Chasm of Books

The blog author of Chasm of Books, I enjoy reading and reviewing novels. I prefer some type of fiction (fantasy, dystopian, sci-fi, etc.) more than anything else. I find non-fiction very boring and dull. I'm willing to read both electronic and physical books, but I tend to read faster and more often if I have the physical item in my hand. Some of my favorite authors include Marissa Meyer, Veronica Roth, Jane Austen, and Bram Stoker.

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Matched  - Ally Condie

Oh Matched....

 Matched took a very long time to start but once the story really got going, I didn't want to put the book down.

The Society controls everything. From what they eat, wear, and what leisure activities they are allowed to pick from to who and when they marry, when and how they die, and how they live. The list goes on and on. And somehow the Society has managed to brainwash everyone into thinking that this is all for their own good. It's disgusting and frustrated me throughout the entire book. If I had to compare it to any fictional world, it would probably be to what it must have been like to live in the Capitol in The Hunger Games.

For the first one-hundred pages or so, the narrative was at times disjointed and hard to follow, but thankfully that changed. Honestly, I mostly kept reading because I was waiting for the book to get better. I had heard it was great so I was expecting to devour it in two days or less. My mistake. The first half wasn't awful but it felt like nothing was really happening. But... once we got to around page two-hundred, things started to get better until finally, I really didn't want to put the book down. The second half is what I expected most of the book to be like: gripping.

Cassia pretty much annoyed and frustrated me for the first half of the book. But that's mostly because she could only think about the same three things over and over again. Thank goodness for chapter twenty-one! Finally, Cassia admits to herself who she actually loves and the love story really starts to move along.

Xander pleasantly surprised me. In the beginning it seemed like he would be the type of friend who the girl only likes because he's all she's ever known. And those type of guys tend to be really annoying. A good example of what I mean by this is Jason from The Hourglass Door. He was the guy the girl always want but turned out to be a dud. Thankfully, Xander wasn't like that. I actually really like him but not as Cassia's Match.

I'm not quite sure what I like about Ky. He's not like the typical love interest you usually find in these type of stories. You don't know about his past, but he's not mysterious like Four from Divergent or Wolf from Scarlet. He doesn't have that safe but dark feel to him, which was unexpected. Nevertheless, I really do like Ky. He's a real person in a story full of brainwashed characters.

Even with all of my complaints, I do want to find out what happens to Cassia, Ky and Xander, so I will be reading the second book. Thank goodness the second half redeemed itself, but I was very disappointed that it took so long for the story to get moving.

Despite my complaints, I'm glad I read Matched and will be reading the rest of the series.


ARC Review: The Lost Boy

The Lost Boy - Greg Ruth

When I requested The Lost Boy, I didn't know that it was actually a graphic novel, so imagine my surprise when I opened the file on my NOOK and a bunch of pictures showed up. All of the graphic novels I'd read up until then had all been Japanese (translated to English of course) so The Lost Boy was actually my first American graphic novel. I was already kind of getting back into reading this type of stuff so The Lost Boy caught me at probably the best time.

Upon moving into his new house, Nate discovers a tape recorder narrated by a boy who had previously lived in the house and gone missing. As Nate listens, the narrator's story becomes weirder and weirder. But as Nate continues to listen, he begins to see some awfully strange things....

What I liked: I thought the artwork was great. Some of the bigger pictures in The Lost Boy made me wish I had a physical copy of the graphic novel. You could really see the detail carefully sketched into every picture. Honestly, I think the artwork was my favorite part. There were times when I would just stare at a page and wish. If you're interested in reading this, definitely pick it up at the library or buy at the bookstore. You'll have a better reading experience with it in your hands than on your ereader.

What I was a little iffy on: The story was interesting enough but I felt like Ruth didn't spend enough time explaining things. Even now, I'm not really certain what all those little forest creatures were called and how or why a doll is among that world. Yes, a baby doll was walking around, which could have been creepy I suppose but I didn't really get the creep factor. I mostly just wondered why a doll was so knowledgeable. I get that there's magic involved but sometimes I felt like I had just been dropped into the middle of a story and it was expected that I'd be just fine there. It's actually because of this that it was really hard to summarize the story. Hence my basically non-existent summary above.

Maybe it was because I was in a hurry to read it, but I also felt like the story was a little rushed. I've read graphic novels before and I'm no expert, but 192 pages isn't enough to make the story feel like it it's not being thrown at you. If you think about it, when you read graphic novels, you're going to flip through those pages much faster so the author kind of needs to show us more or linger in certain parts of the story.

As for the plot, I wish there had been more to it before Nate and his friends finally confronted the "bad guy" who happened to be the very person I expected. Yup. About half way through or so I was like, oh, that person is the guy who's after the key. Then ta-da! It was a little disappointing. The whole ending and journey towards the antagonist was really bare-bones. It was literally the protagonist (and his friends) running towards the antagonist and only dodging their pursuers once. There really wasn't much to it and I think there could have been a lot more there that would have made things really interesting.

I liked The Lost Boy but it was a bit of a let-down.

The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice, #1) - John Flanagan This was probably my sixth time reading The Ruins of Gorlan and I loved it just as much as I did the first time.

Will has lived as one of the castle wards (he's basically an orphan) all his life. No one knows who his parents were, only that they died. Sustaining himself with the belief that his father was a knight, Will's greatest wish is to be selected for Battleschool and follow in his father's footsteps. But, short and small as he is, Will's request is rejected and, instead, he finds himself apprenticed to Halt, the Ranger assigned to the fief.

While I enjoyed watching Will train as a Ranger, I can't really say that there's one specific part of the book that I like more than everything else. The first time I read it, I said the end of the book was my favorite part. Every time after that, it was Will training. Now though, I like both aspects of the book equally. I do think that one of the reasons why I love the first book so much though is because, unlike any of the others, this really does showcase part of Will's training and that gives it a different atmosphere and feel to it that the other books don't have. Don't get me wrong, the other books are great, but the whole training part of these type of stories really appeals to me.

I'll admit I was a little nervous to read this now that I'm a more active reader. While I knew I loved it, I worried that maybe I'd notice flaws I didn't before. To my immense pleasure, I didn't. I actually noticed new things, one of which being Horace and Will's friendship. When we start the book, for all intents and purposes, Horace is the bully and Will the victim. For those of you who don't know, Horace is a tried and true character. He's stuck with Will from book #1 to book #11. And while I like Horace, I was surprised to find myself disliking him at the beginning of this novel. Yes, even reading it for the sixth time, I still didn't like Horace at first. That to me, is a talent that not every author possesses.

The highlight of this novel (and the entire series) for me is definitely the characters. Everyone is just so lovable. Even Gilan, who we don't see much, is instantly likable and flawlessly joins the line of favorite characters. Will's mentor, Halt, is your typical gruff mentor. Not that unusual really, but his sarcasm and a little bit of something else I can't identify prevent his gruff criticism from making us hate him. And, of course, Will himself is easy to love. He's curious, honest, and inexperienced, but he doesn't let his inexperience paralyze him in tough situations, he puts on his cap of courage and acts.

This is probably one of the few books I will read over and over again for as long as I live.
Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas Celaena Sardothien is an assassin. After spending a year in a prison camp, the crown prince, Dorian, has a deal for her. Compete to be the king's champion; if she wins, she'll be given her freedom and her name cleared after serving the king for four years.

Throne of Glass wasn't what I expected. I didn't expect the novel to remain within a castle. I loved that. There's something I find really appealing about books with this type of setting. Throne of Glass has a collection of every element that maximizes the enjoyment you can find in a castle setting. Miss Maas deliciously includes the politics, distrust, brutality, and drama that you don't typically see together all at once even though they're what make this setting so appealing. Or, at least, I've never seen them mixed all in the same book before, not like this.

I think what impressed me the most was the main character herself though. Probably about a hundred pages into the book I figured that we had seen pretty much every aspect of her personality. But seeing more of Celaena unfold was unexpected and truly wonderfully.

She starts off as this young, hardened assassin who has just spent a year in a very brutal prison camp/mine. Even though I felt like I shouldn't be rooting for her because she's an assassin, I found that I couldn't stop myself. As the story goes on, pieces of her past reveal themselves through various means and we get to see why she became an assassin. We see how she can be both brutal and kind. I'm hesitant to say that I wish more had been revealed about her past for two reasons.

Reason number one: Celaena obviously has a brutal past herself and if the execution (when revealing it all) isn't handled correctly then I'm afraid it'll diminish her character. I don't want the revelation of some wound to make her less of an assassin.

Reason number two: While I definitely want to know more about her past, I think Miss Maas revealed just the right amount in her first novel. Miss Maas, I applaud you. The balance between Celaena's reluctance to speak about her past and the moments when she did was perfect.

Dorian was not my favorite character. He didn't annoy me but I didn't particularly enjoy his relationship with Celaena. Don't get me wrong, it was sweet and I think he has helped her heal a little. But quite honestly, Dorian seems a bit wimpy. It looks like that's changing but he just gets on my nerves a sometimes.

Chaol on the other hand is...I don't even know. He distrusts Celaena for most of the book which is only realistic. They were both so mean to each other sometimes. But there was always a layer of respect underneath it all. Of course, Chaol's reluctance to really acknowledge Celaena has anything but a ruthless assassin, made those moments when he did that much sweeter.

As far as plot goes, I was kind of surprised when magic was brought into the story. It certainly added an interesting layer to the entire world Miss Maas has built and I'm curious to see how the Wyrd marks continue to affect the series. The magic and Wyrd marks didn't dominate the plot though, which was nice. I thoroughly enjoyed the competition between the criminals competing to be the king's champion and seeing Celaena retaliate with some of them... Oh man, I was sitting on my bed just going, "Yes! Get him!" She held back, which was smart but it killed her, so when she finally unleashed herself in those very quick moments, I was totally rooting for her.

Throne of Glass wasn't everything I expected but I enjoyed it just as much as I thought I would.

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Untitled (Into the Dark, #1) - Bree Despain Absolutely loved it! Review to come!
Not a Drop to Drink - Mindy McGinnis Lynn lives off of the small pond in her back yard. She has spent her whole life defending it alongside her mother. But one autumn day, things go terribly wrong and Lynn alone is left to defend it. The coarse personality she's grown into starts to soften though when she meets Lucy and Eli, two city-dwellers who don't have a clue how to survive in the harsh Ohio winters.

Not a Drop to Drink is not your typical dystopian. It's really about Lynn surviving from day to day. It actually reminded me of Hatchet, which is about a boy surviving after his plane crashes in the middle of nowhere. But, unlike Hatchet, Not a Drop to Drink never got boring and had more than two people in it.

Miss McGinnis spends just enough time showing us what day-to-day life has always been like for Lynn for the beginning events in Not a Drop to Drink to seem out of the ordinary. So what if someone approaches your house, right? I mean, we deal with that every day. But the beginning of the novel is essential for us to understand what simple acts like that truly imply in Not a Drop to Drink.

Lynn lives in a very brutal world.

Eli was so wonderful. He was sweet, kind, and didn't let his hardships stop him from smiling or flirting. If Lynn had met a boy that wasn't like Eli, I very much doubt he would have survived. Eli is literally the first boy her age she's ever met. The very light romance was appropriate to the story and ultimately endearing when it comes to Eli.

Lynn herself was.... I wouldn't want get on her bad side. But she learns a lot about human interaction when she takes Lucy under her wing. Lucy was the perfect thing for Lynn and very cute. Only five or six, Lucy didn't quite understand all the danger around her at a level that she probably needed to, but she understood enough that she never became annoying. Her role as an innocent little girl living in a brutal world was written to perfection.

Even with all the character development, Lynn was fundamentally the same character we started the novel with but she wasn't a completely different girl either. She understood the world she lived in a lot better on both the good and the bad scale. Her mother raised her to be a certain way for sixteen years, so I find it appropriate that even at the end of the novel, she was cold and direct when it came down to what she felt she had to do to keep herself and others safe. It was never really a question of revenge. It all was just what she thought she had to do.

Miss McGinnis is a very talented author. The writing style was definitely unique in a good way. It was this cross of first person and third person on a level I've never seen before. She used the third person pronouns (she, he, it, etc.), but the voice itself felt like first person with the refinement of third person.

I wouldn't recommend this one to younger readers what with a lot of the language and some things other things. I wouldn't say Not a Drop to Drink was gory, graphic, or anything like that. I think it was realistic to the setting the main character was in and that setting is brutal. But I'm glad I finally got to read it and enjoyed the taste of something different.

Will in Scarlet

Will in Scarlet - I received this from the publisher via Netgalley. No compensation was given or taken to alter this review in any way.

Will is the son of a castle Lord who is off fighting in King Richard's crusades. He lives in the time of Robin Hood. When King Richard and those traveling with him (Will's father among them), are captured, Richard's brother, King John, begins to wreak havoc on his subjects. Will's castle is taken from him and, after fleeing, he is forced to join a group of bandits in Sherwood forest as their prisoner.

Robin Hood has always kind of interested me even though I've never really read up on him. I know the basics. He steals from the rich and gives to the poor. But Will in Scarlet isn't Robin Hood specifically. It's about Will who makes the band of Merry Men, more than it is when he first meets them. It's the story of a boy, who helps Robin Hood become the legend we know him as.

I didn't love all of the characters individually. I liked them but the best part for me was how they all mixed with each other. The cast was full of men and boys with really just one girl among them pretending to be a boy. It was definitely a welcomed change from all of the girl protagonists I've been reading about.

You can definitely tell Will in Scarlet was written by a man and it was more enjoyable because of that. With the mostly male cast, it lent a more authentic feel in a story where a young boy is living among a group of stinky bandits who wouldn't be bandits if they could make an honest living. Meaning, they were mostly good people. They're camping and on the run for the majority of the book. Will has memories of getting into mischief like all boys do when they're young. How Will remembers things and reacts to things was more enjoyable.

The writing itself was great. Mr. Cody didn't dumb it down for his audience which I appreciate because kids aren't idiots. The story was the perfect young adventure. Quite frankly, Will in Scarlet makes me miss these type of books. It takes real talent to write a middle grade novel with the type of quality people like Matthew Cody and John Flanagan provide. But I think with Cody having an even younger protagonist (Will is 13), makes the feat all that more impressive. The plot was serious but not too serious for his audience. And I didn't know how exactly this book would end. It's the type of novel that makes its target audience's reading much richer than it may otherwise be.

Personally, I think anyone who writes middle grade novels or who wants to can learn a thing or two from Mr. Cody.
The Immortal Rules  - Julie Kagawa Ah, a bit of a return to the terrifying vampires we once knew! The Immortal Rules was fantastic! Despite Readiculously Peachy's assurances, I was a little afraid this would turn out to be just another book with too-human vampires. It didn't.

Here we have another dystopian world where the vast majority of the human population is starving. The government(s) control the food. But instead of making this dependence a requirement, Miss Kagawa took a different approach. The world is ruled by vampires but, after the Red Lung virus breakout, they are very careful with their food source. The registered humans let the vampires draw their blood and the vampires give them food. The catch? You don't have to be registered. But there's a high price to pay to be unregistered. The Unregistereds have to scavenge for food; starvation is always a worry and the vampires won't give them a single grain. The price of theft among the Unregistereds is death. There is no mercy for an Unregistered. Allison is an Unregistered. Eventually, Allison finds herself becoming a vampire, fleeing the only home she's ever known, and traveling with a group of humans.

I have to say, I enjoyed the fact that even though The Immortal Rules is dystopian, it doesn't feel like it. The writing was gripping and the world building was very well done and well thought out.

My favorite aspect of this book (by far) is the element the vampires bring to it. I haven't read very many vampire books but Miss Kagawa's balance between the traditional viciousness of these monsters and our desire to see something human is astounding. Let's face it, we don't really want to read about a flat out monster for a main character. We want a character with more conflict and levels than what a blind monster could ever give us. (This also goes for the characters the MC interacts with.) If they're just flat out monsters, then it isn't interesting. At the same time though, no one wants to read about a vampire that seems more human than monster. Whether or not you've read it or not, we all recognize Bram Stoker's Dracula as the universal image of a "real" vampire. Dracula is refined in his interactions with others but he's clearly a monster.

Miss Kagawa clearly states and reminds (through the characters of course) that Allison (after becoming a vampire) is a monster. Her only decision was what type of monster she would become. Her mentor (Kanin) clearly lays the facts out. She would eventually kill someone. It wasn't a question of if so much as when. This distinction is paramount. It draws the line exactly where I as a reader want it. I want to see Allison struggle to keep her humanity, but I don't want a wimpy sparkly vampire either, so to speak. The balance between vampires that didn't give a crap about human life and those that did was perfect.

As far as characters go, I didn't really make very many attachments in this novel. I liked everyone but I can't say I love one specific character more than the other. Its not that I wasn't attached, this was just one of those books where I enjoyed the plot, story, and journey more so than I did maybe the individual characters. I'm not saying that the characters were boring or the dialogue was bad. But there are some books you love because of the characters and; some you love just for the story. This one was the latter.

With that said, the love story was really light but a great beginning to a very complicated relationship between a vampire and human. I was expecting it to be more than it was but when I look back at it, the execution makes sense. It wouldn't be real if Allison and the love interest (Zeke) had finally kissed before they did (very close to the end). Even after I finished the book, they still were on uncertain ground. The love story is realistic for the issues that the characters have to face.

All in all, I really loved the whole concept of this world. And I loved the real vampires.

Arclight - Josin L. McQuein Light is life. At least, that's what Marina and the people within the Arclight are taught. Marina doesn't remember her life though. Her memories only consist of the past two months, anything before hand is fragmented and confusing—mostly consisting of complete terror. Almost everyone hates Marina and the fact that Fade attacks have started again since her arrival isn't exactly helping things.

Firstly, let me say the whole idea of the Fade (if you don't already know, (because I didn't) they're creatures) is basically everything I wanted it to be but not in a predictable way, which was a nice change. What the Fade are exactly isn't revealed until three-fourths of the book is over (meaning we know everything by then), but by the time we reach page 140 or so, Miss McQuein has at least given us a description and basic understanding. I'll admit I was a little lost until she gave me the more physical description of what the Fade are so I wish that had come a little earlier.

I've always enjoyed the whole human being turned into a different creature idea, which is one of the reasons why I love In the After and Arclight so much. But Arclight took a different turn with that plot line that wasn't exactly surprising but it was different and really enjoyable.

I'm still a little confused why the citizens living in the Arclight sleep during the day and are awake at night so I wish that had been addressed instead of just mentioned off-hand. I will say though that I was relieved the Arclight's government wasn't your typical dystopian government. There were some similar aspects but not so many that it was the same exhaustive government that wanted to control everything about its citizens' lives. It was controlling but not on the same scale and level, as In the After or Agenda 21.

As far as characters go, I didn't really connect with any of them but I loved Marina's storyline. I remember thinking it'd be cool if she turned out to somehow be one of the Fade. Then a hundred or so pages later I was like afdjk! Or in other words, Yes!!!. I am fond of Rue though. I came to really like him and I sympathize with him. The love of his life was taken from him and there is literally no way for him to get her back. Honestly, part of me wanted him to get his Cherish back somehow. Tobin was nice. I didn't connect with him either. I felt like his attitude towards Marina changed too quickly. When it comes to Honoria, I am at complete dislike. I can't say I hate her, because I've hated a character before (Simon) *cough* but she is pretty darn close to my character-hate scale.

Arclight was a wonderful sci-fi dystopian YA novel. I really enjoyed the storyline and the writing itself was pretty darn good. I'm really looking forward to Meridian.
Born of Illusion - Teri Brown Born of Illusion is a wonderfully delicious swirl of historical fiction and magic.

Anna Van Housen can sense feelings and see the future. She's lived an unpredictable life in which she has traveled from place to place and has helped her mother escape imprisonment multiple times. Not to mention, she and her mother break the law quite regularly.

Stories with magicians really intrigue me and Born of Illusion is everything I wanted in that department. Miss Brown not only showed us the magic everyone else saw but also everything the Van Housen women had to do behind the scenes. We were able to see their every secret. None of the magic was lost in those revelations though and the magic tricks and illusions were just as wonderful. Some of my favorite parts were the séances. They weren't dark but they were just creepy enough for you to really enjoy them.

The historical time period Miss Brown chose was perfect for the job. It added just the right amount of that old world feel mixed with the excitement and uncertainty the new technology and way of life the 1920s brought. I could not have asked for a better setting.

The love story left a little something to be desired. Anna and Cole are both perfect for each other but it wasn't as developed as I would have liked.

My only other complaint is the ending. Everything builds and builds until Anna finally confronts the antagonist but then you missed everything because she goes unconscious. It left things very anti-climatic for me.

With that said, I'm curious to see what Miss Brown will be doing with the next book. She left things pretty tied up, leaving just a few loose ends and just enough room for another book.
In the After - Demitria Lunetta I had high expectations for In the After. From the moment I read the description I could not wait to get my hands on this book.

Imagine living in a silent world. Sound is death. Daylight is death. You can only travel at night and even then, the probability of dying is still high if you make even the slightest of sounds. Amy is one of the few who have learned to live in the After. The Before was peaceful and normal. Amy went to school, had sleepovers, and there weren't monsters. The After is a living nightmare. The After is full of monsters that eat human flesh.

In the After has one of the best openings I have ever read. From the moment I started, I was hooked. The book was split into three parts and, if I have to pick which of those were my favorite, it would have to be part one. Part two and three were great, but in part one, Amy was really in the thick of it. She was sneaking around, living from day to day, risking death almost every night in an effort to gather food and not starve. I really enjoyed the rawness of the world around her and everything that living alone in the After brought.

Part two and three kind of settled the story into the more typical dystopian novel that you find. There's a new government and they're oppressive. Actually, the propaganda the characters there would spout annoyed me to no end. But I'm okay with that though because it annoyed Amy too. I liked that she didn't buy in to any of it. She went and did her own thing. She didn't blindly follow crazy Dr. Reynolds and her stupid mother. And what did she get for not "falling into line"? Amy was placed in the Ward and drugged. From the moment I met him, I instantly hated Dr. Reynolds. One of the reasons why I liked Amy so much as a character was because even though she couldn't see everything I could, she wasn't stupid. She didn't buy into any of it or trust anyone easily even though some people she did care about there did. She listened to her instincts.

The writing was gripping and really kept my attention. The plot moved forward at a nice pace. I didn't particularly enjoy having to read through drug-induced Amy's perspective. I was actually kind of annoyed but it wasn't that big of a deal. I think it was a different approach to the story and I appreciate that. Luckily, drug-induced Amy didn't really narrate that much. Those snips mostly consisted of her trying to remember why she's at the Ward. Then they would cut off to where part one left off and the story continued.

Just for clarification, the Ward is basically an asylum. Of course, you could go with what the characters there called it and say "it's a place where people go to get better." Yeah, sure. Straight up lies. If you go to the Ward, you don't come back. That much was clear from the beginning. The Ward is the place the new government puts people that they say couldn't adapt. This translates to people who learn too much about Them (the monsters) or who don't agree with the oppressive society.

Over all, I really enjoyed In the After. I just think that it would have been better without the whole oppressive society.
The Prince - Kiera Cass The Prince is a nice addition to The Selection series. We get a brief glimpse of how Maxon sees the whole ordeal and what he feels about it.

Maxon was the same Maxon we all love from The Selection and The Elite. I don't really feel like I know him better. If anything, I feel like his portrayal in the first two books was well done. Miss Cass has already communicated his personality very well.

It was interesting to see all of his insecurities when it came to the Selection. Of course, who came blame the poor guy for getting nervous? 35 chicks were coming to live in the same building. Yes, it's huge. But still, the palace has been his home all his life and now they're invading.

The one thing that did surprise me was how much he wanted to please his father and seemed to love him. I expected him to be a little more resentful or angry.

My favorite parts had to be Maxon's interactions with America. I was really eager to see those first few through his eyes. Actually, I was kind of hoping to see the first four. I can only imagine what his POV would be when it comes to their first date....

The Prince was a nice little extra to have and I'm looking forward to reading The Guard.
Falls The Shadow - Melissa Sasina Falls the Shadow was a little difficult for me to really invest myself in. The premise and plot were actually very interesting, it just didn't really captivate me for some reason.

As I understand it, all of the events in Falls the Shadow take place on Midgard after Ragnarok which is supposed to basically be the end of the world except for the fact that it is supposed to be repopulated afterward. Now that gods like Odin and Thor are dead, the power-hungry are searching for powerful artifacts the gods once used so they can awaken Loki.

There are a number of main characters throughout the story but I honestly didn't connect with any of them. Lady Amena was interesting but that was about as far as my connection went. I don't know much about Norse mythology so I kind of felt a little lost sometimes. I appreciated how each of the characters' storylines lead up to one another. I think the execution was well done. Each characters' storyline wove neatly together. There was never any confusion as to who I was reading about.

Unfortunately, I didn't particularly enjoy having to keep track of so many people and different storylines. Maybe it would have been easier if I knew the characters better. But, for me, it was difficult and made getting into the story harder. Of course, I'm not used to this type of writing either, so I might just be out of practice too.

The writing itself was well done I think. It made me feel like I was in a different world or rather that I was reading about a world that wasn't my own. Honestly, I admire that in authors. Not everyone can do that.

All in all, the premise was really interesting but, for whatever reason, I just wasn't captivated.

The Elite - 'Kiera Cass' Prince Maxon has narrowed The Selection down to just a few girls now and things are getting pretty tense around the palace. Not to mention, the rebels are still attacking every few weeks. An old friend has arrived at the palace though, making America's decision and participation in The Selection that much harder.

The Elite revealed a bit more about the rebels which was nice but the rebels didn't dominate the story, which I liked. They were featured a bit more though and gave us a little break from the constant frustration that is America.

Things have become more tense between the girls participating in The Selection. But Miss Cass didn't let it get downright nasty between the girls with cat fights and all, which is a relief because it could have gone that way. There was this one incident but the other girl had it coming. I'm so glad America gave the other girl a taste of what she deserved.

I liked seeing the Queen interact with the girls more but I was disappointed she and the King didn't have more interaction with America. I understand why there wasn't but I still wish there had been at least one conversation between the King and America before things blew up. I do hope we see the Queen speak to America more though. As for the King, he is despicable. Argh, what a horrible man!

And, finally, we've come to my favorite part of the story, America and Maxon. Let me just say, America was so frustrating. She'd get upset with Maxon but when he would come to see her or clear things up one of two things happened. 1) Stupid America yelled and pushed him away until he was too angry to talk to her. Or 2) she would say something to the effect, "I can't talk to you right now." Either way, Maxon would leave. I understand him in case one. He cares about her and doesn't want to say or do something he'll regret so he leaves the room. But case two? I was so frustrated with him when he wouldn't just stand his ground and force her to listen to the explanation that would make everything better! Him leaving because she "couldn't talk" was infuriating. I was literally sitting on my bed thinking, "Don't leave. America is so stupid."

But, as infuriating as it was, I loved seeing them together. And, in the end, America does at least decide to pull it together. The fact that Maxon finally confronts her (gently) with the truth (that she has to trust him and earn his trust), was a moment I relish. Finally, he says it!

As for Aspen.... Why oh why did he have to show up? I mean, I knew he would; it was to be expected but I just.... He doesn't make sense. He's all like, "I love you, America." And I'm sitting there reading and mentally chastising him. It's treason for her to be involved with any guy on any level at this point. They've seen what happens when a girl in The Selection falls in love with another guy. I mean, if Aspen loves her then he'll stop risking her life. He broke her heart on purpose. Yeah, I understand it was so she would have a chance at a better life but he's also prideful. She told him what he had was enough and he broke her heart any way. Then Aspen comes waltzing in expecting her to still love him. And American just takes him back! Maxon has done hardly anything to her yet she just forgives Aspen. I kept waiting for them to get caught together.

So all in all, The Elite fulfilled its purpose as the frustrating part of a literary relationship without getting too frustrating. Yes, in between all of my frustration there were some really sweet moments between America and Maxon. And, if I have to admit it, with Aspen too. I'd just like to take a moment to reiterate that the King is a horrible man. He had better die in The One.
The Selection  - Kiera Cass I was kind of on the sidelines with The Selection. I'd heard conflicting opinions about it so I didn't read it for a long time. Finally, one night I saw it was available for less than $9.00 as an ebook so I took a chance. And boy am I glad I did.

My favorite part in or about probably 90% of the books I read is the love story. If you don't mind having a book be all of about the love story then I'd say go ahead and read The Selection. However, if that annoys you, I'd tell you to avoid it at all costs. The Selection is a love story. Yes, there are other things going on that are unrelated to the intended couple, but those really are just there to fill the story out.

America Singer is near the bottom of the caste system. She is now in a competition with thirty four other girls to win the heart of Prince Maxon. Things would be quite easy for her if not for the fact that she comes to the palace without any interest in Maxon.

I adore this love story. America comes to the palace without any intention of falling in love and yet, she doesn't even realize it when she's fallen for Maxon. I can't say that bothered me, it was to be expected--not that that's bad. At least, I don't think it's bad. I never get tired of love stories because each set of characters is different which makes the reasoning and personality behind the characters' decisions different. America has just come out of a two-year relationship after expecting the boy of her dreams to propose. Quite frankly, he crushed her, and just when I was starting to like him too.

Of course, how can anyone in this series stand up to Maxon? He's just so charming. And you know you've got a good guy when 1.) he doesn't throw you out of the palace after you yell at him and 2.) he still doesn't kick you out after you knee him in the groin. But Maxon and America are so cute together. I can't say I love any one particular character but I hated Celeste. She's awful. Just. Argh.

One of the reasons why I've taken a step back from dystopian novels is because of what I like to call rebel syndrome. I just couldn't do it anymore after Delirium. They're annoying. But that wasn't the case in The Selection. They didn't dominate. And so far they haven't turned out to be the bad guys which, quite frankly, is a relief. I want to see a different ending and I'll be disappointed if they turn into the good guys in the end.

As far as writing goes. I didn't have any problems with it. In fact, it didn't take me long to miss the world of The Selection. Some things can only be truly experienced once and, for me, that's this love story (and some of the other favorite novels unfortunately). I want to reread it because I became so enveloped in it but it's not the same. I fell right into this story and I had to force myself out of it because, well, The One isn't out yet.
The Memory of After  - Lenore Appelhans Futuristic afterlife? Sounds interesting right? While the premise sounds promising the actual execution was, well, poor.

I'll just get right into it. Felicia is stuck in Level 2 but doesn't know it until the devilish Julian rescues her. What is Level 2? It's the place where the dead come to terms with their lives and make peace with whatever they need to.

Felicia confused me. For about three fourths of the book her narrative has convinced me that she's done some very awful things in her life. Her family is ashamed of her and she doesn't think much of herself. On top of that we find out that, while she was alive, she had nightmares of something that happened to her as a child. Interesting right?

Not to spoil it or anything but that nightmare? Um...why was it a nightmare exactly? Nothing happened. It was a little anti-climatic. Her family, well, I should say her mother is just plain awful. And that deep dark secret? Talk about disappointing. Yes, what happened to her friend was horrible but it wasn't Felicia's fault, she just happened to find the body. In my opinion, that should have been the nightmare. And Felicia going behind her friends' back to date the same guy? Not cool. But really? She thinks so little of herself because of that last thing?

It just doesn't make logical sense. I understand the regret. But the "oh I'm not worth the time" attitude just doesn't make sense in the end.

I felt like I was waiting to understand how Level 2 works and what exactly was happening until the last possible moment. By the time everything was out in the open, it was time for the resolution. It all felt rushed like the author was as ready as I was to leave the story behind. Much of the book is also just memories of her life on earth. I enjoyed reading them but.... Sometimes she said she "needed" to see one. So I'd be paying attention (thinking it was important) and at the end I was almost always left wondering why she needed to see it.

So, to summarize. The ending was rushed. The main character thought of herself as dirt for a reason no one (not even some of the characters) could understand. And every secret was a let down. Plus, Felicia was just weird.... I mean, the love story wasn't even that great. Actually, there wasn't much at all.

There you have it. I was really disappointed with The Memory of After.

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