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First Page Fridays!

It seems I’m a bit addicted to these book memes. Sorry for the lack of reviews so far! I’m working on a review for Vengeance Born by Kylie Griffin (which I just finished!), but that’s going to take a while, so until then…Let me introduce you to…

first page friday

First Page Friday is a weekly book meme hosted by Pen to Paper! Basically, I will feature the first page of a book which I have read, am reading, or am soon to read. This week’s lucky little book is…

Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith! Before we jump to the first page, let’s take a look at the synopsis…

– – –

Over their father’s deathbed, young Meliara Astiar and her brother Branaric promise to lead their people against the evil King. The impoverished count and countess discover that even when the cause is right, leading a war is much tougher than it appears. When Meliara falls into the hands of the elegant Marquis of Shevraeth, the enemy commander, she knows she has to either escape or die. After a desperate chase across country, she discovers that she and Bran are not alone—but the alliance is offered by the person she hates the most.

Once the king is gone, she faces a new type of battlefield: not muddy fields and sharpened steel, but marble palaces. The weapons now are fashion, manners, and the subtle and secret language of fans. Finally, there is the toughest challenge of all, courtship. For how do you defend yourself when the one who draws your eye, and your heart, is your worst enemy?

– – –

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Here is the first page (two shots because it’s on my Kindle).

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The first page isn’t outrageously eye-catching, but it’s certainly interesting. It has a quaint, story-telling, fairy-tale-esque sort of feel to it…Just the sort of thing I love to read.

I mean, World Gates? Fire sticks? Hill Folk? That’s so freaking cool.

For those of you who haven’t read Crown Duel…For the love of everything wonderful, READ IT. I chose this book to spotlight because it honestly doesn’t get the attention it deserves. I read it a while ago, but it still remains one of my favorite books of all times.

It has everything from adventure to epic battles to swoon-worthy lords to spine-tingling court intrigue. It’s basically the epitome of what I adore in books.

Did the first page and synopsis pike your interest? What are you waiting for? CLICK!

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Book Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

three hoots with captions

Title: The Selection

Author: Kiera Cass

Rating: 2.9 out of 5 hoots

Since I’m a little ways from finishing my current books (six of them, if you read my earlier post), I thought I’d review a book I read relatively recently.

The Selection by Kiera Cass. Ah, the Selection.

Where to start with this one? I’ll just go ahead and set the mood in a way only a GIF can manage.

The girl is a metaphorical respresentation of myself, the reader. She is waving the purple moracca of disappointment. The dog is you, my confused reader.

And the parent with the video camera? That, my friends, is Kiera Cass’s Selection.

Here’s the quick pros/cons list:

PROS

– Interesting concept

– Beautiful cover

– Adorable, not-the-stereotypical-bad-boy love interest (the royal one, not the other one)

– Fun, fluffy scenes for lovers of the fun and fluffy

CONS

– Basically no plot

– Annoying protagonist

– Love triangle that just doesn’t work for this novel

– IT’S BASICALLY ALL FLUFF.

The Full Review

I actually did not want to read this at first. The negative reviews really turned me off, as well as the love triangle.

Then, more recently, I thought why the heck not? I was in the mood for a fluff read, and, well, the Selection seemed to fit my criteria.

I was right. The Selection is indeed a fluff read, which I normally don’t have a problem with. What I do have problems with, however, are annoying protagonists, lackluster plots, and anticlimatic climaxes.

I would elaborate…but first, some background.

The Selection begins with our protagonist, America Singer. Her parents are currently trying to persuade her to enter the Selection, a royal event in which the prince picks his bride from thirty-five commoners.

The reviews describe it as “Hunger Games meets The Bachelor,” but I’d describe it more like The Bachelor meets royalty. There is little violence or plot tension or death in this book– mainly just some girl drama and romance and “BOOM! THERE’S AN ATTACK ON THE PALACE! EVERYBODY HIDE!” and it’s kind of just over.

If you’re into that kind of things, however, then by all means buy this book!  There are pretty dresses, a nice makeover, cute little interviews, and a cute love interest. But without all that, the book would disintegrate into ashes (pink, sparkly ashes of course). There’s really not much holding it up.

I normally don’t mind reading fluff reads. Heck, I’ll just say it now.  I like fluff reads. Now, disregarding the fact that I must now hide myself from humanity, let’s look at the crux of the problem. The fluff in it is unsupported by any reasonable excuse for a plot. Though I enjoy makeovers and balls and whatever, I do not, in fact, enjoy reading an endless account of this game show which doesn’t seem to end.

Even for a fluff lover like me, this was a bit much. For example, *SPOILER ALERT* basically nothing happens except for the two attacks on the palace. If you can call them attacks. The attackers never actually attacked our protagonist and her friends. The lovely guards took care of everything, so after a bit of hiding, everyone was safe! Yay!! Yay! Yay? Yay… NO.

No yay.

“But wait,” some may say. “Not everyone likes action! What about us lovers of the Fashion Police and America’s Top Model? Surely, there is girl drama, oh wise one!”

No.

I mean yes. I mean yes, there’s girl drama, but it sucks. Honestly, America never really had much competition. She’s loved by fans from the very start, and since she has a little encounter with the prince before any of the other girls, he likes her from the start as well.

The extent of the drama is some competition for “dates” with the Prince (which he goes on at least once with everybody and several more times for his favorites) and some weird dress-ripping at one point (but it was all right because the protagonist’s friends fixed her dress good as new!) and some purposely spilled drink (after which the victim burst into tears and fled the room).

Overlooking the drama, the characters themselves aren’t very noteworthy either. Besides Maxon, the crew was unmemorable.

Take, for example, America Singer. I have of a problem with her name, but it’s not because of how it sounds. I mean, it’s interesting. She was named for a failed country and her last name reflects her occupation…right? Much as surnames did in medieval times? But then I paused. Other characters did not have names of occupations. So her last name is purely coincidental? If she came from a family of singers and that is why her last name is such, I would completely understand. I mean, cool world-building, right? But the fact that she’s a singer, and her last name just so happens to be singer as well…um. I suppose the writer can do anything she wants, but this seems a bit over-much.

Her name isn’t the least of my problems with this book, though. It’s her character. Gahhhh.

She’s beautiful, which I don’t have a problem with. But she’s beautiful and refuses to acknowledge it, which I do have a problem with. She has mirrors. Everyone tells her she’s gorgeous and stunning and whatnot, and she still denies it? WHAT?

And when she refuses to enter the Selection…I kind of lost some respect for her. Yeah, she wants to be with Aspen, but her family is struggling so much. Just by being a contestant, she’d bring in extra money for them. Couldn’t she have figured out beforehand that she could act atrociously so the prince would not pick her…? Or think beforehand about making a deal with him, much as she makes a deal with him later on?

If Aspen had never encouraged her to enter, I’m sure she would have refused to enter until the end. She seems selfish to me…and there isn’t much in her head, either. There are other parts in the book, too, where she lies and deceives, but I’d rather not go too much in detail.

Aspen, too, was not my favorite character in the world. First, he casts her off, saying she would be better without him. Then, he changes his mind. Then, he gets angry at her for daring to like someone else when HE had cast her off? WTF?

And the world-building? It falls flat, too. The caste system isn’t particularly extraordinary, and all we get in terms of America’s world is a little history info-dump. I’d like to see the culture of this new society permeate through the pages. I’d like to see something more than a lazy effort at creating a dystopian world. I feel like this could be a fantasy novel without the dystopian…I mean, besides the history info-dump, how much dystopia did we see here?

As I mentioned earlier, however, this book isn’t just a long, never-ending parade of BAD.

It definitely had its good parts.

I quite liked Maxon as a character and the burgeoning romance between him and America. It was refreshing to see a YA love interest who wasn’t the stereotypical bad boy. He was slightly nerdy, but adorable. Totally none-the-wiser when it came to women, but sweet and romantic at the same time.

And the actual enjoyability of the book? This is going to come off as surprising, but…it wasn’t like I was permanently in need of a vomit bucket while reading it. It definitely had its good parts, and though there was a bit too much of it, the fluff was quite fun to read.

If Kiera Cass had added some more plot and tweaked up America, the book would have been just fine. I mean, the writing style of Kiera Cass isn’t to blame. She writes well enough. It’s everything else mentioned here that brings her novel to shambles.

Oh, and of course, there was the love triangle.

I don’t usually mind love triangles if they’re done right. This was just…no. Here’s my brief summary of it, told in the only way. The GIF way.

At first, Aspen and America are like:

And America is, like,

But when she doesn’t want to go the Selection, Aspen is like:

Cuz LOLZ it’s not like she’s going to get in! AHAHAHAHAHA

She gets in.

Then Aspen rejects her because she “deserves better than him.” Cue heartbreak.

Then ASPEN CHANGE MIND. “AMERICA, DON’T GO!!!!”

Too late, sweetie!

America meets Maxon. The predictable happens.

Aspen comes back. Commence where Aspen and America had left off.

A moment of confusion.

UH-OH, thinks America. I MIGHT BE CHEATING ON MAXON. At this point, I was just, like:

Bitch, please. You just made out with Aspen. You’re cheating on Maxon. At least admit it.

And in the end, she concludes that she is in love with them both.

END OF BOOK ONE.

Dude. Seriously, this is what happens. After a long chronicle of minor girl drama and a couple anticlimactic palace raids, the book ends with America’s indecision to choose between these two men. Then, she falls asleep, thinking about how the Selection isn’t just happening to her– she is now part of it. Again, I must repeat.

END OF BOOK ONE.

Wait wha-

END OF BOOK ONE.

What the–

END OF BOOK ONE.

Huh? The book is done…? The competition wasn’t even over! There was hardly any plot! Surely, the author could have fit the competition into one book.

And double HUH?! Book One? How many more books will there be? I can see how the whole rebel thing can expand into a trilogy, but considering the lack of action in Book 1, I don’t have much hope for Book 2 — especially if it is centered on squashing these attacks.

But, alas, in order to know for sure, one must buy the sequel.. Which is predictable, to me at least. The love interest is almost never he-who-you-have-known-since-childhood. Plus, Maxon’s got more screen time.

I just wish this book would have had some closure, at least. In this state, it is nothing more than a shamble of drama and failed plot devices and a good-romance-turned-weird and- AND

Sorry guys. Didn’t mean to upset y’all. This review has gone on way too long.

It’s just that…THIS HAD SO MUCH POTENTIAL. It didn’t have to be some life-changing, amazing book. It could have just been a nice, little fluff read. But it failed even as that…

Don’t get me wrong. Kiera Cass isn’t a terrible writer. I do think, however, that she should work on developing her characters and her plots…and not forcing the whole love triangle thing.

I give it 3 out of 5 hoots because, despite all the bad parts, this book did have its moments. The concept was intriguing and the writing style itself was ok. After reading the book, though, I really didn’t get anything out of it.

Balanced between everything bad and everything good, this book was just OK to me.

So. Yeah.

Peace out.

5

Waiting on Wednesday: World After by Susan Ee

waiting on wednesday

“Waiting on Wednesday” is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine; we bloggers use it to spotlight book which are torturing us with their release dates…books which we would do questionable things to get our hands on…

Just kidding!

Not.

This is my first ever “Waiting on Wednesday” post! Get ready for an oppressive wave of excessive fangirling.

But first off, let’s get this off of my hands.

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This, my friends, is the sequel to Susan Ee’s amazing dystopian novel Angelfall. If you haven’t read it yet, read it. Right now. Click on this link. I’ve literally hyperlinked half of this paragraph. Just do it.

Here are the facts.

– – –

World After

By Susan Ee

Publisher: Skyscape

Release Date: November 19, 2013

Synopsis: In this sequel to the bestselling fantasy thriller, Angelfall, the survivors of the angel apocalypse begin to scrape back together what’s left of the modern world. When a group of people capture Penryn’s sister Paige, thinking she’s a monster, the situation ends in a massacre. Paige disappears. Humans are terrified. Mom is heartbroken.

Penryn drives through the streets of San Francisco looking for Paige. Why are the streets so empty? Where is everybody? Her search leads her into the heart of the angels’ secret plans, where she catches a glimpse of their motivations, and learns the horrifying extent to which the angels are willing to go.

Meanwhile, Raffe hunts for his wings. Without them, he can’t rejoin the angels, can’t take his rightful place as one of their leaders. When faced with recapturing his wings or helping Penryn survive, which will he choose?

– – –

Does it not make your spine tingle with nerve-wrenching excitement?!?!

I thought so.

The first book was beautiful– or at least, that’s how I’d describe it in one word.

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We were transported into an angel-driven apocalypse, plunged into Penryn’s journey as she travels with the angel Raffe to find her abducted sister.

I’m desperately looking forward to World After. Hopefully, it’ll retain the emotional and complex relationship between Penryn and Raffe…and also explore Paige’s “transformation” from the first book (can’t say anymore without giving away spoilers!).

Keep your eyes peeled for a review soon after it comes out (Which is so freaking far away. WHY.).

I will probably buy it the minute it is released because I’m cool like that.

Are you excited for World After? Are you bored and about to leave this blog? Are you currently eating a Belgian waffle? Let me know in the comments!