Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Elite by Kiera Cass

The Elite (The Selection, #2)

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

I was really looking forward to this book after loving The Selection, but unfortunately it suffered from a bout of second-book-syndrome and was a complete disappointment.

I won't deny that while the writing isn't excellent, it definitely kept me engaged and turning the page; it only took me a few hours to finish. So, there's no denying that it is a book that is quick and easy to get through, but whether that's due to the writing style or the lack of substance in the story, it's hard to tell.

I enjoyed some characters, specifically America's maids, Celeste and Marlee. Aside from them, every other character annoyed or grated on me in some way. After loving Maxon in The Selection, I was looking forward to more of him, but he ended up being a very weak character and didn't ever seem to have an opinion on anything. Aspen, as always, was positively horrific, and America herself was beyond irritating. She's possibly one of the worst main characters I have ever had to endure; selfish while claiming to care for everyone around her and arrogant while pretending to have no confidence. She makes rash decisions that make a mockery of the story, and is, above all, a complete and total hypocrite.

The main thing that let this book down was the plot. From the end of The Selection to the end of The Elite, nothing happens. All romance between America & Maxon and America & Aspen has completely dissipated and leaves behind a cringe-worthy few hundred pages of America desperately flicking between the two while claiming to be sorting herself out. There were a few instances that could have been embellished and made a little more intense and this would have lifted the story, but it seemed as if the author was too scared to commit to anything that might drastically affect the plot.

Overall, an extreme disappointment. 2/5 stars.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall (Hex Hall, #1)
Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters. 
By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect. 
As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Going into this book, I had no idea what to expect. I'd had a lot of comments on my videos telling me to read it, but for some reason I couldn't stop thinking about how cliché and typical it was going to be. But after reading the first hundred pages, I knew I had been completely wrong.

Rachel Hawkins has a writing style that is both effortless and hilarious, and at times I often found myself laughing at something she had written. The effortless style made the book easy to whizz through, and I found the book hard to put down.

The plot was also a lot more crazy than I though it would be. There's always more than one thing going on at a time, so if one plot slacks, the other picks up, and the different story lines kept the pace of the book up right until the end.

Getting to know the world that Rachel Hawkins had created was also really enjoyable. Although I had come across all of the paranormal creatures in the story before, I liked the author's take on them and how vampires were kind of social outcasts in the school. At Hex Hall they're not learning magic but rather learning to control it and hide it from the world, which was interesting as I've never seen that done before. Although there wasn't too much magic in the book, the stuff that we did see was awesome, and I'm excited for more in book two.

The thing that really made the book for me was the characters. I absolutely loved the main character Sophie; she was hilariously sarcastic all the time, and her comments on everything really lifted the plot up for me. I also liked Jenna, her best friend, and how there was a slight mystery surrounding her until the end of the book. Even the three enemies, Chaston, Anna and Elodie were enjoyable to read about, and I was really shocked by what happened to them in the end; it felt like the author wasn't afraid to hold back on throwing shocking points into the story, which I really liked.

Archer Cross, the love interest, was also amazing, and I though that Sophie bounced off him really well; they were both witty and sarcastic and it made for a lot of hilarious banter throughout the book. The only small criticism that I have is that there could have been slightly more development between them before certain things took place, but in this case, it didn't really bother me too much.

Overall, an amazing, fun read. Definitely read it! 4/5 stars.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Weekly Wrap Up (2)

This week was a much better reading week than the weeks in April! I finished two books and am currently about half way through another.
1. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins - LOVED this! So much better than I thought it would be. My review is coming later this week.
2. Demon Glass by Rachel Hawkins - LOVED this one as well! Seriously, I don't know why it took me so long to get to this series! I will be doing a review of this one soon as well.
Currently Reading
1. Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins - Yeah, I'm kinda obsessed with this series now. I am really looking forward to finding out what happens, but also a bit sad because I don't want the series to end.
That's what I've been reading this week! Let me know your weekly reads below!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

May TBR Pile

I'm not going to be too ambitious with my TBR pile this month as every month I fail miserably at sticking to what I intended to read at the beginning of the month. I've picked out a few books that I think I will definitely get through, but in May I hope to read around six books.

1. Demon Glass by Rachel Hawkins - continuing straight on from Hex Hall with this trilogy. Love the writing and I'm nearly done with this one right now so it should be an early finish for me this month.

2. Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins - again, hope to read this trilogy cover to cover and get it finished with this month before the spin-off series is released.

3. The Elite by Kiera Cass - I have quite low expectations for this book as even though I loved The Selection, I haven't heard many good reviews. Hopefully I'll enjoy it!
4. The Diviners by Libba Bray - picked this one up from the library and now I really want to read it. It's set in my favourite era and I hope that I will enjoy it even though it's sooo long!

Those are all of the books that I picked out to read this month. I hope to read more than this but again, I'm not going to be too ambitious because I'm awful at sticking to TBR piles!

Let me know what's on your May TBR pile below!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

April Wrap Up

April was a terrible reading month for me. Although I got through 5 books, it took me the whole month to get through all of them because I kept stopping and starting without ever reading more than 20 pages. Saying that, I did read some good books and discover what I think is my favourite book of all time, so it wasn't too bad in the end.

When God Was a Rabbit
1. When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman - I was disappointed by this book, and my expectations weren't really all that high. I was in the mood for something reminiscent with good writing, and although both of those things were fulfilled to a certain extent, there was no story to be told and towards the end it felt like the author was trying to throw stupid, non-realistic twists in to make the plot more interesting, but it backfired and made me dislike it even more. 3/5 stars.
Going Out
2. Going Out by Scarlett Thomas - I really liked this one. I love the author's writing style, so there were no problems there. I didn't feel it was as clever or as adventurous as The End of Mr. Y, but it was still a good read. 4/5 stars.
The Great Gatsby
3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - All time favourite. I absolutely loved it. The writing was nothing short of beautiful and the story was tragic and poignant and all the things it should have been. A definite 5/5 stars.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1)
4. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin - I was disappointed in this one, too. The writing annoyed me and I felt like there was too much emphasis on the romance rather than the struggles that Mara was going through. However I did enjoy it, and you can read my full review here for more, but I decided on a 3/5 stars.
Hex Hall (Hex Hall, #1)
5. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins - LOVED this one. Although the cover of my edition (not this one) is hideous and made it look super tacky, it was actually a really great read. I loved the main character Sophie and the story was just really well built. 4/5 stars, review coming later on in the week!
Those are all the books I read in April, let me know what books you read below!