Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Selection by Kiera Cass

Synopsis:
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined


Review:
Wow. I really liked this one. I think the reason I liked it so much was because I just totally loved America. She was an awesome heroine. I know in most of my reviews I always say I like the heroine, and I always mean it. But in this case, America is someone I would actually like to be friends with. I liked how she carried herself and how she treated everyone, including her maids. She was easy to relate to and was just fun to read about.

I liked the plot too. It’s set in the future after a few wars where the America as we know it no longer exists. There is now a caste system in place, of eight different levels. America is a level five, a musician. Prince Maxon must marry and in order to do so they have a dating tournament of sorts. 35 women are chosen to come live at the palace and date the prince. America meets the criteria and her boyfriend, Aspen (a level six), encourages her to apply. America is chosen, Aspen dumps her, and America goes with a broken heart to meet the prince.

This is kind of like dystopian Bachelor tv show. They all are competing to meet the prince, they do interviews and there are cameras following them around all the time. The prince narrows things down and is dismissing girls (although there is no rose ceremony…lol). Maxon and America hit it off right from the start. I really liked Maxon and thought America was good for him, and vise versa. I actually thought their relationship was more mature. They build from a friendship. I could see a lot of potential between them.   

So, why didn’t I give this five stars? I’m still wavering to be honest. I guess it comes down to the love-triangle. It was actually written pretty well (and I’m praying it doesn’t become a soap opera in future books). I already know whose team I’m on and towards the end America does something that just rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t want to give spoilers, but I’ll just say it’s hard to write a love-triangle that doesn’t make the girl look bad. While she’s trying to decide how she feels the two guys are expected to wait around for her decision. I guess in Maxon’s case he does have a dozen other girls to date, but still. I just hope she decides EARLY in the next book and it’s not a storyline that is dragged out for three books. There is so much more going on and I don’t want to read two more books of America going back and forth.

Overall, I really did love the book. It was well written, paced nicely and full of likable characters. I’m a bit bummed that I now have to wait a year for the next book. I thought I promised myself not to start another series unless the whole thing was done! Owell, it was well worth the read and I look forward to reading what happens next with America, Maxon and Aspen.

Content: A few make-out scenes, a little steamy. A handful of swear words. Otherwise, pretty clean.

Not Your Average Fairy Tale by Chantele Sedgwick

Synopsis:
Ash Summerland has it all–good looks, popularity, and the best grades at The Academy of Magical Beings. Ready to complete his last assignment in order to graduate, Ash is confident he will get the apprenticeship he wants. When he opens the letter from the Council, he is shocked to discover he has been assigned to apprentice Lady Shenelle, Keeper of Happy Endings. A.K.A. the head fairy godmother. Ash is forced to grant three wishes to a troubled human girl named Kendall, and ultimately give her a "happy ever after". But Kendall turns out to be more than he bargained for. Still grieving over her father's death, Kendall doesn't want anything to do with him. And worst of all, she doesn't believe in happy endings.

Review:
I really liked this one. I was quickly pulled into the story and had a hard time setting it down. I thought it was well written with a fun plot and likable characters. Kendall was likable and easy to relate to. She had been in an accident a few months prior to the story starting, which changed her life forever. She’s still struggling with what happened and is a bit skeptical win Ash shows up claiming to be her fairy godmother. Ash was also really likable. He is frustrated to be a fairy godmother (not a very manly profession where he comes from) and just wants to get his assignment over with, that is until he actually meets Kendall. I thought Ash and Kendall were great together, they have a lot in common, but I especially liked their banter and fun way of being with each other. I thought they had good chemistry. The story moves along quickly, and I was surprised with some of the twists at the end. I thought it was a great start to a new series and I look forward to seeing what will happen with Ash and Kendall next.

Content: Clean

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

She Owns the Knight by Diane Darcy

Review:
I really loved this one. It kind of reminded me of a more lighthearted Waterfall by Lisa Bergren. Gillian was a very likable heroine, as Kellen says, she’s charming. She seems to charm all those around her, you just can’t help but like her. She is visiting England and sketching an old rundown castle when some guys approach her with not the nicest intent. As she runs from them she is transported 700 years back in time and ends up at Kellen Marshalls castle. Kellen is expecting his new bride and assumes Gillian is his betrothed. She knows his real fiancé is on her way and only has a few weeks to figure out how to get back to the present day, but decides to make the best of the situation. I mean Kellen is hot, so why not?

Kellen has been hurt by his first wife and has a lot of baggage. It was so cute to see Gillian break down his walls, just by being kind and flirty. Kellen falls for Gillian right away, it was fun to see how loyal he was to her right from the get go. They are really cute together. I admit, the whole time I was nervous for how Kellen would react when he learned Gillian was not Edith, but was pleasantly surprised with how everything wraps up. I also liked the tiny side story of Marissa and her husband (Kellen’s dad), thought they also had a sweet story.

I thought the author did a great job of tying up loose ends, even some I had forgotten about. I thought this was a great lighthearted romance, with still enough tension to keep things interesting.

Content: Clean. Flirty innuendo.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fairest by Chanda Hahn

Synopsis:
In the sequel to UnEnchanted, Mina Grime discovers that all is not fair when it comes to the Fae and their tales, especially when they don’t all play by the rules. Barely surviving the Story’s first fairy tale quest, Mina still has hundreds to go before she can end the curse on her family. But a new player arises to challenge Mina while new rules revamp the game she has just barely begun to understand.
All the while, people are mysteriously disappearing, including Jared, whom Mina must finally determine to be friend or foe. And with the loss of her greatest weapon, Mina must try to outwit a deadly hunter. Can Mina survive the most difficult quest yet while protecting those she loves from falling victim to one of the lethal tales of all? Or will she become a pawn when she strikes a bargain with the Queen of Fae?

Review:
Hmm, I think I liked the first book a bit more, but I still enjoyed this one. I think the ending bumped it up a star for me though. It’s been about a month since the last book ended and Mina has completed a few more stories and has built up some confidence. While I like Mina, I got frustrated with her a bit in this one, but at the same time I liked that her “role” in the story wasn’t what she expected. The romance was pretty lacking in this one. I’m not sure who were supposed to be rooting for and admit I was disappointed with Brody’s story. I wonder how all that will work out? I do like that the “love-triangle” (which I use the term lightly) is a bit more unique from most. Both guys were actually absent quite a bit of the story and I missed them. I like both Brody and Jared, although I’m still rooting for a certain one of them to be Mina’s prince charming. While Mina did drive me nuts a couple times, I did like the growth she went through towards the end. I think she is learning from her mistakes and to be careful what she wishes for.

There were some interesting revelations at the end and I look forward to seeing where the story will go. There wasn’t as many POV jumps this time around. I actually kind of missed hearing from Brody and even Jared. I wonder how many books will be in the series, it doesn’t seem like things can get wrapped up in just one more book. I like the story though and wouldn’t mind if it was a bit longer series.

Overall, a good installment. If you liked the first book then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one as well.

Content: Clean. A bit of fairy tale violence.

Reading Order:
Book One: Unenchanted
Book Two: Fairest
Book Three: TBA

Sunday, July 8, 2012

UnEnchanted by Chanda Hahn

Synopsis:
Mina Grime is unlucky, unpopular and uncoordinated, that is until she saves her crushes life on a field trip, changing her High School status from loser to hero overnight. But with her new found fame brings misfortune in the form of an old family curse come to light. For Mina is descended from the Brothers Grimm and has inherited all of their unfinished fairy tale business. Which includes trying to outwit a powerful Story from making her it's next fairytale victim. To break the fairy tale curse on her family and make these deadly occurrences stop, Mina must finish the tales until the very Grimm end.

Review:
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. I had seen a few good reviews and it was free for my Kindle so I thought I’d give it a try. I love fairy tales and thought it was fun to see how they were interwoven into this story. Mina was a likable heroine. She was special, but didn’t know it yet. Her mom to try and protect her had tried to encourage her to NOT stand out. Mina always thought she was a klutz and didn’t mind not being noticed. Then one day on a field trip she saved the hottest guy in school, Brody, from falling over a railing. By saving Brody she sets forth a chain of events that literally changes her life. It turns out that Mina is related to the Brothers Grimm, and the fairy tales from their stories are real. Mina has to live each of the fairy tales and complete the stories in order to break a curse on her family.

I liked the side characters, Nan, Brody, Jared and little Charlie. I think there is a lot more going on with Nan that what we’re given and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with her in future books. I liked Brody, a lot. At times it did feel that he talked and acted a lot older than sixteen, but he was still really likable. I was surprised by how his story played out. Jared was interesting. I wasn’t sure if there was supposed to be a love-triangle and I’m not sure which side Jared is on. I’m curious to see what happens with him in future books. I think I’m still on Team Brody though, even though I don’t know what will happen with him now.

I thought the book was well written; I got sucked in and thought it flowed well. I admit, some of the POV changes were a little choppy. We’d be in Mina’s head and then suddenly in Brody’s, for like a paragraph, and then back in Mina’s. I think the transitions could have been a little better. I actually, for once, did like hearing things from Brody, Nan and Jared’s POV.

Overall, if you like fairy tales you’ll enjoy this one. I think it will be a fun series and I look forward to reading more. I liked the cover and I also liked that it was clean!

Content: Clean. A bit of fairy tale violence.

Reading Order:
Book One: Unenchanted
Book Two: Fairest

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter

Synopsis:
The last thing Cammie Morgan remembers is leaving the Gallagher Academy to protect her friends and family from the Circle of Cavan--an ancient terrorist organization that has been hunting her for over a year. But when Cammie wakes up in an alpine convent and discovers months have passed, she must face the fact that her memory is now a black hole. The only traces left of Cammie’s summer vacation are the bruises on her body and the dirt under her nails, and all she wants is to go home. Once she returns to school, however, Cammie realizes that even the Gallagher Academy now holds more questions than answers. Cammie, her friends, and mysterious spy-guy Zach must face their most difficult challenge yet as they travel to the other side of the world, hoping to piece together the clues that Cammie left behind. It’s a race against time. The Circle is hot on their trail and willing stop at nothing to prevent Cammie from remembering what she did last summer

Review:
This is such a fun series, I really like it. I liked Cammie in this one; she has had a hard summer and is trying to fit back in with her friends and Zach. Like the past books I do wish Zach was present a little more, and while it’s okay that romance isn’t the main plot, I wouldn’t mind a little more. I like the overall story and think the series is a lot of fun (it's hard to write about, since I don't want to give spoilers this late in the series). I’m glad there will only be one more book though, I’m not a big fan of long series.

I do wish I had read the books closer together. I read book four Oct 2010, and while I remember the gist of it I felt like I had forgotten a lot going into book five. Since my books are all in storage right now I wasn’t able to re-read it before starting Out of Sight, Out of Time. Once I got into it though I didn't feel like I was missing too much, the story moves along well and there is plenty of action/mystery to keep you entertained. Fun read.

Content: Clean.

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Synopsis:
Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners. There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed. Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time. Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

Review:
I think I liked this one as much as the first. Unlike some series, each book covers its own heist and has its own plot and could probably stand on its own (although I recommend reading them in order). I thought this was entertaining. Kat is a likable heroine; she starts out a bit cocky in this one. She thinks she can do it all on her own, as the story progresses though she realizes just how important it is to have a team and friends to support her. I like all the characters in the book and it was fun being along on their ride. I liked Hale in this one. I was a little frustrated with the whole Hale-Kat relationship, there was too much left unsaid I guess. I’ve recently been on a regency kick where the romance is the main point of the story and in this series it kind of takes a back seat, and to be honest I wish there was a tad more where the romance is involved.

Overall, I think this is a great series. It’s clean, lighthearted, smart and a fun way to pass the time. I look forward to reading the next book; I just wish I didn’t have to wait so long!

Content: Clean.

Reading Order:
Book One: Heist Society
Book Two: Uncommon Criminals
Book Three: Perfect Scoundrels (Feb 2013)

Evergreen by Brenda Pandos

Synopsis:
Ash and Fin’s only desire is to be together and dive into their happily ever after, though their conflicting worlds work to pull them apart. Neither is ready to convert to the other’s life: become a human or a mer. Little do they know that somewhere in Natatoria a secret holds the fine fabric of everyone’s lives together. If the truth is discovered, Ash and Fin will no longer have the luxury of waiting. They’ll be forced to choose. But will it be for loyalty or love? Or will someone else make the choice for them if they can’t decide?
Review:
While I enjoyed this one, I think I liked the first book a little more. This book picks up where the last book ended. Fin and Ash are separated. Fin is on the run with his parents and Ash is attempting to live her normal high school life. They have to deal with their separation with minimal contact. I got a little frustrated with all the secrets. I mean, if you’re supposed to be so in love shouldn’t you trust your partner with anything? I guess it’s just to add some tension, but it did bother me.

I kind of thought the middle started to drag; with them being apart and having to deal with distractions. I thought it was well written and kept me interested, but the middle felt pretty uneventful. With about 80% left it started to get more exciting and there were some fun twists I didn’t see coming. I think it kind of suffered from Middle Book Syndrome, not a lot happening until the end when there is a bunch of stuff that leaves you wanting to read the next book. I still really like the characters and story and will read Everlost when it comes out next February.

Content: Clean, a bit of swearing and some violence.

Mer Tales Reading Order:
Book One: Everblue
Book Two: Evergreen
Book Three: Everlost

Surfacing by Shana Norris

Synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Mara Westray has just lost her mother, and now, being shipped off to live with the father she doesn’t know is not how she imagined grieving. She’s already counting down the days until she turns eighteen and can leave the tiny island of Swans Landing. But from the moment she steps off the ferry, nothing is as ordinary as it looks. Whispers of a haunting song on the wind make her see impossible things, and she isn’t sure she can trust her judgment about what is real and what isn’t anymore. Maybe she can’t even trust her judgment about quiet Josh Canavan, whose way of speaking in riddles and half-truths only confuses her more, luring her deeper into the secrets hidden beneath the ocean’s surface. As she tries to unravel the events that led to her mom fleeing the island sixteen years ago, Mara finds that the biggest secret of all is only the beginning.

Review:
I’m not sure what to make of this one. I guess overall I did like it and enjoyed the story, but by the end it felt a little uneventful and a bit slow. The first half of the book is about how Mara has lost her mom and has had to move in with her dad on a mysterious island where half the people are keeping secrets from her and the other half hate her. I got a bit frustrated waiting for Mara to just find out all ready. I mean the cover of the book pretty much gives the secret away. The second half of the book was interesting. Mara now knows most of what’s going on, but makes some bad decisions. One big one was with her friend Dylan. I didn’t like that whole situation and how she handled things. Her relationship with Josh was also a bit frustrating. He was kind of a coward in public and had done a few questionable things, but when they were together she never called him on anything. At least not for a long time. I would have liked a bit more confrontation, she didn’t seem like the type to hold things in, so I didn’t get why she put up with some of his shenanigans. Despite the very short time they know each other; I did actually like their relationship and thought they had good chemistry. I don’t think this is too much of a spoiler, but I have to get it out there. I was frustrated with how Mara wanted to leave and runaway with Josh. First, you barely know him despite the “connection” you may feel. Two, it was so selfish of her to ask him to leave his mom. She of all people should know what it is like to take care of an ailing mother and it was just so dumb for her to ask him to abandon his mother for her. It made me like her a lot less. 

Anyway, I did like Mara. I liked Josh. I liked the side characters Dylan, Sailor, Miss Gale and Lake. I thought it was maybe a standalone novel, but there are some cliffhangers at the end so I’m sure there will be at least one more book. I enjoyed this one and will probably read the next. It was an interesting take on mermaids and if you like mermaid stories you’ll probably enjoy it.   

Content: Pretty clean. Some passionate kissing and making out. Mild language, maybe a dozen (or less) swear words.
 
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