Lifebrarian blogs about books and life

I've always loved reading, and I tend to read a lot of books about a lot of things. I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but when I do it is usually a celebrity bio or something about the Tudors. I love YA Fiction, and I am hoping to start reading some more New Adult. I also love psychological thrillers and mysteries. Recently, I especially enjoyed the Chelsea Cain series about the Beauty Killer. I'm also a fan of the book Graceling (the audiobook format is excellent). I've been a fan of Erica Spindler for YEARS and recommend her book, Shocking Pink, to those who have never read her before. I also look forward to Bentley Little's new release every year (every horror fan should know who B.L. is!). My most recent favorite series is The Selection, and no, I am not ashamed. #IReadYA

I'm a World of Warcraft gamer (Horde ftw!) and I am currently beta-testing WoD! Woot! 

I also blog at Lifebrarian

Review of The Runaway King

The Runaway King - Jennifer A. Nielsen

This book was excellent in terms of drawing the reader in, and providing just the right amount of excitement to keep the reader going. Jaron/Sage is pretty awesome for a urchin/pirate/King. His character is pretty near perfect when it comes to how he justifies his actions. I loved reading about him, Erick and Fink,  and although Jaron seems to be a master manipulator/thief etc. he still shows us his fears and vulnerabilities, and he still has weaknesses. The romance, if you want to call it that, is almost non-existent. While he obviously cares for Imogene, the romance is really his fight to protect her. I can't recall even a single kiss. Obviously this juvenile fiction was written for a younger audience, but given the amount of fighting and violence and injuries sustained, a little more romance would be nice. I'm excited to start on book 3 soon to see how these relationships progress or change.

Review of The False Prince

The False Prince - Jennifer A. Nielsen

This was an excellent book, and I am looking forward to the rest of the series. Very engaging with mystery, intrigue, action and adventure. This book would appeal to boys.


Review of Panic

Panic - Lauren Oliver

This fast-paced teen read by Oliver had an interesting premise. The game "panic" was a game played by graduating seniors in hopes of winning the grand prize, a huge sum of money that could be life-changing for the winner. Panic is a game made up of a series of challenges, many of which test the participants bravery, or some might say, stupidity. From diving off dangerous cliffs into water below to playing chicken with cars while blindfolded, each participant is given (sometimes) life threatening dares to face and whoever chickens out, is out of the game, and whoever is the slowest to complete the challenge is left behind. 


It felt like the author was walking a fine line between wanting to be more cruel and graphic with the challenges and results and yet still keeping the story fit for teens. There were a couple of times I could see it heading into darker territory only to have it reeled back in. 


After the build-up of the game, the characters and the overall story, I felt the ending was a bit of a let down and, honestly, it's been a book or two since I read it, I can't even really remember the ending, so it wasn't too memorable. As entertaining as the rest of the book was, I feel like I should remember how it ended. 


I am interested in reading her other series, DELIRIUM, to see how it compares. 


Review of Spellcaster

Spellcaster  - Claudia Gray

Nadia is a witch. A powerful, but untrained witch. Her mother is also a witch, but has abandoned the family (with no real reason given as to why) and suddenly Nadia, her father, and her brother are moving to a new town to start a fresh, new life sans mom. It's important to note that in this story, the witches pass down their knowledge, and the timing of her mom leaving is at a crucial time in Nadia's training, leaving Nadia rather vulnerable to powers she doesn't really understand. I fully expect there to be a magical reason for her mom leaving, but have yet to find out why.


Of course, on the way to their new home, they encounter a magical barrier around the new town that flips the car and puts them into life threatening peril. Enter Mateo, the insta-love heartthrob that immediately reminded me of a cross between Jacob and Edward from Twilight. I was halfway expecting to find out that Mateo was either an angel or a vampire, but no, he is actually neither. Just an unfortunate boy with a powerful curse that causes him to see future events, which is how he happens to be there to save Nadia and her family from the wreck. 


There is also a powerful sorceress named Elizabeth. She looks like a teen, but is actually hundreds of years old. She is the person who has cursed Mateo and other members of his family. The story becomes a battle between Nadia and Elizabeth, but it all feels rather tame to me. Nadia has Mateo and her new friend, Verlaine, as loyal sidekicks, but each is handicapped with curses and spells that have been put on them for various reasons. It's up to Nadia to save her friends, and save her new town from Elizabeth, who they discover is working with a darker power.


I found the spells to be rather odd and boring, and I mostly just wanted to skim and skip over them. I was also rather disappointed when  Elizabeth used what is typically referred to as a glamour against Mateo to trick him into thinking she was Nadia. BTDT. The questionable thing here is that the glamour only worked on Mateo. Everyone else saw Mateo with Elizabeth. At a large high school party it seems unlikely that no one would have addressed her as Elizabeth thus ruining her disguise.


This story is a fast-paced and mildly entertaining read, very appropriate for teens. 


Review of The Prince and The Guard

The Selection Stories: The Prince & the Guard - Kiera Cass

These two novellas made me think of what Stephenie Meyer was considering doing with Midnight Sun, or what I felt like Midnight Sun might have been like. So basically, in the THE PRINCE, scenes from the THE SELECTION are written from Maxon's point of view. There are complete sections of dialogue that were copies from THE SELECTION and then his thoughts and POV are given in place of America's. The same for THE GUARD. Same exact scenes from THE ELITE, only from Aspen's POV. There are some scenes thrown in that are new, but not really that many, in my opinion. Still a good read, but not really necessary to the story. I think more could have been done with THE PRINCE by revealing what more of his "dates" with the selected girls were like. I would have liked to have seen more of what he felt emotionally as he got to know the girls, especially with how much we see America struggle with her feelings for both Maxon and Aspen. Did Maxon struggle? With what and whom? We already know that in THE ELITE he makes out with Celeste, does he make out with anyone else and how does he go from that to putting pressure on America to make a choice? Is he really interested and in love with America? Or is she just an intriguing toy and something new and different to amuse him. And what of Maxon's politics. What small, quiet ways is he affecting his country? What does he want for the country? 

I think THE GUARD pretty much reassures the reader that Aspen is 100% for America. He is committed to her and will love her, regardless of what she chooses. He has finally found his place, he enjoys being a guard, and serving the monarchy, even if he doesn't agree with the politics.


Review of The Elite

The Elite - Kiera Cass

The ELITE continues the story of America Singer, Prince Maxon, and Aspen. This fast-paced 2nd book in The Selection trilogy explored more fully what it would be like if America became the Princess. 

The one flaw I found with the story in this book was the part where Maxon is caught making out with Celeste. When America and Maxon finally talk and he forces her to hear his side of what happened, he basically blows it off as wanting a moment of enjoyment. All this time, Maxon is supposed to be in love with America, wanting her to choose him, and while he is in a difficult position with trying to choose a bride, he basically admits to using Celeste without a care for any of the other girls. It made me think of how royalty (and politicians) have been in the past with mistresses and I wondered if Maxon would be the type to finally get America only to cheat on her with a mistress just because. That incident really lowered my opinion of Maxon and it was rather unbelievable that America would accept it so willingly when she would get so jealous of mere looks between Maxon and Kriss, especially when Kriss and Maxon had never even kissed yet. I know that the thought is that American "let it go" (ha, ha, had to throw that in there!) because she was in a similar predicament with sneaking to see Aspen and kissing him and cuddling with him, but if she truly felt anything for Maxon, the scene where he is explaining himself and she accepts it just does not ring true to me. Plus, I think she would question his loyalty to her if she did choose him and they ended up together. 

The other odd thing about Maxon is that he is supposed to have little to no experience with women, yet seems to handle all these strange, new women with ease. He flirts, he kisses, he takes them on dates, he finesses them... it seems to be effortless for him to connect and make these women fall in love with him (or his crown). 

The OTHER thing that felt off was the whole competition for a philanthropic idea and how America struggled so hard to come up with something. Come on, America! You have Illea's diary in your hands, you are a 5, you have witnessed your best friend and her boyfriend being caned, you've witnessed all sorts of things in the caste system that are unfair and unjust and yet you can't think of a single thing? And then, when she does think of a "thing," it's so big she has no idea or plan to implement it and when asked how it would be implemented doesn't even have a single suggestion. 

I felt like the scene was there for shock and awe and to make the King mad at her and make the fact he wants her gone clear, but it felt more like it emphasized how NOT prepared America is to deal with a role as a political power or someone with SOME political power. 

Even Maxon quickly attempted to solve the starving people problem in THE SELECTION by reducing the pay the Selected were receiving from the King and giving it to the lower castes for food.

Anyway, I still love the series, but those were the parts that left me scratching my head.

Oh! And the bracelet. I can't leave that out. What is up with the bracelets? Is this another Twilight thing? First America is given a button from Aspen's uniform that she fashions into a bracelet. Maxon notices it on her one day but says nothing. WE know he see's it though and are now waiting for him to ask where it came from, why she is wearing it, SOMETHING and to finally have Aspen outed as her ex. Nothing happens though. Instead, Maxon goes on a trip and brings back a bracelet that is from HIM and she puts it on her other wrist. Then, later, she breaks it, throws it at Maxon, etc. and then when they kiss and make up, he is putting it back on her wrist OVER the bracelet Aspen gave her. Again, nothing asked or said about Aspen's bracelet. I can only assume that in THE ONE something will come to a head over this whole bracelet thing, because otherwise why would it keep coming up?

Also, this is just my own thing, but I wonder if America's dad has any part in the whole rebels coming to steal books? She told her dad about the books when she wasn't supposed to tell anyone, so it stands to reason he is a part of the rebels and trying to find those books for a rebellion to try to overthrow things, but again, not much is said about the books. In fact, what is said is along the lines of they might be using them to make fires. Now, given that so many of the scenes take place outside in the gardens, I am left wondering why they would need fires to keep warm when it doesn't sound like it is cold. America seems to be pretty dense when it comes to the whole book thing and the importance of the books and the history. Anyway, it will be interesting to see where that storyline goes.


Review of The One

The One - Kiera Cass

Satisfying ending, but it left me wondering if the series is truly done. It tied up well enough, but it would be cool to have another book with America as Queen adjusting to the life, as well as Aspen and Lucy getting married and having a baby. A lot more could be done to carry this story further, especially with dismantling the castes. 

Anyway, back to reviewing THIS book... Celeste is killed. It happens fast and is a little shocking, but other than a brief mention later, it's like the emotion of seeing that happen rolls right off everyone's back and it's a non-thing. We get that they miss her briefly, when all are gathered, but that's about it. If someone I had recently gotten close to was shot in the head in front of me, I'm pretty sure it would affect me more than that. 

As I said in a PREVIOUS review, America's dad IS a rebel. Guess I predicted that one. I'm torn on the whole north/south rebel thing. Is this a replay of the Civil War here? The Northern rebels are the "good" rebels and the Southern are the bad, violent rebels. America and Maxon still have their hands full with the rebels, but their new allies are proving helpful already. It would be interesting to see more of that play out in the future. 

Of course no one cares that the King is dead, but it would be interesting to find some private journals of HIS to read to see what made him tick and what made him the way he is. Is he a character that if we read his innermost thoughts we could feel sympathy towards? And, of course, we'll all miss the Queen. The novella about her will prove to be interesting, but we mostly already know that her and America were in very similar situations. I'd rather read about the King, personally, simply because I think he might offer a more interesting tale. 

All things aside, another fast-paced, fun read that I read in a few hours. I even bought this final book as an autographed copy. I know some people were very critical of the writing, but honestly I've read so much worse and this at least entertained me. 

If Kiera Cass is so inclined to write more for this series, or a side series focusing on some of the other lesser characters, I would definitely read them.

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Claudia Gray