Book Chat #12: The Midnight Star and Marie Lu

Hello friends! ❤

Yesterday, I got to go see one of my favourite authors at a book signing–Marie Lu! (Yes, I’m still in shock.) She’s got some really amazing, intense books and is a superb writer. Here’s a lil Book Chat about my experience!


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Lu has just released the final book of The Young Elites trilogy, The Midnight Star, and she is currently on tour, holding events in bookstores across the country. I immediately decided that I wouldn’t be missing it when I learned she’d be having a book signing close to my home. Oh, and when I say close, I mean at a bookstore in a city four hours away from me. (Never let it be said I’m not a dedicated fan!) 😀 I’m so glad I got to see her though, and it was definitely worth the drive.

When I got there, it was much smaller than the Rick Riordan meet up I attended in October of last year–around thirty to forty people this time around–but everyone there was excited and chattering on to each other about the new book as they sipped frozen hot chocolate that had been handed out; and yes, the frozen hot chocolate was pretty good. After a bit, Marie Lu walked over to the microphone and greeted us as everyone cheered. She introduced herself and spoke a little bit about the process of writing this new book, and then all the attendees raised their hands and asked questions and she answered all of them.  Here are a couple of answers to questions that I thought were interesting.

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She was so warm and friendly and and and–

 

  • Marie Lu draws out her characters before writing them, a habit left over from previously being a video game artist.
  • Her ideal atmosphere for writing is rain, a cozy blanket, and a nice cup of tea.
  • She tends to write mostly from 8 am to 2 pm.
  • Kiss scenes are hard; she always imagines a tiny mother on her shoulder, scolding her as she writes.
  • She doesn’t generally cry over anything she writes, but writing out the last scene of the last book in a trilogy makes her shed a few tears each time.midnight-star-marie-lu-jpg
  • It’s hard for her to see her characters move on and leave their heads after writing their lives and thoughts for so long.
  • The original idea for The Young Elites involved a current side character, Raffaele, as the protagonist before she realised that a certain villain, Adelina, would make a better main character.
  • She is currently writing a new duology–the first book is called Warcross–about two bounty hunter teens hired to kill a hacker messing up the world’s most popular video game. Keep an eye out; it’s being published next fall.
  • Lu’s a pantser! In other words, she’s not super great at following an outline and sometimes her writing runs away with the characters scrambling to catch up.
  • She’s currently reading Crooked Kingdom and it might just be her favourite book of the year.

Then she signed everyone’s books and I returned home in a euphoric state, clutching The Midnight Star to my chest. Overall, it was so much fun! Marie Lu is such a genuinely warm and down-to-earth person. After only thirty minutes of her speaking, I already felt like I’d known her for a long time. 😛 I always love seeing authors and getting to know the thought processes behind their books, and I’m really glad I was able to go to this book signing in particular.

So now all the books I own that are written by her are signed, which I am thrilled about. Also, look at how pretty they are together!

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The best fall aesthetic of all.

 

I’ll be reading The Midnight Star this week and reviewing it as soon as possible. The Young Elite series is one of my  favourites, and I’m sure the final novel will not disappoint!

Have a lovely day everyone!

❤ Yasimone

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Book Review || The Young Elites

Hello friends! How is your 2016 going so far? Mine has been insanely busy, which is why I haven’t been able to post as much as I would have liked to. I’ve finally been able to snatch some time to sit down and blog a bit, and hopefully I’ll be able to get some more posts up this month.

It seems that I haven’t reviewed any books in ages, so here I am with one of my absolute favourite recent reads!

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Author: Marie Lu

Publishing Company: The Penguin Group

Release Year: 2014

Genre(s): YA, Fantasy

Series: The Young Elites Series (Book One)


My Synopsis

Adelina Amouteru is a malfetto. As a child, she was ill with the blood fever that ravaged the nation of Kenettra. She was left, like all others who survived the deadly disease, with strange, otherworldly markings–shining silver hair, pale lashes, and a long scar where one of her eyes used to be. After Adelina runs away one night, away from her cruel father who never hesitates to remind her that she is an abomination and meek, naïve sister, life twists upon its head; she is imprisoned by the Inquisitors with her father’s blood on her hands, about to be executed. And then, again, the inexplicable happens. She is rescued by an organisation of malfettos called the Daggers—but they’re no ordinary malfettos. They have incredible powers that people say are either a blessing or a curse, and Adelina discovers her own too.  Enzo, who heads the Daggers, is the estranged crown prince of Kenettra, and he and the other Young Elites are determined to take back the throne from his corrupt sister. As she trains to control her power and direct it to the cause, she is approached by the head Inquisitor to join their cause. The only problem is that Adelina is caught between the Daggers and the Inquisition, which works against the malfettos. Will Adelina be caught as a traitor…and which side will catch her first? Or how long can she go on in this mess of loyalties and spilled blood?

My Thoughts

This book was fantastic! I’ve always been a fan of Marie Lu (check out her dystopian novels, the Legend trilogy), but The Young Elites really flaunts her skill. I could go on for quite a while about this book, so here are my ramblings in condensed form. 😀

First of all, the writing was just wonderful. Lu really thought out every little detail. Not only did she set up Kenettra, she  wrote in such a way that you could feel the culture of the country—the people, the region itself, the buildings in the cities, the landscapes. Besides the world-building, the novel was written lyrically and with such feeling. There were instances that I had to pause and just admire the way a particular sentence was worded. That’s when you know a book is good. 😉young elites cover.jpg

The characters are also well-written. All of them are different and incredibly real despite their powers. They have their faults but you can’t help but feel sympathetic towards them. Adelina was such a great main character because the thing is, she isn’t exactly your typical protagonist. She has a multi-faceted personality and plenty of dark moments. The relationships between the characters are complex, especially when Adelina is caught between two powerful groups and has way of looking at things in a slightly twisted mindset. The Young Elites blurs the lines between “hero” and “villain” in a beautifully deft way that will leave you wanting more.

The plot was so suspenseful and captivating that I immediately had to go and pick up the sequel, The Rose Society, when I finished it, which, by the way, is just as good. (A review will be coming soon for that as well!)

In short: The Young Elites just blew me away. Definitely check it out if you’re interested in dark high fantasy mixed in with a bit of magic! (Actually, check it out even if you aren’t.) 🙂

❤ Yasimone

Book Review || Red Queen

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Publishing Company: Harper Collins

Release Year: 2015

Genre(s): YA, Dystopia, Fantasy

Series: Red Queen Series (Book One)


My Summary

Mare Barrow is a Red in a world divided by blood. Silvers are the upper-class, the royals, the ones with fantastic powers straight out of a fairytale. Reds, like Mare and the rest of her family, are the worker class, the regulars, the ones who watch in bitter awe at the Silvers’ strength and ruthless, wasteful ways. Mare and her family are just another one of the average Red families in their poverty-stricken village, the Stilts, between Mare’s pickpocketing and her sister Gisa’s embroidery skills, they make do. What little they have comes crashing down when palace guards show up at their house in the middle of the night and take Mare to work at the palace of the royal family of Norta. There, all too suddenly, in a strange twist of events, Mare discovers she has powers—controlling electricity—that leave even the Silvers reverent and is thrown full-force into the world of nobility as a pawn. red queen.jpgKing Tiberias and his snakelike wife, Queen Elara, declare her to be the long-lost daughter of a Silver and betroth her to the younger son Maven, despite her full Red blood. Everything is strange and foreign, and Mare must watch her every move; her life is at stake. It doesn’t help the situation that a war is being waged in the meantime and unrest is brewing in the nation’s Red population. Maven and Mare end up befriend each other and join a rebel group, the Scarlet Guard, trying to end the tyrannical Silver rule. As if hiding her identity and her allegiance from the Silvers is hard enough, she’s slowly falling in love the two princes, Maven and Cal, and doesn’t know which one to choose. Will Mare make it out of this mess alive, or will her secrets destroy her?

My Thoughts

I’ll be straightforward with you all: I didn’t exactly expect to enjoy this novel. I began reading it just for the sake of reading and ended up finishing it pleasantly surprised and looking forward to the next book in the Red Queen series. If you’ve ever read my review of The Selection, you’ll know that novels which mix dystopian worlds and monarchy-style governments aren’t exactly my cup of tea. 😛 Red Queen challenged my views by providing a fresh, compelling fusion-genre book that I rather liked.

The writing itself is great. It’s descriptive and vivid and captivating, and much better than you would expect of a debut author. 🙂 A job well done on Victoria Aveyard’s part. I also liked that the plot had so many interesting twists and turns Some aspects of the plot were a bit too familiar—downtrodden poor, self-doubt, sudden major life change, love triangle, rebellion. I felt at times that it took a pinch of personality from multiple dystopian series, added in a smidgen of fantasy, and voilà! Overall, though, it was fairly good. It drags a bit towards the end of the middle but picks up wonderfully at the conclusion. The extremely unexpected plot twist in the last few chapters is incredible. You will definitely want to have the next book, Glass Sword, just to find out what happens. (Glass Sword comes out in February of next year, by the way.)

Character-wise, Red Queen was nicely developed. Mare is a relatable, head-strong, clever heroine. It’s hard not to like her and her endearingly bold personality. The supporting characters (Maven, Cal,  Queen Elara, Mare’s childhood friend Kilorn, Cal’s betrothed Evangeline, Mare’s family,  and many more) are all unique and fun to dislike or root for. Their supernatural powers—or lack thereof—made them feel a bit too two-dimensional for my taste at times, but their interactions were generally believable and interesting. The one interaction between the characters I did not like much was the Mare-Maven-Cal love triangle. It felt rather weak and forced. :/

That being said, everything exceeded my expectations and left me wanting more. If you’re looking for a book with a captivating combination of genres and an exciting, suspenseful storyline, Red Queen is just the novel for you. 🙂

Happy December, by the way! How is the year over already? 😀

❤ Yasimone