I was busy in May, managing 8 books this month. I guess that makes up for the lack of reading in April. I had more downtime this month, which translated into reading more. This month was a mix of fiction and non fiction, paper, ebook, and audiobook. It was quite a change from a usual month.
The Siren – Keira Cass
So, this wasn’t the first book of the month for me, but rather, it came after The Elite. I guess I was in a Keira Cass mood this month. This book is… average. And average is probably pretty generous. It feels like a first book, and acts like one, which is a shame, because the idea is impressive.
In this book, the Ocean isn’t inanimate, but a create of her own. And she feeds on humans to survive. When she can’t get enough humans on her own, she uses her sirens to bring more people to their deaths. Kahlen, along with a cast of other sirens, are girls who should have drowned, but the Ocean took pity on them, and allowed them to survive, if they agree to give her 100 years. The catch? They have to be silent around humans, because even a giggle or a shriek makes humans want to drown themselves in the nearest water.
My problem with this book is is had so much potential, so very much. And it’s not capitalized on at all. Because Kahlen can’t speak around humans, the book is spent mostly in small recollections. It’s a few paragraphs describing her, and her siren sisters, living in Paris, playing on a beach, dancing with the locals, etc. It’s more like paragraphs someone would write in a letter than a story.
There’s also not much of her duties as a siren. I realize luring people to their deaths is an unpleasant job, but it’s only touched on a couple times, and the only time it’s done in much detail is to make an impact on Kahlen. What good is writing about a siren if you skip her job?
This book is okay, but not great. If you like Cass’s other books, you might not mind this one.
I picked this book up on a whim from Costco, I saw the second book was out, but not knowing if I’d like this one, I only grabbed this one. The best way I can describe this book is The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games, without the death.
The Selection in the book is the selection of a bride for Prince Maxon. One girl from each province is selected, and goes to live at the palace until Maxon decides to send her home. Hence, like the Bachelor. The closest bit to relate to The Hunger Games is the idea they’re chosen “at random” and can’t refuse.
This one isn’t bad, I liked it better than The Siren, and better than the follow up: The Elite. America just wants to be herself, which can be pretty abrasive at times. But, in keeping with traditional storytelling, that wins Maxon over. I wish Cass had given more attention to the little things though, like the fact America plays multiple instruments and sings. This could have been woven into the plot more, but it’s hardly mentioned, other than in passing.
This is an ok book, if you like Young Adult novels, give it a shot.
The best way I can describe this book is: ugh. No, really, UGH! I liked The Selection well enough, and I was curious to see how Maxon would whittle the girls down further. I should have known there was going to be a problem when Maxon narrowed it down to 6 girls at the end of book 1. I’d claim that’s a spoiler, but the book cover for The Elite points out there’s 6 left.
Ordinarily, The Selection process whittles the girls from 35 down to 10, who are called The Elite. These girls are trained in the sorts of things they will need to know if they become the chosen of Prince Maxon. Because the rebels are causing problems, Maxon narows the girls down to 6 instead of the normal 10, to put as few as possible in danger.
America, of course, is one of the six, and in addition to deciding if she likes Maxon, she has another problem. Aspen, who she loved so much at the beginning of the first book, but who spurned her, is now a palace guard, and he’s regretting telling America it’s over. So America must now spend the entire book waffling between Maxon and Aspen.
I’m tired of love triangles, and personally, I think Aspen is a douche. He’s self centered, and a jerk, and claims he cares about America, but he’s always getting her to sneak away and meet with him. If they’re caught together, it’s treason, but Aspen doesn’t care.
The entire book is Maxon narrowing down the six into four, and one is even done for him, so it’s a novel length book with about 1/3 as much going for it as the first book. There’s additional rebel attacks, but that’s not enough. Skip this, unless you read The Selection and can check out The Elite from the library.
The Hobbit; or, There and Back Again – JRR Tolkien
Changing gears, I audiobooked The Hobbit this month. I’d never read it, and after seeing the movie, I was curious to see how the book differed. And even though we’re only partway through the story in the movie, I can see it’s very different.
I know The Hobbit is a beloved story written by Tolkien, and many say he can do no wrong, but honestly? I only found it ok. I think there’s a lot that’s good about The Hobbit, and it’s an enjoyable tale, but I had 2 major problems with the book itself.
First, was the singing. I know, it’s a children’s book, but I am so glad that there were only two songs in the movie. Keep in mind I audiobooked this, so I got to hear Rob Inglis (of the original 1991 british audbook) sing EVERY SINGLE SONG. Dwarf songs, Hobbit songs, Elf Songs, you name it, he sang it. So I couldn’t skip them, and that’s annoying.
The second problem I have with the book is the last 2 hours. That’s roughly from when Smaug flies out of the cave to the end. I find it draws out, and I can’t figure out where the climax is. Is it the death of Smaug? The Arkenstone showing up for Thorin? The goblin battle? It’s just like one thing after another, but nothing is really given enough attention for me to go “This is it!” so I was a little disappointed.
I think that if this novel was written today, it probably wouldn’t have gotten published. Not because it’s a bad novel, but because it’s unlike how most stories are written today.
The Girl in 6E – Alessandra Torre
I was browsing my nook app on my phone, as my nook has taken off, and noticed this was a hot read. For $3.99, I figured it was worth a shot. This turned out to be surprisingly good.
Jessica is a cam girl, one of those girls with a webcam that charges per minute and does what the person on the other end of the connection says to do. She’s also a recluse, locked into her apartment from the outside at night, because she wants to kill people. Anyone, everyone, she’s not picky, but she has a strong urge to kill.
The guy down the hall has an addiction to painkillers, so she gets him a supply if he locks her in at night. The package delivery guy has learned to leave the boxes outside her door and fake her signature. She sees 2 psychiatrists, both over webcams, never in person. One of her favorite clients is a hacker. Jessica knows interesting people.
When a small girl goes missing, she thinks she knows who did it, and where to find the little girl. But to save the girl, she has to leave her apartment. Can she do it?
This is a good novel. There’s a lot less sex in it than you’d think, and apparently the author did her homework about cam girls, and what it takes to do it. So it’s a well researched book. Jessica is a complex character, with lots of problems. If you’re not disturbed by graphic sexual content, then read this book, it’s worth the $3.99.
Like always, I’m reading Abigail Barnette’s The Boss, the free serial you can download online. I think what I like about The Boss is that Sophie is a realized person with flaws, but she’s neither a blank slate nor a doormat.
In addition to that, there’s chemistry and an actual romance between Sophie and Neil. It started as kinky sex, but it’s morphed into more. And Neil isn’t controlling like Christian Grey is, and Sophie’s far more complex than Ana Steele.
This is a fairly small group swap, so you’ve probably heard me talk about The boss ad naseum, but I really do like this serial. And if you don’t mind explicit sex, this one’s worth checking out.
How to Be Invisible – JJ Luna
So I picked this up on a whim, after wandering through the writing section of my local Barnes & Noble. For some reason, the personal privacy section is write next to the writing section, and this book was on display, faced outward. I’ve always been interested in privacy, and how you can find people online, so I browsed through the book. Then, I checked out the ratings it got, and since it was rated fairly highly, I bought it and brought it home.
This is a fascinating book if you’ve ever wanted to be less visible. From how to get a ghost address that people can’t trace, to how to disappear off the Internet, and keep your medical records private, this book has it all. I won’t claim that Luna’s crazy, because I don’t think he is, but he’s definitely very, very careful. If you’ve ever wanted to hide, even a little bit, I’d recommend going to the local bookstore and skimming the book for 20 minutes.
Writing Irresistible Kidlit – Mary Kole
If you’ve read my reading lists before, then you won’t be surprised at me reading another writing book. I read a lot of these, and since my interest is in young adult novels, I thought I’d take a crack at this one one.
What I like about it is Mary Kole was an editor before she was a writer. So she knows what it’s like to receive manuscripts, and have to sort through them to see if they’re worth reading. She knows what characters are more interesting to their audience, and so it’s a valuable peek into that world. What I also love is she’s used quotes and information from editors and writers of kidlit, so you know what the editors want, and what writers say not to do. It’s pretty safe to say we know the world doesn’t need another Twilight, but it’s nice to see it spelled out that we REALLY don’t need more manuscripts like that.