Evelyn, After

This book is for the grown-ups, folks. Evelyn, After is definitely not for a middle grade or YA audience.

Last night, I finished reading my 275th book of the year. I just wish I had enjoyed it more. Evelyn, After was a Kindle First pick a couple of months ago, and I started reading it on Christmas Eve. I guess I was in the mood for a change of pace or something. I went in expecting something similar to Gayle Forman’s Leave Me. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what I got.

Evelyn Tester’s entire world comes crashing down with one phone call. Her husband, Gary, has been in a car accident, and he needs Evelyn to come to his rescue. There’s a problem, though. Her husband, a respected psychiatrist, is not alone. He’s with a patient…a patient he’s been cheating on Evelyn with for months.

Evelyn doesn’t want to believe that her husband could throw their lives away like this, so she ignores her instincts for a while. Eventually, though, her suspicions get the best of her…along with the stunning realization that her husband is hiding more than an affair from her. It seems that Gary’s car accident on that fateful night was much more serious than Evelyn could have ever thought.

Struggling to keep her world intact, Evelyn becomes obsessed with learning about the fallout from the accident and Juliette, her husband’s dirty little secret. She just has to know everything, no matter how much it hurts. The more she learns, the more she wants Juliette to hurt as much as she does. And that leads her to Noah, Juliette’s husband.

Evelyn didn’t go in with idea of forming a friendship with Noah. She simply wanted to see the man married to the vile Juliette. How could she possibly know how well she and Noah would connect? Or that he would unlock the ambition and identity she left behind when she became a wife and mother?

Soon, Evelyn and Noah are growing closer than anticipated, and Evelyn wants to hold onto these new feelings and the stronger version of herself that’s starting to emerge. But the truth of everything that’s come before is on a collision course with the person Evelyn is trying to become.

Who will Evelyn be when the dust settles? Find out when you read Evelyn, After by Victoria Helen Stone.


I’ve made this book sound pretty good, right? Well, it’s a decent read, but I just didn’t really connect with it. Truthfully, I thought nearly all of the characters were horrible, and the big, awful secrets that Gary was hiding (yes, worse than an affair) didn’t have enough resolution for me. Maybe that’s my issue. Then again, maybe not.

If you’d like to learn more about Evelyn, After to form your own opinions on this book, you can visit the author’s website. (She’s more well known as Victoria Dahl.)

As for me, I’m going to return to the land of children’s, middle grade, and YA books. Peace out.

The Crown

Turn back now if you haven’t read Kiera Cass’ Selection series up to this point (The Selection, The Elite, The One, The Heir, and the Happily Ever After collection). You’ve been warned.

As you’ve no doubt gathered, I recently finished reading The Crown, the final installment in The Selection series by Kiera Cass. I fell in love with this series almost four years ago. I’m sad to see it end, but I have to say that the finale was satisfying. It had a variety of conflicts, but all of them were–more or less–resolved by the end of the book, and it was very apparent just how far this family had come since we first met America and Maxon in The Selection and Eadlyn in The Heir.

The Crown, of course, continues where The Heir concluded. Princess Eadlyn of Illéa is in the midst of her own Selection, but choosing her future husband is not the only thing she is dealing with.

Eadlyn’s mother, beloved Queen America, has suffered a heart attack, and her father, King Maxon, refuses to leave his wife’s side. That leaves running the country to Eadlyn, who is not exactly the people’s favorite member of the royal family.

Eadlyn must try to do what’s best for Illéa while convincing her people that she can be approachable, fair, sensitive, and empathetic…all while trying to figure out who of the remaining young men in the Selection will eventually rule beside her. No problem, right?

Almost against her will, Eadlyn has grown close to the men who are now part of the Elite. Each one of them would, in his own way, make a suitable companion for Eadlyn. But can Eadlyn truly love any of them? Perhaps, but Eadlyn wonders if it’s possible for her to have a love like that shared by her parents. If so, could that one special man be right in front of her eyes?

While she’s trying to choose a potential mate, Eadlyn also jumps into ruling Illéa as best she can. She tries to truly listen to the people and what they want, and an old friend seems to be intent on helping her do just that. Eadlyn values his insight and his connection to the people, but she’s not thrilled that he seems to be making more out of their relationship than is really there. Could this young man be making his own bid for the future queen’s heart, or is he working on an entirely different agenda?

It seems as though events are spiraling out of Eadlyn’s control. How can she be an effective leader when she feels so overwhelmed? Can she do what’s right by Illéa and her people, face the threats coming her way, and stay true to herself and her heart? Could her own happily ever after possibly be within reach? Read The Crown to find out!


I apologize if this post seems a little off. I’m on a lot of allergy meds right now. At the very least, I hope that I’ve whetted your appetite for The Crown without giving too much away.

I do think The Crown is a great conclusion to a wonderful series, and I, for one, love seeing how much Eadlyn grew as a person from the last book through this one. She really comes into her own. I also appreciate seeing how things end up for the characters encountered in the first three books in this series. A nice bit of resolution there, and there’s even a surprise revelation that I was not expecting. Good stuff.

For more information on The Crown, the entire Selection series, or author Kiera Cass, visit the author’s website, Twitter, or Facebook. You may also want to take a look at the official book trailer for The Crown below. It perfectly sets the mood for this outstanding book. Enjoy!

The Heir

If you haven’t read The Selection series up to this point (The Selection, The Elite, and The One), turn back now! You’ve been warned!

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on to The Heir, the fourth full-length novel in Kiera Cass’ Selection series. (There are also four novellas that go along with the series–The Prince, The Guard, The Queen, and The Favorite. If all goes according to plan, I’ll post on those tomorrow or Thursday.)

The Heir, which was released in May of this year, introduces Selection fans to Princess Eadlyn, the daughter of Maxon and America. (See now why you need to read the first three books before moving on to this one?) If the first three books make you think of The Bachelor, well, Eadlyn’s story will bring The Bachelorette to mind…but, you know, better.

Princess Eadlyn knows she will be Queen someday. In the meantime, she learns everything she can from her father, King Maxon, and she also seeks the counsel of her mother, Queen America, and her three younger brothers. Eadlyn knows, though, that the future of Illéa is in her hands. Her primary focus is on doing whatever she can to someday be an effective ruler. She has zero interest in finding a romance as epic as that of her parents. Unfortunately, that decision may not be up to her…

When reports surface of problems with the country’s new caste-less system, King Maxon and Queen America devise a plan to keep the people’s minds on something else. They believe that their only daughter, the Heir to the throne of Illéa, should go through her own Selection. It worked for them. Why not for their daughter?

For her part, Eadlyn is against the idea from the beginning. She isn’t looking for love, and she doesn’t need a man to get in her way. She has things to do, and a Selection will only slow her down. Her parents, however, feel that this is the best move for the country, so Eadlyn has no choice but to go along with it…but she doesn’t have to like it.

Soon enough, thirty-five strange boys are moving into the castle, and it’s up to Eadlyn to figure out which one will annoy her the least (if possible). In the back of her mind, though, Eadlyn is comforted by the knowledge that she doesn’t really have to choose any of them. If, at the end of three months, none of the young men have earned her heart, she can let them all go.

Eadlyn removes some of the boys immediately, and her coldness in doing so earns some media attention that she never truly expected. Do people really think that she is cold and heartless? How can she change the public’s attitude when she doesn’t want to be a part of this in the first place? Is there any way to turn all of this around and give her father the time he needs to address the growing outcry against the monarchy?

As days go by–and Eadlyn really gets to know the remaining candidates–she also comes face-to-face with her own shortcomings. She’s built a wall around her heart, and she’s loathe to let someone get to know the real her. A few of the Selection entries, though, have managed to capture her interest, and she finds herself softening a bit. Eadlyn is taking the time to get to know these young men, and she’s learning more about herself in the process.

Can Eadlyn find a way to truly immerse herself in the Selection? Is it possible that the man she’s meant to marry is in this group? Will Eadlyn be able to put all of her preconceived notions–about her parents, the Selection, the candidates, and herself–aside and do what must be done for the future of Illéa? Time will tell…

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Truth time: I found Eadlyn to be a snob, and, for much of the book, her attitude really bothered me. (I would say the same thing about a male character who behaved the way she did.) I get that she’s being groomed to be queen, but she had an almost unshakable air of superiority. I do think, however, that was the author’s intention. Eadlyn has one focus–becoming Queen–and she doesn’t have time for anything or anyone that interferes with that. Unfortunately for her, it’s that attitude that leads to many of her problems in this book (and possibly the next one).

If you’ve read the other books in this series, you can probably guess that The Heir ended on a bit of a cliff-hanger. Things are up in the air with Eadlyn’s Selection, the state of affairs in Illéa as a whole, and even with the royal family. All of this only whets my appetite for the next book, The Crown, which will be released on May 3rd, 2016. (According to Goodreads, The Crown is the series finale. That’s what we thought about The One, so I’m not so sure.)

Like the rest of the series, I think The Heir is suitable for any libraries that serve middle grade, teen, and adult readers. There’s something here for everyone to enjoy, especially if you’re already a fan of the previous books.

For more information on The Heir, the entire Selection series, or author Kiera Cass, visit the author’s website, Twitter, or Facebook. You may also want to take a look at the official book trailer for The Heir below. It in no way captures Eadlyn’s complex personality or gives anything away, but it’s still pretty good.

As for me, I’m going to spend tomorrow finishing up the Selection novellas (compiled in Happily Ever After). I’ve already read three of them, and I have to say that those added to my enjoyment of the series as a whole, and I’m sure the final story, The Favorite, will elicit the same response. I hope to let you know about that soon. Happy reading!

The Queen

Note: If you plan to read The Queen, a Selection novella by Kiera Cass, you really must read the books and novellas that preceded it…even though The Queen really serves as a prequel to all of them. Check out my posts on The Selection, The Elite, and The One if you’re curious about this series. You also may want to read The Prince and The Guard, two more novellas that I didn’t get around to posting on (probably because I’m lazy). All of this reading will help to put The Queen and its main characters in context.

Before she was the Queen and mother to Prince Maxon, she was just a girl named Amberly…

When Amberly was chosen to take part in the Selection, she somehow knew destiny was at work. She’d been in love with Prince Clarkson for most of her life, and now she would have the chance–however slim–to become his wife. But could he look past her work-roughened hands, her near-constant headaches, and her caste? Could a prince possibly care about someone like her?

Somehow, Amberly manages to catch Clarkson’s eye, and she’s sure that he is at least beginning to return her feelings. She makes it clear that the Prince is the absolute center of her world, but is that enough to make her a future Queen?

Forces are working to keep Clarkson and Amberly apart–Clarkson’s mother, the increasing threat of rebellion in Illéa, and a crisis that will jeopardize all of Amberly’s plans for her future–but these two young people are nothing if not determined.

Clarkson will be the future King of Illéa, and he wants Amberly by his side. How will everything unfold? Read The Queen to find out!

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So…if you haven’t read The Selection series (and the obviousness of the novella’s title escapes you), I’ve just spoiled this story for you. Yes, Amberly does become the Queen of Illéa, but it is interesting to read just how that happened.

This story also goes a long way in explaining why Amberly stayed with Clarkson when he was being such a butt-faced jerk in The Selection. When I read The Selection trilogy, I admit that I judged Amberly for sticking by Clarkson when he was acting like an asshole. (Sorry for the cursing, but that word is the most accurate one I could think of.) While I still judge her a bit for appearing to be a doormat, I at least understand her reasoning a little better. I don’t approve, but I do understand.

To those who have read the entire Selection series, I think you’ll be interested in how Amberly handled her place in the Selection versus how America dealt with things. Each girl had her own way of doing things, and each one faced their own set of unique circumstances, but there were some parallels in their backgrounds and in the way they interacted with their princes. Which girl had the better approach? I can’t really say, so I’ll leave that for you to ponder.

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If you still haven’t gotten enough of The Selection, have no fear! Kiera Cass is gracing us with more from this captivating world. The Favorite, another novella, will be released on March 3rd (my birthday!), and this one gives readers a glimpse at Marlee and her life with Carter.

Also–*insert fangirl squeal here*–The Heir, a whole new Selection novel, will be out on May 5th! Let’s take a look at the absolutely gorgeous cover, shall we?

Pretty, pretty, pretty. Apparently, this book revolves around Princess Eadlyn, the daughter of America and Maxon, and her own Selection for a prince. If The Selection was The Bachelor on steroids, I guess now we’re giving The Bachelorette her turn. I can hardly wait!

For more information on The Selection saga and author Kiera Cass, check out her website, Twitter, and the Selection Facebook page.

 

Landline

There are a few authors I count on to give me a great story. This past year, Rainbow Rowell earned a spot on that list. In Attachments, Eleanor & Park, and Fangirl, she introduced me to stories I was invested in and relatable, flawed characters that I cared about. I had a feeling her latest book, Landline, would be no different. Once again, I was right.

Georgie McCool is a comedy writer on the verge of getting what she’s always wanted–a chance to write a show of her own creation. There’s a problem, though. She’s got to work through Christmas to make it happen. That means staying home while her husband Neal takes the kids and visits his family in Omaha. Neal is frustrated by Georgie’s insistence on placing her work above her family, but Georgie just can’t pass up this opportunity. Part of her thinks Neal will change his plans and stay home in LA, but he doesn’t. He leaves, and Georgie wonders if she’s finally ruined her already struggling marriage.

Throughout the next several days, Georgie reflects on her past with Neal–how they met, how they fell in love, and how they got to this point. She knows both of them are at fault, but it doesn’t seem like either of them are really willing to change. But they do love each other, and that’s got to mean something.

Georgie tries to get in touch with Neal to apologize, explain, beg, whatever, but she can never quite reach him…until she uses an old yellow phone at her mom’s house. She finally reaches Neal on this landline connection, but something is a bit off. Georgie soon realizes she’s not talking to her husband; she’s talking to the young man he was in 1998…just days before he proposed to her.

As one would expect, Georgie freaks out. (Of course she does. I’d freak out too if I were talking to someone back in 1998!) Will talking with Past Neal have some kind of Back to the Future effect? Will she erase her current life, her marriage, her kids? Or is this the chance she needs to get her marriage back on track? Does she even want that any more?

Georgie has some big choices ahead of her. Will she continue to put her needs, her career, and her friends first, or will she use the unbelievable chance she’s been given to repair the damage in her relationship with the love of her life? Read Landline, another fantastic book by Rainbow Rowell, to find out!

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First, let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Like Rowell’s other books, I grew to care about the characters, flaws and all. And I honestly think the flaws are what make these characters believable…even in an unbelievable story like this one. Both Georgie and Neal were, at times, completely unlikable. Georgie put her career above everything; Neal was aloof and condescending. These were people with issues, and that’s real. Landline isn’t some cheesy romance about two perfect specimens who have to overcome outside circumstances to be together. No, this book deals with two real people who have real problems, and they have to work on what’s inside to stay together. Yes, the way this happens is rather unrealistic (unless you believe that time is all wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey), but the work, the self-realization is real.

Second, I feel I must say that Landline is not a YA book. It is, in my opinion, written for adults. Will some teens enjoy it? Probably, but this book deals with a married couple’s relationship, and that’s not something that (most) teens have experienced. (Of course, I haven’t experienced it either, but I still loved the book. I guess I’m saying that a certain amount of life experience is a plus when reading this book. I doubt a lot of teen readers have had to choose between work and family. Even as a singleton, I have had to make that call before.) As a former high school librarian, I doubt I would purchase this book for my school library, but I might encourage Rainbow Rowell fans to seek it out on their own.

Landline is most definitely a must-read for adult fans of Rainbow Rowell. And this particular adult fan is excited about seeing Rowell again at YALLFest in November! If you’re in or around Charleston, South Carolina, in November, I highly recommend attending this awesome event. You will not be disappointed!

For more information about Landline and the fabulous Rainbow Rowell, check out her website, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

The One

Stop right now if you haven’t already read The Selection, The Elite, The Prince, and The Guard by Kiera Cass. I finished The One, the final book in this series, last night, and I’d hate to give anything away if you haven’t read any of the previous books yet! (FYI: The Prince and The Guard are Selection short stories. It’s not totally necessary to read them before reading The One, but it does help to put certain elements of the series in perspective.)

What can I say about The One without giving too much away? I honestly don’t know. I’m kind of flying by the seat of my pants here. I started reading this highly-anticipated book two nights ago, and I proceeded to devour it. I finished it last night, so I’ve had just a little while to process things. (I did dream about it last night. That was kind of weird.) Anyhoo, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about what transpired in this book. Did it end the way I expected it to? Partially. Were some curveballs thrown my way? Um, yeah.

In The One, readers are once again swept away into the world of America Singer. America is now in the top four of the Selection, and, though she knows the king despises her and would be glad to see her leave, Maxon, the prince and heir to the throne, wants to keep her around. Does he love her? Well, he’s never said so…but, then again, neither has America. America is never quite sure where she stands with Maxon, and she’s hesitant to give her heart to him if he’s considering choosing someone else to be his future queen.

America is also holding on to her past. Her former boyfriend, Aspen, is still in her thoughts. With Aspen being a guard at the palace, it’s hard to separate from her past and look toward a possible future with Maxon. And what if Maxon doesn’t choose her? Should she throw Aspen aside when he could be the one she needs when the Selection is over? Is that thought even fair to Aspen, Maxon, or herself?

Added to the pressures of the Selection and her own confusing feelings, America and Maxon have also become embroiled in a quest to change things in the kingdom of Illéa. The Northern rebels seek to form an alliance with Maxon and America, but that could mean thwarting the king…and possibly ensuring that America win this competition for the crown. America is also about to realize just how deep the rebellion against the tyrannical King Clarkson goes…

Turmoil reigns in Illéa, and soon everyone has to decide what side they’re on. Secrets are revealed, lives are lost, and everything is about to change. Will the rebels succeed in their mission? Will the caste system in Illéa finally see its end? What could that mean for Maxon and the girl chosen to be his future queen? Will that queen be America, or will circumstances–both in the rebellion and of America’s own making–endanger her chances of becoming the Selection winner…and claiming Maxon’s heart forever? Does America really have a chance to be the One?

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Before I get to any issues I had with this series finale, let me say that I did enjoy this book. Most of it was fairly satisfying. (It must have been, or I wouldn’t have zoomed my way through it in less than 24 hours.) I found myself anxious, mad at times, and hopeful for a happy ending. And while all of the ending wasn’t exactly happy, I think the series ended the way it was supposed to.

All that being said, I did feel like things were a little rushed at the end of The One. I had about 30 pages to go, and I thought there was no way things could be resolved before the book’s conclusion. I was wrong, but it seemed like there could have been a little more explanation of what happened during the events in those last pages. (I won’t tell you what happened in those pages, but I will say that Kiera Cass packed A LOT of action into a small fraction of the book.)

Also, if you found America to be kind of wishy-washy in The Elite, you’re in for more of that in The One. I wanted to scream at her to get over herself sometimes, but I also kind of got why she was so back and forth. She was under immense amounts of pressure, and things definitely didn’t get easier for her in this book. If anything, her life was much more complicated, and that included her love life. I think a certain amount of confusion is understandable.

All things considered, I found The One to be a fitting conclusion to this wonderful series. (And I’m not even talking about the addition to the series’ stellar covers.) It was an emotional read, and I think fans of the series will be happy with the way things ultimately ended…if not the path taken to get there.

For more information on The One, the entire Selection series, or author Kiera Cass, visit the author’s website, Twitter, or Facebook. Also, if you missed the book trailer for The One, you can check that out below. I hope you’ve enjoyed America Singer’s journey as much as I have!

Gone Girl

*Normally, I post on middle grade and YA lit on this blog. That is not the case today. Gone Girl is definitely intended for an adult audience. You’ve been warned!*

At about 1am this morning, I finished reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Like a couple of other books I read this year, Gone Girl was a bit of a departure for me. It definitely falls within the realm of an adult book. (By “adult,” I don’t mean, you know, pornographic or anything–although there is some use of graphic scenes and language. I simply mean that this book is written for adults to enjoy…and even “enjoy” may not be an adequate word here.) I picked up this book because so many people–people I trust to lead me to good books–said it was worth the read. They were not wrong.

I guess we can classify Gone Girl as a psychological thriller. I definitely kept me guessing and thinking “What the #$%&!” for much of the book. I’m used to books where there is definitely a good guy and a clear villian. Not so in this read. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone when I say that both main characters are fairly despicable. At the beginning of the book, I didn’t feel that way, but I was definitely swayed later on.

I think what is so entertaining–if that’s the right word–about Gone Girl is the glimpse into a truly psychotic, codependent relationship. It’s not like the give-and-take between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. No, Nick and Amy (the main characters in this book), make the Holmes-Watson relationship look positively healthy. Nick and Amy truly have a love-hate relationship…and their definitions of “love” kind of make me deliriously happy that I’m single.

Gone Girl is told from both Nick’s and Amy’s viewpoints, and the book centers around Amy going missing. Like most cases of missing wives, Nick, her husband, is almost immediately the prime suspect. In his story, we see a picture of a husband who has grown disinterested in his marriage, a man who lies freely, and someone who brings suspicion on himself.

In Amy’s story, at least in the beginning, readers get a glimpse into how she was led to the point of  being afraid of her seemingly perfect husband. Is that really the whole picture, though? As you may have guessed, it most definitely is not. In later chapters, Amy is revealed to be a conniving, manipulative–and altogether brilliant–psycho hose beast. (She makes James Moriarty look like a freakin’ teddy bear.) Seriously. This woman is batcrap crazy. And as more of Amy’s twisted mind is revealed to both Nick and readers, the clearer it becomes that Nick will never escape from this horror of a marriage…but does he really want to?

I don’t really know how I feel about the journey this book took me on. Part of me wanted at least one person to get a happy ending…but a bigger part realizes that there really wasn’t anyone in the book–apart from maybe Nick’s sister–who really deserved one. It’s rare that I read a book where I don’t like any of the characters but I still enjoy the book. That’s what happened in Gone Girl, though. It was a dizzying read at times, but the roller coaster–with all its twists and turns–was pretty thrilling.

The Elite

I’ll make this warning short and sweet. Read Kiera Cass’ The Selection before proceeding. That is all.

Well, I finally finished reading The Elite, the sequel to The Selection by Kiera Cass, last night. It took me a while to get into this book. The first part of the book didn’t have a ton of action, especially if you don’t really care about the lovey-dovey stuff…or the main character’s indecisiveness over what she really wants. I wanted action and political intrigue, and I finally got a fair share of it about halfway through the book. Things really picked up then, and, love story aside, I’m now eager to read the third book in the series. Given the way things unfolded in The Elite, I have super-high hopes that the final installment in this series will have action and conflict galore…not to mention another stunningly gorgeous cover.

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America Singer is now one of the Elite, one of the final six Selection candidates who have the chance to win Prince Maxon’s heart and the coveted title of Princess of Illea. But America’s not really concerned about the princess part of this competition. She finds that she’s more interested in Maxon. She’s growing to love him, and, despite the differences in their backgrounds, she thinks he loves her as well. But how can she ever be sure? After all, he may be whispering the same sweet-nothings to the other girls as he’s uttering in America’s ears. And when one of the girls does something scandalous, America grows even more unsure of Maxon’s true nature…and her own feelings for him.

Who can America turn to in the midst of her emotional turmoil? In steps Aspen, a palace guard and America’s former boyfriend. Their relationship poses its own dangers, both to America’s heart and her place in this anxiety-inducing quest for the crown. Which guy should she be with? The one who has known her forever or the one who can give her the world? Is the decision even in her hands anymore?

In the middle of the Selection, things are also changing in the kingdom of Illea. War is brewing, rebels from both the north and south are attacking the palace, and America herself is coming to grips with the fact that things are seriously wrong in her country. Just how much is Maxon aware of? And is there anything she can do to change the system of inequality that oppresses so many…including her own family and friends? Can America shed light on what’s really going on in Illea without endangering herself, those she loves, or even her place in the Selection, something that has quickly become much more than a competition for a prince? Does she even want to be one of the Elite anymore? There’s only one way to find out…

First, let me say that, once I got into this book, I enjoyed it. Like The Selection, I particularly enjoyed the historical and political aspects of The Elite. Reading how the country of Illea was born was fascinating and all-too-easy to believe. That being said, there was one big thing about this book that annoyed me. America herself. I know she had her reasons, but she’s just so wishy-washy. I love Maxon. I love Aspen. I love Maxon. I love Aspen. MAKE A DECISION, and quit dragging these guys along! Granted, America is a seventeen-year-old girl in a very stressful situation, and that combo doesn’t make for mature decision-making, but come on! The back and forth got a little old, and I’m still not sure which guy she’ll end up with at the series’ conclusion. It’s a little infuriating.

The final book in this series, The One, will be released on May 6, 2014. I’m hopeful we can expect an eBook short story or two to make the wait less painful. Kiera Cass has already given us one of these: The Prince, a short story about Prince Maxon’s feelings regarding the Selection. It was pretty good and provided some insights into Maxon’s character.

For more information on The Elite, the entire Selection series, and author Kiera Cass, visit http://www.kieracass.com.

Requiem

Spoilers! If you haven’t already, you simply must read Lauren Oliver’s Delirium and Pandemonium before continuing with this post. It may also be a good idea to read the Delirium novellas–Hana, Annabel, and Raven–as they give a lot of insights into the minds of some pretty major characters in this trilogy. Also, I would recommend reading Requiem, the final book in this series, in a padded room. It’s either going to drive you crazy, or you’ll want to throw the book across the room. The padding may also muffle the sounds of your cries of anguish. You’ve been warned.

For those still reading this post, I assume you’ve gathered that I just finished Requiem, the third and final book in Lauren Oliver’s Delirium series. Like Clockwork Princess a couple of weeks ago, it took me longer than anticipated to get through this book. Again, I wanted to prolong the drama, but I’d also heard from a couple of people that the ending would drive me insane, and I was trying to put that off…even when the book’s events were keeping me up at night. Well, I finally finished the book this morning, and the ending did make me go a little nuts, but it was also kind of satisfying. (I’m sure other readers out there will disagree with me on the last part of that sentence.) I feel like I’ve been through a lot with Lena, Alex, Hana, Raven, Julian, and the others, and I needed at least some measure of closure with these characters and their captivating stories. (In some cases, I got a little more closure than I would have liked.)

I don’t want to tell you too much about this book because I don’t want to spoil the reading experience for those who are just discovering this series or those who are finishing up as I was. I will say, though, that Requiem is told in two viewpoints:  Lena, on the run in the Wilds, figuring out how to balance her feelings for Julian and Alex, wondering if the cure would have provided her more freedom than her current situation, and still fighting for a better future; and Hana, facing marriage to the future mayor of Portland, a man who isn’t as great as he would appear on the surface, wondering what happened to his first wife, and trying to cope with the startling possibility that her “cure” wasn’t entirely successful. At first glance, it would seem that these two viewpoints are wildly different, but, as the story progresses, the lives of these two former friends once again converge. Both are facing war on seemingly different sides, but both of these girls long for the freedom they experienced as children. They must discover, though, just what they’re willing to sacrifice to be truly free.

I probably gave way too much away in the previous paragraph, but there’s still a lot in this book to be discovered. Lena’s journey is nothing short of heart-breaking. The same can be said for everything that Hana goes through. I haven’t even touched on what happens to Alex, Julian, Raven, Annabel, and several other important characters–some we’ve seen before, and some who are brand new in this story. This book is by no means a happy-go-lucky tale, but when we’re talking about revolution, I guess that’s to be expected. Lives are lost, love is found, and the war for freedom is coming to a head. Will the resistors be successful? Or will the establishment finally succeed in wiping them out and finally putting an end to amor deliria nervosa, the disease we would call love?

Even though I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about how Requiem ended, I do think that it’s a fitting finale to this wonderful series. The first book, Delirium, is on the 2013-2014 South Carolina Young Adult Book Award nominee list, and I hope that teen readers who take the time to read the first book see things through to the bitter end. If you’re looking for a way to get readers interested in this series, casually mention that fans of the Hunger Games or Ally Condie’s Matched series will love it. That should do the trick.

*There is a fair amount of totally justifiable cursing and violence in this book, so be careful when recommending Requiem to middle grade readers. Like any other YA book, know your readers, and be aware of who can handle mature language and situations.*

If you’ve got a first edition of Requiem, you’ll definitely want to check out a short story about Alex at the end of the book. It provides a lot of information on this fascinating character and goes a long way in explaining his past and his attitudes in this entire series.

For more information on Requiem, the entire Delirium series, and any other books by Lauren Oliver, visit her website at http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com/. This site also provides links to the author’s Facebook and Twitter pages as well as her blog. Enjoy!

The Selection

Before I started reading The Selection by Kiera Cass, a friend of mine related it to watching The Bachelor.  Now, I have never (and will never) watch this horrible excuse for entertainment, but I must admit that I kind of liked the premise as it applied in this book.  Maybe adding a dose of political intrigue would make “reality television” more palatable…or maybe it would make it even worse than it already is.  Who knows?  But the combination of a competition to win the heart of a prince and a “dystopian-lite” society at war was definitely enough to pique and keep my interest when it came to The Selection.  The gorgeous cover didn’t hurt, either.  (I am a sucker for pretty book cover.)

America Singer lives in the young nation of Illéa (made up of what used to be the countries of North America).  The world she lives in is based on castes, and America’s status as a musician places her closer to the bottom than the top.  Life is not always easy, but her love for Aspen, a young man in a caste lower than hers, gets her through the hard times and gives her some measure of hope for the future.  That hope, however, is about to be tested by circumstances well beyond America’s control…

In Illéa, a monarchy reigns supreme, and it is time for the young Prince Maxon to choose a bride.  But he does not choose from other royal families.  No, Prince Maxon must choose a true daughter of Illéa, a “commoner” with ties to this young country…and he must make his choice a public spectacle.  Thirty-five girls from around the country are selected to compete for the heart of the Prince—and a chance to one day be Queen.  They will live in the palace for the duration of the Selection, their castes will be elevated, and their families will be well paid.  For most girls, this would be the chance of a lifetime.  But America Singer is not most girls…

America does not want to be a part of the Selection, but her family and even Aspen convince her to at least submit an application.  After all, what are the odds that she’ll even be chosen?  Well, as it turns out, pretty good.  When America’s name is called for the Selection, her entire world changes.  She becomes an instant celebrity (something she’s not exactly comfortable with), and she’s forced to leave her family and the only boy she’s ever loved…all to compete for the hand of a man she knows will never hold her heart.

But life in the palace isn’t exactly what America expected.  Sure, it’s more glamorous and extravagant than anything she’s ever experienced—and the food is truly spectacular—but America is surprised by how quickly she adapts, makes friends, and even grows closer to Prince Maxon.  She realizes that his life isn’t quite as easy as it is portrayed on television—what with invading rebels from the north and south, trying to keep a young country intact, war as a constant threat, and choosing a future wife in front of a national audience.  No pressure there at all.  Maybe America was too quick to judge Maxon as a poor-little-rich-boy who never had to work to survive.  Maybe she could grow to love this young man who is becoming such a dear friend to her.  And maybe events will unfold that throw Illéa, America, Maxon, the Selection, and everything else into even more of a tailspin.

The Selection is an excellent book for readers who like their dystopian literature with a heavy dose of romance, especially a juicy love triangle (or, in this case, whatever type of polygon has 30+ sides).  Give this book to fans of Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy, Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy, and, yes, even Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy.

I, for one, was more intrigued by the historical and political aspects of this book than I was the romance.  (We can probably blame that political science degree that I’ve never really used.)  I loved the lessons on the history of Illéa, and I hope to learn much more about how this young monarchy came about in the next book.  Based on what little we learned about what led to the breakup of the United States in The Selection, I would say the events are entirely plausible, so I’m eager to see what the author does with the mysterious history of the U.S. and how it relates to Illéa’s current circumstances.

The next book in this series, The Elite, will be published sometime in 2013, and there’s not a lot of information available yet on the plot of this book, but I have no doubt that it will be just as gripping as The Selection.

In the meantime, you can find out more about this series and author Kiera Cass at http://www.kieracass.com/, or you can follow the author on Twitter @kieracass.  FYI, according to the author’s webpage, The Selection is being turned into a TV show by the CW network.  It won’t be out this fall, but it could be out as early as this coming spring.  I don’t quite know how I feel about that, but I’ve got plenty of time to think about it.

If you’re still not convinced to give The Selection a try, check out this book trailer from HarperTeen, and enjoy!