. Clear writing:

    Mary Hunt writes in a very straightforward, engaging manner. She tells stories from her own life, including her past mistakes and what she learned from them. I liked that she was upfront about her shortcomings, because it shows that she doesn't have a self-righteous attitude. 
This is a reprint of Mary Hunt's book that was written years ago, and the one thing I would have liked to have seen was a more intensive update to the book. Finances and banking has changed rather dramatically in recent years, particularly when it comes to common payment methods and banking. As an example, she focuses a fair amount of timing on cheques which just aren't as common as they used to be. Regardless, it's helpful information for the few times I'm likely to run into using cheques. 

This is a book that I think has something to offer for just about anyone; the attitudes towards money which are identified in this book are still relevant and important today for many people. In particular, this is a book that I think would be great for young women/teenagers just starting to learn how to manage their money while in post-secondary or in some of their first full-time jobs. 

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