Cass_The SelectionThe Selection is often compared to the TV show The Bachelor, and when I heard that, I ran. I ran so fast and so far. I absolutely despise The Bachelor. Who in the world would go on television and compete with thirty other people for this one guy? There are so many good guys out there who wouldn’t make you compete with thirty other people for his attention.

There is no need for this show! Plus, how many of these ‘couples’ actually end up staying together and making it work?

But even with all of my disgust towards the show, I couldn’t help but notice all of the amazing reviews coming out for not only The Selection, but also The Elite and The One. I couldn’t help but become interested. So I decided to pick it up, but I also promised myself that I would put it down as soon as it stopped being enjoyable.

My biggest fear when reading The Selection was that it completely revolved around a competition: that this entire book would be about dates, competition between the girls, and listening to each one of them swoon about their ‘love’ for this guy.

As I cracked open The Selection, I cringed and began reading. Chapter one went by, chapter two, three, four and five flew by, and before I knew it I was only a few chapters away from the end of the book. I couldn’t get through it fast enough, and found myself reading it during any down time at work.

Why did I enjoy it right away? Especially after all the hostility I had towards it?

Simply because of the main character, America. My expectations for this character were extremely low and I thought she would be a dumb bimbo who would do anything to get this guy’s attention and pretty much embarrass herself throughout the entire book. But America was nothing like that. In the first few chapters when she didn’t even want to put her name in for the selection, I knew I would love her…

The Selection takes place in the future, where America lives in a kingdom named Illea. Not only is this society run by a king and queen, but it is also divided up by castes: one is the royal family and eight are outcasts. These castes are divided by their jobs and how much they get paid. The only way to move up in castes is through marriage. Moving down is the punishment for breaking a law.

The prince has finally come of age and is looking for a wife to take the throne beside him. The only way to do this, of course, is to select a few girls from his kingdom (no matter the caste number), and then select a bride from there.

America didn’t even consider the idea of putting her name in the lottery, knowing she doesn’t want to compete for Prince Maxon’s ‘love’, especially when she has someone like Aspen. But when Aspen begs America to at least put her name in, telling her that the chances of her being chosen would be so slim, and he doesn’t want to hold her back from the possibility, America sees no harm in it – considering how many girls are entering, and decides to go ahead and do it anyway…

…until the chosen girls are announced on national television and America is one of the thirty-five chosen. The next day is when everything takes off and America’s life will never be the same. During her stay, her family will be paid and America will automatically become a two, even if she doesn’t win Maxon’s heart. America is thrown into this crazy world where she is surrounded by beautiful things, beautiful people, and lots of delicious food. She knows she doesn’t belong here, but she may as well take the opportunity, not only for her family, but also the entire kingdom, to get things done and fixed.

Overall, The Selection surprised me! The entire book didn’t consist of some girl going on dates, competing with other girls, and swooning about her ‘love’ for this guy. America was kickass, didn’t take anything from anyone, and didn’t change herself just because her surroundings changed. She was still the girl she was before, and I loved that about her.

While the selection was taking place, there were a lot of other elements in the story that distracted me from it. The caste system, the rebels, the society, etc. prevented the main focus from being just the competition

If you haven’t read The Selection for the same reasons I didn’t, I would recommend at least giving it a try…it might suck you into its vortex, like it did to me!



sheinmel_SecondStar_CoverRevealSecond Star is a book filled with surfers, waves, wild kids, and LOTS of boys! While Second Star sounds like the perfect beach read, it isn’t the average one! Second Star is actually a retelling of Peter Pan! Before I started reading this story, I wasn’t sure how Alyssa Sheinmel would pull of this Peter Pan surfer guy retelling…

In the end, my curiosity got the best of me; I couldn’t resist and HAD to pick it up!

The main character in Second Star is a recent high school graduate, Wendy Darling, who is on her way to college in the fall. Things seem to being good for Wendy, but Wendy and her parents are still struggle with her two younger missing brothers. The twins haven’t been seen or heard from since. Her parents are moping around and convinced that they will never see their children again, Wendy is believes that they are somewhere out there catching the next wave to surf.

Wendy is determined to find them, and bring them home, no matter what her parents and best friend think or say. The perfect opportunity arises when she bumps into another surfer at her graduation bonfire.  His name is Pete and he lives with a few other runaways in an abandoned house on the beach.

Pete is like no one Wendy has ever met, he is a completely free soul, who wants to do nothing but surf and spend time with his friends. When Wendy finally decides to pack her things and go on a search, she begs her best friend to cover for her. When she finally agrees, Wendy isn’t really sure where to start, but the best place would be with Pete and the other surfer runaways in the hopes that one of them will know something!

With all odds going against her, and even a betrayal by two people that were the closest to her, Wendy isn’t willing to believe what everyone is telling her. She knows that John and Michael are somewhere out in the ocean, and therapists, hospitals, her parents, and her best friend aren’t going to keep her from thinking that.

When I started reading Second Star, I had no idea just how emotional this story was going to be. There was honestly so much going from the relationships between Wendy, Pete, Jas, Belle, the twins and some of the other runaways.

The “retelling” part is what suckered me into picking up this book; I wanted to see how the author would pull these two VERY different subjects together, to make it work. I was excited to see it all happen! But in the end I didn’t see much of it there. Yes, the characters were named after the Peter Pan characters, and yes Wendy went to a kind of “Neverland”. But besides that, there wasn’t too much else. I guess I was expecting there too be a lot more similarities, and was a little disappointed when there wasn’t.

There were a lot of good characters in this book, Wendy, Pete, Jas, Belle, Wendy’s best friend, and some of the guys. Wendy wasn’t willing to just give up on her brothers, she still had hope, which I liked and found courageous. Pete was a caring leader, who knew exactly what he had to do to keep his group safe. Belle was the perfect mean girl, and even opened up a bit towards the end. Jas was the faerie dust dealer, who seems to be this bad (ish) boy, but he also opens up and is so much more than that.

Overall I enjoyed Second Star. But with that said I don’t feel like it should have been categorized as a retelling. I feel like Second Star would have been off much better as a story within itself. The characters were amazing, the story was good, what brought it down for me, were the expectations of a retelling which just didn’t exist in this book.

I would recommend this book, but I would tell you not to focus on the “retelling” part. Just enjoy the characters and story!

 



Valente_fell beneathJOIN our book club discussion on Goodreads

Bel:

Cover

I own the paperback of the book, and the cover art by Ana Juan reflects the story to a tee!

Characters

Though odd at times, in a rather Alice in Wonderland-esque way, each character seems to be well thought out and beautiful in their own right.

Favourite

A-Through-L… He’s special, and I love his desire to be a better Wyverary.

Least Favourite

Maud. Though misunderstood, I still dislike her.

Beginning

September, a 12 year old Omaha girl, is swept away to Fairyland.

Storyline

She is forced into service for the Marquess, and the impossible tasks she is set lead September on her great adventure through Fairyland.

Ending

Technically this story doesn’t end, as there is more fun to be had in Fairyland in further books.

Thoughts

I ended up listening to this book through Audible audio books, and it was far easier to hear Catherynne read to me than it was to read it myself. I felt like I was a child again, tucked up in bed and being read fantastical tales, which made little sense but held imperative lessons. This book reminded me so much of Alice in Wonderland, and yet it stands on its own two feet and takes us places Alice would never have dared to go.

Quote

“I can’t stop,” the shark rasped. “If I stop, I shall sink and die. That’s the way I’m made. I have to keep going always, and even when I get where I’m going, I’ll have to keep on. That’s living.” ~ The shark conversing with September.

 

Valente-girl audioKrista:

Cover

Takes me back to that childhood feeling of knowing you will find a great adventure within. Why is the dragon chained? Is the girl hiding the key on purpose? It represents the story very well and is intriguing.

Characters

So many characters! Imagine Alice in Wonderland. As September makes her way through fairyland she comes across various curious characters with unusual names and ways.

Favourite

I have to say that I could not place a favourite. I loved the majority of the characters and what they represented in the story.

Least Favourite

Marquess. I usually love me a villain, but there was absolutely nothing about this one that appealed to me.

Beginning

September, bored of washing dishes, is approached by The Green Wind and a Leopard whom she climbs upon and is taken to the border of Fairyland. In the closet, she must answer questions and go through customs. She nearly drowns upon her entry to Fairyland and comes across three witches who send her on her quest for a spoon.

Storyline

Fairyland has not been the same since the new Queen has taken the crown. September, along with her dragon and boy companion Saturday, goes on a quest to bring Fairyland back to its former glory.

Ending

Very much like our childhood books, this one ends with a peaceful goodnight. But it’s not the end of September’s adventures! There are more books to this series.

Thoughts

It was nice to end this year of book club with a very light, fun, and entertaining read. It has been to long since I have read a children’s fairytale and think that Catherynne M Valente did a magical job of whisking us away to a new and very curious world.

Quote

September sniffed and straightened up. She was not one to feel sorry for herself for long, “Mainly, I am going to Pandemonium, to stead the Spoon that belongs to the witch Goodbye, so that she can cook up the future again and not feel so sad.”

 

Valente_fell beneathLisa:

Cover:

At first look, the cover appears to be like a Middle Grade book: fun and interesting! But honestly, the cover doesn’t do this amazing story any justice! While this “could” be considered a Middle Grade book, it is so much than that!

Characters:

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making had a strangely intriguing cast of characters! Going from a young girl named September, a marid named Saturday, a dragon named A-through-L, and so many more!

Favourite:

I think every character in this book was my favourite. No-one was boring, lame, or similar. Each character was odd, creative, and strange.

Least Favourite:

Not a single one!

Beginning:

I’ll admit that I didn’t really think I would get as involved in this book as I did. After quickly reading through the first twenty or so pages, I couldn’t believe everything that was happening, so I decided to start all over, just to make sure I caught it all. This is a pretty dense story!

Middle:

We are not only introduced to a strange fairy world, but also a lot of interesting characters. September faces a few bumps in the road, and has an amazing, mind-boggling journey!

End:

All I can say is that I do plan on picking up the rest of the books! If you want to know what happens at the end of this book…you’re going to have to read it for yourself! I promise you won’t regret doing so!

Overall:

The only thing I would change about this book, is that I wish I had more time to read it. So I could take my time and really enjoy every single aspect! There is a lot that happens, I recommend taking your time and savouring the story!

 

DISCUSSION POINTS

This book is about escaping your normal life for a little adventure. What fantasy world would you like to lose yourself in and why?

What was the most memorable scene/character in this story and what about it stuck with you?

 

JOIN OUR BOOKCLUB ON GOODREADS AND TAKE THE DISCUSSION OVER THERE!



brashare_here and nowBefore reading The Here and Now, I had never read anything that focused on time travel and the consequences it can have on the future. I mean, I’ve seen movies, and I know that all kinds of crazy things can happen through just the smallest change in the past. When I picked up The Here and Now, I was ready for a mind blowing story that would completely twist my brain and make me think differently…

…but I didn’t get too much of that from this story.

The Here and Now is about a girl named Prenna who is from a futuristic world where mosquitoes have taken over and being stung by one causes a horrible disease and death. Prenna has lost her brother to this disease, along with almost everyone else she knows. When Prenna and her parents decided to travel to the past—our time now—she knew life would be completely different.

But she didn’t know that she would be living by a strict set of rules and under constant pressure to remain in hiding. These rules include no intimacy with a time native, keeping her real identity secret, and never interfering with history (which ties in with the other two rules). There are a few leaders in charge who make sure that no one breaks any of these rules through intimidation…even if it means spying, and possibly killing.

While a lot of these rules seem to be pretty simple and easy to follow, Prenna can’t help herself. She can’t stop thinking about Ethan, a guy from her class, despite knowing that she can never have a relationship with him, tell him who she is, or get too close.

Alongside this, Prenna has always questioned why people from the future have to wear glasses and take vitamins every day. The leadership claims that their eyes are damaged by time travel and the vitamins keep them healthy—but she doesn’t believe a single word.

Especially when a homeless man comes up to her and claims that he knows who she is and where she’s from. He says that he both knows what’s coming in the future, and knows a scientist who may be able to prevent the mosquito epidemic.

Prenna knows she can’t do this on her own. But with her best friend sent off to boarding school, her mum not standing up for herself, and the community doubting her, Prenna has no one—except for Ethan. She knows what she has to do: stop a murder.

I haven’t read any books that included time travel, so when I discovered The Here and Now, that was the element of the story that keenly anticipated! I was excited to see how the author would bring the concept into the story and make these two different worlds work. There was a bit of time travel stuff going on, but not as much as I expected, which was slightly disappointing. Though there was one really big twist that came out of nowhere and made up for it.

There weren’t very many characters in The Here and Now, and, sadly, I didn’t really feel much of a connection with any of them. Prenna wasn’t very open—I mean, she did give us some information about her feelings and what happened to her in the future, but I felt like I didn’t really know her. Ethan was a sweet guy who seemed to really care for Prenna, and I loved him for it. But, again, I just felt confused by how he knew so much about her. I understand that he was the one that found her in the woods, but what happened for him to know so much? Did I miss something?

Don’t even get me started on Prenna’s mum. She was the reason I strongly considered throwing the book across the room. Why wouldn’t she be on Prenna’s side? Why was she doing everything they told her to?

The ending wasn’t anything too crazy or surprising. For some reason, Prenna gets away with everything she did; the ‘leadership’ never really takes control or goes through with their ‘threats’. Overall, the story was okay, but the characters were a bit colourless, and the story only had one big twist. There wasn’t anything that kept me on the edge of my seat.



forman_yearJust One Year is the sequel to Just One Day…kind of. They take place at the same time, but in different perspectives and different locations!

If you don’t know what Just One Year is about, then here’s the quick rundown.

Allyson is on a boring tour in Europe. Not that Europe is boring, but the tour definitely is! When a boy she met the night before asks to take her to Paris for a single day, Allyson can’t help but say yes. She spends hours eating, exploring, and talking to Willem. Feelings start to form, but when Allyson wakes up the next morning, Willem is nowhere to be found.

Allyson is heartbroken and we witness the bruise that Willem has left on her heart and life in her first year of college.

Just One Year is the EXACT same thing! But instead of following Allyson’s side of the story, we’re witnessing Willem’s. Don’t get me wrong, I really wanted to learn more about Willem since he is such a mysterious character, but I was pretty upset that it was the ‘same’ story.

Allyson’s perspective started by focusing on the strange relationship between Willem and herself, and it continues with Allyson’s life and overcoming this heartache. Willem’s perspective, on the other hand, starts with a little bit of a bruise, and then continues on about his life, family, and friends.

I would have to say that I was a little disappointed two times in this story: the beginning and end. The beginning, because I was expecting the story from Just One Day to continue, so I could see what would happen next, and the end, because of the same reason. I was praying that the story would take the end much farther. I guess I was just a little heartbroken that I didn’t get to see more of Willem and Allyson together.

But even with that, I still enjoyed the story. It was a bit slower, but I think I really liked that the story didn’t COMPLETELY revolve around Willem thinking about Allyson, but more about discovering himself.



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