The Selection Series by Kiera Cass is one that was really enjoyed by us!!! From beginning to end, it was a series we were so captivated by. Here are our thoughts on the series…
I was given these books as a birthday gift from my friend Amanda who highly recommended the series to me and told me to “embrace the cheese”.. Embrace the cheese I did!!! I have to say I really enjoyed this series from beginning to end – the storyline was so addictive and it was one of those series where I fell in love or absolutely loathed characters which is not usually a reaction I have to books!! When I have an emotional reaction to a book, I know it’s an epic story. The writing style is very easy to read and it’s so easy to get engrossed into the series so quickly. I called this a Dystopian Cinderella meets The Bachelor. With plot twists and gasping revelations, I highly recommend this series to fans of YA Fantasy Fiction and Dystopia.
I enjoyed ‘The Selection’ more than I thought I would. It was one of the books I was told over over again to read. When I finally did pick it up, went straight to the bottom of my TBR piles… I wasn’t planning on getting sucked into the story or even falling in love with some of the characters. But I did. Oh, I did. I’m off to find book two, which is in one of my many TBR piles.
Seriously. What’s with the cliffhanger? Couldn’t this book gone on longer? I really need a voodoo doll for the king. The king gives me the creeps. With how the book ended I’m going straight into the third book. Looks like I’m not going to get any sleep tonight.
I was not expecting to cry in this book. But I did a couple of times. After I cried the first time, I had to put the book down for a few days. Because I couldn’t (or did not l) believe what had just happened. The second time was happy tears. Well worth the time to read this book. I’m really looking forward to book 4 now.
The Selection series is just so addictively good. It’s The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games! When I first started reading I was thinking who would name their child America Singer? But after I finished the series, America Singer was not just a name but an icon (wait until you read The Heir and The Crown). Reading this book is like watching an addictive reality TV and with each chapter, you get closer to the fairytale ending. This series is so much fun to read, I was so sad when it ended! I feel that it’s one of those fun series that you won’t regret reading. I also want to take a moment to say the cover art is just amazing. The dresses are so beautiful that it inspired me to craft these miniature dress magnets/brooches (see below). Feel free to check out my Insta (@TheCurioBoutique) for more bookish crafts!
“I took a deep breath as my eyes lowered to the scars on her chest. “They are the battle wounds of a warrior who went to hell and kicked its ass. They are proof of how strong you are, and a reminder that you are alive!” – Losing Lola by Kirsty Dallas
Intense, captivating and romantic.
Losing Lola is an intense story of mental strength, healing and love overcoming the aftermath of sexual assault. The story has a lot of soul and romance which makes it a captivating read – did I mention that it’s also very sexy? It’s not for the faint-hearted and parts of Lola’s assault experience can be quite confronting. What I liked about this book is that even though Drew was a tough, quiet, military hottie who rescues Lola physically, it’s Lola who pulls herself from her own internal demons and fears. Also in a way, her femininity and vulnerability saved Drew from his past and his shadows. It’s realistic that Lola had a great support network called Mercy’s Angels (women’s shelter) to help her overcome her experience. I liked that the chapters alternate from Lola and Drew’s perspectives, their voices in the story are very different which I felt was well done. The story progresses at a fast pace, there’s a good portion of the story dedicated to Drew and Lola’s relationship development. The message at the end of the book which I thought is highly relevant says “Sexual assault is something you experience. It does not define you.” I recommend this for romance adult readers and those who enjoys a sexy read. This book can be read as a stand-alone!
EXCLUSIVE AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR KIRSTY DALLAS
So how does author Kirsty Dallas write such a compelling romance novel and how does she “stay classy, sassy, and a little bad assy”?
I continued the series as simply a way to highlight and bring attention to these sensitive and important topics.
1. As this is one of the first books I have read in the Mercy’s Angel’s series, could you tell us a bit more about the series and what inspired you to write them?
[KIRSTY] The entire Mercy’s Angels series revolves around violence against women, whether it be child abuse, domestic abuse, or sexual assault, each book follows the heartache, fear and healing a woman goes through when she’s been the victim of such an assault. Mercy’s Angels is a women’s shelter that plays an important role in the healing of each character. The first book in the series, Saving Ella, was written as a healing tool for myself. As a domestic abuse survivor, this was my way of expressing my own fears, healing and dreams. I continued the series as simply a way to highlight and bring attention to these sensitive and important topics. (The next book in this series will actually tackle the subject of the emotional and physical abuse of a man in a relationship, because it’s not just women who are victims of these crimes and I really want to explore and acknowledge that).
2. What are your top 3 tips on writing compelling characters?
[KIRSTY] Plausibility – your character needs to be three dimensional, with real flaws, fears and emotions. Write about characters who display human virtues, characters that readers can look up to and admire. Writing can be very much like acting, in the sense you need to beyour character, you need to think like they would, you need to put yourself outside your comfort zone and explore different emotions, and situations you may not have been in before.
3. Sexual assault can be a very difficult subject matter to explore, what was some of your challenges in writing this novel?
[KIRSTY] I spent a lot of time watching documentaries, and reading biography’s about survivors of sexual assault. This obviously took an emotional toll, spending so much time in the lives of women who had been so deeply scarred by their assault. I just wanted to reach out and hug each of these women, I wanted to make sure they knew their worth, their strength and their ability to overcome such an invasive trauma. Being made to feel so powerless, having something so personal taken from you by force, it’s terrifying, and eventually I had to try and put myself mentally in that situation to create Lola. Needless to say, it was a long and difficult six months of writing.
4. Can you tell us a little bit about your other works?
My current work in progress, Stupid Love (a comedy romance about Cameron Cupid, the child of Eros (God of Love), who in actual fact, hates love).
[KIRSTY] Outside of the Mercy’s Series, I have three standalone novels, Breeze Of Life (which is a road-trip adventure about a girl recovering from cancer), Violet Addiction (which is best friends to lovers romance and tackles drug addiction), and When Nothing Is All You’ve Got (A dystopian romance based in an underground prison). Decker’s Wood is my International Best Seller (a comedy romance about a porn star whose main attraction – his wood – stops performing), Bradley’s Whistle is a spin-off from Decker’s Wood (about a female porn star who escapes some bad press by fleeing to the UK) and my current work in progress, Stupid Love (a comedy romance about Cameron Cupid, the child of Eros (God of Love), who in actual fact, hates love).
5. If there is one message readers can take away from your debut novel, what are you hoping it would be?
[KIRSTY] Strength and survival, you can and therefore you will!
6. How did you come up with the characters for your story?
[KIRSTY] The characters for Losing Lola were developed over three of the Mercy’s books, playing minor roles until it was their time to shine. In Lola I wanted a woman who was flawed. She is socially awkward and has for a long time tackled OCD, but she’s also strong, and independent, and prior to her assault she was completely content with the woman she was. Drew is a man who has made more than his fair share of mistakes, he’s the big, silent and intimidating type. Drew and Lola were two characters who were so unlike, and yet it was these differences that made them work.
7. How did you complete your writing? Did you structure your day a certain way with a word target?
[KIRSTY] I have NEVER written with structure or word targets. For me, I can only write when the feeling is there. If the feeling isn’t there, I listen to music, meditate and read until inspiration hits me. I have found over the years that my writing can’t be forced. Since I’m an author who really enters my characters head space, if I’m not in the right frame of mind to do that, I don’t push it. My readers probably hate me for it because they wait longer for my books, but I will always be true to who I am as a writer. Forcing something that isn’t there will put the wrong words to paper.
8. When you’re not writing or reading, what would you be doing?
[KIRSTY] When I’m not writing, or reading, or plotting, I’m being the best mum I can be to my nine-year-old daughter. Guiding her through life, helping her become the incredible woman I know she will one day be is my number one priority.
9. As an author, what was the best piece of advice you were ever given?
[KIRSTY] The best advice I have been given, is “show it, don’t tell it”. This is something that sits in the back of my mind every time I sit down to write. I always try to make sure I’m showing the reader the world I see in my head. I want the movie real I see in my mind to be conveyed on paper in such a way that it gives the reader an incredible journey.
Thank you Kirsty for sharing your insights and for the opportunity to review your book. Please keep writing and we’re excited about your current work Stupid Love.
Inspired by Losing Lola, our BFF and creative partner The Curio Boutique has made a little thank you gift based off your book! We hope you will like it.
Book review by NJ and Author Exclusive Interview by NJ and Annie.
Captivating, Diverse, Thoughtful and Witty!
This is the YA Event of 2017!!!
The authors who contributed to this great YA anthology: Amie Kaufman, Will Kostakis, Alice Pung, Michael Pryor, Melissa Keil, Ellie Marney, Lili Wilkinson, Gabrielle Tozer, Danielle Binks and Jaclyn Moriarty.
My immediate thought after reading the anthology is that it’s possibly the most diverse anthology ever compiled. Well done Danielle Binks and the authors! This book is unmistakably Aussie, it contains captivating short stories that make your heart melt. This anthology does not shy away from real topics, it’s loads of fun to read and each story has a unique premise. Themes explored includes love, acceptance, family, politics and coming of age. This anthology covers all the glory of coming of age angst set in interesting settings like bus rides, space, Mars, time travel booths and even tunnels! I particularly enjoyed the relatable and concrete characters. You will find that some of the stories are written with the dry Aussie humour and wit, and some written with great thoughtfulness and consideration. I would love to see the stories become actual novels. This is a great read to get your hands on, it attests to why we love OZ YA novels! Each short story holds its own, with compelling writing and fantastic characters, it’s no doubt a great anthology. – NJ
This YA Anthology is a brilliant compilation of short stories written by fantastic Aussie YA authors that make you laugh, cry, cringe even ponder on some of the issues that are raised each story. To be honest, it really is difficult to choose a favourite as every story was fantastic in its own way – from the writing style, witty dialogue to even the plot or diverse themes represented. As this was an anthology, I decided to be different and not read this in chronological order. I read each story randomly and “tabbed off” each story until I finished (pictured below). I really enjoyed it as I would reward myself each night with a short story after work. It was easy to immerse myself in each one and also got closure at the end of each short story. Some stories I refused to read at night time (lol) some I could related to the character either due to personality or cultural background. This YA Anthology was such a great idea!! I really did love how unique and diverse the stories are and I highly recommend this to all YA fans. -Annie
Many thanks to Harper Collins Publishers for sending us a review copies in exchange for our honest reviews.
“If you don’t believe in the world, and if there is no love in it, then everything is phony.” – Murakami 1Q84
A mysterious, strange but intriguing read … 4 Stars!
Books 1-3 review:
When they say that Murakami writes profoundly complex novels, I think I’ve got a glimpse of this reading 1Q84. This was a long read and it has left me contemplating the meaning behind the story and how to decipher the various elements in the story like the Air Chrysalis, the Maza and Dohta, and the insistent NHK collector symbolism (just to name a few). It’s intriguing and unique compared to anything I’ve read before and leaves me wanting more explanations behind the story. It actually feels like you’re a part of the story and similarly to the characters, you end up having more questions than answers about the world of 1Q84. The writing is very matter of fact (like reading non-fiction) but strangely creative because of the world within a world, story within a story premise. I would say that reading this novel is like going on a strange roller coaster ride in the dark, you don’t know where it’s taking you, it’s intriguing enough for you to stay for the ride. I think this novel defies traditional categorisation; it can be seen as a dystopian sci-fi since it’s set in a parallel universe, and fantasy because the world has two moons with supernatural Little People coming out of a dead goat, a thriller because one of the main characters is an assassin and is getting hunted by a cult. There’s also a major romance angle… This book has so much going on, yet leaves very little explanation on why it happens, you must simply accept the story for what it is. The one thing that screams loud and clear however from the novel is the exploration of loneliness experienced by all the characters. I really felt for the characters because they live in such a lonely world, perhaps not so different to ours. There are a few nuggets of wisdom to be discovered in the story if you have the patience to read it. I recommend this book for curious readers who likes complex, thought-provoking and nuanced reads. This is not a read for the faint-hearted or for readers who likes a fast-paced plot.
Some other interesting quotes from the book:
“Unless you die once, you won’t be reborn.” Tengo confirmed. “But people face death while they’re still alive.”
“Where there is light, there must be shadow, and where there is shadow there must be light. There is no shadow without light and no light without shadow…It is as evil as we are positive… the more desperately we try to be good and wonderful and perfect, the more the Shadow descends to hell and becomes the devil. For it is just as sinful from the standpoint of nature and of truth to be above oneself as to be below oneself.”
“It was because they were two parts of a whole. He did not belong to her. And she did not belong to him. It was never about belonging to someone. It was about belonging together.” – The Rose & The Dagger
Book 2 of The Wrath and The Dawn – 4 stars!
Epic and a great ending to the love story of Shazi and Khalid. After reading The Wrath and The Dawn, I was really interested and excited to read the final book and see where it all leads. Without giving away any spoilers, all I can say is that the ending is filled with emotion, twists after twists and a captivating retelling of Arabian Nights. I enjoyed the plot, the sharp biting dialogue between the characters and the magic weaved throughout the story really shined through in this final book. Recommend if you have enjoyed the first book, like strong characters, magic, plot twists and thought-provoking dialogue.