Wednesday – Quoteday #9

Time for another bookish quote! Every once in a while I like to shake things up a bit. I already posted some poems and a few quotes, but today I wanted to do something different. I love Pinterest and there are so many beautiful pins with quotes on them that I’ve decided to share one of these pins today.

folded between the pages

Beautiful, isn’t it? And it describes me perfectly :).

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Princess finds love and a personality

When I finished reading The Heir yesterday I was reluctant to read the last book in the Selection series. I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to continue reading when the previous book was so lacking both in plot and character development, but eventually I decided to at least give the last book a chance. And I’m kind of glad I did because I liked The Crown better than The Heir. Before I delve into this let me first give you a short description about what this book is about.

When Eadlyn became the first princess of Illéa to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. She spent the first few weeks of the competition counting down the days until she could send them all home. But as events at the palace force Eadlyn even further into the spotlight, she realizes that she might not be content remaining alone.

Eadlyn still isn’t sure she’ll find the fairytale ending her parents did twenty years ago. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and soon Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more impossible—and more important—than she ever imagined.

the crown

If you have read my review of The Heir you know I had some problems with Eadlyn’s character. Luckily, her selfishness and whining are reduced to a minimum in this book and Eadlyn seems to have grown up almost overnight. The scare she got from what happened to her mother and seeing her father so desperate has made her realise that there are more important things than her freedom of choice and her independence. Seeing her family in disarray and despair teaches her that love is one of the most important things in the world. Not just love for her family, but also love for her kingdom, her subjects and all the boys that have come to the palace to win her hand and have done nothing but been friends to her. Finally we see a princess that cares! Because of this The Crown instantly became a much better read than The Heir.

The improvement in Eadlyn’s attitude is not enough to save this series however. This last book seems incredibly rushed. In the beginning of the book Eadlyn sends almost all the remaining boys home because of the condition of the queen, only six of them remain. I can understand that this is a sound decision, but it nevertheless comes across as a simple trick by the author to get rid of some characters. This sense of ‘taking the easy way out’ gets enhanced by the fact that two of the six remaining boys turn out to be gay and in love with each other. This wouldn’t have come as such a big surprise if the author had done some foreshadowing but the way it is written it’s as if the author just came up with it to ditch two more characters. I did suspect that one of the boys didn’t like girls because of a deal he tried to close with Eadlyn, but the other boy didn’t come across as not being interested in a real relationship with Eadlyn. Another one of the boys admits to Eadlyn that he hasn’t got romantic feelings for her and that he sees her more as a friend of sorts. Again an easy way out.

To throw in some tension a new character is added. A young man who is out to steal the crown but who pretends to be a friend for Eadlyn in these hard times. This author trick falls a bit short because every reader can see the evil twist coming from a mile away, even though Eadlyn seems to be too daft to suspect that her new ally is in fact an enemy. It would have been far more interesting if the author had used the troubles in the kingdom to her advantage to create some real tension, but this is where this series fall short. The unrest in the kingdom is mentioned a couple of times throughout the books, but we never ‘see’ it!!! If an author tells me that revolution is about to break out I want to read about flags being set ablaze, about armed protests on the street, about palace officials being attacked. And I could go on and on. My point, however, is that revolutions and revolts are preceded by small events that escalate over time. It’s not enough to just tell the reader that people hate the monarchy and that they are starting to revolt. Without some form of proof for the reader the writing falls short and fails to impress.

Then the romance… Cass’s books thrive on romance and romantic suspense. That’s what made the Selection trilogy enjoyable to read. However, the love in this two book series wasn’t really well-developed. In The Heir Eadlyn was afraid to love, leading her to keep her distance from everybody. In The Crown Eadlyn does a 180 degree turn and is suddenly madly in love with Erik, the translator for one of the boys from the selection and thus not one of the participants she can choose from. At the same time she begins to care for all the remaining boys from her selection. While I do think the feelings between Eadlyn and Erik were sweet and true, this relationship was also rushed. Within the span of some 50 pages Erik and Eadlyn transform from two people who have shared two short conversations and some innocent but sweet moments to soulmates who share a love that was fated…

I enjoyed this book better than The Heir because of Eadlyn’s changed personality and Erik and their love. However for me the tension fell flat and there were too many holes in the plot and easy tricks by the author to solve problems she created herself in the first book. It was a nice read, but certainly not great. I would not recommend this spin-off to most readers unless you enjoy a simple book without much depth and without worldbuilding or sound character development. Every now and then easy books like these are enjoyable, but I like stories that are more developed than these two books were.

Childish and arrogant princess tries to light her kingdom on fire before her subjects can do it for her…

When I first read the Selection trilogy I was pleasantly surprised by these books. They were romantic, the writing was sweet and fresh, the main characters were sympathetic and the events were fun to follow. It was as if I was watching a real-life show about a prince looking for his princess. When I heard the trilogy would get a two book sequel serie about the daughter of the two main characters I was really curious if the writing would sweep me of my feet yet again. Unfortunately the fourth book in the Selection series failed to convince me. Before I tell you why, I will first tell you what this book is about (for those of you who don’t know the series).

Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she’d put off marriage for as long as possible.

But a princess’s life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can’t escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests.

Eadlyn doesn’t expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn’s heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she’s always thought. 

prinses

The first three books ended with Maxon and America getting married and abolishing the caste system that divided the people of Illea into different classes with different rights and privileges. In this fourth book the people are starting to rebel against the monarchy because the promise of equal rights and opportunities that the abolishing of the caste system entailed, wasn’t upheld. Poverty, discrimination on class grounds and general unhappiness are abounding in the kingdom. King Maxon has no idea how to counteract the dissatisfaction amongst his subjects, but to win some time he decides to use his daughter as distraction. She will have her own selection where 35 boys will compete with each other to win her affection.

In my opinion this is a rather unlogical solution. Imagine that you are the ruler of a kingdom where loads of people have no home, no food on the table and little hope of improving their circumstances. Now imagine that these people are starting to show signs of mounting a revolt. In short, your country is a bit of a powderkeg just waiting for someone to strike a match. What would be the first thing you would do to appease your people? I’m betting it is not hosting a reality show where a spoiled princess holds parties to win the hand of a boy. Especially not since everyone can now see how much food you, the king, have on your table , how much money you can spend, and how selfish and arrogant your heir is.That’s like lighting the match under the keg yourself (with you the king on top of it). IT MAKES NO SENSE.

If we overlook this illogical (read: political suicide) policy and pretend that holding a selection to appease the people is a sound decision than you can assume that the princess, who loves her parents dearly and has a great sense of responsibility ahum, will do everything in her power to help keep her kingdom stable and her people happy. Yeah, keep dreaming. Eadlyn doesn’t give a shit about anybody else. She wallows in self-pity, tries to sabotage the selection at every turn and acts like an arrogant, spoiled bitch the entire time. Don’t get me wrong. I get that she is pissed that her parents force her to participate in a ritual that requires her to choose a husband out of 35 complete strangers. Anger I get, but her constant whining and the way she treats everybody around her, including the people she supposedly loves the most, I really don’t get. Especially since she agrees with her father that the people need a distraction and makes him promise that she doesn’t have to marry anybody if she really can’t find a boy to fall in love with. She has literally nothing to lose. If the selection doesn’t work out she kept her people at peace, and if it does work out she will have a man she loves to help her rule her subjects. So, why the attitude? Because Eadlyn doesn’t like to be told what to do. Because Eadlyn doesn’t like to be vulnerable. Guess what? No-one likes to do things they don’t want to do but life isn’t always nice and pretty and often we have to do things we really, really don’t want to do. This is no less true for a cleaner, a baker or a clerk than it is for a princess.

Besides her many characterflaws Eadlyn also behaves like she’s 12 instead of almost 18 years old. Usually 18-year-olds don’t run around crying over every little setback, all the while complaining about everything and everyone. Eadlyn seems to have stood in the back of the room when the Personality-Fairy bestowed all the kids with some redeeming character traits, because she seems to have none…

At times the writing is really over dramatic. Like when one of the boys looks at Eadlyn in a certain way and he touches her without her permission. The event is written as if the poor girl is viciously attacked or raped or something. The dude touched her arm for Pete’s sake! Because of this he is knocked out cold and thrown out of the palace… Talking about adding fuel to the fire of the people who think the monarchy is made up of spoiled, uncaring royals… Another of these melodramatic instances is when one of the boys gets mad at another boy because of some stupid cooking contest that wasn’t fair according to him. The boys slap each other a little and push each other around. But Eadlyn is in the same room and she’s really scared of these savage beasts of boys and when she gets knocked to the ground (or trips over her own feet or something) her fragile emotions can’t handle the stress anymore. She runs to her room and starts weeping because she is so scared!!! Because with three brothers and a palace full of guards she never ever saw someone fight in her whole life… Because everyone she knows is really prim and proper… PUHLEASE.

Near the ending of the book Eadlyn finally seems to understand that she’s not the most important person in the world and that not everything revolves around her. It only takes her twinbrother leaving and giving her a letter and a dramatic event involving her mother to open her eyes and start her slow brain to grasp that maybe, just maybe, her people and kingdom are more important than her own pity-party.

I’m really hoping that book 5 will make up for some of the annoyingness of this book. Hopefully, Eadlyn will grow up a bit and act like the damn future queen she’s supposed to be.

Every cloud has a silver lining

Time to post my second review of the day! Last month I read a couple of Nora Roberts novels that my mom bought but I didn’t have the chance to read yet because of the amount of reading I had to do for school. So when I finally had vacation I took the opportunity to catch up on my Nora Roberts reading :). The book I will be reviewing today is The Liar (Terug naar huis in Dutch). Here’s what this book is about.

Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions …
 
The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.
 
Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows—and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning …

terug naar huis

Just like all Nora Roberts novels this one has realistic and well-developed characters. Shelby is a young mom, just 23 years old, but her experiences have made her far older than she is. Her husband Richard might not have abused her physically but he made sure that she lost her confidence, her family and her friends. He kept her isolated and kept her down with words. Now, Shelby has turned from a fun-loving, scared-of-nothing, outgoing girl into a sad and disillusioned young woman. The only light in Shelby’s life is her 3-year-old daughter Callie. Despite everything she knows she at least raised her daughter right.

When Richard dies Shelby’s life crumbles down around her. The mansion she’s living in is heavily mortgaged and the bank is about to foreclose on the property, Richard has taken out several creditcards on both their names and all are maxed out, but even worse is the fact that a private investigator turns up accusing Shelby’s husband of a multiple-million-dollar jewelry heist. Shelby has no choice but to sell everything she owns, including her clothes and jewelry (some of which turns out to be stolen) and try to pay as much debts as possible. Allthough she has no idea how she’s supposed to come up with several million dollars to pay all the creditcardcompanies and the bank off. When Shelby clears out Richard’s things she discovers a key. A key that opens a safe-deposit box containing a great wallop of cash, a gun and multiple fake ID’s all with Richard’s photo but with different names leading her to question: Who on Earth did I marry?

Eventually Shelby is able to move with her daughter to Rendezvous Ridge, the small mountaintown in Tennessee where she grew up. There, in the loving embrace of her family, she can begin to heal and try to close this horrible chapter of her life. But some pages can’t be turned before they are read entirely…

Griffin is a handyman who moved from the big city to Rendezvous Ridge with his businesspartner. Together they can fix about anything. Griff likes to work with his hands and dreams of restoring the old mansion he bought to its former glory. He is down-to-earth, funny, romantic and a solid rock. The first time he lays eyes on Shelby he is sold. The young, sad woman with her sweet, little daughter wiggle their way into his heart and he will do anything to make Shelby smile again and give them everything they deserve. He only has to convince this disillusioned woman that he is a man who can be trusted.

The romance between these two characters is really well-developed and super sweet. The way Griff charms not only Shelby and her daughter, but also Shelby’s mom and grandmom is really funny and beautiful. Obstacle to the developing feelings between them is Richard’s past that comes to haunt Shelby. Because Richard didn’t work alone and now his partners-in-crime are looking for the money and jewels he not only stole from their victims but also from his partners. And maybe, just maybe Richard’s cons are not yet over…

The suspense is very good in this book. From the start you get the feeling that something is not quite right about Richard and his partners and slowly but surely everything gets revealed (don’t worry I won’t betray these revelations 😉 ). Once you start reading you won’t want to put the book down, wanting to find out if Shelby and Griff will end up together and who Richard really was. This is one of those Nora Roberts you will want to read and reread because it’s just that good. In short: this is a must-read!

Love heals the scars within

Today I’m going to continue posting the promised reviews of the books I read in July. I’m a bit behind on schedule and I hope you will forgive me for the delay in posting reviews and covers. One of the beautiful books I read was Stay with me by Jennifer L. Armentrout (written under her pseudonym J. Lynn). I absolutely love Jennifer’s writing style and own almost all of her books (and I’m saving to buy the few that I miss 😉 ). Let me first tell you what the book’s about and then I will tell you why this book is so, so good!

Calla Fritz is used to hiding. Hiding the scar that she believes mars her beautiful face. Hiding her past and her family secrets from her new college friends.

But when her mother clears out her bank account and disappears, Calla is forced to return home and face up to a life she’d rather forget about. What she didn’t count on was meeting the one guy who seems to be able to see past her defences. Jackson ‘Jax’ James is like no-one else – and Calla can’t quite hide her feelings for a man who knows that beauty is more than skin deep.

But with some dangerous characters looking for her mother – men who are perfectly happy to punish Calla for her mother’s sins if she doesn’t turn up soon – Calla and Jax have more troubling things to think about than the searing heat between them…

stay with me

This book was such an emotional read. You can’t help but feel for Calla and swoon for Jax. Calla is one of those characters that will have you rooting for her from start to finish. Life has been hard on this sweet and courageous girl. A single fire managed to destroy her entire family. Her two younger brothers died, her father packed-up and left without looking back, and her mom became an addict and alcoholic to deal with all the pain. Calla herself spend most of her time as a kid in a hospital recovering from the burns and has to deal with the scars that remain on her body as well as her soul. Added to that is the fact that her mother has changed into an irresponsible and selfish woman who forgets to pay the bills and take care of her daughter. Now, Calla’s gotten away from all that and is trying to make something of her life by studying to become a nurse. She knows her life isn’t all that great. Boys seem to only see the scar on her face and she’s afraid to open up to her friends about her past, but at least she has a roof over her head, a place to call her own and a future to look forward too. However, when summerbreak is approaching and Calla has to deal with the college payment for next year, she discovers something horrific. The money she’s been saving for college has been cleared out of her account, along with the little money she had to pay her regular bills and food. Without that money she will lose everything. When she learns that her own mother was the one that stole her money she decides to go back home and demand back everything her mother took. This simple plan goes seriously awry when her mom turns out to have disappeared without a trace. The only things that are left is the house she grew up in and Mona’s, the bar that her parents bought when everything was still perfect but that was neglected in the years following the tragedy.

This is where Jax comes in. Jackson is the bartender at Mona’s and knows everything about Calla and her mother. He also knows some things Calla doesn’t, like the fact that Calla’s mom is in big trouble -trouble that will affect Calla if he doesn’t get this shy and innocent girl to leave right now – or the fact that the house Calla grew up in has turned into a place where dangerous junkies and a ruthless drugdealer are common visitors. He knows he has to get rid of her for her own sake but he can’t bring himself to hurt this brave but fragile soul. So, instead, he vows to watch over her, yet at the same time nudge her in the direction of the town’s border. What Jax didn’t count on was the stubborn willpower and strength of Calla or the feelings he’s been secretly having for her for a long time. Because even though Calla hasn’t met Jax before she bumps into him at Mona’s, Jax has known about Calla for a long time and has been keeping an eye on her just as long. Besides, Jax sees the scars on Calla’s body as a token of her strength not as something ugly. How could he when he himself has his own scars to deal with. Scars that remind him of the war he has fought in and the brothers he has lost in combat. He will do everything in his power to protect Calla from harm and show her how beautiful she is.

The romance between these two characters is so realistic and beautiful that you can’t help but turn the pages to see if they will give in to their feelings, if  they can overcome all obstacles and if they will have their happily ever after. Besides the romance and the awesome characters this book has a lot of suspense due to the problems that Calla’s mom left behind when she skipped town. Problems that involve a dangerous drugdealer that will stop at nothing to get back what Calla’s mom stole from him. This book is an absolute must-read that belongs in every romance-and-suspense-lover’s bookcase.