Friday, April 3, 2015

Jenn on Books: March Reads

March was one of the most fun reading months I've had in a while! You know the feeling when you find an exciting series to lose yourself in? Oh, how I missed it! Read on for my review of The Selection Series (which you NEED to read if you haven't already!), as well as a couple other stand alone reads I took down last month!


1. Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit
This book was a surprise - it wasn't at all what I thought it would be, and at first that was disappointing. It was, however, enlightening. This was a quick and informative read, which gave it some stars - but I had problems with it, too. There wasn't a high entertainment value. I think informative text can be written interestingly, and for most of this book, it wasn't. A sentence would start out in a way that piqued my interest, and would trail off into a complicated chain of words that were hard to follow. There just wasn't a good flow, and hypocritically - I felt like the author was doing a lot of "explaining things to me" to prove how much she really knew about these topics.

But, again, there were some startling facts and statistics that I wasn't aware of previously, and I'm glad that I'm no longer ignorant to them. I also see her point on what feminism does for humanity as a whole - something I hadn't considered before. (Though truthfully, had I known this book was a feminist manifesto I wouldn't have picked it up in the first place.) My favorite part was rooted more in the creativity and expression of humanity rather than feminism. Creative support is special point for me. This thought in particular stood out: "Ultimately the destruction of the Earth is due in part, perhaps in large part, to a failure of the imagination or to its eclipse by systems of accounting that can't count what matters. The revolt against this destruction is a revolt of the imagination, in favor of subtleties, of pleasures money can't buy and corporations can't command, of being producers rather than consumers of meaning, of the slow, the meandering, the digressive, the exploratory, the numinous, the uncertain." I love that so much! This isn't my cup of tea, but if you're into this sort of thing, I think you'll like what she has to say (even if the way she says it can be pretty dry). (3/5 Stars)

2. People I Want to Punch in the Throat
This book was hilarious, relateable, and fun. I flew through her stories with a feeling of sisterhood - a "YES, I would like to punch that person in the throat, too!" sisterhood. This is a must-read for Mamas with a sense of humor, particularly if you have kids in the beginning of grade school. This was a welcome, light read - loved it. (4/5 Stars)

3 - 5. The Selection Series by Kiera Cass
(The Selection , The Elite , The One )

I'm lumping these all together because I read them so fast, that I'm not totally sure I remember which details happened in which book - ha! And I will start by saying - YES! I loved this series, so, SO much. If I take a look at all of the YA series I have read - dystopian, romantic, good vs evil - whatever the theme, this takes up my #2 spot. (#1 being Twilight, because yes, I'm one of those Twilight fans and don't see how anyone can eclipse Edward Cullen (see what I did there? haha). Also, I'm not counting Harry Potter, here, because technically I don't think it's YA - is it?? - I think it's classified as children's lit. But moreso that I feel like it has a category all of its own, and nothing will ever touch it in a million years.)

So, what was so great about this? It's basically The Bachelor meets every dystopian novel in existence with a little pinch of romantic historical fiction, what's the big deal? The big deal is that a) despite it's bachelor-y theme, it is a dreamy, fun, rom-com situation and b) a dreamy prince. It's all very dreamy! I still have my qualms. Like the lead female character being presented as this hard, headstrong, "I will save the world" type that looks down on all her popular, go-with-the-flow peers, yet lacks the intelligence and confidence to allow herself to be happy and she sabotages her relationships every step of the way. That is tired. I forgive it this one time because - yes, please to Maxon - and also because Kiera Cass is one heck of a story teller. She is really fabulous at creating those goosebump, butterfly moments. She wraps you up so well in the excitement and emotion of moments that you don't even really notice her grammatical choices (something that I hone in on in most books), and that you're willing to roll your eyes and speed-read through the moments that the main character, America, is doing something stupid again so you can get to the next good part. I was sort of annoyed that in most chapters, America would actually get down to having a good conversation right as the pages were winding down, and the depth never came. It was a tease over and over again, and that got old. And book two felt like a big fluff of repeated, nonessential conflict for the sake of dragging this story into a trilogy. Aside from the panic room scene at the end of the book, it was a lot of useless stress. Book three, however, held some plot twists I actually didn't see coming, and I found myself staying "Ohhhh #*@!" about one moment in particular. Well done, Mrs. Cass!

At the end of the day? I couldn't stop thinking about the story, and really really missed Maxon & America when it was over. There is a 4th full book set to come out in about 4 weeks, but it focuses on the next generation. I'm excited, of course, but perhaps maybe not as excited as I would be if Maxon was going to be more than a passing mention. (The Selection: 5/5 Stars, The Elite: 3/5 Stars, The One: 4/5 Stars)

Extras:
The Selection Series Novellas: The Queen, The Prince, The Guard, The Epilogue
There were some companion novellas to this series that I read as they worked into the order of things. They were all really great - I love getting other perspectives of a story (a la Midnight Sun), but tied for first would probably be The Prince & The Epilogue. So good, so good.


Keep up with these and all of my other 2015 book goals on this post, HERE, and track them in real-time by being my friend on GoodReads!

Happy reading!



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