Welcome to my new feature–Monthly Minis–where I feature MG and YA books that I read during the past month but didn’t quite have room to write a full post about each. Mini reviews are only a paragraph each and include a star rating. This feature is inspired by several features on other blogs.

July is the first month of Monthly Minis and I have to say, I had a lot of fun putting these together! Ready? Okay. Here we go.

Mini #1: Cinder by Marissa Meyer


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


My Rating: 5 stars!

My Thoughts: 

I started hearing a lot about this series right around the time that Cress (the third book) came out. Although Sci-Fi isn’t really my thing, Cinder sounded so unique that I had to try it! I’m so glad I did, even though I struggled to get into it at the start. Fairytale retellings are one of my favorite things in novels and one of the things I loved about Cinder was the way it is clearly still the classic Cinderella tale but at the same time, completely and entirely Marissa Meyer’s story.

The heroine, Cinder, is a cyborg. Again, not my thing, but I fell in love with the world-building. The Lunar queen, Levana, has proposed a marriage alliance between herself and the earthen emperor, Kai, to prevent a war. The only problem? She *might* be planning on taking over the planet herself after the wedding. I had no problem believing the world-building in Cinder. I loved it, really! This definitely makes my favorites shelf.

If you enjoyed The Hybrid Chronicles or the Throne of Glass series, give this a try.

Mini #2: The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. The right people knew her name, her performances were booked months in advance, and her future seemed certain.
That was all before she turned fourteen.

Now, at sixteen, it’s over. A death, and a betrayal, led her to walk away. That leaves her talented ten-year-old brother, Gus, to shoulder the full weight of the Beck-Moreau family expectations. Then Gus gets a new piano teacher who is young, kind, and interested in helping Lucy rekindle her love of piano — on her own terms. But when you’re used to performing for sold-out audiences and world-famous critics, can you ever learn to play just for yourself?

My Rating: 2 stars

My Thoughts:

I was really excited for this book but I felt quite let down by the end. I couldn’t connect with the main character, Lucy. She constantly complained about her situation and lack of sympathy from her family, even though she was the one causing the problems to begin with.

The romance also got on my nerves. Lucy has a crush on her married piano teacher, Will. Besides the fact that Will is married, I found him really creepy. Overall, I couldn’t enjoy this book but if you have read it, I would love to know!

Mini #3: The Summer I Saved The World In 65 Days

It’s summertime, and thirteen-year-old Nina Ross is feeling kind of lost. Her beloved grandma died last year; her parents work all the time; her brother’s busy; and her best friend is into clothes, makeup, and boys. While Nina doesn’t know what “her thing” is yet, it’s definitely not shopping and makeup. And it’s not boys, either. Though . . . has Eli, the boy next door, always been so cute?
This summer, Nina decides to change things. She hatches a plan. There are sixty-five days of summer. Every day, she’ll anonymously do one small but remarkable good thing for someone in her neighborhood, and find out: does doing good actually make a difference? Along the way, she discovers that her neighborhood, and her family, are full of surprises and secrets.
In this bighearted, sweetly romantic novel, things may not turn out exactly as Nina expects. They might be better.

My Rating: 4 stars

My Thoughts:

This was a fabulous fluffy contemporary read. Everything about it was really adorable-from the romance to the quirky neighbours and interesting characters.

The main character, Nina, is a pretty normal kid who decides that she wants to do 65 little good deeds in summer, one for each day. I liked the message behind this book that one good deed can make someone’s day. Definitely one to recommend, particularly for readers of Karen Harrington and Frances O’Rourke Dowell.

17 Comments on Monthly Minis (1)

  1. Emily @ The Loony Teen Writer
    July 30, 2014 at 5:19 am (3 years ago)

    Love the mini-reviews. I really enjoyed Cinder (and the rest of the series). I’ve heard of The Lucy Variations although I can’t remember if those reviews were good or bad…still, one I’d want to check out.
    Emily @ The Loony Teen Writer recently posted…Emily’s Story IdeasMy Profile

    • Samantha
      July 30, 2014 at 10:14 pm (3 years ago)

      Even though I didn’t like it, that doesn’t mean you won’t, right? Either way, you should try it. I would love to hear your thoughts.

    • Samantha
      July 30, 2014 at 10:13 pm (3 years ago)

      You’re reading Scarlet. Ah! I really, really hope you enjoy it!

    • Samantha
      July 30, 2014 at 10:11 pm (3 years ago)

      Yes! You should definitely try it, Amelia.

    • Samantha
      August 23, 2014 at 1:39 pm (3 years ago)

      Cinder was fabulous! I can’t wait for Fairest and Winter. Did you continue with the series?

  2. Greg Pattridge
    August 4, 2014 at 12:22 pm (3 years ago)

    Great choices. The only one I had not heard of was THE LUCY VARIATIONS. It’s tough to love a story though if you can’t bond with the protagonist. Thanks for the recommendations.

    • Samantha
      August 23, 2014 at 1:38 pm (3 years ago)

      THanks, Greg. I can’t say I was a fan of THE LUCY VARIATIONS because, clearly, I wasn’t. But I do plan on checking out some of Zarr’s other books in the future.

  3. Reader Noir
    August 4, 2014 at 4:12 pm (3 years ago)

    I like how you did 3 mini-reviews. Your choices were pretty interesting as well. I’ve heard a lot about Cinder but I’m really not that into sci-fi YA. I may check your third choice because it sounds like you really liked it. Thanks a lot for the great reviews!
    Reader Noir recently posted…MMGM: CuriosityMy Profile

    • Samantha
      August 23, 2014 at 1:37 pm (3 years ago)

      It was SUPER cute. If you’re looking for a fluffy, summery read, I completely recommend it!

  4. Ms. Yingling
    August 4, 2014 at 5:50 pm (3 years ago)

    I felt the same way about the Zarr, but liked several of her other books. Wasn’t that interested in piano, and ANY book where there’s a crush on a teacher or adult feels creepy to me! I did love the Hurwitz book, and you are spot on with your read-alike suggestions. Welcome to MMGM!
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  5. Stephanie @ LitLoversLane.com
    August 6, 2014 at 7:57 am (3 years ago)

    Thanks for the mini-reviews. They’re a great idea.

    I have been hearing about Cinder and wanting to read it. Had no idea it was sci-fi-ish. If I had known, I probably wouldn’t have been keen to read. Reading your review and finding out it was sci-fi, I almost stopped reading it, figuring this is not for me.

    BUT your review changed my mind…again…insofar as you say sci-fi and cyborgs are not your thing either. I am still willing to give it a whirl.

  6. Alexina
    July 12, 2015 at 12:15 am (2 years ago)

    I loved Cinder too! I haven’t heard of the other books though.


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