The Heir by Kiera Cass

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I’m Eadlyn Schreave, and no one in the world is as powerful as me.

I am so excited to share this review with y’all. Cass has grown significantly as a writer since The One. There’s a command of tension and build that wasn’t there before. Her characters are well-developed to begin with, and they continue to grow and reveal themselves throughout the story. There are no built-in distractions conveniently placed in slow spots. The Heir is a compelling story about a young girl, who never wanted to be queen, but her parents fought for her right to rule before she was even asked. She was forced being queen and now she’s being forced into holding a Selection, as well. But, as she told her parents, if she’s going through with the Selection, it’ll be on her terms.

Cass has surprised me with Eadlyn. She’s angry and she has a real reason to be. She’s also  (wonderfully) a feminist. We know that she has a passion for fashion design and has designed much of her closet. She’s also flawed and spiteful. She’s a spoiled brat who tolerates people because she thinks she’s above them. She’s hotheaded, to the point where she almost started throwing punches in the middle of a fight between a few of the Selected. She’s strong without being perfect, and she’s so much more than we got with America. She has so many great things going for her, that I just might forgive her for telling her parents, “You’re ruining my life.”

Because I knew these people, I was so much more invested in their doings. I was pissed when Eadlyn mistreated her maid in any way, or when she got too uppity. I understood Kile’s need to leave. I admired Hale and his determination, and I’d like to learn why he is so devoted to her. Henri was the golden retriever I never had (actually, that’s a lie. I have one right now. But you catch my drift.). He was so sweet and he loved Eadlyn and he made my heart melt. The decision to focus on fewer characters working in Cass’ favor because now we get the chance to love the important ones the way Eadlyn does.

And this Selection is so much more exciting than America’s. Without the distraction of the rebels, we got little gems like The Selection Variety Show and a game show where Eadlyn tested her participants on the history of Illea. Eadlyn may have trouble finding the time to interact with the Selected, but when she does, most moments are either embarrassingly funny or heartwarming.

  • 5/5 Loved. Would recommend to all my fellow princesses.
  • So much growth from the author
  • If you don’t die laughing at The Selection Variety Show, you’re wrong
  • When, oh, when will Gavril retire?
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Tarquin Jenkins and the Book of Dreams by Peter Ford

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In Tarquin Jenkins and the Book of Dreams, we follow 15 year old Tarquin Jenkins as he learns to travel through time and uses his vast history knowledge to get himself into trouble. Tarquin’s parents were also time travelers, and Tarquin’s uncle Jules is in on a plot to learn what Tarquin’s parents knew and find the clues they’ve hidden. And a journal Tarquin found in 1671 might just be the key to what everyone is looking for.

A fun and wonderfully quirky read, Tarquin Jenkins’ adventures are filled with references to thrill every pop-culture geek, and follows in the footsteps of Tarquin’s fellow space and time travelers. In Tarquin Jenkins and the Book of Dreams, it’s hilarious to see imagined personas of such figures as King Charles II, Sir Isaac Newton, and Alice Cooper; not to mention the creatures impersonating other people like leprechauns and Hillary Clinton, the android who “became” Madonna, and the Griddleback droid General Washington

Inconsistent pacing made this book harder to read than it should have. The author participates in something my English teacher liked to call “Thesaurus Abuse.” It’s where you replace a shorter word or phrase with a more pretentious, longer word that many people have never seen before. Ford is not the worst perpetrator I’ve ever seen, but his word choice can get clunky, and it affects the rhythm and pacing of the novel, particularly in the begining.

The plot relies heavily on backstory and things that happened years ago,  but it’s all explained relatively well. There were just some instances where the story would have been more impactful coming from a character who was directly affected by it. Georgia Blade’s tragic past is the one that jumps to mind; it’s great that we learned about her past, but we should have heard it from her. When Seamus tells her story, there’s no emotion to it, and I guarantee that would not have been the case if we heard from Georgia instead.

TL;DR

  • 4/5 Stars
  • Fun read
  • Occasionally clunky word choice
  • Endearingly quirky

 

XOXO,

Bookie

The One by Kiera Cass

We’ve been reading about America Singer for a while here, and we wouldn’t want you to miss out on our other reviews of The Selection Series, so be sure to click here to read our review of The Selection, and here to read our review of The Elite.

We’ve followed America through her Selection and through becoming an Elite, and now we get to watch the endless back-and-forth for who will be the one. We’re down to four Elite at the beginning of this novel: America, Celeste, Elise and Kriss. We know two of them have no hope (Celeste and Elise), so it’s between Kriss and America. We also know that King Clarkson can’t stand America, so Maxon’s made it his goal to make America the people’s favorite in order to justify him choosing her.

One thing I’ve noticed while reading this series is that Cass struggles with building tension over the long term. The rebel problem developed really well in this novel. We learned who was leading them, we learned what they wanted, we even got to interact with them. All of that was great. But the rebels were used as scary, distracting background noise for the first two novels. Also, we’ve known there should be some Aspen and Maxon tension since the first book, but they barely interacted until the end of The One. In each book, there is a conflict that builds, but it only builds in that book. There is no overarching tension.

The characters seemed more relatable. Their problems and desires felt more real, their frustration, more justified. Some conflicts that I’ve been waiting to see finally came into the light. I enjoyed watching the Aspen and Maxon problem come to the forefront of everyone’s mind. That tantrum was entertaining (and in my opinion, nowhere near long enough).

America actually cares about something. Can we get some applause! She has a cause. Pity it took her this long, but she’s finally found a real goal to fight toward as a princess. No, I’m not talking about Maxon. We’ve seen what it looks like when she decides she wants him, and it’s not enough. She now knows what she wants for her people, and we get to see her ability to be stubborn turn into actual passion and fire. That’s what makes her more interesting in this book than she ever has been as a character.

Is this book perfect? Absolutely not. Is it better than the earlier two books in the series? Arguably. Would I recommend any of them? Absolutely, without a doubt, yes. Who doesn’t dream of being a princess? In The Selection you can safely live out that fantasy and it’s a fun book to read.

TL;DR

  • 4/5 Stars
  • Would recommend this series to anyone who (like me) knows they’re secretly royalty
  • America had character development!!!
  • Problems with long-term tension build, but great in-book build

– XOXO,

Bookie

 

The Elite by Kiera Cass

I received a digital copy of this book from my local library. Check out my review of The Selection here. You can purchase a copy of The Elite on Amazon here.

America has made it to The Elite. Her and the 5 other women she is still competing with are now expected to learn about matters of state and are given several tasks to test their knowledge and skills in that area. We all wish America could focus on her duties as probable princess of Illea, but unfortunately, she’s too busy pushing Maxon away while simultaneously fearing that she’s losing his heart to deal with any official duties. Will she be able to pull through and get her job done? I guess we’ll see in The One.

I’ve shown you so many of my secrets, defended you in every way I can. But when you aren’t pleased with me, you act rashly. You shut me out, blame me, or, most impressively, try to change the entire country.

A large part of this book was America sulking and being paranoid. I get it, you finally admit you like him, and now you have to share him. She spends her time side-eyeing the competition and looking to give Maxon a piece of her mind (even if it pushes him further away) in this book. America, honey, I get it. Your life is so hard. But please stop.

America likes to forget events that happened pages ago. She forgot about the diary she had hidden in her piano seat… multiple times. She forgets the things she tells her father and details about events with Maxon. Another example wasn’t pages ago, but a whole book ago: she’s forgotten that Maxon is sending money to the Provinces for lower castes to have soup kitchens. It makes her narrative seem disingenuous an unreliable.

The drama with Marlee was exciting. Anyone who was paying attention could see it from a mile away, but still. It’s nice to see her get her happy ending. I also like that we get to know Kriss a little better (well, we got to know Kriss as well as any other character in the story). We hardly got to see her in the last novel, so it was a nice change of pace. Natalie and Elise are background characters at this point. There’s no way around it. All we know about Natalie is that she’s not quite right in the head (her character was even given a cheap way out on the philanthropy projects all the girls had to do), and all we know about Elise is that her family has ‘connections’ to New Asia. Where New Asia is and what those connection are, sadly, the world may never know.

The rebels attacked very often in this book. It feels like a device to keep the action from falling too hard when we’re frustrated about Maxon’s attention being elsewhere. It does its job, but it’s a little obvious about it. I enjoyed the interaction between America and the rebel in the wood. It was revealing about the Northern rebels as a whole, and it was funny to see.

 

TL;DR

  • 3/5 will continue the series
  • A little lackluster
  • America is a sulky, paranoid lil girl
  • We get to see more (inconsequential) characters. Yay.
  • The rebels are the most interesting part of the series

– XOXO,

Bookie

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

26156203The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

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I bought this book because Evelyn Skye is amazing and we were once in an anthology together. (You can get it HERE!)

I knew going in that The Crown’s Game would be fabulous and Miss Skye did not disappoint. Everything about this book is magical, from the history to the game to every lurid creation whisked to life by our beloved main characters.

Sitting on the brink of war, the Tsar is forced to call upon the game, and bring two enchanters forward to battle with magic. He needs to know which enchanter will best serve him in war. Each of them receives a set number of turns to “impress him.” At the end of the game, the loser will die. The game’s theme revolves around the Tsar’s son, Pasha, as a celebration of his birthday.

Each enchanter is powerful and has trained their entire lives to serve the Tsar. Vika is a wild streak. She’s stubborn, determined, and ferocious. Nikolai is more reserved, his magic subtler, but just as formidable. One sure way to end the game is to kill your opponent. Vika and Nikolai plan to do just that…but things never go according to plan, do they? What ensues is a glorious battle, each “turn” more ostentatious—and deadlier—than the last.

The Crown’s Game has a little bit of everything. Mystery, magic, romance, loss, and a stunning betrayal that leaves the reader desperate for the sequel. I can’t help but think all of this will transfer amazingly to film. The city, the clothes, the magic.

Beautiful!

As for what I didn’t like…there wasn’t enough time to truly get to know our characters. They fall so quickly in love with each other that we don’t get to know Vika or Nikolai as individuals. As rich as the setting and magic was, the characters were a bit flat and hard to warm up to. I hope the coming sequels will flesh them out.

Overall, this was a stunning debut from Evelyn Skye!

TL;DR Review

-4.5 Stars

-Magic was awesome!

-Lacked in character development

-Made up for it with beautiful description

 

-Kacey

 

Giveaway: A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

I have found myself in possession of an extra ARC of A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir. Torch is the highly anticipated sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, and since the review of Torch is the most visited page on Better Call Your Bookie, I thought we could celebrate with a giveaway.

Before we start, let’s lay out some ground rules:

  • To enter, fill out the form below
  • No purchase or payment is required to enter or win
  • Must be following this blog OR our Twitter
  • Must be a resident of the US or Canada with a valid address
  • The winner will be notified via the email provided, and they will have 7 days to accept. If they do not accept within 7 days, another winner will be chosen.
  • The giveaway begins at 12:00PM on 3 June 2016 and ends at 11:59 PM on 10 June 2016.

 

You can find our review of A Torch Against the Night here.

You can pre-order A Torch Against the Night here.

– Best of luck,

Bookie

 

The Selection by Kiera Cass

I received a copy of The Selection through my local library. Click here to purchase on Amazon. Click here to view on Goodreads.

In The Selection, Prince Maxon of Illea is looking for his bride, and according to his countries customs, he must choose her from a set of 35 women brought to the palace. Each woman is from a different province and they are all ready to fight tooth-and-nail for the prince. All of them, except for Lady America Singer of Carolina, Five.

The country of Illea is built really well. I understand the provinces and the rebels seem truly terrifying, though I am wondering how it is they get in and out of the palace grounds. Through a brief, but well-written history lesson, we get to see how the country is formed. The most interesting part of this world is the caste system. Flash back to reality for a minute and remember this isn’t the first time humanity’s seen a caste system. Hell, India still functions with a caste system. It’s miserable. There are people dying over social stratification issues just like this. It’s very difficult to raise your station, and there is a lot of discrimination when it comes to the lower castes.

Back in Illea, there are 8 castes, Identified by their number. Ones are royalty. Twos are Celebrities and Military. Threes are the teachers, scientists and inventors. Fours are merchants. Fives are artists. Sixes are indoor servants. Sevens are labourers. And we don’t talk about the Eights. All of the castes technically have equal rights (except Eights), but the larger number you are, the less you make for the job that you do. Many families from the lower castes make attempts to marry their daughters up (presumably the couple takes on the caste of the boy) so that they may live a more comfortable life. Once you’ve moved to a different caste, you’re expected to take on an appropriate role for your new caste. I found it to be well-developed and believable. It gave a lot of insight into how society is structured, what is valued most, and where our characters fit in the grand scheme of things.

Speaking of characters, America is an idiot. She continually makes bad choices she knows she shouldn’t. For example, verbally abusing a prince, on more than one occasion, is not only grounds for her dismissal from the Selection, but if he were any less sweet, he could actually punish her. As in a whipping or making her an Eight. Also, her and Aspen need to keep it in their pants for the same reasons. Most of this comes from the fact that she’s stubborn, but it’s not endearing, it’s just an eye-roll.

Character development, as a whole, was not good. For anyone whose read the book, can you name more than one or two personality traits per character? Let me try.

America: stubborn, modest
May: happy
Aspen: proud, brooding
Maxon: sweet
Marlee: excitable

That’s all I got, and that’s a problem. How can anyone relate to a character with no personality?

 

A piece of literary art, The Selection is not. But that doesn’t mean it was all bad. It had some really dopey lines that I had to laugh at. The pacing was great and it was a fun read. I look forward to reading The Elite.

  • 4/5 Stars
  • The caste system was realistic
  • Poor character development
  • Fun, frivolous novel

– XOXO,

Bookie