[Review] The Elite by Kiera Cass

The Elite
(The Selection #2)
Author: Kiera Cass
Publication: April 23rd, 2013 by HarperTeen
Page count: 323 (Paperback)
Genre: YA – Dystopia, Romance
Goodreads

The hotly-anticipated sequel to the New York Timesbestseller The Selection.
Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.
America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.
Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

 

Review

The Elite left me feeling more infuriated than its predecessor. 

First of all, America was even more annoying than I remembered. And way dumber. Most of the time, we were being told how nice her personality was instead of it being shown through her actions and I was so tired of that. You just don’t senselessly do the things that your friend was punished for, especially since you clearly know what will happen. America knew the severe consequence herself, yet she still did it anyway.

“But how was I supposed to decide between two good possibilities? How could I make a choice that would leave some part of me devastated either way?”

As expected, she kept going back and forth between Aspen and Maxon — at one moment she wanted to be with Maxon so bad, the next she felt like Aspen was the only person who would understand her. You know, the usual stuff. What a typical love triangle and I could not be bothered to be invested on it. But to make matters worse, both guys seemed to be more selfish and unlikable in this installment. (Everyone was, honestly.) Maxon kept demanding from America and there were multiple times his behavior simply irritated me. Him juggling the other girls, while America was also too busy feeling conflicted to make a freaking decision about him or Aspen. Oh yeah, Aspen. He still pissed me off and he’d gotten more needy now but somehow he became more…bearable, I guess.

I continued this series because I thought it provided a light entertainment even if it was ridiculous at times. Oh, btw I found out Queen Amberly’s middle name. Station. *gasps* Can you believe it? If anything was more ridiculous than the names, it would be the history of Illea. Do you really expect me to believe THAT??

Now that I’ve finished book 2, I’m not sure anymore. I didn’t expect much from it, knowing the first book. I was actually hoping for a light and feel-good read, not some angst-ridden teenage soap opera. However, I surprisingly still came out of The Elite with my curiosity intact. I might give The One a chance, though I will definitely keep my expectations low.

 

[ARC Review] Me Since You by Laura Wiess

Me Since You
Author: Laura Wiess
Publisher: MTV Books
Publication Date: February 18th, 2014
Pages: 368 (eBook)
Genre: YA – Contemporary

Laura Wiess captures the visceral emotion of a girl’s journey from innocence to devastating loss and, ultimately, to a strange and unexpected kind of understanding—in this beautiful and painfully honest new novel.
Are there any answers when someone you love makes a tragic choice?
Before and After. That’s how Rowan Areno sees her life now. Before: she was a normal sixteen-year-old—a little too sheltered by her police officer father and her mother. After: everything she once believed has been destroyed in the wake of a shattering tragedy, and every day is there to be survived.
If she had known, on that Friday in March when she cut school, that a random stranger’s shocking crime would have traumatic consequences, she never would have left campus. If the crime video never went viral, maybe she could have saved her mother, grandmother — and herself — from the endless replay of heartache and grief.
Finding a soul mate in Eli, a witness to the crime who is haunted by losses of his own, Rowan begins to see there is no simple, straightforward path to healing wounded hearts. Can she learn to trust, hope, and believe in happiness again?

 

 

Thank you MTV Books and Edelweiss for the review copy! This doesn’t affect my opinions or review at all.
 

Review

Before starting Me Since You, I’d heard that this was a very devastatingly realistic book so I couldn’t help but to increase my expectations. I thought it was going to be TFIOS kind of sadness but apparently it was WAY MORE.

The beginning is rather perplexing that I had to keep frowning – took me quite a while to understand. For example, it is talking about A and then suddenly B and then go back to A again. Additionally, the writing didn’t help at all. Like, one sentence is so long you can just make a paragraph out of one. Fortunately, I grew accustomed to the writing and eventually it didn’t bother me anymore.

Me Since You tells the story of how Rowan deals with the grief and emptiness left after her father committed suicide. I’m just gonna go straight to the point. The fact that I’ve never experienced loss and grief as big as Rowan possibly resulted in my failure to connect with her character – or actually relate to the whole book. There were also times that Rowan’s actions just flat-out irritated me. For instance, when she just assumes something before hearing the explanations. Blah, she claims to do it because of grief but at that point I felt almost completely disconnected with her I could barely care. (Seriously, I feel like a heartless bitch for writing this review -_-)

Due to its character-driven nature, there isn’t much happening and the plot moves slowly. I managed to enjoy some parts but then things felt like dragging most of the time. However, I appreciated that the romance just stays in the shadows even though I wouldn’t mind if Eli appeared more because I liked his character haha.

Through Me Since You, I came to conclusion that heavy contemporary is not my thing. I highly recommend it for people who are up to depressing reads. It’s not the book, it’s just me. I may be the black sheep but I won’t stop any of you from reading it as many people have loved it.

 

[ARC Review] Defy by Sara B. Larson

Defy
(Defy #1)
Author: Sara B. Larson
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: January 7th, 2014
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
Genre: YA – High-Fantasy, Romance

A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and heart-racing romance.
Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.
The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?
Thank you Netgalley and Scholastic for the review copy! This doesn’t affect my opinion or review at all.
 

Review

When I first read the blurb, I thought Defy was going to be a kickass fantasy with awesome protagonist despite of the love triangle. But as the book progresses, sorry to say that I am very disappointed with this.

“I’d been doing it for so long, I didn’t even have to think about it anymore. Trying to sound like a boy was natural to me now.”

The concept is actually something that I’d never heard of in YA: a girl disguising be a boy to save her life. And when I started the book, I was so in love with it I was like “OMG this is going to be a favorite!<3” However, after Alexa’s brother death in the first 50 pages, Defy quickly went downhill.

I already knew from the blurb that there would be a love triangle – and unfortunately a predictable one at that. The love interests are Prince Damian (a lazy prince with – wait for it – secrets whom Alexa initially hates but the more she gets to know him, the more she realizes that he is far more than that) and Rylan (the loyal type of guy who has befriended Alexa and her brother since the very beginning). You can guess which one will win, it’s very obvious.

Moreover, I don’t like the fact that in page 100+, it’s revealed both love interests have known that Alex is a girl. Too convenient. I assume it’s made that way so that the love interests can get started to, you know, basically get closer to the girl without having to pretend that she is a guy and the girl doesn’t have to keep disguising as a guy anymore and just. Do. What. Hormones. Say.

My main issue with Defy is how the romance takes over the plot. In the middle part until the last page, Alexa spends her time being confused and going back and forth between two guys, resulting in very little actual plot development. PUH-LEASE. Also, I was irritated how in one moment Alexa gets mad at the prince for keeping secrets and next second she already forgives him. (That happens quite a lot.)

The prince is obviously the more dominant one in the love triangle and the romance between him and the protagonist is a bit of insta-love. However, I feel like Rylan is just thrown here. . .I think he’s barely in the story and I must admit that I like him better. When I was reading, sometimes I felt bad for him because it seems like everything he does can never please the MC. For example when Rylan offers Alexa help and she goes like “dude, I need no help I am strong enough!” but when there is Prince Damian she just throws herself at him and I was like. . .

In the later part of the book, something other than the romance FINALLY happens and there this baffling explanation about politics, lies and other stuff I didn’t quite understand. But at that point I was too bored and too fed-up with the romance, thus everything fell flat for me.

There is a huge potential in the concept but too bad the execution is dissatisfying. Apart from the infuriating romance, almost non-existent plot and inconsistent protagonist, the only things I like in Defy is the ending and a couple of characters (Marcel and Rylan). I do appreciate the ending – it is unlike what I had expected. The ending portrays a realistic consequence of wars and I suppose it is accurate enough.

Although I was either frustrated or disinterested most of the time, I will still give Defy 2 stars considering how much I enjoyed reading the beginning.

*Lol, look, my thoughts on the romance takes over my review! xD

 

[Mini Review] Demigods and Monsters

by Rick Riordan (and various authors)
MG – Essays Fantasy (Greek Mythology)

Which Greek god makes the best parent?
Would you want to be one of Artemis’ Hunters?
Why do so many monsters go into retail?
Spend a little more time in Percy Jackson’s world—a place where the gods bike among us, monsters man snack bars, and each of us has the potential to become a hero.
Find out:
Why Dionysus might actually be the best director Camp Half-Blood could have
How to recognize a monster when you see one
Why even if we aren’t facing manticores and minotaurs, reading myth can still help us deal with the scary things in our own lives
Plus, consult our glossary of people, places, and things from Greek myth: how Medusa got her snake hair extensions, why Chiron isn’t into partying and paintball like the rest of his centaur family, and the whole story on Percy’s mythical namesake.

Mini Review

Being a PJO/HoO and Greek mythology fan, I felt that I would love this. So I finally finished it and honestly I thought it was boring. Sure there were essays that I liked (such as Jenny Han’s Eeny Meeny Miney Mo(m): Picking Your Very Own Godly Parent) but I felt that reading this was like a chore or school homework I had to finish.

Well, I did finish this book.

However…I dragged my ass and skimmed through the second half.

This book is a collection of essays from other authors about PJO series. It wasn’t THAT bad, really. In fact, I learned cool stuff about Greek mythology through this book and I found some parts to be really funny. But I thought the Greek mythology sorta backfired and it started to get very tedious reading about all of them it was impossible for me NOT to skim. I doubt younger readers would find this fascinating enough…

Thank you Smart Pop Books and Netgalley for sending me the galley, this doesn’t affect my opinions at all.

Rating

2 Cakes!

[ARC Review] Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Dirty Little Secret
Author: Jennifer Echols
Publisher: MTV Books
Publication Date: July 16th, 2013
Pages: 288 (Hardcover)
Genre: YA – Contemporary

From the author of the “real page-turner” (Seventeen) Such a Rush comes an unforgettable new drama that follows friends-turned-lovers as they navigate the passions, heartbreaks, and intrigue of country music fame.
Bailey wasn’t always a wild child and the black sheep of her family. She used to play fiddle and tour the music circuit with her sister, Julie, who sang and played guitar. That ended when country music execs swooped in and signed Julie to a solo deal. Never mind that Julie and Bailey were a duet, or that Bailey was their songwriter. The music scouts wanted only Julie, and their parents were content to sit by and let her fulfill her dreams while Bailey’s were hushed away.
Bailey has tried to numb the pain and disappointment over what could have been. And as Julie’s debut album is set to hit the charts, her parents get fed up with Bailey’s antics and ship her off to granddad’s house in Nashville. Playing fiddle in washed-up tribute groups at the mall, Bailey meets Sam, a handsome and oh-so-persuasive guitarist with his own band. He knows Bailey’s fiddle playing is just the thing his band needs to break into the industry. But this life has broken Bailey’s heart once before. She isn’t sure she’s ready to let Sam take her there again…

Review

Bailey used to be a duo with her sister, Julie – She was the songwriter and the fiddle player while Julie sang and played guitar. One day, a record company exec discovered Julie and signed her to a contract, snatching her away from Bailey and making sure that Bailey stays under the radar because it would be bad for their public relations. For a year Bailey has been acting rebellious until one car accident – thanks to her drunken boyfriend – gets her sent to her granddad’s house in Nashville. There, she plays gigs in a mall and meets a boy named Sam.

Bailey is a complicated character in my opinion, but somehow I could relate to her, being the underdog and all. Her parents gave up on her dream, told her to pursue another career (and literally control her life) so her younger sister Julie could shine brighter. Bailey seems…bitter in the beginning, but once I got to know her reasons, I couldn’t help but to sympathize with her. She isn’t always likable, but I was so glad that in the end she finally stands up for her dream. Now, I have things that I didn’t like about her but I will point it out later in the romance section.

The love interest in this book is Sam. He seems like a sweet and friendly guy when he is first introduced, however as the story progresses, we get to see his darker sides. Turns out he’s quite a player but he actually has a broken heart (though he never shows it). I was honestly mad when I knew his true intentions — he wants to use Bailey!! He’s an ambitious and manipulative musician, I think his character totally ruined the book for me.

I found the romance between Sam and Bailey too rushed and unappealing (it is sorta insta love) in the beginning. But luckily Jennifer Echols doesn’t take the convenient route – their relationship is rough and bouncy although they kiss so early. So the middle of their romance was quite good, I thought. Until Bailey finds out that Sam was using her (because her sister has a contract) but Bailey doesn’t seem to be… mad. I mean, yes, she WAS mad at some point, but she quickly “forgives” him. And goes back to him. Dude, he was toying with you!! 

One thing that I found to be unrealistic was the parents. I mean, come on, what kind of parents do THAT to their children? You can’t just ditch one of your child and focus on another just because he/she is much more successful.

The concept of this book is definitely intriguing. I have never read a book about country songs before and I think there aren’t many YA books that mention country songs so I guess it’s a plus. However, the concept was overshadowed by the infuriating character (Sam) and bad romance. While I enjoyed this book at some point, Dirty Little Secret falls in the “meh” category for me. There are so many things that could have been better, but no, this book disappointed me.

Thank you Simon & Schuster and Edelweiss for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book. This doesn’t affect my review at all.

Rating

2 Cakes