Cryptkins Series 2 Blind Boxes – Full Case!

Cryptkins are positively adorable, miniature versions of mythical and legendary creatures from all over the world. They come in cute little blind boxes designed to look like crates, and every last one of them is as sweet as sugar! We previously opened a full case of the Series 1 line on the channel, but today Adrianna and I dove into a full case of Series 2 figures, and we had a blast uncovering more cryptid creatures.

Check out the video and let us know who you think got the better pulls, as well as which Series 2 Cryptkin is your favorite!

Book Review: The Lunar Chronicles Series [Spoiler-Free]

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For this particular book review I’m spreading my focus across a four-part series, as I’d finished reading the first two books in the quadrilogy before I first began writing reviews. That series is The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, comprising of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter. Though there are two other books that technically belong to the series – Fairest and Stars Above – I won’t be including them in this review as they are both stand-alone stories in the same world as, but set outside of, the main narrative.

When I first began reading Cinder, I didn’t know a great deal about The Lunar Chronicles other than it was a futuristic take on several classic fairy tales: Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. I was soon to learn that, while Meyer does take a lot of ideas from these fairy tales, she’s also constructed an incredible, original tale that sucks the reader in and begs to be read.

The series begins with Cinder, and we find ourselves in the distant future, after several world wars have come and gone, and peace has reigned on earth for many years. The Earth as we see it – similar to the present, but redistributed into somewhat different geological groupings such as the Eastern Commonwealth and the European Union – is technologically advanced, but not in such a way that makes it seem unattainable and unrealistic. Meyer has created a future in which the average citizen communicates with the world via tablet-like computer devices, space travel is commonplace but not something every Earthen has easy access to, and the sick and mortally wounded are capable of mechanical reconstruction. Unfortunately those who have these “upgrades” – known as cyborgs – are looked down upon, considered to be less than human, with less rights than a fully automated mechanoid – known as androids. Our heroine, Cinder, is one such cyborg, little more than a piece of property to her adopted family, but also one of the best mechanics in the Commonwealth. She is, of course, the Cinderella of our story.

Scarlet shifts the story narrative to our Little Red Riding Hood character, a spunky young woman with bright red hair who lives on a farm with her grandmother and has a run in with a wolf…in a manner of speaking. Cress introduces us to our Rapunzel character, a brilliant young computer genius who has been cruelly locked away in a satellite far above Earth’s surface. Finally we move on to our Snow White, a young princess named Winter who suffers under her vile, evil stepmother, who also happens to want to conquer Earth.

It is rather difficult to say too much about any of the four stories without ruining important moments throughout for anyone who hasn’t stepped into the series yet, but there are a few points of note that I can safely share that may, in fact, make the series that much more interesting to you:

  • While Earth is at peace within itself, it has also been suffering for several years under a mysterious disease called Letumosis, also known as “The Plague”. Letumosis strikes seemingly at random and is extremely contagious, so anyone found to be suffering with it is quarantined immediately. There are no survivors. Seeing even the slightest hint of the disease is a death sentence for the victim.
  • At some point in the past of this world, the moon was colonized and eventually became known as it’s own country, Luna. One of these first colonists, as a result of genetic damage, became the first true “Lunar”, a mutant capable of manipulating the bioelectric energy  around a person’s mind, enabling him to implant thoughts and control another’s actions. This first Lunar passed his gift on, and on, and as the Lunar colony grew this ability became prevalent across their society.
  • Earth and Luna have been at odds with each other for many years as of the telling of our story, with the vile Queen Levana of Luna attempting a “truce” by way of a marriage with an Earthen leader.

The real story begins when our cyborg friend Cinder is approached by Prince Kai of the Eastern Commonwealth to help in repairing what he says is a very important android. A series of events follow, sending Cinder on the run as she struggles to uncover a veritable treasure trove of secrets and conspiracies that have been buried since before her birth. On her journey she befriends our other “princesses”, as well as their respective “princes”, and together they embark on a mission to set right the evil plans that Queen Levana has put into motion.

But I hear what you’re thinking: but is it good?

That would be an emphatic “Yes”.

There is no doubt that The Lunar Chronicles are what my husband refers to as “teen-y stories”, full of giddy romances and the like, but it’s also unwavering in realism. People get hurt. People die. People do horrible, disgusting things to one another. This is not a happy-go-lucky story. It’s full of fun characters, humorous moments, uplifting side-stories, but also warBlood and death and destruction. This is a story of horrible things done by people who believe they’re in the right, and the people who finally turn around and fight back.

It’s an incredibly well-written story, start to finish. Each of the characters – men, women, good, evil – captured me in their own ways, pulling me into their individual stories, which all weave into one another beautifully. I devoured Cinder in a couple of days, Scarlet and Cress just as quickly, and though it took me a while to get around to reading Winter, I scarcely put it down until I had it absorbed. And honestly? I’d turn right around and start the entire thing over again right now if not for the fact that I have dozens of other books that I need to get around to reading. That, to me, is the sign of an excellent book (or, in this case, series of books): if finishing it just makes me want to hit rewind and go back to the beginning, it obviously made a big impression.

Whether you’re a fan of young-adult fiction or not, I would definitely recommend giving The Lunar Chronicles a bit of your time. If you can reach the end of Cinder without desperately wanting to know what happens next, I’ll honestly be amazed. The entire series gets two thumbs up from me!


Want to check out The Lunar Chronicles Series for yourself? Click right here to order!
Already read it? Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comment section below!

Book Review: “Stalking Jack the Ripper”

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Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco and presented by James Patterson was chosen by my online book club to read for the month of November. I didn’t finish reading it until recently, but my tardiness is entirely the result of holiday busyness and should not, in any way, reflect upon the book itself.

I’ll fully admit that when the book was chosen, I was not 100% on board with it. I’ve never been the biggest fan of historic pieces, and that’s what I assumed this was. However, I was put in my place right from the start, because while the story does follow the brutal murders of Jack the Ripper, and although Maniscalco does weave in as much historical truth as possible, the overarching story is a wonderful work of fiction that had me hooked right from the off.

We have to start with our heroine, Ms Audrey Rose Wadsworth, whom I fell in love with right from the beginning and kept loving more and more as the story went on. Audrey Rose is a lovely lady from a well-off family who is every bit a feminist, but not the type we’ve come to know (and occasionally hate) in this modern day. Audrey Rose is devilishly interested in science, unheard of for women of her era, and has many firm beliefs about a woman’s place in the world, that being more or less that she belongs exactly where she chooses to be. Our protagonist believes that a woman can do anything a man can do, should she choose to do so, and she is not shy about sharing those thoughts and feelings. Simultaneously, however, Audrey Rose revels in her own feminine side, and doesn’t feel ashamed by it for one second. She digs elbows deep into cadavers in order to unlock the secrets of the human body, and then turns around and commissions lovely dresses and learns proper makeup application from her cousin. It’s an extraordinarily refreshing take, to see a woman who believes in strength and progress for women, who also accepts the fact that she loves “womanly” things and that’s perfectly fine too. Of course, she has her flaws – she can occasionally be a bit snooty, a bit naive, and certainly lets her emotions get the best of her on occasion – but a protagonist without flaws is an unacceptably boring protagonist indeed.

Meanwhile we have a delightful co-star to the piece in the Mr Thomas Cresswell. He and Audrey both apprentice under her uncle in order to learn forensic science, and when we meet Thomas he is an extraordinarily cocky young man who knows how terribly clever he is and has no trouble sharing that information. However, we feel a bit of affection for him as it is clear that he, unlike so many others, has absolutely no qualms with Audrey’s choice to pursue science, and makes it clear (if not in an incredibly annoying way) that he believes Audrey to be an extraordinarily intelligent talent herself. As the story progresses we love him more and more as his annoying little habits become interspersed with moments of vulnerability and a relatable backstory.

I’m focusing on the characters because they truly are what make the story, but of course there is the wonderful plot as well, which follows our two leads as they work to try and uncover the identity of the mysterious murderer who has been hacking ladies of the evening into pieces. As she outlines in an additional section at the end of the book, Maniscalco did her very best to work as much historical accuracy into the story as she could, while still creating a fictional tale with an interesting end to the story that has no actual end in real life. I, personally, think she did an amazing job. The ending, in particular, took me completely by surprise, as I had correctly guessed at the identity of the killer, but not at the motive for the killings. It made for what I thought was a wonderful conclusion, and it makes me keen to wonder what kind of other ideas Maniscalco has up her sleeve for future tales.

The book, if you hadn’t guessed, is the first in a series following Ms Audrey Rose as she delves into further mysteries. The second entry is titled Hunting Prince Dracula and I genuinely can’t wait to get into it, as I’ve been completely enchanted by Maniscalco’s writing style.

If you’re a fan of young adult fiction, this is definitely a book worth looking into, but even if you’re not a YA fan, it is still worth looking into. It’s a macabre tale that doesn’t skimp on the gore when it’s a logical place for such things to exist, and it has wonderful characters, lots of fun moments, lots of creepy ones, and does a great job of making you feel like this could actually have been the true story of the real Jack the Ripper. A little slow at times, it is an otherwise entrancing novel that I found myself desperate to reach the conclusion of, and it has made me excited for Maniscalco’s future tales. Two thumbs up!