Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Review: The One by Kiera Cass


   The One (The Selection #3)
By Kiera Cass
Released: May 6, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
eBook, 323 pages 

The highly anticipated conclusion to Kiera Cass's #1 New York Timesbestselling Selection series, The One will captivate readers who love dystopian YA fiction and fairy tales. The One is the perfect finale for fans who have followed America's whirlwind romance since it began--and a swoon-worthy read for teens who have devoured Veronica Roth'sDivergent, Ally Condie's Matched, or Lauren Oliver's Delirium.

The Selection changed America Singer's life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of Illéa, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen--and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she's made her choice . . . and she's prepared to fight for the future she wants.

Find out who America will choose in The One, the enchanting, beautifully romantic third book in the Selection series! --Goodreads
3 Stars

After sludging through the soap operas called The Selection and The Elite, I could not believe that I had the audacity to read the conclusion to the mess. Unfortunately, Kiera Cass has some magical powers that forced me to read this book. How awful, right?

In all honesty, this series taught me to never take anyone or anything seriously. If you do, you end up more miserable than otherwise. As long as you go with the flow and just take things with a grain of salt, anything remotely similar to The Selection series (ahem The Bachelor or dating shows) can be palatable. 

So we are down to 4 girls squabbling over Maxon. Normally, this would be the moment where America and the other girls would start doing the most outlandish things to win. Actually, America does continue with her irrational antics as usual. Getting shot, sneaking rebels into the castle, and sleeping with men, America is truly a migraine-inducing protagonist. Yet somehow, the four finalists actually bond together and form some strong relationships. How this happens is beyond me.... The only possible answer is puberty.... probably. Anyway, it's really adorable to read about.

There are many of these incredible moments that seem so unbelievable. Not only do America, Celeste, Kriss, and Elise seem to interact somewhat amiably, but many characters seem to swap personalities. We see Celeste treating people nicely and Elise whining like a toddler. Celeste's personality switch seems to be very popular among the YA community, but honestly it was very inorganic because it was so sudden and instantaneous. Also, America manages to sneak a rebel into the castle as a guest and the king never bothered double checking the rebel's identity? I thought the king had brains, but apparently not. Oh well, remember to just accept it all as logical.

In spite of these bewilderingly confusing moments, The One does serve as a wonderful conclusion to The Selection series. Kiera Cass has succeeded where many authors have failed when it comes to properly ending a love triangle. I was so relieved to see the end of this miserable love triangle. America continues to hurt both Aspen and Maxon, who follow her like little puppies. Seeing these puppies kicked around is painful, but America has shown tremendous growth in that she actually admits that she made at least one mistake toward both of these men. That is such a grand accomplishment, especially for America, so let's give her a little slack. 

Even now, I still do not understand how this series became so popular. There are so many flaws, including America as a protagonist and the randomly rushed details included in The One's last pages. I guess there is some magic in cat fights and finding a true love within a dystopian world. 

Purchase The One here: Amazon | Barnes & Nobles | The Book Depository

Waiting on Wednesday 7/2

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event that features the books that we (the bloggers) are highly anticipating. "Waiting on Wednesday" was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Illusive (Illusive #1)
By: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Release Date: July 15, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 416 pages
The X-Men meets Ocean's Eleven in this edge-of-your-seat sci-fi adventure about a band of "super" criminals.

When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She's what's known as an illusionist...She's also a thief.

After a robbery goes awry, Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn't?
The lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against the government that could cost them their lives. -- Goodreads
Can I just say that people who can change their appearance are the coolest? But also X-Men and Ocean's Eleven? Count me in! The cover doesn't really do anyone favors because it is so bland compared to the YA's always dazzling covers. Still, the cover cannot deter me from swooning at the idea of a heist, especially while fighting the government. Thankfully, Illusive comes out in only 2 weeks!


The Revelation of Gabriel Adam (Revelation Saga #1)
By: S.L. Duncan
Publish Date: August 12, 2014
Publisher: Medallion Press
Paperback, 384 pages

Seventeen-year-old Gabriel Adam is used to relocating a lot. When a mysterious assassin burns his home to the ground, Gabriel’s father reveals the truth of why they are always on the move: Gabriel is one of four archangels, born human and sent to stop Armageddon. Now Gabe must set aside dreams of attending NYU to try to fulfill his newly discovered role.
Racing against time, Gabe and his father travel to the English university town of Durham, hoping the last surviving member of an ancient religious sect can guide them. With the assassin in pursuit, Gabe must shoulder the weight of his new life and an impossible destiny as protector of the entire human race. --GoodReads
Hiya folks! Haven't done a WoW in a while! I've read that this is some hardcore-thriller angel stuff. I'm interested to see how Gabe- a mere high school senior - grows as a character in order to fulfill the role of archangel Gabriel. One more thing: I'm gonna geek out like Angie and tell you how much I love this cover! The watercolor combination of darker blues mixed with lighter teals and whites is just so pretty! It's as if you carved out a stensil using a wood block and dipped it into a watercolor mix of those pure blueish hues! :D Simple covers are sometimes the best option; I'm so sick of those covers with girls in dresses....

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

The Falconer (The Falconer #1)
By Elizabeth May 
Released: May 6, 2014
Chronicle Books
Hardcover, 378 pages

Heiress. Debutant. Murderer. A new generation of heroines has arrived.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?  --Goodreads

 3.5 Stars

After taking an unofficial YA book hiatus, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by The Falconer, my first step back into the YA world. Daring, fierce, and ridiculously hardcore, Elizabeth May's debut sends its readers on a delightful whirlwind. 

From the getgo, we are introduced to Aileana, a grieving daughter who lashes out against psycho faeries. One of these faeries murdered Aileana's mother, so Aileana makes sure nearly each faery pays the price for her mother's death. Risking her life every night, Aileana lives by day as the prim and proper daughter of a marquess and by night the vicious faery-killer.

However, Aileana's moral code is befuddling. She literally kills every single faery that she sees on sight. If Aileana has two faery friends that she refuses to kill, then what gives her the reason to murder each faery that she meets for the first time. Understandably, most of the faeries she meets are evil, but that just leads to more questions.

For example, what makes these faeries so antagonistic toward humans? If there are at least two decent faeries out there, then why are the rest so evil? Are they are brainwashed by the main antagonists, the really really evil faeries? If these faeries just hate humans for hogging up all of the space, then why aren't they joining together seriously to exterminate the filthy humans? Also, when are the falcons coming back? Those were a few of the many questions that have still yet to be answered by The Falconer.

Despite my many questions, I truly did enjoy The Falconer. Aileana and her gang are so much fun, even the two "good" faeries. Derrick, the pixie obsessed with honey, and Kiaran, Aileana's bada** faery teacher, are so lovable, especially because of their mutual hatred of one another. It wouldn't be too much of a wish to hope for friends like them, right?

The Falconer is a gritty novel full of epic battles, witty dialogue, and spellbinding interactions between characters. The world-building is pretty spectacular, even though there are many questions. Since this is the beginning of a trilogy, I'm crossing my fingers in hopes that these mysteries will be answered in the following installments!

 Purchase The Falconer here: Amazon | Barnes & Nobles | The Book Depository

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Review: Sekret by Lindsay Smith

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Sekret (Sekret #1)
By: Lindsay Smith
Published: April 1, 2014
Roaring Book Press / Macmillan Children's
Hardcover, 341 pages

An empty mind is a safe mind. Yulia knows she must hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive in Communist Russia. But if she sometimes manipulates the black market traders by reading their thoughts when she touches their skin, so what? Anything to help her survive.

Russia's powerful spy agency, the KGB, is recruiting young people with mind-reading capabilities for their psychic espionage program. Their mission: protect the Soviet space program from American CIA spies. Why shouldn't the KGB use any means necessary to make the young psychic cooperate? Anything to beat the American capitalist scum to the moon. Yulia is a survivor. She won't be controlled by the KGB, who want to harness her abilities for the State with no regard for her own hopes and dreams. She won't let handsome Sergei plan her life as a member of elite Soviet society, or allow brooding Valentin to consume her with his dangerous mind and even more dangerous ideas. And she certainly won't become the next victim of the powerful American spy who can scrub a brain raw—and seems to be targeting Yulia. --GoodReads

 3.5 Stars


Plot: Yulia Andreevna Chernina is not your average Russian girl; she can read the minds of those around her, and even pick up past memories with just a touch. Having lived luxuriously for most of her childhood, Yulia has now been in hiding with her mother and brother for several years. Set in 1963 Communist Russia, Yulia is recruited by the KGB and forced to participate in their espionage psychic program. If she doesn't cooperate, they threaten to harm her mother and young autistic brother. There, she meets several other teens who share similar psychic abilities but all specialize in something different. Together, they must work to fulfill their mission to protect the Soviet space program from the Americans. Yulia chooses not to succumb to the corrupt government's ways -- she works to find a way to escape her psychic prison and save her family.

When reading this book, I admit that I didn't really keep track of events as much as I should have. There's so many tiny events that go on, it just gets a little overwhelming. It's like - "Who's doing what now?", "Who is that?", "What does this have to do with the plot!?" and "I'm so confused..." [This happened to me several times. I had to flip back and reread some stuff] Basically, all that really matters is the relationships between characters...

It's been maybe a week since I finished reading it, and to be honest, I can't really remember much of what happened. I just know that there were a helluva lotta characters and events.... all I remember was that she had to work as a psychic spy to order set her family free and along the way she meets these 2 guys, Sergei and Valentin, both vying for her attention...


Yulia: Yulia quickly hardens in the few years she's lived as a street rat. She learns to not trust anyone and to use everything she's got to her advantage -- even her mysterious psychic powers.  She's got her head on straight as well as her top priorities - first her safety, and then her family's. Yulia is no fluffy princess; she is quite the opposite (even if she gets swept up in a complicated love triangle...but let's face it: what YA heroine hasn't?). Even when presented the luxurious life she had once lived, Yulia yearns for something more -- freedom from the oppressed life she's been leading. 

I really admired Yulia's strength, intelligence, and persistence to seek freedom. Despite all the horrible things she experiences, she always clings to the hope of a better life. 

Sergei: Bad boy hockey player Sergei accepts his life as a KGB spy. He'll do anything to stay on the ice, even if that means turning against his friends. After all, who needs friends when you've got a rich life? It's much better to know work towards a goal than to live day by day. He doesn't understand why Yulia doesn't love her newly enriched life at the psychic school. 

Valentin: At first a seemingly distant musician with very dangerous powers, Yulia has a hard time opening up to Valentin. With time, she comes to understand his true self, and not just by his abilities as a psychic.

Overall: The whole idea of a psychic program within the government itself is just really cool. Yulia is a strong female lead -- that's also cool! A complicated love triangle is ehhh, but understandable -- it's one of the requirements of a YA novel, I suppose. However, the delivery and just number of events and people and places these spy kids needed to accomplish/meet/be at were just very overwhelming and rather... forgettable? I'm not saying this book wasn't an enjoyable read - it certainly was - but was it really worth remembering for the long run? Probably not.

BTW - a pretty generic background knowledge of the relationship between Russia and the USA after WW2 would be really helpful.

Happy Reading, folks!

Let's end with an awesome song that has no relation to the review I have just written. He talks a bit in the beginning, so I suggest scrubbing the video and skipping to about 40 seconds in.

Skip to 0:40

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