“The Queen” and “The Favorite” by Kiera Cass

the-queen-kiera-cass Favorite_EpicReads1.jpgThese two stories were the last two novellas related to The Selection series. I think of all four of the stories, “The Queen” was probably the most enlightening. It was told from Prince Maxon’s mother’s eyes, but it was when she was younger and she was actually part of the Selection. It gives a looooot of insight into why the king acted the way he did to America and to Maxon. Honestly, after reading it, it’s surprising that Maxon was so kind to those around him. Then again, his mom probably had a lot to do with that.

“The Favorite” told Marlee’s story. Marlee was the first of the girls that America met when she began the Selection, and they became best friends pretty quickly. Marlee’s life was turned all topsy turvy, but thanks to Mason, she was always happy with what she had.

I think it is amazing how deep Kiera Cass’s understanding of all her characters goes. Between the Selection series and the “Happily Ever After” companion book, she wrote scenes from 7 different characters’ points of view. It’s 8, at least, if you could “The Heir” and “The Crown.” Which I haven’t started yet, but they are next on the list.

I’m still intrigued by this series and I’m excited to read these last two books because I’ve never read them before. Aside from these, I’m in the hold line to get “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” on audiobook for my commute. While I was waiting I was getting super bored while driving to work, so I also started listening to “The 100” series by Kass Morgan. I’m nearly halfway through the first book right now and I’m intrigued. There’s a lot of suspense and a lot of questions that haven’t been answered yet. I also have a new book I got for Christmas and I want to reread the “A Series of Unfortunate Events” books, thanks to Neil Patrick Harris and the new Netflix series. So that’s what my short-list entails. But I’m sure it will grow.

I’m off for more Sunday funday,
Maegan

“The One” by Kiera Cass

306c8e7996271d90929125ae01e8b7f3The Selection has concluded and they all lived happily ever after! Yayyyyy!

This book is the third in the Selection series, and there are two more that are kind of spin-offs that I’ve never read, so I’m excited to get to those next.

Prince Maxon has finally decided who he wants to marry and it’s glorious because both he and his bride have finally gotten over their pride enough to tell the other how they feel. And yet America still finds a way to mess things up. But leave it up to the deadly Southern rebels to make everything right.

Of the three books in the series so far, this one has the most action and I feel like it’s the most serious. Like, people die. And yet the characters still don’t express their feelings well. For example, parents are lost and these characters barely shed a tear. I don’t understand. My grandpa passed away a couple weeks ago and I sobbed at his funeral, so I could not imagine being younger than I am now and losing a parent and acting the way these characters did. So that made me feel like there was a bit of a disconnect and I could no longer relate to them. And of course America does not explain things well AT ALL so she nearly ruined her life because she couldn’t do words.

But enough about that. I’ve read this book before by checking it out at the library, but this time the ones I read were ones that I had purchased in a box set from Barnes & Noble and it included a bonus epilogue. I actually feel like it should be a second epilogue, because the epilogue in the book details the wedding day, and the bonus epilogue is from two years later when the prince finds out he will be a father. I think this part sets up the next couple books nicely, because those two are told from the point of view of his child.

I’m about to start the last two novellas written by Kiera Cass, and then I will get to the ones about the child, but I’m really excited because I’ve hit the point where I have only read everything up to this part and everything will be fresh and new and there’s nothing like reading a book for the first time.

Ciao,
Maegan

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” by J.K. Rowling

ootp-us-jacket-artI feel like I’ve been working on this one for a while but IDK… Eh, kinda. I just checked and it’s been about three weeks. Of course I have all these books in both paperback and hardback, but I mostly listened to this one as an audiobook during my commute. It’s the weirdest thing but I have discovered that listening to audiobooks on the drive actually makes me feel calm. No irritation at traffic or that it’s taking me an hour to drive 14 miles. It’s incredible.

Anyway, Harry’s story continues and he is forever connected to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and just writing that once makes me wonder at how J.K. could stand it. But I’m sure she just typed it as “Voldy” or something like that and then did a massive find and replace. That is definitely something I would ask if I ever had the chance to meet her. So Harry is now 15 years old and in addition to being sought out by the Dark Lord he is also tortured by the most horrible person ever, Dolores Umbridge. Like this woman literally made him write lines in detention with a quill that uses his blood instead of ink. She dark as the Dark Lord.

Book Dumbledore (because there’s a difference between book Dumbledore and movie Dumbledore) ignores Harry a lot and then it turns out he’s kept an awful lot of information from him, but don’t you worry because it all comes out in the end. Lots of twisty turny stuff going on, but I love it.

Now I’m waiting on the audiobook for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” which is on hold at my public library website. But at least there are two copies, so hopefully I will get it sooner rather than later because my commute this morning was much more dull without the antics of pre-teens getting themselves into trouble with grown men and women who are trying to kill them.

Bye bye for now,
Maegan

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” by J.K. Rowling

91igIGBj0vL.jpgWe all knew this one was coming. Being the Harry Potter nerd that I am, I saw this movie within a few days after it came out and I went on the waiting list to check out the screenplay in ebook format as soon as I could at my public library.

I finally got the ebook, but it took a few tries to get it fully read because I was reading a few other things too. So I’ve been working on this one for a few weeks and I finally finished it this morning.

Clearly J.K. Rowling is the queen of the wizarding world and she continues to reign forever and ever. It’s amazing all of the things she has created and shared with us over the years. I particularly like reading her screenplays because there are little details that you might miss in the movie but are pointed out in writing and it adds to the story. What’s even better is this movie is independent of any other books, so I didn’t torture myself by comparing what should or should not be happening during the movie. It was a great movie. I already have the movie poster hanging on my living room wall.

But anywho, I highly recommend the movie and the screenplay for all Potterheads, and I’m sure I will end up reading it again one day.

I’m only a few chapters shy of finishing “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and I’m also reading “The One” now, which is part of the Selection series.

More on that later,
Maegan

“The Guard” by Kiera Cass

the-guard-cover-the-selection-series-35651384-1271-1920Welp, I finished the novella. I’ve read this one once before when I was going through this series. It might have been before I read it the last time, because I didn’t remember much of this one at all. I remembered some of the things as I was reading it, but it seemed like none of it was really familiar.

This novella is written from Aspen’s point of view, who is America Singer’s ex-boyfriend from before the Selection. They had dated for two years in secret and had planned to get married, but the whole thing was a struggle because he was one caste lower than her. Probably should mention that the country has this crappy caste system where you can never change your social standing unless you marry into a different one or buy your way up. It’s a focal point throughout the series and it affects America and Aspen a lot.

Anyway, this story starts about the time when Aspen reconnects with America in the palace and it spans them getting together secretly (treason, punishable by death) and Aspen befriending America’s maids.

One thing about Aspen is that he is clearly devoted to America, but it somewhat bothers me that he is never affected by the fact that America is also sort of dating the prince. He notices her watching the prince and the book doesn’t even suggest that he’s fighting any jealousy. Even when she starts talking about how she has imagined being the princess, he never even considers anyone else. He’s either that confident that he will end up with America, or just underestimates her. When I read it, it comes off as the latter, and I think his character is better than that. But only my opinion.

It’s still pretty interesting to fill in the gaps in the story when America is absent. It adds to the overall story and helps you delve a little deeper into what these other characters on the fringes are feeling.

Time to start my next book,
Maegan

“The Elite” by Kiera Cass

PrintHappy blogiversary! I started this blog exactly three years ago, and SUPER IRONICALLY, this book was my very first post. The mild OCD in me is bothered because the first post was from the second book in a series, but we are three years past that and it is not so bothersome when I think about other things that are more bothersome.

Anyway, this book is the second book in the Selection series. The Selection is basically a competition where 35 girls are fighting to marry the prince/become princess. But the whole thing is up to Prince Maxon, so there’s not much they can do anyway. The main character in this series is named America Singer and in “The Selection,” the story follows her as the competition starts and girls started getting sent home. The pace of that book was much quicker than this one. At the end of “The Selection,” only 6 girls remained in the competition, and they are referred to as The Elite. Hence this book title, “The Elite.” In this book, only 2 girls were eliminated and it wasn’t even because the prince made a decision or anything. Basically they just got themselves kicked out or asked to leave.

I really liked “The Selection” but this book just didn’t have the same qualities that made it so interesting and pulled me in. One thing in particular that really annoyed me was how America acted toward the prince. In the last book, she was dealing with her ex-boyfriend from home, and she was trying to distance herself from him. She met the prince, didn’t like him, they became friends, then she started developing feelings for him. In this book, it felt like she was making poor life choices and I could never identify with her emotions or figure out what in the world she was doing. She like the prince, she didn’t like the prince, she was mad at the prince, she liked the prince but she didn’t want to be princess, and the whole time she was jealous because the prince was still dating the other girls. And neither one of them would tell the other what they were feeling, which was infuriating. There was eventually a confrontation, then they were back to being in love with each other. All the while the prince is still involved with at least two other girls and America is making out with her ex in the palace behind everyone’s backs.

There’s a lot going on. Anyway, the book just kind of ended, like there wasn’t anything else that should happen and Kiera Cass just decided to stop writing. At least in “The Selection” there was a big event that wrapped everything up and left you wanting more. I guess it could be argued that there was an event in this book, but it wasn’t any kind of big to-do.

But I know there’s more to the story and I am pretty much past that rough spot, so I’m going to continue on. I already started reading “The Guard,” which is another of Kiera Cass’s novellas, told from the point of the view of America’s ex, Aspen, who is conveniently drafted into the army and placed in the palace, where he can torture America throughout her stay. More on that later.

Here’s to many more,
Maegan

“The Prince” by Kiera Cass

the-cover-of-the-prince-the-selection-series-32914585-314-475In the time between now and my last post I read this novella. It is technically “A Selection Novella,” but you catch my drift.

The one I found was actually the extended version of the original novella, and it was about 128 pages. I think. Ebook.

“The Prince” is set from Prince Maxon’s point of view, and it starts a few days before The Selection begins. In the series, everything is told from America’s eyes, so this parallels that and shows what’s going on in the prince’s mind.

It helps to dive into this character a little more and really find out what he’s going through outside of his time with America, but I wish it lasted longer. The novella ends, even the extended version, only a few days after the Selection begins. There is so much that happens afterward that I would like to see from Maxon’s view, but I guess there is no such luck.

Still, it is nice to get a little more involved in this series with these short books. Kiera Cass released a novella between every book in the series and I’m amazed at the world that she created in these books. Definitely glad I got back into this series.

I promise no more books for tonight,
Maegan

“The Selection” by Kiera Cass

the-selection-kiera-cass-largeTold you I was going through a Kiera Cass thing. I started this one in the middle of listening to “The Siren,” but I actually read the physical book this time. It was a great feeling.

This book is so easy to read. I think I read half of it in the past day and I read the first 100 pages on an hour and a half plane ride last week. But I also know that I like this book because I’ve read the first three books in the series already. There are now five books and I’m pretty excited to get through the next two so I can get to the new material.

This story is about America Singer and her basically being drafted into this thing called The Selection, which is basically like a royal version of The Bachelor for the crown prince of Illea, formerly known as the United States of America before the fourth world war.

Just like “The Siren,” this book is incredibly creative and I would love to be able to come up with a concept like this, but only time will tell if that is doable.

Anywho, America enters the Selection after just having broken up with her secret boyfriend of two years, and she originally doesn’t want to have anything to do with any of it. Welp, she meets the prince and he turns out to be a decent guy. They decide to be friends, but then she starts getting jealous when he dates the other girls (hello Bachelor drama). Surprise, now they have feelings for each other. The book ends when the girls have been whittled down from 35 to 6, and those 6 are referred to as the Elite. Hence the second book in the series being titled “The Elite.”

But there are also little novellas between each novel in the series, so I will have to read those as well. But the story is interesting so it’s not like it’s a chore, but I’m excited to get through to the books I haven’t read yet.

All the while, I am still about halfway through “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” There is just not enough time in the day to go to work and read all the books I want to read and watch all the Gilmore Girls I want to watch and color all the adult coloring books I want to color. I don’t know how people do it.

Here’s to double posting,
Maegan

“The Siren” by Kiera Cass

siren-cover-galleycatI finished this book a couple days ago and I listened to it completely on audiobook. I remember checking it out before from the library but I never actually read it when I had it. The only reason I read (listened) to it this time was because I am on a Kiera Cass kick. More on that later.

I read somewhere a few days back that Kiera Cass actually self-published this book in 2009, but that was before the Selection series became popular. So she republished it last year and made some edits. Really the reason I read this one is because I really like the Selection books.

Anyway, this story is about a girl who becomes a siren, hence the title. One bad thing about listening to the books is that there are some unusual names in the book and I really couldn’t figure them out until I googled “The Siren characters.” For example, the main character is named Kahlen, pronounced like “Collin” and her love interest is named Akinli (“It’s a family name”). At first I thought his name was Mckinley, and then I thought it was Akinley, and then I found a tumblr post about the characters, which led me to Akinli. There are also characters named Miaka, Aisling, and something that sounds like Effama, which I can’t find online.

The story starts with Kahlen on a ship with her family. The ship goes down but she wants to live. Turns out it went down because the sirens were singing everyone to their death. So because Kahlen wants to live, the Ocean allows her to live if she agrees to become a siren for 100 years. Flash forward 80 years. Kahlen has new siren sisters and they can only speak out loud to each other. If a human hears their voice, the human immediately tries to commit suicide in the ocean. The sirens never age, never get sick, don’t have to eat or sleep, and once they have served their term, they are reborn and don’t remember anything that has happened.

The whole reason the sirens exist is to lure unassuming humans to their death to keep the ocean going. A recurring theme is sacrifice one to save a thousand. One of the best things about this book is how the Ocean is personified. She actually communicates with the sirens, and Kahlen has a real relationship with her. But the Ocean is super jealous and doesn’t show her affection well. Anyway, Kahlen has a hard time with what she has to do to serve the Ocean, and surprise, she gets involved with her love interest.

One of the worst things about this book was how fast the love connection was made. Kahlen literally saw this boy twice and she was in love with him. She seriously made her sisters move to another house because she was in love already. And of course he turns up again later and Kahlen has to hide him from the Ocean because she doesn’t accept wives or mothers (too much attachment) and then there’s this really twisty situation where Kahlen and Akinli are both suffering and it’s apparently because they are separated, even though they have literally made contact probably five times by this point. But still, they are both dying. Eventually, the sirens figure out what’s going on and Kahlen’s sentence is cut short so that she can go to this boy and save them both, even though she doesn’t remember him once she’s human again.

At the beginning of the book, I thought things were going really slowly, and that it would be hard to get into it. By the middle I was hooked and I really felt like the story was going somewhere. But by the end, I think things were wrapped up too quickly and just kind of faded away, so if there were about 20 more pages it probably would have felt like there was more closure to the story. Especially because the epilogue was maybe 2 pages, which was intended to wrap up the entire book.

There were several potential plot points that I imagined could have happened with the love thing going on and all that the Ocean was capable of, but they never came to fruition. And on top of that, there were lots of unanswered questions at the end, and I feel like there could have been a sequel but I read somewhere else that this was just a standalone book and that would not happen.

All that to say, it was a pretty good book and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it because it was a very creative and unique concept, but I still think the Selection series is better.

Here’s to a decent sized post,
Maegan

“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” by J.K. Rowling

harry-potterOk, I lied, I didn’t post last week. But I did finish the book when I said I would, so that’s an accomplishment. Once I really got into the groove I read a chapter a night and it wrapped it up nicely.

It only took basically a year. That’s when I finished “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” Mind you, I did finish quite a plethora of books between that time, but as Mad-Eye Moody would say, I did not have “constant vigilance!”

Anyway, I know a few people who are of the opinion that this book is the worst in the series. I can see how they would think that, as the whole point of the book is to set up the return of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. I think there are some good additions to the storyline, though. It introduces Fleur Delacour and Viktor Krum, and Fleur gets a bigger part later on in book 7, but that’s another story.

Now I’m on chapter 11 of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” Thanks to audiobooks, of course. I probably would still be working on “Goblet of Fire” if I didn’t get the audiobook for that one. And even then I still didn’t finish it before I had to return it to the public library.

And now (I think) I’m actually only reading one book at a time. Unless I’m forgetting something, I am only working on the one book.

Never mind, I just remembered I’m also working on the “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” screenplay. But it’s the same wizarding world so maybe it doesn’t count. Ok, it probably counts. But now I’m only reading two books instead of four. So that’s progress, right?

See ya,
Maegan