The Selection by Kiera Cass

selection_coverHave you ever wondered what it would be like if The Bachelor and The Hunger Games were intertwined? Well look no further, because Kiera Cass’s The Selection series delves into a dystopian universe, a reality set in America’s future, with 35 young women competing to win Prince Maxon’s heart.

This story is set in the nation that used to be the United States, and is now called Illéa, which was established after China took over the country following World War IV. The nation, specifically the royal palace, is currently undergoing rebel attacks fueled by the unfair caste system placed upon the people.

To lift the nation’s spirits and to honor tradition, the royal family hosts the Selection; where the king’s son, Prince Maxon, goes through the process of choosing a wife from the 35 selected women from all over Illéa. Participants get a boost in social status and access to luxurious palatial living until the Prince chooses his princess. To have a shot at royalty is a dream shared by all young women in Illéa. All except the tenacious America Singer. America, unlike her mother, is not too thrilled at being expected to throw herself at the, no doubt snobbish, prince.

Nevertheless, being chosen for the Selection is not only an honor, but provides generous financial compensation to the woman’s family. And with America’s family being level five out of eight in the caste system, they would greatly benefit from her selection.  As level fives, America’s family is dictated to work either as musicians and artists in order to make a living, which provides an unsteady income. To complicate the issue, America would be leaving behind her secret boyfriend of two years, Aspen. Aspen is level six in the caste, therefore America’s mother would hardly condone a marriage between the two, as it would convert America herself into a six, into a life of poverty.

Is Prince Maxon a self-absorbed snob like America believes he is? Will America end up a princess or marry Aspen despite the hardships they will face? Are all of America’s dresses at the palace as beautiful as the one on the cover? Well, I cant spoil everything! I can say, however, that although this series might seem like a cliché Young Adult novel, it has great characterization, a relatable flawed protagonist, and is an overall exciting read. So pick up a copy and you can get lost in the palace drama like I did!

-Ava K.

The Selection series by Kiera Cass is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download free from Overdrive and Hoopla.

Reeling Through the Roaring Twenties: A Bright Young Things Series Review

brightyoungthings_annagodbersenFLAPPERS, FRINGE DRESSES, JAZZ, AND DECADENCE!

The year is 1929. Eleven years have passed since the First World War. No longer is there any grief or sorrow among the former disillusioned youth. Instead, there is an air of decadence and desire among them.

New York, the cultural capital of the era, is ruled by the Bright Young Things. This new generation of young women chase their dreams, defying the traditional patriarchal society that once stifled their passions.

Cordelia Grey and Letty Larkspur, inspired by the culture of New York, escape their Midwestern town for the lights and ardour of New York City. However, the two girls leave much more behind than just their old homes. Ms. Grey, raised as an orphan by her authoritarian aunt, escapes from an untimely arranged marriage to find her infamously wealthy father, Dorian Grey. Ms. Larkspur, on the other hand, escapes her extremely religious family to become the next Broadway Babe.

All Cordelia wants is to be part of a wealthy, loving family, and all Letty wants is to see her name in flashing lights. However, the two girls soon find out that their positions are ones that many girls fight for-and will even kill for. The girls find themselves in a city much more glamorous, yet equally dangerous than they have ever dreamed of. Only with the help of the young flapper Astrid Donal do these girls finally assimilate into the rich culture of the metropolis. Raised differently than the other two girls, Ms. Donal seems to epitomize perfection–she is wealthy, beautiful, and her lover is Cordelia’s greedily rich brother, Charlie. Despite Astrid’s perfect life, she faces her own plights in New York. Together, the Bright Young Things endure through the harsh circumstances of the city.

Love, drama, illegal ventures, and decadent thrills soon become an everyday part of the girls’ lives.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Personal Notes from Reading The Bright Young Things Series by Anna Godberson:

  • The book is FULL of words to expand your vocabulary. A majority of the words are SAT-level words! (For reference, the SRI reading level of the books range from 1070-1250, which is a very high lexile range)
  • The book covers are to DIE FOR! Each book comes with a visual photograph of the character. Their style of clothing and their beauty astonishes me to this day. I never pass the Young Adult section of the library without picking one up and gazing at it
  • It saddens me that these books are so underrated! Everytime I check their availability statuses at the library, none of them are ever checked out. It’s not that they are unpopular books, it is just that they are overshadowed by Godberson’s more popular series, The Luxe. 
  • I encourage all teenagers and young adults to read these books. Not only do you get to expand your vocabulary, but you also get to learn about the Roaring Twenties. It goes well with The Great Gatsby (a novel that most high school honors and AP students are required to read!)

-Elaha N.

The Bright Young Things series of novels are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Made For You by Melissa Marr

madeforyou_melissamarrMade For You is a book that grabbed my attention right away and didn’t let it go until the end. It wasn’t necessarily the best book I’ve ever read, but it one was of the better ones in a while. This being said I really don’t know how to describe it. Its components are similar to a lot of teen books; romance with a hint of mystery. The thing that really garbed my attention though, was the darker nature of the plot. At the end of the second chapter the main character, Eva, has already had an attempt made on her life by someone know only as Judge. It was this chapter that really made me want to continue reading, his motivation for the murder attempt is what I found really intriguing, in fact his thoughts throughout the book were what I found most inserting. In my opinion Judge is easily the stronger character in the book, and my personal favorite, not because I was rooting for him to succeed but because I thought he was extremely well written and one of the more interesting characters out of a lot of books I’ve read.

But enough about Judge for now, it’s what happens after Eva walks up from his murder attempt that things start to get weird. Eva wakes in the hospital with the ability to see people’s death’s when the touch her. It is because I of this plot point that I have a hard time describing this book. This power, if you want to call it that, is very interesting and a driving force behind the plot. I thought it was very well thought out with limitations and other flaws that made it more believable. Except for one thing, we never really find out were the power came from. We find out it’s flaws and how it works, but not once is the source of the power mentioned.. As much as I loved this book, and I really did, this was a huge problem for me. I loved the story, and as mentioned early Judge’s character was very interesting, but I really feel like this was an attempt to add fantasy twist to what was other wise a book that bordered on realistic fiction that fell a little short of the goal. Honesty for a while I thought that maybe the whole thing was just in Eva’s head, or that maybe the hit and run had activated some kind of dormant magical ability, but at the end of the book I still didn’t have an answer.

Now this doesn’t mean that Made For You isn’t worth the read, I really think it is, I just think it has some flaws that should have been addressed. As a whole though the plot is very interesting, the characters and unique and three-dimensional with interesting motivates driving their actions, and a very interesting reveal at the end of the book pertaining to Judge’s identity, all of which make this a very solid read. One thing to keep in mind is since one of the driving points of the plot is an attempted murder their is some violence that may make younger readers uncomfortable, but high-school aged readers (and mature middle-school readers) probably won’t have a problem with it, as their are only a few short scenes. If you are looking for something that isn’t quite like anything else then I highly recommend giving Made For You a read.

Made For You is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.

Flyte by Angie Sage

flyte_angiesageThis sequel to the first book in the Septimus Heap series begins with a new foe that seems strangely familiar… ***SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FIRST BOOK***  Boy 412, or Septimus Heap, as Aunt Zelda helped him to discover, is living a normal life as Marcia’s apprentice, or as normal as a wizard can get. Then one day, on a day that Marcia gives him to spend as he likes, he decides to visit Jenna in the Palace. Then suddenly Simon Heap appears and kidnaps Jenna! And, nobody will believe Septimus that Simon has kidnapped Jenna, making it difficult for him to do anything. How will he be able to get Jenna back? What does Simon want with her? That, until you read the book, is a secret that only the readers know.

I loved Flyte just as much as I loved Magyk. The escapades of Septimus and Jenna always are able to make me laugh, and those of a new(ish) character too, Beetle. Beetle is a worker at the Manuscriptorium, a place where they keep books and other things. He became friends with Septimus after they discovered their common interest in Magyk. Beetle is a bit weird, but that’s another reason that I like him. And, he has more in store for him in the five books to come (currently available in the library).

New character aside, there’s lots of other things that I like about Flyte. It has a lot more Magyk than in the first book, a big plus for me. It also links a lot of new stuff back to the first book, like a hidden room in the castle that might have something to do with Aunt Zelda’s cottage (hint, hint). I would give this book a 10 out of 10 because it’s an awesome book and because Angie Sage did a great job of bringing her characters back for a brand new adventure.

Flyte is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library

Spintered by A. G. Howard

splintered_aghowardIt all started with the rabbit hole.

Of course, Alice falls down it and finds herself in the bizarre world of Wonderland. But what would happened if when she came back, something wasn’t the same?

Skip two centuries to Alyssa Gardner, the descendant of Alice Liddell and inspiration for Lewis Carroll. She just wants to live a normal life with school, artistic desires, and Jeb, a cute artist. But the curse of the Liddell family that causes their girls to go crazy (including her mom) and the strange power to hear the voices of plants and insects keeps Alyssa’s life anything but normal.

That’s when she gets a call from the boy of her dreams (literally) to help save Wonderland and fix everything her ancestor messed up. If she does, she’ll be from her family’s curse, and her mother could be saved. But Wonderland is not how it seems through Lewis Carroll’s innocent perspective.

This book, along with the other two of its series, is amazing. It’s full of humor, including the comical fights between the two edges of the love triangle Alyssa somehow gets sucked into, a sarcastic characters, and the events Alyssa has to face in Wonderland.

I actually didn’t personally like Alice in Wonderland. However, when I read this book, I liked it way better than the original. And for those of you who like horror, all I’m going to say is that one of the author’s inspirations was Tim Burton. Additionally, there are small details that lead to very interesting and well thought out plans, which made the book even cooler. And of course, the classic secret keeping, in which secrets blew my mind and were ones I didn’t figure out before. Finally, the author puts the classic story into her own words, with characters the reader will recognize by name and be intrigued with.

All in all, this is one book that should be read!

-Megan V.

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

greenglasshouse_katemilfordWinter vacation. An inn for criminals. Two maps.  One massive adventure. Milo and Meddy, together.  This story begins with a young boy named Milo, returning from his last day of school before Christmas break.  It has started to snow, and he has finished his homework so he can have some fun, but some strange things start to happen.  He and his family, the Pines, live and work at an inn called the Greenglass House.  For a long, long time, it has been the temporary home of several harmless thieves, smugglers, and other suspicious criminals.  Winter is a slow time for the hotel, and customers are rare near the holidays.  However, this year it’s different.  Just as Milo shuts his math book, he hears the distant ring of the bell.  He and his mother, Mrs. Pine, rush outside to see a man trudging up the snow covered front steps.  The man introduces himself, and throughout the course of the afternoon, so do ten other guests, as he is the first of many to stop by this night.  Eleven in total arrive at the Greenglass House, while Milo is thinking this could quite possibly be the worst Christmas vacation ever.  Milo was miserable until a certain girl named Meddy comes to stay as well.

After just one day, Meddy and Milo seem to become the best of friends. Milo shows Meddy a map he found suspiciously left in a rail car.  It is quite a unique map. The two aren’t sure what it is showing, but they believe it is some kind of waterway.  This creates a curiosity in young Meddy.  In her attempt to cheer Milo up, she has an idea for a fun game they could play together.  The basic objective is to find out what the map is and whether treasure exists.  And you have to play while adopting fake characters.  They decide Milo will be a blackjack, the leader, clever and athletic, while Meddy will be incognito.  Milo’s new name is Negret and Meddy’s, Sirin.

They begin their quest in the attic where they find materials such as clothes for Sirin and necessities for Negret.  The game gets pretty fun until one morning, some of the inn’s inhabitants wake up to find they have been robbed.  The two friends put aside the game to search for the missing items.  At this point in the book, I thought of the song, Smooth Criminal, by Michael Jackson.  The tune and lyrics struck me as the smooth criminal in the story left no leading clues from his theft.  As the storyline develops, things start to get intense, violent, and secrets are out in the open.  At this point, I’m questioning whether the situations will be resolved and whether I would be able to hum Happy by Pharell Williams by the last page.

This story twists and twists into a whole new plot.  It changed so much that I vaguely remembered the beginning!  Kudos to Kate Milford on Greenglass House.  This well-written and heartwarming novel deserves 10/10 stars.

-Maya S.

Greenglass House is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library

The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

daybefore_lisaschroederToday is different
For Amber,
Running away
To be alone.

She needs a day
For herself
That isn’t filled
With tears.
This is her last day

Of her before.

The day before it all changes.

Amber expected
To be alone
With her drumsticks,
Just because;
Her camera,
Just for fun;
And a box jelly beans,
Just like always.

She takes a limo
To the beach.
Today is not
About holding back.

She goes to the
Aquarium where
She meets
A boy
By the jellyfish tank.

They connect
Instantly
“Did you see that movie?” he asks,
And Amber knows
What he’s talking about.

They see the sharks
And the sea stars,
Not exchanging many words,
Not at first.

Cade, the boy,
Thought he
Was alone today, too,
But they decide to spend
Today together.

He has a condition for today,
Not to ask
Why the other is
At the beach, by themselves.

The have fun
Building sandcastle,
Climbing lighthouses,
Enjoying the day.

Both Amber and Cade
Are hiding a secret.

Tomorrow will
Never
Be the same again.

Cade.
Loves the ocean so much.
Writes songs everywhere he goes.
Lives today like its his last.

What secret is he hiding?

Cade told her
Not to ask.

Yet she wants
To know.

Written in verse
Amber’s day
Is told.

Th secrets
The style
The story.

It’s beautiful.

-Nicole G., 11th Grade

The Day Before is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Public Library.