Second Chance Sunday – The Selection by Kiera Cass

With The Elite coming out in a few short days it was only fitting that today’s Second Chance Sunday be brought to you by The Selection, the first is this crazy addictive series. I was lucky enough to read The Elite already(review will posted on Tuesday) and trust me when I tell you, read this series! Read it quickly and read it often!

Second Chance Sunday – The Selection by Kiera CassThe Selection by Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #1
Published by HarperTeen
Published: April 24th 2012
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five-stars

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.

I am so confused why I have heard mixed things about this book. It was fantastical! I loved the characters and the story and the setting. I loved everything about it. I don’t quite understand why it has been compared to The Hunger Games other then the fact that America has maids and there is a host that questions the girls, but that aside, this book was a fun take on The Bachelor and I hate that show.

Basically The Selection is about America Singer, a girl from a lower caste number, that is “forced” to apply for the selection, by her mother and her boyfriend of two years, so Prince Maxon can find himself a wife. Heart broken and shocked when she is picked America moves into the palace with 34 other girls determined not to be the chosen one. What America doesn’t expect is to find herself an ally behind the palace walls and for that ally to be the Prince himself. Slowly America opens herself up to the possibility of a life with him. And when something unexpected happens she must decide where her allegiance lies and who her heart ultimately belongs to.

Now I know I should start with talking about America, and I will, but I need to first gush about Prince Maxon. I’m in love! Or in serious crush! He was simply put, an amazing character. Where you would expect a stuffy, snobbish Royal, you really got a down to earth, fun-loving guy that was trying to do the right thing for himself, his family and his subjects. His interactions with all of the girls was real and not contrived in the least. I believed everything about him and not once thought he was putting on a how for the cameras or the girls. He was so swoon worthy that I found myself wanting to be his princess! And his interaction with America made me like him even more! And America for that matter.

I feel like we got to know the real America through him and it made her endearing. When she was home she was always doing/thinking for someone else. But with Maxon she was finally thinking and feeling for herself. She was one of the least selfish people in the story and I admired that. I actually found myself rooting for her to open her eyes and see Maxon for the amazing creature he was.

On top of loving the characters I loved the story as a whole. Everything was paced out perfectly and the set-up for future books was there. I loved reading about Maxon and America’s time around the palace and her being his confidant. The fact that there was an added element of suspense with the rebel attacks just added to the whole story. And the use of a caste system really brought out that dystopian feel that I so love.

So basically I completely fell in love the Cass’ world and characters. The Selection is Cinderella meets The Bachelor in a world that was torn up by war and is still unsettled. Cass did an amazing job of drawing me in and keeping me there. Ignore the comparison to The Hunger Games and jump in. I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Like me you’ll be praying that 2013 gets here quickly so you can pick up The Elite and that the CW gets there act together so you can watch the TV show. 🙂

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Second Chance Sunday – Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Second Chance Sunday – Pandemonium by Lauren OliverPandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium #2
Published by HarperTeen
Published: February 28, 2012
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five-stars

The old life is dead. But the old Lena is dead too. I buried her. I left her beyond a fence, behind a wall of smoke and flame. In this electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller Delirium, Lauren Oliver sets Lena on a dangerous course that hurtles through the unregulated Wilds and into the heart of a growing resistance movement. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

Seldom is there a book that I am so excited for I run out to purchase it the day it’s released. And rarely does that book live up to my expectation. It is like that movie that people tell you over and over to see that gets built up in your head and then after you see it, total disappointment. It has happened to me before and it will happen again so I was worried about Pandemonium. Did I put too much stock into it? Would it be a “sophomore” slump sp to speak? With the amazingness of Delirium, it had pretty big shoes to fill. Well, Pandemonium filled those shoes and more! It was absolutely everything I wanted it to be and more! It hit all the points I was hoping for, had the growth in the character of Lena that I was looking for and yet left me aching for more, more, more. It did EXACTLY what the second part of this sure to be amazing trilogy was supposed to do; it left me wanting the final piece of the story.

Pandemonium starts off with Lena and where she is now. It has been months since she climbed the fence, months since she watched Alex get shot to save her and she is now part of the resistance. She is undercover in New York doing what she can to help save people from the procedure and to open their eyes like hers were. She has obviously been through a lot since we last saw her, and through a series of Then and Now chapters we get to see what Lena’s life is like now and what it was like when she was in the Wilds. As readers, we are taken on a journey of Lena learning how to fend forever herself and how to trust people she doesn’t know all while burying the emotions of the past and trying to forget Alex, Hana, and Grace. We learn how she got to where she is and what leaving everything behind has done to her.

Because the thing is, Lena Holoway is not the same girl we knew in Delirium. She is this new person that has to deal with that age old saying…“it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. Lena has loved. She loved with everything she could and then she lost it all and everything she knew in one split second. That love was taken from her and so was her right to choose and that changes a person. You see, there was no way for Lena to stay the same. Her eyes were opened by Alex and once that happened she couldn’t go back. Lena had to accept how things are and learn to adapt. The thing is in order to do that she has to push down a tiny piece of herself.

Really it was brilliantly done. The changes in Lena are so subtle but noticeable. She is no longer the girl that isn’t anything special. She isn’t the girl that is hiding behind her pretty best friend. She is the girl that Alex brought to light, that he taught to fight for her right to choose. She is braver and stronger and aware. She stands taller and swears and thinks things through instead of being told what to do. Like it says in Pandemonium, she was reborn the day she went over the fence and there is no past.

Honestly, the whole book was just magical. Right down to the page turning, cliffhanger of an ending. I knew Oliver was going to do it, leave us hanging on for more. I just knew it and yet I was sad, happy, annoyed and anxious when I got to the final page. I wanted to throw the book and laugh all at the same time. Instead, I just ended up smiling for a very very long time and I still can’t get the book out of my head. It has only been a couple of days since I read it and I’m already dreaming of a re-read. And that right there is a true testament to the power of her words and a book that will end up being timeless.

There is really a ton of things I can say about Pandemonium. I can go into a ton of details about what the Wilds were like for Lena, the people she encounters, the circumstances that are thrust upon her, and the connections she makes(whether romantic or not), but I just can’t. It would give away too much and you would miss out on a remarkable story. Just do yourself a favor. I know you may or may not know me, but trust me on this…pick up both books, Delirium and Pandemonium, if you haven’t already. In my heart of hearts, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

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