Friday, 17 May 2013

Book Reviews: The Elite by Kiera Cass, Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black & The Day I Met Suzie by Chris Higgins.




First off, can I just say that I’m BUMMED the CW decided to pass on The Selection AGAIN. What is it with YA dystopians and not making it to full show? The pretty dresses of The Selection would have more than made up for the Gossip Girl withdrawals I’ve been experiencing of late. (Okay, the last couple seasons of that show were totally lame, but for a while there, it was great!)

 The Selection (basically The Bachelor in a future setting and with a couple rebel attacks thrown into the mix) saw thirty-five girls battle it out to win the heart of the dash-licious (an arresting combination of dashing and delicious) Prince Maxon. In The Elite, we find that number whittled down to six from which Maxon must choose his bride and the future Queen of Illéa.  If I were you, I’d bet on our heroine, America Singer, winning that crown. Or maybe not. While Maxon has pretty much lost his heart to our girl, she’s not quite so sure about him. America’s first love Aspen is back on the scene, and – LOVE TRIANGLE ALERT- America doesn’t know who to choose.  While America dithers, (a lot!) Maxon realizes that maybe his hearts choice isn’t the right choice, and so he needs a back up plan. Luckily for him -  but not so great for America who is now totally losing both at the selection and in life- he has a bunch of other girls waiting in the wings.

Has America blown it for good, or can she re-claim Maxon’s heart in time to give this book a happy ending?

Just like its predecessor, The Elite is light, fluffy and total froufrou fun, but unlike The Selection, which suffered at times form a total lack of world-building, this one injects action in the form of increased rebel-attacks and a little Illéa history into the mix via a diary with some very dangerous-to-know secrets, promoting it from a simple guilty-pleasure to an all-round-absorbing read. 


 The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass.  Publisher: Harper Collins.  Released April 2013. Ages: 13+    Rating:  4 out of 5.   Source: Received from publisher for review.

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Gaining a place at the prestigious New York Ballet Academy is a dream come true for any aspiring ballet dancer. For Vanessa Adler, though, studying at the academy means more than the pursuit of a dream.  Years previously, Vanessa’s older sister Margaret vanished without a trace from the academy, and now Vanessa wants the truth. Did Margaret simply crack under the pressure of relentless rehearsals at the academy? Or is there a far more sinister explanation for her disappearance? Could it be that there are demons at play in the shadows of the dancers?

I had high hopes – high, high hopes – for Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black. That cover
reeled me in– there’s no doubt about it, and along with a great concept –a ballet school with demons- a highly effective publicity campaign and a press release that promised me I’d be hooked from the very first page, I was really looking forward to this one.  But…Yeah, there’s a but. In fact, there’s a whole lot of buts.

Dance of Shadows just didn’t work for me. I found this one to be a formulaic paranormal romance in every sense – the kind of book that sticks to the rules SO MUCH that I could only enjoy it if I hadn’t ever read a YA paranormal romance ever before.  Predictable to the point of being painful at times, this one contained very little in the way of surprises and less in the way of plot twists. Not if you’re Vanessa, though – to put it kindly, Vanessa is one of those heroines that’s, uh, a little slow on the uptake.  As for the rest of the characters – they didn’t really make an impression on me. Mostly, the cast is made up ‘friends of Vanessa’ who are not really integral to the plot at all.

And then there’s the love interest. Zeppelin.  Yeah, that’s his name – and as his name would suggest, he’s a total douche. Oh, and then there’s Justin, who I guess is meant to be a love interest, but who is just rude to Vanessa from the moment he meets her, so yeah, somebody should tell him that’s not going to work out for him.

Guys –Dance of Shadows is not awful, but it’s not very good either. It’s an okay read at times I guess (the ballet references and the ending are well executed), but there a lot of other books out there (maybe with not such pretty covers!) that are a whole lot better than this. 



Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black.  Publisher: Bloomsbury.  Released Feb. 2013. Ages: 12+    Rating:  3 out of 5.   Source: Received from publisher for review. 

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When well-meaning Indigo meets Suzie at college registration she makes a split-second decision that will change her life forever.  Noticing that Suzie is of no-fixed-abode Indie decides to take Suzie under her wing – with disastrous consequences. What Indie doesn’t know is that girls like Suzie are not to be trusted.  Because girls like Suzie will steal your  life. They’ll steal your soul.

Sinister and foreboding from the very first page, The Day I Met Suzie by Chris Higgins is an intricately plotted thriller that will keep you reading late into the night with its compelling characters and perfectly paced plot.  We learn of Indie’s dilemma through a late-night phone call to The Samaritans in which she details the problems that have entered her life since the day she met Suzie.

The character of Suzie sent shivers down my spine. Right from the start, I just knew she was trouble, but Indie who sees the best in everyone just doesn’t see the warning signs. Not when Suzie morphs into her twin (complete with similar wardrobe and hairstyle) and not when she gets a part-time job at the hair salon where Indie works. As Indie sees it – she’s happy to help.  Indie knows she has a good life – happy home life, good friends and a boyfriend who adores her, while Suzie has nothing – not even a place to live. That’ll change soon though – at least if Suzie has anything to do with it.

I haven’t seen a whole lot of reviews for this book just yet, but it’s one I’ll be recommending time at time again. It’s and engrossing and completely absorbing read from start to finish – and the truth about Suzie really surprised me! If you loved Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James –then you will enjoy The Day I Met Suzie. The storylines are completely different, but the books are similar too in that you know that something really bad is going to happen.

Because something bad always happens whenever girls like Suzie are around!


The Day I Met Suzie by Chris Higgins.  Publisher: Hodder.  Released March 2013. Ages: 12+    Rating:  4 out of 5.   Source: Received from publisher for review. 

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14 comments :

  1. Love ballet books, they are one of my (many!) guilty pleasures! Disappointed to hear DAnce of Shadows didn't deliver but that seems to be the general vibe of all those who read it. Pity :(

    BookishTrish @ Between the Lines

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  2. Vivienne (Serendipity Reviews)18 May 2013 at 06:30

    Nice to see you back! We are reviewing the Chris Higgins one too later today.

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  3. I so need to read The Elite soon! I need something quick and entertaining--and I loved the Selection!

    OH, Dance of Shadows. I think, with your review, I've decided once and for all not to read this one. Such a shame---another case of gorgeous cover hiding a sub-par story, I guess.


    Great reviews, Leanna!

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  4. You know I am so bummed about The Selection not being made into a TV show...I was definitely looking forward to that. So disappointed! Anyway, I am glad to hear The Elite is just as fun as book one. There's nothing better than a light, fun read during the summertime. I can't wait to read it. Dance of Shadows doesn't sound like a book I'd like based on your description. Thanks for being honest- I am going to skip that one. Great reviews, Leanna!

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  5. The Elite sounds really good! I actually quite enjoyed The Selection for the light, fun and fluffy read that it was, so I'm glad to hear this one was a great second installment. I'm not sure Dance of Shadows is for me, simply because I've yet to find a really solid ballet book - if you know of any, please don't hesitate to share ;) Great reviews, Leanna!

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  6. daisychainbooks20 May 2013 at 20:49

    Yeah, it was such a disappointment. I think it might be one that younger readers will like. Not me, though. I guess the more formulaic YA doesn't always work out for us older YA readers - or just those of us that have read a lot of paranormal YA!

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  7. daisychainbooks20 May 2013 at 20:49

    I really liked it! I always like books about strange and twisted girls. Um...

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  8. daisychainbooks20 May 2013 at 20:50

    The Elite is so much fun -- I can't wait to see how the series ends! :)

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  9. daisychainbooks20 May 2013 at 20:51

    Dance of Shadows was a disappointment. I was totally won over by that cover - I need to stop it with the cover love! I think The Selection would have made a fun TV show too, but it's not like we don't both have enough TV shows to keep us entertained already - I'm still behind on Revenge (2 episodes) and I'm so far behind on TVD.

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  10. daisychainbooks20 May 2013 at 20:52

    I will share with you if I find one! :) I loved the idea of Dance of Shadows, but it wasn't a good read for me. The Elite is good fun! :)

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  11. Jess Hearts Books21 May 2013 at 18:09

    I'm looking forward to reading The Elite, The Selection was so much fun! I'm also devastated that the TV show didn't get picked up, I was so after some dress porn!

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  12. daisychainbooks22 May 2013 at 17:22

    Me too, Jess! I was looking forward to a fun show! Oh well! :(

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  13. Tammy February22 May 2013 at 21:06

    Ooh, I love the sound of The Day I Met Suzie. It feels almost as if it has a Beautiful Malice kind of vibe to it. I'm so sorry you didn't enjoy Dance of Shadows though - but I so get what you're saying; books that are formulaic are just the absolute pits. I must admit to not having read The Selection yet, but her book covers have me drooling. Those dresses are too pretty for words. :)

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  14. daisychainbooks22 May 2013 at 21:23

    Suzie has a total Beautiful Malice vibe to it - I recommended it for BM fans in my review so it's one I think you'd love!

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