Welcome to The Spoiler Alert!

Friday, October 21, 2016

We Are The Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson review

     I'm definitely in the minority on this one since it has a 4.3 out of 5 rating on Goodreads. I would only give it about a 2 out of 5.  I don't have a legitimate reason to be honest, the writing was excellent.  I guess it's just that I hate things feeling like they are incomplete, and this ending definitely felt incomplete to me.  Were they real or not?
     I can't say anymore about it without giving too much away, and I still haven't figured out how to add a spoiler insert on here (sorry, I can make a blog but damned if I know how to use it lol), so I hope that doesn't give too much away with just that statement.
    I get it, I'm supposed to reflect on the ending and be all like "oh, it doesn't matter, this was a story of him surviving and realizing that no matter what everything was going to be okay blah blah blah".  No! no freaking way! that is not closure to me! I don't give a hoot about him having a personal revelation, I just wanna know if the world ended or not!
     I'm sure I'm not the only person that feels this way either.  When I first picked the book up, the summary really made me think this was an apocalyptic type book and I know others had to see it that way too, so I can't be the only one that's pissed, right? RIGHT? Or maybe I am since it has such good ratings.
     I do have to give the book credit just for the fact that I actually finished it.  I've been in such a reading slump lately and haven't been able to find anything that appealed to me enough to finish it in a while.  Like I said, the writing will keep you hooked as it's definitely written like "real life" instead of the usual cliche scenarios, but this time that just isn't enough for me.  Pick it up at the library if you get the chance, or buy it if you're just expecting a book about a coming of age story, but don't say I didn't warn you if you get it because you think it's just about aliens and the end of the world.....

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Girl with all the Gifts by MR Carey review

 I had a friend convince me to read this one. Well, not exactly.  The truth is, I remember her stating a few times over while we were playing video games and talking about new books we read that she had mentioned this title a few times and my thought was "hmm, that's a neat name for a book", but I was so into killing whatever alien we were fighting in the game that I was only half listening to her and had forgotten the title within 5 seconds.
     Fast forward to just a couple months ago and she sends me a link to a movie that's about to come out and I watch the trailer and immediately become obsessed with figuring out what is happening because it leaves a whole heck of a lot to interpretation but all I see is zombie children and I'm like hell yes that's amazing.
     I ask her the book title and she kinda sighs and tells me I don't listen and then lets me know it's called "The Girl With All The Gifts".  I'm just like, "hmm, that's a neat name for a book".  (That remark was met with silence btw.)
     So I get my fiance to go to the bookstore and pick it up for me, which is an ordeal and a half in itself because he has no idea where it's at in the store and when he asks me which section it's in I'm just like, "probably horror....or maybe fiction....or maybe YA....not quite sure, just ask the people at the front where the book about the zombie kids is at." He wasn't happy.  The last books he read were the Harry Potter series (meaning he doesn't exactly read too often) so he's not quite as thrilled about going to bookstores and sniffing the books as I am and just wanted to get out of there.
     Anyway, so I get the book and the next few days are just an absolute thrill ride.  It's awesome, there's lots of action in the book, I'm reading it every spare moment I get......and then I get to the end. My brain goes into overload: "WTF just happened?  Did she really just do that? But she was good!? No, I guess she wasn't good? But then if she wasn't good then who should I have been rooting for?  I don't like this!! Well, maybe she still is good cuz she's the only one who thinks about saving the world??"
     So the long and short of it is this:  the book was amazing but you're either going to love or hate the ending.  Even though it wasn't anything like the ending of "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy, for some reason I get that vibe from it because I know people who don't do well with reading about bad things happening to kids and both of these books have that really dark un-kid-friendly tone to them.  You'll have to be the judge of that.  Right now I'm going to stop thinking about who has the correct morals in that book and instead just try to figure out what a country full of spore clouds might look like.  For some reason I picture them as tiny atomic bomb mushroom clouds like this:
Anyone else? No, it's just me? Well, alrighty then......

Thursday, June 16, 2016

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson review


   I decided on a whim to read this and since it was so short I finished quickly in order to get back to the other books on my list, but I just wanted to give my thoughts on it since it did differ so much from what I was expecting.
     The movie adaptation of this with Will Smith in it has always been one of my favorites, and having never read the book I expected it to follow pretty closely.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  The dog is only in the book for like two chapters! The ending is completely different too, and although I think Will Smith gave an excellent portrayal of living as who he thought was the last man on Earth, it wasn't a portrayal of THIS particular character.
     I perceived from the movie that the creatures were zombies with more human intelligence than is normally seen in zombie movies, but in the book they are vampires.  Full on vampires.  Human intelligence just as they had when alive except on the crazy side of the spectrum.
     I know I make it seem like I didn't like the story, but I really did.  I thought the ending was even better than that of the movie and I wish someone would make an adaptation that really stuck to the book.  It's not a happy ending by any means, but the revelation of it is thought provoking and makes you realize why the title is what it is.
     It only takes a short time to read, so if you're a fan of the human psyche, apocalyptic tales, and vampires I think it's well worth your time.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Morning Star by Pierce Brown review

     I haven't had a book affect me like this in a very long time, probably not since the last book of The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, and I can't even remember the last time I ugly cried before this one  over a fictional character (you know, the whole silently gasping for air kind of cry that makes you have the facial expressions of someone who's eaten way too much Taco Bell the day before).
     I can't even begin to fathom how Mr. Brown came up with all the twists and turns in this book.  Most of the time I'm pretty good at guessing which twists could possibly come up but I had to re-read pages quite a few times in this one, not because I wasn't paying attention as I was fully engrossed, but because I was like "Wait a minute, what the heck just happened?".
     I can't say enough good things about this series, and it deserves all the attention it's been given on different book sites plus so much more.  I have to say that this one may have replaced Daughter of Smoke and Bone for me as my favorite series after the ending I just read.  I love it!!!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Homeland by RA Salvatore review


     Ok, so I get it now. I completely get it. I've heard the name RA Salvatore since I don't know when, but I never ready any of the books until now, and I am officially obsessed. My friend recommended that I start with Homeland since it gives you Drizzt's story from birth even though the other books were written first and I'm glad she told me that since this really felt like a beginning to an epic story. I loved it so much that I can't even process what's going through my head. Dark elves are so EVIL! No more playing a dark elf in Elder Scrolls for me! I kind of guessed where the story was going but the writing is so good that I was fully engrossed to the end. If you like anything fantasy related, just read it. You won't regret it!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Glass Sword (Book 2 of the Red Queen series) by Victoria Aveyard

      Leaving off exactly where book 1 ended, Mare, Kilorn, Shade, Farley, and Cal are on the Undertrain headed to Naercy, the supposedly irradiated city (it's not but the Scarlet Guard have tech that makes it seem that way to keep the Silvers out) that The Scarlet Guard have been hiding in.
     Shade tells Mare not to worry, that Farley had the city evacuated when she had heard of Mare's and Maven's capture since she was afraid they would talk.  Cal is trying to convince Farley not to go there as he knows Maven will send fighter planes (called SnapDragons) and armies to capture them since he knows the location.  Farley just tells them not to worry and Mare knows she has a plan.
     When they arrive at the now deserted city they are soon greeted by Maven's army.  They all scatter and Mare manages to use her electricity to bring down one of the jets so that they can get a lead against the Silvers, who are using Red slaves as a human shield in front of them so that the Scarlet Guard won't shoot them.
     Cal breaks his bindings to help Mare when she gets cornered by Maven and Farley tells them to jump from the cliff behind them into the water.  Mare does what she says and realizes going to the city was a ruse to throw Maven off the trail of where they were actually headed when she sees that they are escaping in a submarine.
     They end up on an island that is little known to the Silvers but turns out to have a huge Scarlet Guard base on it.  Cal is taken into custody by the Scarlet Guard Colonel for questioning as no one trusts him since he's Silver, and Mare is sent to stay with her family in one of the barracks for the time being.
     Mare finds out that Farley has been stripped of her rank (because of the failure they had in trusting Maven) when the Colonel comes to the hospital where Farley and Shade are recuperating from their injuries and he belittles Farley in front of them and calls her by her real name, Diana.
     Mare tries to convince the Colonel that they need to go find the other "newbloods", the Reds like her who have powers, because they can start an army that may actually be able to defeat the Silvers if they have their help, and also that they need to find them to save them because Maven knows who they are now too since she trusted him and he won't allow them to live, not just because they are powerful and could help the Scarlet Guard, but because if the other Silvers find out that Mare is actually Red and there are other Reds with powers too, it will destabilize the slight hold he has on the throne due to the lie that he and Elara weaved by saying Mare was Silver but a traitor and that Cal killed the king.
     The Colonel refuses to try to find the others, saying that since the information was from Julian that it might not be true, and not only that, it would take years they don't have to train the newbloods if they could even convince them to join at all.
     Mare wants to see Cal to make sure he's okay, so since Farley is pissed anyways she agrees to help her and gives Mare the key to Cal's cell and tells her how to get to the Colonel's quarters and that Cal's cell is not far beyond that.
     Kilorn agrees to help Mare get there, and when they do, they realize from the family painting on the wall that Farley is the Colonel's daughter. They hear footsteps coming and everything happens in a rush.  Kilorn pushes Mare into the cell with Cal, Cal tries to fight his way out but he has no power because the cell is made of Silent Stone which mutes Silvers, the Colonel and his guards appear, and Kilorn locks Mare and Cal in the cell. Kilorn mouths that he's sorry to her and her heart breaks knowing that he betrayed her plans to the Colonel so that the Colonel would have an excuse to lock her up like he wanted to to begin with since he didn't trust her.
     After a few days, the Colonel comes back with a bunch of guards who are holding Farley against her will, and the Colonel puts a syringe into her neck to incapacitate her and throws her in the cell across from Mare and Cal.  He then comes into Cal's cell to tell them that he's made a trade that will be happening later and that Cal should say his goodbye's to Mare.
     The Colonel tells them that he has agreed to exchange Cal to Maven and in return that Maven has promised to up the conscription age to 18 again so that young kids aren't being sent to the frontlines to fight anymore.  Mare tells him that Maven will never stick to his word, but he says that it's a chance he must take as Maven has said that if the terms aren't agreed to he'll just go ahead and kill the kids anyways  before they even go through conscription.
     About this time, Kilorn, who is with the Colonel as one of his guard due to betraying Mare, drops the syringes "accidentally".  The Colonel starts to stoop down to see if any of the syringes may not have broken but Kilorn has one syringe in his hand which he uses on the Colonel.  Shade then appears and knocks out the other two guards outside the door while Cal takes out the other guards in the cell with them.
     They come out to find Farley standing there waiting on them and Kilorn tells Mare that he flirted with a nurse that liked him to keep her distracted while she was filling the syringes and he swapped out one with a placebo and that's the one he gave to Farley.
     They use Shade's teleporting ability to escape to the aircraft hanger and they get away in one of two airships that are inside.  When Cal asks where they are going since he's the pilot, Farley tells him that he'll be landing outside of a small city that they all know (can't remember the name of the city).        When Cal tells her that it will be impossible for them to land there, she informs him that it's the old roads from the before days (I'm guessing that means our current time) and that the Scarlet Guard have been getting a mile stretch repaved at a few different ruins outside of cities around the globe because they planned to steal more planes from the Silvers.
     Cal tells her that won't work because security is so tight after the first planes had been stolen, but Farley tells him that they have Guard in the south who are going to help them steal them since the south thinks the war between the Guard and the Silvers is mostly in the north so their security isn't very tight.  Mare realizes at this point just how expansive the Guard is, and that Farley really meant it when she said that their numbers weren't what Mare thought them to be and that they aren't as weak as the Silvers think.
    Mare looks up the closest newblood to them from Julians list which Kilorn stole from the Colonel before they left, and they head to the city to begin rounding all the newbloods up to help them.
     They reach their first destination and acquire a newblood named Nix who comes along without much convincing, so Mare, not trusting anyone, decides to keep a close eye on him since it was almost too easy to convince him to come with them.
     The next city is heavily guarded with Silvers, so Farley tells them she has contacts within the city who are going to meet them in the underground tunnels and help them get inside.  They meet with the contacts, a man named Crance from a group within the city called the Mariners.  There are separate gangs in the city; the Mariners and the Seaskulls being a couple that are mentioned, and the leader of the Scarlet Guard within the city is someone named Egan.
     Crance turns out to be leading them into a trap to capture Mare because a bounty has been placed on her capture, not just by the Silvers but also the other Red gangs who want to collect the bounty or keep Mare to use as a weapon themselves.
     They escape the trap that Crance and the others have set by collapsing part of the tunnel.  Once the other Scarlet Guard from the city are dead, Crance begins helping them and apologizes, saying he didn't want to set a trap for them and he wanted to help them all along but was unable to due to his orders and the other Guard members that were with him.  Even though they don't trust him now, they know they have no choice but to follow him since they don't know how to get through the city unnoticed.
     Upon going aboveground, Crance and Shade are confronted by some of the Seaskulls who although they don't recognize Mare and Cal, start a fight with Crance and Shade because they are in their territory and their gang doesn't like Crance's Mariner gang.  Knowing if she tries to save Shade that everyone including the Silver guards watching the fight will find out who she is, she decides to leave Shade and Crance behind and tells Cal and Farley that they should sneak away while they have the chance.
     Since Shade isn't with them now to help them teleport they have to fight their way into the records hall to see where the newbloods live in the city.  Cal raises a wall of fire while Farley and Mare search the records in the computer.  They find all the newbloods locations and print them out to go find them.
     After a brief fight with the guards while escaping Shade shows up and helps rescue them and they try to get to the newbloods in the city.  One of them they find hanging in the middle of the town square and when they go to retrieve the newbloods body to give him a proper burial Maven shows up and disables Mare with a device that he's created that turns her electricity inside herself so that it's hurting her instead of her being able to use it.  She passes out and wakes up back at the ship where Cal and Kilorn are taking care of her.
     They let her know that they escaped because of Shade when he was able to get loose from the guards holding him down and that they have recruited the other newblood from the city while she's been in a coma for 4 days with the help of Crance who has joined them since he can't go back to the Mariners after betraying Egan and not bringing in Mare.  The newblood's name is Ada, and she has the gift of a photographic memory.  She can automatically memorize anything she sees, hears, or reads.
     Knowing time is very short, they leave the city and begin going to other locations to round up the newbloods they can get to.  Although a few of the newbloods names and abilities arent mentioned, we become acquainted with a few of them:
1. a boy named Luther Carver, who has the ability to kill with just the power of touch
2. an older woman named Nanny can change her physical appearance to whomever she wishes
3. Farrah, who can manipulate sound, preventing anyone in the area of the greatwoods from hearing them training the newbloods to fight and control their abilities
4. Ketha, who can cause explosions with touch like oblivions can, but she is not limited to touch and can cause explosions just by looking at the object she wants to destroy.
5. Harrick, a man who can cause illusions such as making their group seem invisible so no one can see them that may recognize them.
6. Gareth Baument, a man who can control gravity and can use his control of gravity to fly.
     During this time, Kilorn admits that he loves Mare and knows that she doesn't love him since he's seen her with Cal and knows that she loves Cal (although unknowingly to Kilorn, Mare still misses the old Maven who she thought she truly loved, but she and Cal have always been attracted to each other and they have kissed recently after avoiding it for a long time).  Kilorn gradually becomes more distant but Mare doesn't have time to worry about it with trying to train the newbloods and going after other newbloods to try to recruit.  By the first snowfall they have managed to recruit 20 newbloods, from old maids to young boys and ages in between.
     Although they are doing well with the recruiting, for every one newblood they get there are two more that Maven has found and killed as he goes from city to city under the pretense of his "coronation tour" to keep the other reds and silvers in the dark to the newbloods presence.
     When they go to one of the towns, a girl with the Scarlet Guard named Ellie meets them to provide them with rations to take back to their hideout and tells them where the newblood family in the town lives. Mare and Farley are suspicious at how willing this girl is to give them so much but Ellie tells them that Command (the highest rank of the Guard) has commanded that she give them anything they need.
      When they go in, they find a murdered baby in a basket and guards rush in, but Harricks ability keeps Mare, Farley, Nix and Harrick invisible so that the guards can't see them.  After the guards leave, thinking their tracker that they placed with the baby malfunctioned, Mare gets the baby to take it back with them for a proper burial and sees a note with the baby.  She hides it without showing the others and reads it later.  It is from Maven, and it says "A crude envelope, I know. But necessary.  You must know what you are doing, what you are forcing me to do to these people.  Everybody is a message to you, and to my brother.  Surrender to me, and it will stop.  Surrender, and they will live.  I am a  man of my word.  Until we meet again, Maven."
     Knowing that they can't surrender and that she doesn't want to impose the choice upon Cal, she keeps the letter to herself.  When she gets back to the hideout, she goes to Cal's room and lies down with him for comfort, and from that point on his room becomes hers too.  Kilorn thinks they are doing more than just sleeping in the same room together and he starts avoiding Mare entirely.
    They keep going to towns to gain newbloods and sometimes if Maven has gotten there first Mare finds another note from him letting her know that if she'll turn herself in it will all stop, but she hides them all and ignores it.
     One day, Ada shows her a Silver soldiers orders that Shade took off of a dead body and tells Mare how 10000 Red soldiers are being sent to the frontlines in a place called Corvium.  Ada tells Mare about the "little legion" that she heard her master the governor talking about once, which is made up of all young reds only 15-17.  This is the same legion that the Scarlet Guard Colonel (Farley's dad) was going to exchange Cal to Maven for in order to save their lives since Maven said he wouldn't send them into battle if Cal was brought into custody.
      Ada asks Mare why she thinks Maven is sending so many troops to the frontline; Mare says that it must just be a show of power, but Ada tells her that she thinks only 5000 of these soldiers are supposed to come back.  One of the 5000 legions sent is "Dagger troop", another name for the Little Legion.  Mare knows this is another message to the Scarlet Guard and her.  She knows they can't do anything though as it would just be a slaughter for their few numbers to try to take down an army of not just 500 Silver lieutenants but the Red army as well since they are under the Silvers command and know they will be killed if they disobey them and will be forced to fight the newbloods.
     They begin another rescue mission in one of the cities and Nanny and Gareth are sent in, with Gareth flying Nanny in and dropping her off inside the military compound, and then she is to shift so that she looks like one of the sargents and release the newbloods there.  While Farley, Mare, and Cal wait on the outskirts in an abandoned town, a man shows up named Jon who is also a newblood.  He tells them his vision led him to them, and he wants them to know that their mission today will fail and that they must not go into the city or they will be killed because it's a trap.  He tells them Gareth and Nanny will be injured when they get back and they need to meet them at the airship and leave immediately.  They realize he can see the future, but farther into the future than any Silver has ever been able to see.  Although he creeps them out, Mare wants him to come with them but he tells her that he can't but that he already knows it won't be the last time they see each other.
     He tells her they need to go to a prison near them; that Maven hasn't killed a lot of the newbloods he found but rather imprisoned them and is trying to force Julian (also imprisoned, not dead) to experiment on them but Julian has been refusing and is being tortured.  Jon tells them it's not just newbloods at this prison either, but also Silver's who have questioned Maven's authority.  He tells them that although he can't go with them, there will be something they find along the way to help them. He says they must get there within 3 days because 4 would be too late and they would get killed if they go in 4.
     After he leaves they do as he says, since Mare feels in her gut that she should trust him even though the others think it may be a trap. While out in the woods in one of their safehavens near the city with the prison, a girl appears and pulls a gun on Mare.  She is a young teenager about 16 and Mare first thinks that she is Red, but she also turns out to be a newblood.  She is the first of the newbloods who doesn't agree to come with Mare and the rest, and tells Mare that it is her fault that thousands are being sent to die.  She says Mare is no hero, that she is only rescuing those that she can use and leaving the other Reds to suffer for it, including her brother who is one of the Dagger troop and is being sent to die.  She informs them that she escaped from the prison and Mare realizes how valuable this girl's abilities must be if she was able to get past so many different types of Silver guards.  She tries to run, and although Mare said she would always give them a choice, she tells Shade to capture the girl.
     While on the airship they find out what the girl's power is when she and Mare continue fighting, with Mare trying to prove she doesn't want anyone to die but has to do this for the greater good, and the girl telling Mare all the horrible things she's seen done to the other Reds who Mare has left behind.  At the brink of the fight, Mare realizes her electrical powers are useless, and they realize the girl, Cameron Cole, has the ability to snuff out other Silver and newblood abilities.  Although Cameron wants to save her brother, she agrees to stay with them in order to learn to control her powers so as not to hurt anyone without meaning to, but she still hates Mare and doesn't believe in the Scarlet Guard's capabilities either.
     At a meeting later on in the evening, Mare tells everyone about her plan to break into the prison and rescue the newbloods and how Silent Stone is in all the cells.  Cameron describes the layout of the prison and Harrick creates an image of it so that they can all see it.  It seems almost hopeless to try to get in, but they know that there has to be hope since Cameron was able to make it out and Jon told them this is what they should do.  Cameron tries to convince the group that saving the red boys is more important than going after just a few newbloods, but when Mare states that if they don't go that Elara will use her mind control to turn all the newbloods into weapons against everyone and this really is for the greater good (Kilorn vouching for her helps since everyone likes and trusts him), the group agrees to go to the prison and help instead of trying to save the soldiers.
     They make it into the prison by Nanny posing as Maven.  Maven was scheduled to come to the prison the next day so all the guards just think he's a day early.  Once they get inside though, one of the guards asks Maven if he'd like to see his mother and it catches them off guard because they didn't realize Elara was there and the guard becomes suspicious so they have to attack.  All hell breaks loose and they manage to free the prisoners including Julian but they are being attacked by the magnetron guards.  With so many newbloods fighting the guards have no choice but to try to run and a few of them hole themselves up in a room.  Cal begs Mare to let them live, but when she sees that they are pleading with Cal she becomes angry, seeing that even now they still look to another Silver to save them and still don't consider Reds worthy of asking for forgiveness.  She electrocutes them all and Cal doesn't look at her the same anymore from that point on.
     When they are making their way back out of the prison, fighting the guards all the way, Elara shows up and Mare jumps into one of the Silent Stone cells to escape Elara controlling her mind.  Shade comes and rescues Mare by jumping away and they head toward the plane which now holds 300 prison escapees, both newbloods and the Silvers who didn't accept Maven as king.  Those Silvers are now helping them fight against the other Silver guard captors as well.
     Shade jumps Cal onto the airship then gets Julian and Sara.  When he comes back for Mare, Ptolemus (a Silver guard who was fighting against Ava, a Silver who was a former enemy of Mare but is now helping her escape) uses his magnetron ability to finally kill Ava and sends metal flying at Mare.  When Shade jumps to rescue Mare the metal pierces his heart instantly killing him but saving Mare's life.
     The scene cuts to them on the airship headed back to base camp, and we find out that they have also managed to kill Elara and have brought her body with them.  Farley is distraught since she and Shade had developed a relationship and loved each other and blames Mare for Shade's death, asking her if Jon told Mare this would happen. Mare tells her no, that he didn't, but she remembers that Jon told her that Farley would eventually question her and to tell Farley that the answer to Farley's unspoken question is "yes".  Mare tells her this and it immediately calms Farley down a bit.
     Mare tells Kilorn to take them to the Colonel's camp rather than going back to base because she has a plan.  When they arrive, Mare shows the Colonel Elara's body and they now join forces rather than her being an outlaw in his eyes.  They make a video to release to the public explaining how Mare is Red with Silver abilities and that Maven is a liar, and a message to the newbloods telling them to find the Scarlet Guard so that they can rise up and fight.  They also address the Silvers in the video, telling them how Maven locked up so many of their own to keep them quiet.
     The Colonel tells Mare that someone is waiting to meet her, and it turns out to be more newbloods, two twins from another area far away called the Free Republic of Montfort.  They want to take Mare and the newbloods there and tell her that they and their leader will keep them all safe, that they don't have to fight anymore.  They call the newbloods where they live Ardents and tell Mare there are many more in many other nations that they are trying to get to keep safe, but Mare is uneasy and hasn't forgotten what Cal said to her once; "a newblood king will sit the throne you built him".  Mare realizes these newbloods are wanting to start a war too, but not a war for equality like she hopes for but to obliterate all Silvers.  When she thinks of Cal, Julian, and Sara, she knows that this isn't what she wants and tells them she won't go with them.
     Mare and the Colonel address the masses and tell them of their plan to go and save the Dagger covenant now that they have enough help.  The Colonel will wait in the North past the land called the Choke, where the Silvers have been sending the Reds to fight for years when they are conscripted, and Mare and any other volunteers who can pass as 15 year olds since that is the age of the Daggers will be going with her to kill the Silver warriors in charge of the Daggers and then lead the Daggers through the Choke to the Colonel.  From there they will retreat to Lake Eris and freighters will be waiting there to ferry them across into the disputed lands.
     Cal stands and says that there is no hope for this plan to work, since in a hundred years no army has ever crossed the Choke and lived.  The Colonel tells him that at one time that was true, but now instead of 9 legions at the frontline the Lakelanders only have 2. The rest of their resources have been sent to another part of the lands to fight while these soldiers create a diversion so that the other lands can be taken which aren't defended as well, so they will have no problems crossing the Choke.
     They prepare to leave and Mare says goodbye to her family once again.  Going with her to free the Daggers are 18 including Cal, her two brothers Bree and Tramy who are adamant about going since they were conscripted and can help lead them to safety through the Choke since they know the route, Cameron, Nanny, and Kilorn.  We found out when they had the meeting that Gareth, Nix, and Ketha were killed in the prison rescue so that's why they aren't there.  Ada and Harrick have gone with the Colonel to protect the north side since they couldn't have passed for young Dagger soldiers.
     They board the airship but on their way they are shot down from the sky by a snapdragon and Maven is there along with a bunch of Silver soldiers, so they have no way to escape.  Mare agrees to go with Maven if he will let the others go and he agrees.
     Mare wakes back at the palace and Maven parades her through the city in chains.  When she reaches the palace steps she sees that Jon is there and she realizes that he saw this coming too.  It's still a bit unclear as to whose side he is on since he did help them save the newbloods, but seeing him with Maven it's easy to guess how Maven was able to find Mare and the rest when they were on their way to the Choke.
     Maven pulls out a collar and places it around Mare's neck and attaches a leash to it and makes her kneel next to him to show that he has defeated her.

End of Book 2

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Summary updates

Hello everyone!
      First, I just wanted to thank you all so much for the interest you've shown in the blog and the nice comments you've left!  Because of you, my blog is now one of the top results when googling the books I've written summaries on, and it's really helped improve the feedback on the site.  I can't thank you enough!
     I know that no summaries have been posted recently, but I want you to know that I definitely am working on completing a couple books to post on here.  I'm currently reading "Glass Sword", the second book in the Red Queen series, and as soon as that is completed I'll be reading "Golden Son", the third book of the Red Rising series.  
     I hope to have Glass Sword completed and a summary up soon, and I don't know if anyone else is having this problem too, but after getting the book on it's release date and being so excited to read it, I hate to say it but I'm really not that into this one.  I've been reading a few pages here and there, but it hasn't captivated me the way Red Queen did, so that's why it's taking so long to get a summary of it onto the blog.
     There's also something else that I wanted your feedback on.  In between reading books, I've also gotten into a few different graphic novel (comic? I'm sorry, I'm new to them and still don't know what is correct) collections, mainly "Saga" and "The Walking Dead", and I know that these have a huge fan base and I wondered if I should add them to my summaries list as well.  
     Maybe doing summaries for each issue, or combining "volumes" for each summary?  I'm not sure yet, but if you think I should post these and people would be interested in seeing summaries for those types of things let me know and I'll be happy to add it to the list, and I'd also like your feedback on whether people would rather see issue by issue or complete volumes.  
     I debated for a while on whether to post summaries of those since I haven't seen any anywhere else and they're not really in the book series category, but I think there may be a demand for it since a new issue is only released every month or so and I find myself having to go back and re-read the previous issue or two to remember what happened. Since it's not as big of a gap as the book series sequels I do there may not be any point.
     Anyway, just wanted to give a quick update and get back to finishing Glass Sword.  Please let me know your thoughts in the comments and I'll see you soon!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Mass summary

q     The book begins with our heroine Feyre hunting in the woods behind her home. Her family, formerly rich but now poor due to her father's bad investments, are starving and she is the sole provider for the family since her father lost enough mobility to try to provide for them when one of the creditors they owed broke his knee. Her sisters, having never had to try to provide for themselves before, do not help her very much at their small shack in the woods.
     Feyre has had to travel farther than ever before to try to catch game, and she is worried that she is getting close to Faerie territory. Although a treaty was made between humans and the Faerie's, Feyre knows that the Faerie's break the treaty regularly and come across the wall (an invisible boundary designating Faerie lands and human lands)to kill or torture humans.
     She sees a large deer, but there's also a wolf nearby that is stalking the deer. Since she knows her family is going to starve without that deer, she shoots the wolf without having time to question whether it could be a Faerie in disguise. When her first shot doesn't kill it, she aims a 2nd arrow at its eye, and instead of attacking her for defense it just stands there so she kills it quickly.
     She and her sisters go into town to sell the wolf pelt. Her sisters only come with her because now that they know she'll make money they want some of it to spend on themselves.  
     They are met at the entrance to the town by an acolyte from the Children of the Blessed, a cult claiming that Faeries are good and that humans should worship them. The girl claims that many of the Children have gone to Prythian and never returned since they are so well cared for and Nesta, Feyres sister, scoffs and says it's not because they are being taken care of but because they are probably dead. They escape quickly from the acolyte and continue into the town. 
     Feyre ends up selling the wolf pelt to a mercenary near the town center who offers her more money than the pelt is worth due to the fact that she says she has been in Feyres position before. On the way home, Feyre sees Isaac in town and nods her head in greeting in passing. She and Issac are lovers, but their trysts are a secret as he is going to be married soon.
     The next day a large beast breaks into their house demanding retribution for the dead wolf, who was a Faerie after all. The beast, Tamlin, states that in the treaty, when a human takes a Faerie life the only option is the human life must be taken by Prythian (the Faerie realm). She and her family do not question him as they know Faeries are unable to lie.  He tells her that she has two choices; die by his hand here, or forsake the human realm and live out the rest of her days in Prythian. She of course agrees to go with him so he doesn't kill her.
      Tamlin uses magic to make her fall asleep so that she doesn't see the path leading from her home and she wakes when they arrive at his castle. Rather than being a prisoner, he tells her that she is free to come and go as she pleases on their grounds, but not to enter into any other court as he can't protect her there. He has changed into his human form now and she sees that he and all the other court have masquerade masks attached to their faces by magic.
      She eventually starts becoming friends with Lucien, Tamlins best friend who lives at the castle, Alis, the servant who has been assigned to care for her, and also Tamlin himself. She had made a promise to her mother when her mother was dying that she would care for their family and she feels she is breaking the promise and wants to find a way home, so she doesn't allow herself to enjoy her time with them.
     Feyre learns that there is a blight upon the Faerie lands that is releasing demon-like creatures throughout the courts to kill the Faerie's. The only cause mentioned at this time is a mysterious "she" who's name isn't revealed.  
     Feyre decides to find out some information on her own, and gets advice from Lucien on how to trap a Suriel, a type of Faerie creature who can answer any question asked of it. Feyre traps one and learns that Tamlin isn't just any Faerie, but one of the seven High Lords, ruler of the Spring court. She also asks if there's truly no way for her to ever get home and the Suriel tells her that although Faerie's CAN lie, Tamlin didn't lie to her about that, and if she wants to remain safe she needs to stay with him.
     When Feyre asks about the cause of the blight, the Suriel tells her that there is another land called Hybern that is ruled by a king rather than the land being split up into courts (there are 7 courts: Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Dawn, Day, and Night). The king is unhappy with the treaty that was signed with the humans which allowed them to no longer be slaves and have lands of their own, and so a hundred years ago he sent his most trusted commanders and killers to the human and Faerie lands to begin waging a war.  As spies, lovers, and courtiers they infiltrated the High Fae courts and gathered enough information that the king could make his plan to take over, but one of his commanders disobeyed and they now call them the Deceiver.
      At this point, some of the vicious blight Faeries called naga find them and start to kill Feyre and the Suriel. Feyre lets the Suriel loose to run away and runs herself. She is about to be trapped when Tamlin returns from his border patrol when he hears her screams and saves her.
      Tamlin and Feyre eventually have a conversation about how she wants to go home due to her promise, and he tells her he can't send her home, but that he has made sure her family is well provided for and he has altered their memories so that they just think she's gone to live with a dying great aunt.  Knowing that she isn't breaking the promise to her mom and her family is being cared for, she relaxes and even begins painting again. 
      As she and Tamlin grow closer, he uses his magic to give her Faerie sight so that she can see and feel the things he does.  She realizes she has been glamoured as he has many more Faerie workers on his grounds that she hadn't been able to see before he gave her the faerie sight and even Alis is different. Rather than being humanlike as Feyre was led to believe, Alis is another type of Faerie who has bark skin.
      One night, Tamlin tells her to stay in her room and not leave the castle as he has to go to a Faerie ritual called the Great Rite. She disobeys because she wants to see what it is and although she has on a cloak to hide that she's human, she is cornered by three Faerie's who plan on raping her. She is rescued by another Faerie described as the most beautiful creature she's ever seen but she senses that he is not really a savior but rather wants something from her so she quickly gets away from him too.
     Lucien spots her and whisks her quickly back to the castle, where he explains that the Great Rite is the beginning of Spring in Prythian and the human world, and that tonight, with Tamlin being high lord of the spring court, he will undergo a ritual that regenerates his magic so that he can keep his power. The magic will consume him this evening and his sole purpose will be to find the Maiden and couple with her to complete the ritual. Tamlin will kill a white stag and sacrifice it as an offering, then go to the sacred cave where a line of maidens will be waiting. No one knows who the Maiden chosen is until this time, and then Tamlins magic will lead him to her to complete the ritual.
     He tells her that it's lucky he found her when he did, because Tamlin would have smelled her and would have chosen her to take into the cave, but it wouldn't be the Tamlin she knows, as this is "not a night for lovemaking".
     Embarrassed, Feyre goes to her room and falls into a restless sleep and wakes because the music from the ritual has stopped and she knows that means it's completed. She wanders downstairs and Tamlin is waiting there, still buzzed from the magic coursing through him. He traps her against the wall and tells her how he smelled her and it drove him crazy trying to find her and he was forced to pick another, and although the Maiden chosen told him not to be gentle that he would have been with her.
     Feyre taunts him, hurt that he even did choose another, and asks why she would want someone's leftovers. He goes all beast mode on her and bites her neck leaving a bruise, and although she's pissed she realizes how much she wants him and he knows it too, so now that he's proven his point he lets her go to return to her room.
     In the summer, a party is thrown at the castle and Tamlin and Feyre end up finally revealing their feeling to each other and they kiss after Feyre has a bit too much Faerie liquor and loses her inhibitions.  The next day at lunch everything goes bonkers and Tamlin yells for Feyre to get behind Lucien. Knowing they've sensed something or someone she can't, she quickly obeys and Lucien glamours her so that she's invisible behind him.
     The reason for the disturbance turns out to be Rhysand, high lord of the night court.....and the guy who had rescued Feyre the night of the Great Rite. Rhysand senses Feyre even though she's glamoured and threatens to tell Amarantha, his lover and the ominous "she" that is always spoken about regarding the blight. Rhysand asks her name and she tells him it's Clare Beddor, one of the girls she knew from home.
     Rhysand says he won't tell Amarantha about "Clare" if Tamlin and Lucien beg him and they grovel before him. Feyre is confused as to why it matters if this woman knows about her but doesn't question Tamlins motives. He then sends her home even though she wants to stay with him and tells her that the treaty be damned, he will keep her safe and this is the only way to do it since he knows Rhysand will still tell Amarantha about her. When he puts her in a carriage home he tells her he loves her but she doesn't say it back for fear that if she does there's no way she would be able to leave like she's promised him she would.
     When she gets home she finds out that her family really has been provided for due to the fact that an unknown man showed up at the shack and asked her father to make some investments for him and they got rich again from that. Feyre knows it was all Tamlins doing but she's glad they're happy even though Nesta seems very standoffish. Feyres story is that the great aunt died and left her her fortune in her will and she's brought it home to them.  Nesta corners her later on and tells Feyre that she hired a mercenary after Feyre disappeared and went into the woods to try to track her with the mercenary. Feyre realizes the glamour about the whole "great aunt" didn't work on Nesta due to her iron will, and she's touched that her sister braved the woods to try to find her, and of the fact that she's kept Feyres secret to keep their other younger sister Elain and father happy.  She then tells Nesta everything.
      After a while, Feyre finds out that Clare's family was killed and it's rumored that she was taken by Faeries. Feyre knows that Tamlin wouldn't have allowed this and that something is wrong so she tells Nesta that she has to go to him.  Nesta agrees to take their family far away so that they'll be safe in the meantime at the first sign of anything "off".
      She finds her way through the wall and gets back to the castle to find no one there but Alis. Alis tells her the whole story of the blight and the curse which keeps the masks on the spring courts faces at that time after telling her that Amarantha took Tamlin due to the curse.
      Amarantha was the "Deceiver" formerly mentioned by the Suriel. She went from court to court charming all the High Lords on behalf of the king of Hybern for fifty years while she gained their trust. She had a younger sister, Clythia, who fell in love with a mortal warrior named Jurian during the war before the treaty happened between mortals and Faerie's.  Jurian betrayed Clythia as he only wanted information to help the humans in their fight, and killed her and chopped her up into pieces for Amarantha to find. Amarantha found him, and now wears a ring with his eye in it and his soul is trapped in there, so he's forever alive and her prisoner.
     After the treaty happened, she harbored such hatred for humans that she and the king of Hybern killed their human slaves rather than free them.  She was so charismatic though, that she was able to convince the high lords that her sisters death had changed her and that she and the king were willing to open trade routes with them again. The high lords never realized (nor did the king of Hybern) that the ships on the trade routes also smuggled in her army forces too.
     Amarantha knew that even with her personal army, the high lords were too powerful for her to defeat so that she could kill the humans and do away with the treaty, so she convinced them to all meet with her under the guise of a ball. She slipped potions into all the high lords drinks and was able to steal their magic once they were passed out, leaving them with only their barest magic. With their magic almost fully taken she was able to use her smuggled army to take Prythian in a matter of days and became the "High Queen". She built her palace under a mountain and has ruled from there since.
     She sends the creatures as a blight on the land to test the high lords of Prythian who don't kneel to her, which at this point is only Tamlin and the spring court, which she allows him to rebel because she's in love with him and doesn't want him harmed, but she did curse him for not wanting her.
      She threw a masquerade ball in her honor at her palace under the mountain upon coming into power and told the spring court to come. When they arrived she offered Tamlin peace if he would join her and marry her. He refused and said he would rather marry a human than her.  She used magic to sear the masks to the courts faces, and told Tamlin that only if he could make a mortal love him that truly hated Faerie's within seven times seven years, that she would restore his magic and remove the blight from Prythian.
     He tried for years to break the curse by glamouring his soldiers as animals and sending them to the human lands to find someone.  Part of the stipulation of the curse was that the human was to attack the Faerie soldier unprovoked and kill them so that Amarantha would know of the humans hatred of the Faerie's on the off chance that the human did end up falling in love with Tamlin. 
     Most humans ran or the fathers of the girls killed the Faerie soldiers, etc, and it wasn't until Feyre shot the Faerie soldier that the curse had a chance of being broken. All Feyre would have had to have done would have been to tell Tamlin she loved him that day at the carriage and it would have all ended, but instead, knowing that his time was up to break the curse in just a few days, he chose to send her away to keep her safe as she meant more to him than his own curse or court.
     Hearing this and hoping she can somehow still save him, she goes to the court and declares to Amarantha that she's come back to save the man she loves.  Amarantha realizes Clare wasn't Feyre after all and shows Feyre Clare's body, which has been strung up on her palace wall beaten and burned until unrecognizable. Amarantha asks Rhysand why he said Clare was the girl Tamlin loved and Rhysand tells her that all humans look alike to him, which Feyre knows isn't true as he recognized her from the night of the Rite whenever he saw her at the castle again before Tamlin sent her home.
     Amarantha tells her that if she can do one of two things that she will still allow the curse to be broken. Feyre either has to go through three trials to prove her love for Tamlin or solve her riddle, which is this: 

 "there are those who seek me a lifetime but never we meet, and those I kiss but who trample me beneath ungrateful feet. At times I seem to favor the clever and the fair, but I bless all those who are brave enough to dare. By large, my ministrations are soft handed and sweet, but scorned I become a difficult beast to defeat. For though each of my strikes lands a powerful blow, when I kill I do it slow."

     Feyre doesn't know the riddle answer of course and Amarantha throws her in the dungeon until her first trial after having her minions beat Feyre. Lucien sneaks and heals Feyre as much as he can without it being noticeable so that she's ready for her first trial.
     After an unknown amount of time Feyre is brought from the dungeon for her first trial. Amarantha tells her that Rhysand has told her Feyres a hunter and that she must hunt. She throws Feyre into a big mud maze that has a big earthworm thing with lots of teeth that wants to eat her. Feyre manages to kill it though, by placing a trap of human bones used as a spear pit from its former dinners and then luring the worm to the trap. The worm manages to bite her once in the arm all the way to the bone before she kills it, and she ends up getting a fever and infection once put back in the dungeon since Amarantha didn't give her any medical help after the trial ended.
      Rhysand comes to her cell and tells her that he will heal her so she can go on with her trials if she will vow that she will spend a week per month with him at his court. She agrees, knowing that she can't rely on Lucien to know that she needs help this time since they threw her back in the dungeon so quick after the trial. When he heals her, he leaves a swirled tattoo on her arm and a tattooed eye on her palm.
     The cell guards drag her one day to a hallway and give her a bucket of water and tell her to scrub all the mud off the floor before they come back or they've been told they can roast her on their spit and torture her but not kill her. Feyre realizes this is a task she's not meant to beat as the water is dirtier than the floor was to begin with. Luciens mother, the head of the autumn court, appears and uses magic to clear the water, and tells Feyre they are even now, since Feyre gave her real name to Amarantha when she first came to the court because Amarantha threatened to torture Lucien if she didn't, and his mother is grateful to Feyre for it.
     Another task she is supposed to do is to pick lentils out of an ash filled fireplace and not miss a single one or again she'll be tortured by "the room's owner". It turns out to be Rhysand's room, and since he's really on her side he just uses his magic to make the lentils appear in the bucket, and them glamours the guards so that they won't hurt her anymore for fun.
     Each night, Rhysand begins drugging Feyre and forcing her to dance for him in front of the entire court including Tamlin to piss Tamlin off and show his ownership of her because of the deal she made.  Feyre hates him but realizes at her second trial that he is actually helping her. 
     Her second trial involves her being put into a pit with a large fence in the middle and Lucien is chained on the other side. There are three levers on the wall and Amarantha tells her that if she pulls the right one they'll live, if not they are going to be impaled by the spikes coming from the ceiling. There's words on the wall, another riddle that Feyre is supposed to solve, but Feyre can't read very well and can't even read the riddle to try to solve it.
    She starts to randomly pull a lever and there's a tingling in her hand. When she starts to pull the correct lever the tingling stops and she realizes Rhysand is telling her which one to pull. She has to trust him and pulls that one and it turns out to be correct. She has passed the second test.
     The night before Feyre's third trial, Rhysand doesn't make her dance or drug her so that she'll have a clear head the next day, but still dresses her up and puts his magic paint all over her that matches the swirled tattoos on her arms. He uses the paint so that he can see if anyone touches her in a way they shouldn't be because he "doesn't like people messing with his property". When Feyre and Tamlin sneak away to have a tryst in a dark room since they think no one is paying attention to them at the party, Rhysand comes in and forces Tamlin to go back to the party and then kisses Feyre. Feyre tries to push him away and Amarantha walks in. She had been looking for Feyre, and Feyre realizes Rhysand forced himself on her to make it look like the smears on the paint were from him and not Tamlin so that Tamlin and Feyre don't get in trouble.
     Feyre's third trial is that she's supposed to kill three innocent fairies be stabbing them in the heart. Although she doesn't want to do it, she knows it's the only way to free he people of Prythian.  The fairies hoods are removed one at a time so that she's forced to look them in the eye as she stabs them. The first is a young fairie who pleads for his life, the 2nd a girl fairie who says a prayer and then encourages Feyre that it's okay to do it, and the third turns out to be Tamlin.
     Feyre remembers that when having her talk with Alis before coming here, Alis told her there was still another part of the curse that Amarantha was still preventing her from telling Feyre, so she knows it must be important and tells Feyre she has to just listen.
     Feyre realizes what she meant and thinks back to all the conversations she heard between members of the spring court and remembers everyone saying Tamlin has a heart of stone, she thought it a figure of speech but realizes it's true, that he's cursed with a stone heart. She's never heard it beating when they've lain together. 
     Hoping she's right, she plunges the dagger into Tamlins chest, and after piercing skin and muscle the blade stops. She was right. The fairies all around begin demanding that Amarantha break the spell as Feyre has completed her tasks successfully, and Amarantha calls them fools. She says that although she said solving the riddle would grant instant release from the spell, she only said that she WOULD release the fairies if the tasks were solved, not WHEN she would release them and that Feyre had only assumed the same applied to the riddle as the tasks. 
     Amarantha then proceeds to kill Feyre by using her magic to start snapping each bone in Feyres body since she never promised not to kill Feyre after the end of the 3 tests. Right before dying, Feyre realizes the answer to Amarantha's riddle is "love". She says it in her dying breath and the fairies are all immediately released of their masks and the high lords powers are given back. Tamlin immediately kills Amarantha.
     Feyre lies dead on the floor, and each of the high lords comes to her and releases some kind of glitter dust over Feyres body. Feyre awakes to find that since all the high lords did this for her it has turned her into a high Fae and brought her back from the dead and made her immortal.
     The end of the book has Feyre and Tamlin going back to the spring court castle. Although Feyre is happy to be with Tamlin and happy the curse is broken, she still feels massive guilt over killing the innocent fairies and is having a hard time trying to have a good outlook on their future. Rhysand shows up and she thanks him for his help. He tells her not to thank him yet as she probably won't be thanking him after being in his court for that week out of each month for the rest of her life.
     The book ends here, but it is still always ominous in the background that there is the king of Hybern to contend with, since everyone knows that he was still allied with Amarantha and they had planned to wage war on the mortal world soon once Tamlin was locked into Amarantha's court after the curse was up.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Wrath and the Dawn summary by Renee Ahdieh

     The book opens with General al-Khoury talking to his son on a balcony overlooking the city of Khorasan.  With a sense of foreboding in the air, they watch as rain begins to fall around them for the first time in a very long time as they are discussing Khalid, the Caliph's, fate.  Jalal, the son, is telling his father that he doesn't think Khalid will be able to withstand what needs to be done, and the general tells him that they and Khalid will do what they must to survive.  The preface ends with the words of the curse that foretells the book: "One hundred lives for the one you took.  One life to one dawn.  Should you fail but a single morn, I shall take from you your dreams.  I shall take from you your city. And I shall take from you these lives, a thousandfold."

     Although Khalid is the Caliph of Khorasan (a Caliph is a title of an emperor in this world to my knowledge), he is not loved by his city, because every day he takes from the city a new girl to be wed to and then she is killed the next morning.  It is surprising then, when a girl volunteers to be wed to him.  Her name is Shahrzhad, and although she won't reveal her reasoning to the Caliph, she has volunteered so that she can get close to him and kill him to avenge her friend Shiva who he killed not long ago after taking her as one of his brides.  
     Shahrzhad has done this without telling her family and friends other than her father Jahandar.  He comes to see her while she's being prepared to wed the Caliph and offers her a rose from their garden.  He has magic in his heart but is not able to use it very well and tries to make it bloom for her but it withers quickly and dies before their eyes.  He is disappointed with himself that he can't even do this simple thing for his daughter that he's saying goodbye to, but she tells him that it was beautiful and she will never forget the way it looked at full bloom for that moment.  She asks him to keep his promise and take her sister Irsa to her lover Tariq's house and he tells her he will.
     The next chapter begins with Tariq's point of view.  He and his best friend Rahim are hunting with Tariq's falcon Zoraya in the desert.  When they return home, Tariq's father, the emir of their city (I think an emir is like a mayor) calls Tariq to his tent to tell him that Shazi (Shahrzhad) has sent a letter to them from Rey, and the letter reveals to them what she has decided to do to avenge Shiva, who was Tariq's cousin and Shahrzhad's best friend.  Tariq goes against his father's advice of telling him he can't do anything now and leaves with Rahim to try to rescue her somehow.
     We then switch POV to Jahandar and Irsa who are on their way to Tariq's family's house.  Jahandar stops by the old library in the city to retrieve a book from inside, and although Irsa doesn't understand why they are doing it at the time, it turns out the book is full of magic spells and instructions which will help Jahandar become more powerful as he hopes he can rescue his daughter too and not leave it all up to Tariq.
     Back at the palace, Khalid comes to Shahrzhad (I am going to call her Shazi from now on) and they are intimate (not by Shazi's choice of course, but she doesn't fight him because she has a plan to live through the night and be the first of his brides to see the sunrise).  She wagers a bet with the Caliph when they are done.  He wants to know why she volunteered and she says she will tell him if he lets her tell him a story first.  He agrees, and she tells him the story of Agib.
     Agib was a talented thief who became too cocky in his ability and was eventually caught stealing from the emir and chased through Baghdad.  In a panic, he boarded a small ship and asked if they needed hired help and luckily they did.  They took him aboard and he was able to escape the city that way.  
     A storm came and the captain of the ship was killed.  The crew began looking for land as they were now hopelessly lost at sea and they finally see an island in the distance: the Mountain of Adamant.  It is rumored to have such high iron content that when ships get near it the very nails inside the ship are pulled from the hull like a magnet and the ship will sink before it ever reaches shore.  
     Desperate, the crew see no choice but to go there.  The rumors are true though and the ship begins to sink while still far from the island.  As it splinters apart, Agib grabs a nearby metal pot and hangs onto the floating mast to survive.  The metal in the pot eventually pulls him to shore and he finds an old chalice nearby.  It is marred with age and rust and he swipes his sleeve across it to clear it and a genie comes out.
     At this point, Shazi stops the story as the dawn has come, and when Khalid tells her to continue, she says that she cannot today as the tale has just begun, but that if he will let her live for one more day she will finish it.  Khalid is too intrigued to refuse and allows her to live that day.  When he leaves she breaks down in tears for she was unsure if her plan would work and feared he would kill her after that morning.
     She awakens later to find a handmaiden in her room that has been assigned to her by the name of Despina.  Despina and Shazi eventually end up becoming very good friends as they are both outspoken and not afraid to say exactly what they feel.  This first time they meet, Despina tells her that she's rooting for her (to survive, not kill Khalid. She has no idea that Shazi is there to kill him) and that Shazi has caused quite a stir within the palace.
     Despina tells her that she is allowed to roam the palace as long as the Rajput is with her (the best fighter in Khalid's guard who has been assigned to guard Shazi).  When she goes to the palace guard training grounds she meets Jalal and she asks him to train her to shoot a bow and says that since this is her last day she feels like she should learn something useful.  
     She is really a talented archer as Tariq taught her a long time ago, but she's faking so that hopefully she can talk to Jalal longer and find out a weakness about Khalid that she can use to stay alive longer.  
     She doesn't get much information but while distracted she accidentally nocks the arrow with much more precision than a beginner should have.  Jalal laughs and tells her that he has earned the right to ask a favor as his silence comes with a price.  He tells her that Khalid is not his friend anymore but not his enemy either, and that he is tired of the broken thing Khalid has become and he wants her to fix it and thinks she can.
     That night, Khalid again comes to her room and Shazi begins the story of Agib again...The genie comes out of the chalice and tells Agib that he is permitted three questions as he is the all knowing genie of the bronze chalice.  Agib accidentally asks him a question straight away as he is in shock and asks the genie what kind of questions he can answer.  The genie tells him that he has the answer to ANY question.  Agib vows not to be so stupid again and uses his second question wisely.  
     He asks the genie how to get off the island and reach his homeland without any further harm befalling him.  The genie tells him there is a boat at the top of Mount Adamant that can get him there after twenty days of sailing.  
     When they are out to sea the boat begins to sink and Agib is furious as he thinks the genie lied in saying that no harm would befall him when sailing home, but a larger ship appears and takes Agib aboard.  It is none other than the emir's ship who he had stolen from before, but after being gone so long the emir does not recognize him so he plays dumb.  
     The two strike up a conversation and the emir tells him that they were looking for an island rumored to hold a chalice with a genie and that he wants it because his most prized possession, a ring given to him by his late wife, was stolen in the market a while ago and he needs the genie to find out where it is.  Agib of course was the thief but he had dropped the ring in a panic while fleeing and has no idea where it is now.  
     He keeps silent and they sail for many months looking for the island, with Agib becoming a good sailor and also becoming great friends with the emir.  The emir gets sick and is dying, so upon reaching the shores of home again Agib decides to use his last wish to find the ring.  The genie tells him a mercenary has it and Agib seeks him out.  
     A huge fight ensues but Agib manages to get the ring and brings it back to the emir and finally tells him the truth, that he was the thief.  The emir tells him he's known all along but tells Agib that he must promise to never steal again and instead work to better himself and humanity.  Agib with tears in his eyes tells him he will, and upon the emir's death Agib finds out that the emir willed his entire estate to him as if he were his own son. Agib finds a wife and a great wedding takes place.  At the wedding is a magician attending, but he is not there for the wedding, he is looking for a boy named Aladdin.
     Khalid asks if this is a new story and she tells him it's not, it's a continuation of the same story.  The general comes to the room and knocks as it's dawn and Shazi once again begins to panic.  Khalid does nothing to prevent the general and his men from starting to take her but then he pauses and tells the general that he would like to introduce him to his Mountain of Adamant, his queen, as he's inexplicably drawn to her in ways that even he doesn't understand yet, but he needs time to figure his feelings out and that she is not to be taken.
     Tariq and Rahim have arrived at Tariq's uncle's house (Shiva's father, Reza), and Tariq begs him to help them rage a war against the Caliph and kill him for the wrong he's done.  Reza agrees and tells Tariq that he knows of wandering mercenary bands near them and that if they can get them to join their cause they may just be able to enter the city and overthrow the palace.  Tariq goes to find them to try to convince them to join.
     Shazi goes with Despina the next day to sneak into the guard tournament.  There she sees Khalid fight and realizes it is no ordinary man that she is dealing with but an excellent fighter who is second only to the Rajput. Although she doesn't want to admit it, after their conversations over the past few evenings she has begun to have feelings for the Caliph as well and is unsure of where to go from here.
     She doesn't have to wonder long as the next morning she is yanked from her bed and dragged to the courtyard where she is to be hung.  While dangling from the rope and trying to hold onto life she is cut down by Khalid as he has come to his senses and saved her after all.
     Khalid comes to her room and begs forgiveness.  She understandably doesn't trust him now, and he tells her that although he's leaving for a meeting in another country with their leaders, she has nothing to fear as he has ordered no harm befall her while he's gone.  She almost believes him until she starts to have her breakfast one morning and realizes her tea smells funny.  She tells Despina she thinks there's poison in it and it turns out there is.  
     Now Shazi doesn't trust Despina either as she is the one who always brings Shazi's meals (it's really the general who tried to poison her as he doesn't trust her and he knows of the curse and thinks they have to fulfill the prophecy and she must die, but she doesn't know that yet).
     Jalal comes and tells her a visitor is at the palace and has requested to meet the queen.  It is Khalid's tutor from years ago, a scholar they call Musa-effendi.  Musa tells Shazi the story of how Khalid was raised.         When his mother, Laila, was taken by the former Caliph to be his second wife, she had hope for her future and Musa came with her at her family's request as they were friends.  The Caliph however, loved his first wife very much and pushed away Laila as she was only there due to the country's need for another queen.  When Khalid was born, Musa thought things would be better, but the Caliph eventually found out that the queen was having an affair with a guard and slit Khalid's mother's throat right in front of him.  Musa was kicked out of the palace, and from that day on Khalid was on his own until his father's death when he was 14, and then Khalid was thrown into being a ruler when he had never even been taught how to be one by his father.
     Before Musa leaves, he gives Shazi a gift of a rolled carpet and tells her that he senses the magic in her and asks if her family has magic in it.  She tells him of her father's abilities but that he can't control them very well so he doesn't use them much, and Musa tells her that he knows the secrets of magic and that even though she doesn't know how to do anything right now, if she ever wants to harness her magic she should look him up and he will help her.  He leaves by saying that she should take good care of the carpet as it's special and when she's lost it will help her find her way.  Later on, she finally unrolls it and it curls up around her touch.  Despina touches it and nothing happens.  Anything else about the rug isn't mentioned in this book, but I'm sure it will come up in the second novel.
     When Khalid returns, Shazi asks that he go into the city with her like Aladdin did with the princess in their story, as regular citizens not of royalty.  He agrees, and they have a great time until a drunken man keeps trying to get Shazi to go with him and tells her that he could fulfill her dreams if she'll let him.  He eventually finds them again at the little outdoor cafe they are dining at and he tries to drag her away from Khalid forcefully, not knowing who they actually are. A fight ensues with the man and his friends and Shazi bargains with a boy for his bow and arrows.  She shoots the man who has a knife now directly through the wrist and makes him drop the knife.  The man and his friends retreat and Khalid knows now what an excellent shot she actually is.  She keeps telling herself to kill him, to do it now while she has a weapon and no one is around, but when he comes to her and kisses her and tells her that she surprises him more and more everyday and that she has become everything to him, she drops all pretenses of her revenge and kisses him back.
     A few days later Despina is very sick and Shazi tries to take care of her and demands that Despina tell her what's wrong as Despina says she doesn't want to go to the palace doctor and already knows what's wrong.  Despina is pregnant, and reveals that Jalal is the father but that he doesn't know yet.  Shazi asks why she hasn't told him, and Despina reveals that she's scared that maybe he doesn't love her, and that he is of the royal guard and is expected to marry better than a handmaiden.  It's shown later on though that kind Jalal loves her very much and doesn't care about marrying into other royalty, but at this time Despina doesn't know that.
     Eventually, a feast is going to be held where Shazi is introduced to the city as his queen, and Khalid tells her that his uncle, the Sultan to the country he goes to visit sometimes, will be coming.  
     It is no secret that Khalid's uncle doesn't like him and that he questions Khalid's validity as the true successor to the former Caliph of Khorasan due to Khalid's mother's affair.  That is why Khalid visits them occassionally, to keep tabs on his uncle, because although his force isn't strong enough yet to try to take down Khorasan and Khalid, Khalid has no doubt that someday he will try and is using the old adage of keep your enemies close.
     At the feast, Shazi meets Salim (the uncle Sultan) and immediately hates him, for he constantly taunts Khalid with veiled threats.  She also meets his daughter, Yasmine, who is the most beautiful girl Shazi has ever seen.  She is surprised when Yasmine pulls her aside and confesses her love for Khalid and tells Shazi that she had better treat him well, for if he doesn't want Yasmine, she at least wants him to be happy with someone he does love.  
     Shazi soon finds out that Tariq is at the feast in his father's stead, as all the emir's have been invited.  When Tariq comes to her room secretly later on and asks if she has a plan for taking out the Caliph, he begins to realize that Shazi may be falling in love with Khalid and he decides he needs to get her away from this place as soon as possible as he's sure she's been brainwashed here.  When he kisses her before sneaking back out, she kisses him back as she does still love him also, but she knows that she somehow must tell Tariq and all of her family soon that she has failed them and fallen in love with the man she is supposed to kill.
     Khalid has become wary of Tariq as he sees how he gravitates toward Shazi, and Khalid tells Jalal and the general to find out everything they can of Tariq and his family.
     Tariq has managed to get the mercenary leader, Omar, to join their cause, and he goes back to him and his uncle with what he has found out after the feast.  He doesn't reveal that Shazi is in love with Khalid, but just tells them that they need to get her out of there soon and blames it on jealousy, saying that he has seen how much Khalid loves her.  Jahandar shows back up and asks Tariq to allow him to help.  Tariq knows Jahandar is a weak man but out of pity tells him he will allow him to help them when the time comes.
     Shazi awakes in the night and is attacked by men in black cloaks, the Fida'i, trained assassins who try to kidnap her.  She fights back along with Khalid and the Rajput and they manage to defeat them.  Khalid takes her to his room and bandages her wounds.  They start to become intimate when a guard knocks on the door and tells Khalid that the general needs him as they've figured out how the assassins gained entry into the palace.  Khalid asks her to stay in his room and he will be back.  
     While he's gone she can't help but snoop, wanting to know still after all this time what it is that made him kill the other girls since she knows there's a reason for it, as Khalid is not just a monster like she first thought. In one of his cabinets she finds dozens of letters to the families of the girls; his apology letters telling them how sorry he was for their loss.  She knows they were never meant to be seen by anyone but Khalid, but now that she's seen them her heart breaks, both for herself and Khalid.  Herself because even after knowing it was true, until this moment she wanted the killings to really just be rumors so that she wouldn't know she was in love with a killer, and Khalid because she knows there's something he's not telling her, but the grief in the letters shows her enough to know he didn't kill willingly. 
     When Khalid returns he lies down with her as she's asleep on the bed and she wakes up and tries to talk to him, but he's acting weird and soon he's sitting on the edge of the bed doubled over in pain.  Shazi calls for the general and he rushes in with the palace magician who creates an aura around Khalid's head that eases the pain for a while.  Khalid finally tells Shazi the whole truth.
     When he became Caliph, there was pressure from Salim for him to marry Yasmine and join their families together.  Khalid wanted to marry for love and not be forced into a marriage, so he found a girl in the city who intrigued him by the name of Ava and married her.  She was smart and from a good family, but he realized he wasn't in love with her too late.  He still wanted to make her happy, but he could tell that she was devastated and she ended up killing herself in her room.  
     After her death, Khalid received an invitation to her father's home and wrapped in guilt he went to meet with him, not knowing what the man wanted but knowing that he needed to try to console Ava's family.  When Ava's father came to him, he cursed Khalid with the curse aforementioned at the first of the summary.  Khalid tried to resist the curse at first, but all of Khorasan began drying up with no rain, there were diseases rampant, and a lot of people in the city were dying, so he realized he didn't have a choice.  He tells her that no matter what happens now because of this curse, he can never hurt her.
     The general goes to Khalid with the information about who Tariq is, and Khalid goes to Shazi's chamber.  He offers her a knife to kill him with and tells her that he deserves it and that he feels it's finally time to pay the price for what he did to her family, to Tariq, to Shiva, and hopefully end this curse.  He tells her that after she kills him, there is a secret door behind his dresser that she can go through and she is to take his horse and escape.  She of course is deeply in love with him and although she wanted vengeance for Shiva, she knows this is not the way and she makes him drop the knife and kisses him.
     Khalid tells her he has to go meet with the other emir's in the region as a small force is gathering at the border of Khorasan and Parthia and the emir's want to discuss a strategy should the need for one arise as they fear it's the makings of an army.  He tells her he will be back in two weeks.
     The next chapter starts with Jahandar on a hill overlooking the city.  He has gone to the dark side so to say and is following the same dark magic path that Ava's father chose in order to try to save Shazi (not knowing she doesn't even want to be saved).  
      He slices a horse's throat to use the book of magic which he has now translated and uses the dark magic to bring down a storm upon the city.  Tariq and their small army are waiting at the gates.  Tariq, not knowing that Jahandar had become this powerful, rushes in to find Shazi when fires break out all over the city due to the lightning strikes.
    Inside the palace, Jalal rushes to Shazi's room to get her out of the palace as it's being struck by lightning and major damage is being done there also with walls even caving in, along with the fact that they've heard intruders have invaded the gates now that the storm has blown them away.  Shazi tells Jalal to go find Despina and he tells her that she must be his first priority since she is the queen.  Shazi tells him about Despina being pregnant so that he will go.
     Tariq climbs into her room to take her from the palace and the Rajput fights him but Tariq kills him.  Shazi is devastated as she is living two separate lives now and although she knows the Rajput would have killed Tariq and she loves Tariq, she was also friends with the Rajput.
     In the chaos, Shazi agrees to go with Tariq just until they get to safety, and then she will tell him in a calmer place about how she must go back to the palace and of her love for Khalid.  
     When Jalal is at the stables when they try to escape, in order to avoid a fight between Tariq, Rahim, and Jalal, she tells Tariq and Rahim that she can't go with them, that she is home and that she is staying there.     Not knowing that her father is powerful enough to bring about destruction such as this, she believes this is part of the curse and tells Jalal that she has to be here when Khalid comes back so that he can fulfill the prophecy and kill her like he's supposed to and that she will make him do it to avoid the city being ripped to shreds.  
     Jalal tells Tariq to take her out of the city, since he knows that Khalid could never do it and it's better to think that she ran off with Tariq than for her to stay and Khalid be tortured between loving her and destroying his city. When Tariq tells her that her father is waiting for her on a hill outside the city she tells him to take her to him.
     The book ends with two riders meeting on a hill near the border.  It is Reza and Salim who are bargaining to become allies to take down the palace, unbeknownst to Tariq.  When Salim tells Reza he can supply his cause with weapons, one of Salim's soldiers steps forward and in the moonlight a tattoo on his arm flashes; a scarab, the mark of the Fida'i.  Now we know that Salim is the one who sent the assassins to take Shazi that night.
     Khalid, now back home, stands on his balcony and writes a letter to Shazi before burning it, declaring in it that he will never regret loving her and that he knows he wouldn't have done anything different.

End of Book 1

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass

     The Selection is now down to only 6 girls, with America spending more and more time with Maxon and everyone is under the impression that she is his favorite, including America.  Maxon is getting frustrated with her though, wanting her to declare that she wants him completely so that the Selection can end and they can begin planning their life, but she just keeps telling him she needs time, as she's still trying to sort out her feelings between him and Aspen.  Aspen keeps telling her that he will never stop fighting for her, but she's making it hard for him when Maxon gets all of her time and he only sees her in secret passing.
     Maxon tells America he has a surprise for her, and takes her to a hidden room filled with books and a computer.  He tells her his family are the only ones who know about this room and to keep it a secret.  He looks up Halloween and shows her all the information he has on it (her previous question to him in book one when he told her he could answer any question about anything) and pulls a book out of one of the shelves and shows her a journal entry about a family getting ready for Halloween.  He reveals to her that it is none other than General Illea's journal, and since he has to go he tells her that she can take it with her to read as long as it stays hidden and she doesn't show anyone.
     Later on, Maxon tells her he's decided to throw a Halloween party since it ihasn't been celebrated in so long and that he is inviting all the girls families to visit them.  America is ecstatic.  She begins thinking through everything and realizes the thought of another girl with Maxon kills her, so she admits her feelings to him and tells him she couldn't be without him.  Now he is the one who is ecstatic that she's finally revealed that she's not only there for the money for her family or some other reason, but because she loves him.
      Her family shows up and she has a converation with her dad about Maxon.  He asks her if she's happy and she says she is but that she's worried because she's found out that at the party one of the girls will be eliminated.  He asks her why she thinks it could be her and she dodges the question, but she's noticed in the past week that he had made time for all the other girls and he never once came to see her again.  Later, Marlee and America see Maxon walking in the gardens with America's father and talking.  America asks if he's been talking to everyone's father but Marlee doesn't know.  If he did, he didn't take the other fathers to the garden.
     At the party, Maxon dances with all the other girls and completely ignores her, so she begins talking to Aspen and gets confused once again as she knows she still loves him.  Maxon does eventually ask her to dance, and when he sees she's upset he apologizes and tells her he didn't realize she would see it as she did; that he was only spending time with the other girls in case she changed her mind about being with him to try to find a possible backup, but that it's only her for him, and he talked to her father for his permission to ask her to marry him and he was waiting until the morning and would announce the Selection had ended at that time.  America goes to bed happy about what the future will hold.
     The next morning, her handmaidens wake her up before the usual time and tell her she must get up and come downstairs.  Unsure of what's happening since they won't tell her anything she does what they ask and she's placed in a black dress and taken to the grand foyer.  All the other girls are there too except Marlee and America begins to get a sick feeling in her stomach, as she sees this will not be the happy announcement she expected this morning.
     The palace doors are opened and the girls are paraded outside and onto a platform with seats for each of them.  The whole city is there cheering for the girls.  America tries to catch Maxon's eye but he purposefully ignores her.
     Soon, America realizes what's going on when she sees one of the guards, Officer Carter Woodwark, a very kind man that she accidentally bumped into one day on her way to the restroom while in the Ladies parlor with Marlee, being led out in chains.  The cries of the crowd turn from cheers to dismay.  Marlee is led out behind Woodwark in chains also.
     An announcement is made that they have been caught in a state of intimacy and that this crime is punishable by death, but that Maxon and the king have agreed to let them live but that they will receive 20 lashes and their status will be reduced to that of an 8.  America realizes that this is what Marlee has been hiding from her all this time when she revealed she didn't want to win the Selection.  It was because she's been in love with Carter this whole time.
     When the lashings begin, America hears Carter comforting Marlee and telling her it will be over soon.  They begin to whip Marlee across her hands until they are bloody pulps and America can't take it anymore.  She screams for them to stop and tries to run to Marlee, but guards capture her and drag her back to her room.  When Maxon finally comes to her, she tells him that although she understands he didn't have a choice, she doesn't think she can be a princess and have to watch something like that again.  He begs her not to desert him, to give him time to fix it, and that things aren't always that way.  She reluctantly agrees.
     Later in the women's room, America is trying her best to hold it together although she misses Marlee and her family terribly and needs their advice (the parents were sent home after the beating had happened) when Celeste says that Marlee got what she deserved and is a whore.  America finally beats the crap out of her and they are pulled apart and taken to the hospital wing to be patched up.
     Aspen comes to see her once she's back in her room and consoles her for what has happened.  He gives her a button from his guard suit and tells her that although he can't give her the things Maxon can, that he wants to at least give her some piece of him as a reminder that he's still there for her.  She threads it onto a bracelet and wears it from that point on.
     Celeste, being a brat as always, tells America to look at a magazine article she's found, and America knows it can't be good news if Celeste wants her to see it.  The article talks about how girls are fighting within the palace now and America's outburst during Marlee's beating and it shows that America has dropped from one of the favorites to win all the way to last place.
     Sylvia, an employee of the crown who has been teaching the girls school lessons and etiquette, reveals to the girls that foreign guests are coming to the palace and the girls will be split into two teams and will be required to plan the parties for the guests as a test to what they have learned.  It is Celeste, Natalie, and Elise on one team and Kriss and America on another.  America finds out from working so closely with Kriss that she and Maxon have been spending a lot of time together and America begins to wonder if he's moved on to her now that America has revealed she doesn't think she can be a princess.  America likes Kriss and can tell Kriss really loves Maxon so she is even more torn with her feelings.
     There is a rebel attack on the palace and America doesn't get inside from the gardens in time so she runs into the forest and hides in a tree.  Two of the rebels come along and one of them drops the backpack she is carrying.  America sees it is full of books.  The girl looks up and sees America in the tree and America fears she will be killed, but the girl just smiles, bows, and runs away to catch up with the boy she's with.
     The parties go great, but Kriss and America pull off the best one, and before the representatives from Spain leave, one of them named Nicoletta pulls America aside and tells her that she is with her and that if she becomes the princess to look her up as she feels they could make great changes together.  America's heart swells as she finally has an ally in Nicoletta and of course her father even if no one else believes she can be a princess, herself included.
     Maxon sends a note that he needs to see America and the other girls think that she's being kicked out, but Maxon takes her to the princess suite to show it to her and to give her a surprise.  There is a hidden panel in one of the wardrobes and Marlee is inside.  It turns out Maxon has kept Marlee and Carter at the palace the whole time and was trying to find the best time to let America see her without anyone finding out, especially his father since he knows he would be outraged.  Marlee has been working in the kitchens and Maxon promises that he will sneak her out as much as he can to visit America.  Marlee and Carter have gotten married and are living in a small home beyond the kitchen area.
   Maxon and his father have to leave suddenly to go on a trip to New Asia because of a dispute there, so America and Aspen begin spending more and more time together.  A project is given to the girls by Sylvia to come up with an idea for changing the country for the greater good.  All the girls seem excited and America is too until she realizes she has no ideas that are feasible for what could be done to fix all the problems within the country and the world.  She's seen the poverty firsthand and all the bad things that come along with it, but she can't think of a solution.
     She begins reading the General's diary, hoping to get some ideas, and realizes this man who the whole world looks up to is nothing but a tyrant.  He sells his daughter off to another royal so that he will be a king rather than just a president and has connived the whole time, not to find a way for the greater good of the country, but the best way to become powerful, and so this is when he establishes the caste system.  He will place his enemies lowest on the caste scale so that their voices will be silenced for good and place those loyal to him higher on the scale.
     As she begins to think about it, America realizes why the history they've been taught has never been taught from books.  They've been told by everyone that "history is something you should just know, not something that has to be written down", and America sees that if it isn't written down, the truth isn't ever really out there and can be bent from generation to generation which is exactly what General Illea did.  Those loyal to him developed the history that he was a hero and those in the lower castes, although they probably passed on the truth from generation to generation, were by that point looked down upon so much that even if they did tell the truth no one would listen and it would be seen as treason.
     She goes to tell Maxon to find out if he knows what a monster Illea was and to tell him that she thinks the rebels have been looking for the diaries this whole time to try to show the world how Illea was.  The guards to his room tell her he doesn't want to be disturbed and she starts to go back to her room, but one of the servants in the hall whispers to her that he isn't in his room and that they're rooting for her to win.
     America goes through the palace trying to find him, and when she hears whispering and giggling around a corner she turns in shock to see Celeste with her body pinning Maxon to a wall and them kissing each other.  Maxon looks up and sees her watching and turns to stone.  She runs to her room angry and hurt, unable to believe what she saw since she's told him a thousand times what a horrible person Celeste is.  She sees that although she thought she and Kriss were the frontrunners for being the princess she's been fooled the whole time.  For someone to follow in the same footsteps of Illea and rule a country, they would have to have a princess content with keeping a country under their thumb which of course is exactly how Celeste is.
     America tells Maxon she wants to leave, that she's done with everything.  He refuses and tries to tell her that Celeste means nothing to him, but America won't hear it and demands to be sent home.  He again refuses so she throws the bracelet at him that he gave her and tells him to leave and not come back to her room.  Knowing that he won't kick her out, she tries to figure out a way to be kicked out and go out with a bang.
     When it comes time for the girls presentation of their projects on the Capitol Report, America keeps hers a secret until the time comes, and then reveals on national tv that she thinks the caste system should be eliminated. She then pulls out General Illeas diary and starts to quote a passage from it and the king has the newsfeed cut.  He demands to know where she got the diary and Maxon tells him he gave it to her to read when they were looking up items on Halloween.  The king tells Maxon that America is to be kicked out immediately. Before the king leaves the room to go talk to Maxon, he tells Natalie that he has some bad news for her and that her sister was killed in a rebel attack that morning.  In all the confusion and sadness in the room where everyone is comforting Natalie, America goes to her room to collect her things.
     When she starts down the hallway Maxon is there and he tells her that although he wants change too, announcing it to the whole country was not the way to go.  The changes have to be subtle or there will be riots and the country will never be pieced back together, plus since he isn't the king yet he can't do anything at the moment.  In the midst of their conversation there is a surprise rebel attack and Maxon and America go to one of the servant safe rooms since they won't be able to get to the royal safe room in time.  Maxon hails a guard and tells him to tell his family that he is safe and to find them when it's over.  Once in the room, Maxon takes off his shirt and asks America to help him and she sees huge slashes on his back and scarring from previous beatings and realizes it's from his father. They talk and he tells her he became so close to Kriss after everything with Marlee because he was afraid he was losing her and he knew that he had to find someone else.  After a while he began to realize what a sweet person she was and he admits to America that it's not like it is with her, it's more of a steady growth in is heart, but he does have feelings for Kriss too.
     He tells her that although it's supposed to be his choice, his father has had his hand in the Selection this whole time, hence why Natalie and Celeste are still there.  His father likes Celeste, and Natalie has no free will of her own so his dad knows she would be pliable when queen.  The king doesn't like America since she is so strong willed, but was willing to let her stay since Maxon liked her as long as she didn't upset the balance.  When she did, Maxon knew there was nothing he could do.  America apologizes to him, not realizing what she did would cause his father to take out his anger on Maxon and that she didn't think through what she was doing fully, she was just so angry that she knew she wanted to leave.  They reconcile even though they both know it's too late.
     After waiting so long they realize the attack must be over and they leave the room.  The guard who was supposed to tell the royal family that they were safe was killed in the attack and so they realize everyone has been searching frantically for them thinking them dead. America packs up her things to leave once the attack is over.
     America is relieved to see that Aspen has survived the attack and tells him she's going home, but tells him that she needs time alone before trying to contact him.  She admits that she loves Maxon, and although Aspen has told her he would wait for her, she doesn't want them to be together just because they are each others only options at the moment.  He tells her there will never be anyone else for him and he will wait as long as it takes, the same way Maxon did when she came to the castle heartbroken over Aspen.
     Before she leaves Maxon comes to her and tells her that his family is so overjoyed that he is alive that they have decided to allow America to stay if she wants to due to the fact that he told his dad America's quick thinking getting him to the servant's safe room is what saved his life.  He also tells her that if she does stay, he knows that his father will still do anything in his power to get rid of her and asks if she's willing to accept that.  He also tells her that she is the one who will now have to wait for him, as he's seen how she makes reckless decisions when she gets angry and he will still be spending time with Kriss to see how he feels about her.  Knowing how much she loves him now she tells him that she will do anything she needs to.
     When she starts to go back to her room the king corners her in the hallway and tells her that she is not queen material and that she shouldn't be content with her standing with Maxon as men are fickle and a single moment can change their hearts forever.  She doesn't say anything but tells him that as long as Maxon wants her there she will be staying, and she vows in her heart that this will truly be a competition now.  She will fight his father for Maxon, she will fight Maxon's feelings for Kriss, and she vows she will win his heart.