City of B

The Traitor’s Kiss (The Traitor’s Circle #1) by Erin Beaty

The Traitor’s Kiss (The Traitor’s Circle #1) by Erin BeatyThe Traitor's Kiss (The Traitor's Circle, #1) by Erin Beaty
Published by Imprint on May 9th 2017
Genres: Romance, Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Source: Self Purchase

An obstinate girl who will not be married. A soldier desperate to prove himself. A kingdom on the brink of war.

With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.

As the girls' military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.

About 3/4 of the way through The Traitor’s Kiss, I was sure that it was definitely going to be a 4 star read, then all the sudden this amazing twist occurred, a new, exciting, and daring revelation that blew me away. I truly didn’t see it coming! It catapulted my love for this book to 5 stars. The rest of the book was just as awesome, with more twists, and a lot of action, so of course the 5 stars stuck.

Sage starts out as an easy girl to like, and then she quickly becomes someone you love. She’s incredibly smart, book and street-wise. She’s very stubborn, and has a bit of a temper, but when shit hits the fan, I definitely want her on my team. Sage thinks she’s plain and unremarkable, but that’s so far from the truth. She’s charming and perceptive, and easily blends into different crowds, something that the matchmaker instantly notices and respects. The soldiers who were chosen to escort the matchmaker’s group of brides-to-be across the country, are also wowed by Sage, because she’s magnetizing, quick-thinking, and overall, a kick ass spy for both the matchmaker, and the soldiers.

I love how Sage and Mulan, from Disney’s Mulan, are kindred spirits. They’re both the girl that everyone takes for granted. Society thinks that Sage/Mulan are impossible to tame, because they don’t want to spend their lives running a household, gushing about dresses, and other typical things that “proper” ladies do. They want to throw on britches, and get their hands dirty. They’re both highly capable, out-of-the-box thinkers, who get the job done in ways that baffles and amazes others. Sage and Mulan would totally be best friends.

Sage’s foil ends up being a particularly attractive soldier, who is charged with monitoring her for suspicious activities. These suspicious activities are basically just Sage collecting intel on attractive bachelors, for her job as an apprentice matchmaker. Sage also suspects that this handsome soldier is hiding secrets, and it’s so funny watching the two of them spying on each other, while also trying not to fall for each other.

Seriously, read this book! If not just for Sage, then also for a hot, slow brewing romance that you don’t want to miss.

City of B

The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass

The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera CassThe One (The Selection, #3) by Kiera Cass
Published by HarperTeen on May 6, 2014
Pages: 323

The time has come for one winner to be crowned.

When she was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon's heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she'll have to fight for the future she wants.

The One pleasantly surprised me. I didn’t have much confidence that I could enjoy this book, after my disastrous experience during the previous book. Although I thought it stilled lacked a few things, I thought The One did a decent job of finishing up this trilogy.

After The Elite, I’d had enough of America’s never-ending, “I love Aspen” then, “I love Maxon” then two pages later, “But what about Aspen?”. Luckily this constant flip-flopping was taken care of early on in this final book. America finally makes a choice, and does what she needs to due, in order to follow through with her decision. She’s finally in an in-it-to-win-it mood, and I reveled in her new clarity and mission. America’s character really shines in The One, as she faces bigger obstacles, and grows in the process.

I’ve talked about all the good, so why the 3 stars? Well… here’s the could-have-been-better parts:

One of the problems I had with book two, was the continual lack of depth regarding the Northern and Southern rebels. They attacked occasionally, but never really made an impact. They didn’t like the castes, and the King’s way of ruling, but that’s all we knew. We didn’t know who led them, where exactly they came from, and what their clear messages or intentions were. They seemed terribly unorganized, and well, pretty lame, yet they kept getting into the castle over-and-over-again. I felt like this was the weakest part of book two, and also now, book three. There is a bit of new information regarding the rebels in The One, but still not enough for me to even care about that sub-plot. A lot of the attention still remained on the competition itself, and America’s romantic ups and downs. Sometimes I think that this series could have benefited from the whole rebel’s sub-plot having been removed. It never felt fully conceived, and it definitely wasn’t utilized to its’ full potential.

Another weak point was the battle sequences. Whether Cass chose to focus more on the relationships, or it’s not exactly her strong point, the action scenes in this entire series have been short and lackluster. The battle starts, and BAM, it’s done. We hear about the causalities afterwards, but they don’t really make an impact. I don’t expect America (our only POV) to be in the midst of battle, but I think the book could have used more details, and recollections from the rebel attacks. Once again, the severity of the situation didn’t feel severe enough.

‘The One was a decent-enough finale book. I’m glad I read it, because I’m now left with a more positive than negative feeling regarding the series as a whole.

City of B

The Selection (The Selection #1) by Kiera Cass

The Selection (The Selection #1) by Kiera CassThe Selection (The Selection, #1) by Kiera Cass
Published by HarperTeen on April 24, 2012
Pages: 336
Source: Purchase

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 on 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.

The Selection was one of those books that I just couldn’t get enough of. I made the mistake of starting it later in the evening say around 10-ish leading to an all-nighter reading session which ended around 3:30 a.m. I even had to be up at 7 a.m. the next morning. However it was totally worth it!!! I was hooked from the beginning. True to it’s tagline The Selection is “Hungers Games meets the Bachelor”. Many might be aggravated over the blatant similarities between The Selection and The Hunger Games (there’s a lot) but I didn’t really care. I enjoyed The Selection for what it was and what it accomplished. The plot was captivating, keeping you enticed the whole way through.

And the characters – wow! Every single one was buzzing with personality and detail. Although our main characters were America and Prince Maxon the rest i.e. supporting characters truly did their job and supported the story. Except for the one or ones we’re meant to hate (I’m looking at you Celeste…) I loved every single character and the part they played. Oh and Ms. Cass thank you! This is the first time that I’ve ever loved and full-heartedly rooted for the sweet, kind “good” boy vs. the rebellious ”bad” boy. As you can probably gain there’s a love triangle and I’m totally team Maxon. Sorry Aspen — move along buddy

So lets talk a little about the setting. Through America Singer’s view were introduced to a world literally “of the future”. After the U.S. was ruined by attacks and such from other countries, Illea rose above the rubble bringing along an 8-caste system. Each caste is responsible and required to work a specific job. For instance, America’s family is in the 5th caste where the trade is of “the arts”, painters, musicians, singers etc. I should also mention that the further up in the system the poorer the individual. Aspen a boy that we learn America has loved for a while now, is in the caste above America and therefore not permitted to well canoodle (LOL) with anyone from another caste unless married. However, if they were to marry America would have to leave her family and caste and settle for an even more poverty-ridden caste. At the tippity top or rather bottom (1) is the royal family. When a princess or prince come of age, a princess is married off to a prince from another country while the prince holds a competition where 35 girls, picked throughout Illea, compete to become princess. Although some may have true intentions, the majority of girls are pretty much in it for the rise of fame and wealth.

Pressured by both Aspen and her family and believing that she truly doesn’t have a shot, America enters only to be completely shell-shocked when she gets chosen to compete. Her whole world is turned upside down when she arrives at the palace. Not only does she start living the life of the upper caste (beautiful gowns, surplus amounts of food) she realizes that first impressions can be completely wrong. She’s turned off from prince Maxon at the beginning believing him to be pompous and shallow. Early on though she realizes that he is extremely thoughtful, sweet and quite nervous just about all the time. Throw in conniving and downright bitchy frenemies that make the groups of rebels constantly attacking the palace look like fluffy bunnies and you’ve got one hell of an addicting story.

What I loved most about this book was our heroine America. She’s so caring and considerate in a world where girls are ready to yank your hair out just to get a better chance at being Illea’s princess. America is also extremely strong and witty. She’s not afraid to say what she feels, a quality that I truly believe prince Maxon admires. I love the dynamic between these two. Early on America promises to give Maxon the inside scoop in order to make sure he picks a good princess. However, it’s plain to see that the princess he’s got his eye on is the last one America expects…

I truly loved this book it was intriguing and interesting. The writing was clean, engaging and fast-paced. One of the reasons I gave it a 4 as opposed to a 5 star rating is, because the role that the “rebels” play. All we know is that some group or groups of rebels regularly attack the castle but that’s all we really know about them. I really would have liked to know more in order to fully get into the story.