Book Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass


Title: The Selection | Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection  Book #1
Genre: Young-Adult Fiction, Romance, Dystopian
Format: Kindle e-Book
Date Finished: May 21, 2013
CoffeeNCrackers Rating: 4 Cups of Coffee

For thirty five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back to her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks. Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself, and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined. -Goodreads

My Review

When I was trying to find a light reading (usually from YA realm), the gorgeous lady in blue dress on the front cover of The Selection really caught my attention. So, I picked this book. Though the synopsis doesn't wow me I decided to read it anyway just for fun. Surprisingly, Kiera Cass gives me more than what I expected. I really liked The Selection. Being told from the main character, America's point of view, the book started with her daily life and family and the social structure of the fictional country called Illea, where citizens are divided into castes. Then there's the Selection where girls are putting their names to be selected for the prince's future wife candidates. America is not interested but her family and boyfriend encourage her to participate for being the Selected means she's helping her family and herself for a better life. She is selected with 34 other girls and they have being put together in the castle to compete for Prince Maxon's heart and to be a queen. Well, if you ever read The Hunger Game, the premise sound familiar isn't it?

Right from the start I was hooked up with the story and characters. Kiera Cass did a very good job with the Selection because even though this a romance story, when most of the writers tend to exaggerate and make things complicated, she doesn't go over the top in narrating it. This makes the story more believable and easy to relate to. I really like America Singer due to several reasons. First, she is not fighting to win Maxon's heart let alone the crown but for her family to get a better life. Second, she keeps true to herself and speaks her own mind which I think it is a real beauty of a girl. She is not pretending to be someone she is not. The relationship between America and Maxon also is kind of cute and the parts that I really enjoyed and keep my eyes glued to the pages throughout the story is when they are having their dates. When I think that America and Maxon will fall to each other, then comes the annoying character, Aspen, her ex-boyfriend to win her heart's back. Argh! I hate love triangle. 
"No, I'm not choosing him or you. I'm choosing me"
Though the story enjoyable and fun, I still have some issues with this book. I don't really like Cass's selection of names for the characters especially the main character, America Singer. It is such a weird name and I don't really like it. Same goes to Maxon Schreave, Aspen, Marlee, Caleste, Bariel, Sosie and several others.The names got my tongue twisted. In addition, there are some characters which I think should have more roles to make the story more interesting. For example the antagonist character, Celeste. She is an interesting character, however she's not involved much in the story's development, which I think a mistake done by the author. 

All in all, it is an enjoyable ride. I'm having so much fun reading The Selection and can't wait to read it's sequel The Elite. So for readers out there, if you love Beauty Pageant Contest or The Bachelor, I recommend this book to all of you. Happy reading!

FOOTNOTE: This review is linked up to Saturday Situation hosted by Candace of Candace's Book Blog and Lori of Pure Imagination.
FOOTNOTE #2: This review is also linked up to Book Review Party Wednesday a fun weekly meme hosted by Cym Lowell

The Friday 56: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult


The Friday 56 is a fun weekly meme hosted by Freda of Freda's Voice. I'm currently reading Jodi Picoult's latest novel The Storyteller. This is a heavy reading as Picoult tackles yet another thought provoking issue, the aftermaths of the Holocaust.

Death walked next to me as I trudged down the street, whispered into my ear as I washed my face, embraced me as I shivered in bed. 

Book Review: Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall


Title: Whistling Past the Graveyard | Author: Susan Crandall
Series: Stand Alone
Genre: Family, Literary Fiction, Historical
Format: ARC e-Book 
Date Finished: May 19, 2013
CoffeeNCrackers Rating: 5 Cups of Coffee

When Starla is grounded on the Fourth of July, she sneaks out to see the parade. After getting caught, Starla's fear that her grandmother, Mamie, will make good on her threats and send her to reform school cause her to panic and run away from home. Once out in the country, Starla is offered a ride by a black woman, Eula, who is traveling with a white baby. She happily accepts a ride,with the ultimate goal of reaching her mother in Nashville. As the two unlikely companions make their long and sometimes dangerous journey, Starla's eyes are opened to the harsh realities of 1963 southern segregation. Through talks with Eula, reconnecting with her parents, and encountering a series of surprising misadventures, Starla learns to let go of long-held dreams and realizes family is forged from those who will sacrifice all for you, no matter if bound by blood or by the heart. - NetGalley

My Review

A nine year old, Starla Claudelle, a hot-headed girl thinks that her strict paternal grandmother, Momie, didn't want her. Afraid of being punished after breaking the rules set by her grandmother, Starla takes a short-minded decision to run away from home. She's going to Nashville to her mother who walked out from her life since she's a little baby. So, this book is about Starla's journey to find her mother and to live a happy life with her. Being told from a 9-year old girl's point of view, the story is narrated in a very honest and straightforward language. Though it is simple and predictable, I really enjoyed the story as the author did a very brilliant job to bring the readers to see things through the eyes of an innocent young girl. 

Starla is a very adorable character. To have such a dangerous and challenging adventures, I almost can't believe that she is 9-year old. When Starla meets the black woman, Eula, and a white baby she called James, the story gets more interesting as the three of them go on journey together. Along the ride to Nashville, lots of things happened and most them put me at the edge of my sit. Throughout the story, the readers can see these two characters connect with a special relationship, protecting each other, and both of them growing to be more matured. Not only the main characters are well developed, the other peripheral characters also makes the story more fluid and believable.

I like the fact that instead of using a modern setting, Crandall highlights the southern Mississippi during the 60's and she did a brilliant job playing with the setting which I feel like I myself is experiencing the era and would love to be part of the story. At the same time Crandall highlights the southern racial segregation during the 60's through Eula's life story. It is very eye-opening, and like Starla, I also keep on questing why the thick wall is build between the races when everyone should be live together in harmony? But still, racism is a very sensitive subject even in my country, Malaysia, as we are living in a multi-racial country.

All in all, this book is a very inspiring one. Being told with honesty, readers will be seeing the big world through the eyes of a little girl who has the courage and determination the act based on what she believes the "best" for her. I recommend this book to everyone.

*FOOTNOTE: I received and ARC e-book copy from Netgalley but it doesn't affect what I think about this book as this is an honest review. 

*FOOTNOTE 2: This review is linked up to Book Reviews Wednesday party hosted by Cym Lowell.

Book Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher


Title: Storm Front | Author: Jim Butcher
Series: The Dresden Files #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal 
Format: Kindle e-Book 
Date Finished: May 5, 2013
CoffeeNCrackers Rating: 1 Cup of Coffee

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically he is the only at what he does. So, when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they came to him for answers. for the "everyday" world is actually full of strange and magical things and most don't play well with humans. That's where harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a - well, whatever. There's just one problem. Business, to put mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder, committed with black magic, Harry's seeing dollar signs. But where there's black magic there's a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry's name. And that's when things start getting interesting. - Goodreads

My Review

A wizard personal investigator. The idea, in my opinion, is very original and organic which is why at the very beginning of the book I really want to like this book. Storm Front is the first installment of the Dresden Files series and I was like, really excited, to read an Urban Fantasy (UF) novel. The story, which is told from the protagonist, Harry Dresden's point of view, starts with an unnatural double murder case which lead to a series of events where Harry involved in "fighting" the black magic and dealing with paranormal creatures i.e vampire, faeries etc.

As I mentioned earlier, the premise is very exciting however my problem with this book is the main character itself. I'm so surprised that I cannot bring myself to like Harry Dresden. He thinks he is a cool person. He thinks he is capable of doing anything and everything. He thinks he is the best wizard on earth. Oh, come on, what with this self proclaimed character? He is not a likable hero for me let alone to be a so called investigator. When this book is supposed to be an investigation book, throughout the story Harry did nothing investigative at all which is kind of stupid and spoiled the mood. All he did is jumping into conclusions, going here and there without any real purpose, and keep on telling readers that everything would be ok because I'm "Harry the All-mighty Dresden" is around. So I was kind of frustrated with this kind of attitude.

I could kill the Shadowman, now, before he knew I was here. I could call down fury and flame on the house and killeveryone in it, not leave one stone upon another. I could reach out and embrace the dark energy in this place, draw it in and use it for whatever I wanted, and the consequences be damned.

But of course...nothing of this happened actually. What really happened is this. This makes me laugh and I kind of agree with Victor.

"Shut up!" Victor snarled."Who is the real wizard here, huh? Who is the one with all the cards and who is the one bleeding on the kitchen floor? You're nothing, Dresden, nothing. You're a loser. And do you know why? Because you're an idiot. 

Reading this book makes me realized that not all popular books are good books. However, I still have faith in this series and would like to give another shot for Jim Butcher or more accurate a second chance for Harry Dresden. I like the premise and in my opinion the series would be much better if it is written from a third person's point of view instead of how it is written now. I don't want to recommend this book to anyone but if you want to try to read something urban fantasy you can grab this one. Who knows you might come with a different conclusion that me.

FOOTNOTE:  This review is linked back to the Saturday Situation, a fun weekly meme co-host by Candace at Candace's Book Blog and Lori at Pure Imagination. 

Book Discovery: I Haven't Read Much Lately!

"If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading at all" - Oscar Wilde

It is a cloudy Friday over here and I am taking some time to scrabble something here at my blog. When was the last time I post anything worth reading? Well, I don't even remember myself. I stopped reviewing books around last year as I have very limited time to do such a thing anymore. Furthermore, at the moment I am in the 6 months training course to become a Fire Superintendent. Well, maybe I tell more about it another time. 

I'm just to happy that I started reading again after a few months of reading hiatus. Currently I'm reading one of my favorite authors, Jodi Picoult's book called The Storyteller. So far, I think the story is good and developing so I can't give much of a comment about it yet. Maybe I'll post a review about the book when I finish it. And since I'm in a good spirit to read and write again, I would like to share some good titles (in my opinion) that I've stumbled upon this week. So lets check them out! 

Well, Khaled Hosseini is one of the author that managed to make me wept by reading his book The Kite Runner. It was a good read and I am sure that this new installment from the the author will be as good as the Kite Runner. Doctor Sleep is said to be the sequel of The Shining which I haven't read the book yet but watched the movie (it is a classic movie). Hope this would be good. "Allegiant". I like this title of Roth's final installment of Divergent Trilogy. The cover is stunning as well. I really enjoyed the previous books and I'll make sure to have this one as well to complete my collection. 

That is all for now, have to get back to my reading. Nazi, Holocaust, Hitler...well, Jodi Picoult is sure did a serious research about this one. Have a good day and until next time!