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The Selection Series: Books 4 and 5

titleCass, Kiera. THE HEIR. 2015. (YA Fiction Cass.K)

Cass, Kiera. THE CROWN. 2016. (YA Fiction Cass.K) 

I’m writing this as a separate review from the first three books in the series because these two follow a different main character.


Princess Eadlyn Schreave is the product of one of the most fairy tale love stories the kingdom has ever known: that of her parents, King Maxon and Queen America. Eadlyn was born just a few moments before her twin brother, and her parents changed the law so that she could become the first female ruler of the kingdom.

Maxon and America have abolished the caste system and not everyone is happy with that decision—most notably, those who used to be of a high caste. Some people even believe that there should not be a monarchy anymore in order to make every citizen truly equal to the next. There is unrest in the kingdom and as a distraction, her parents convince Eadlyn to have her own Selection. Eadlyn is opposed to the idea, believing that she does not need a husband’s help to rule the kingdom. However, she does want to help her parents, and although Eadlyn does not believe that she will find anyone she wants to spend the rest of her life with, she accepts—if the Selection is conducted on her own terms.

Read more: The Selection Series: Books 4 and 5


The Selection Series: Books 1-3

titleBook 1: Cass, Kiera. THE SELECTION. 2012. (YA Fiction Cass.K)

Book 2: Cass, Kiera. THE ELITE. 2013. (YA Fiction Cass.K)

Book 3: Cass, Kiera. THE ONE. 2014. (YA Fiction Cass.K)

This wonderful YA series is kind of like a cross between THE BACHELOR and THE HUNGER GAMES (with less death and gore). It takes place in a society where citizens are divided in castes, numbered One through Eight, each with its own role to play. Ones are the royalty, Twos are the celebrities and members of the military, Threes are the ‘great minds’—teachers, inventors, doctors and such, Fours are the businessmen, Fives are the performers,  Sixes are the workers and the servants at the palace, Sevens are the manual laborers and Eights are the ‘unemployable’-- those with mental illnesses, addictions and traitors to the crown. When the heir to the crown reaches marrying age, a competition called The Selection is held. Thirty-five eligible, randomly selected women from across the kingdom are brought in to compete for the prince’s hand.

Read more: The Selection Series: Books 1-3


"Most Blessed of Patriarchs"


Gordon-Reed, Annette and Peter S. Onuf.  "Most Blessed of Patriarchs": Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination. 2016. 973.46 Gordo.A

When I was growing up my politically centrist parents sometimes called me Jefferson. They idolized him as a broad-minded small-government hero and wanted me to do likewise. So I did, having no idea what that meant. Decades later I'm less a fan of his politics--for the moment I'm in the corner of his rival, Alexander Hamilton; see review below--but I'm still impressed by Jefferson's talents. He was gifted in philosophy, architecture, engineering, languages, agriculture, and a dozen other fields. The other fields included music, which I didn't know till I picked up this book. "When he was not talking or listening, he was humming or singing," observed a contemporary. His draft of the Declaration of Independence "should sound symphonic when read aloud," he felt. Music and the arts in general were a more powerful calling than politics. Jefferson and his future wife, Martha Wayles, were singing a duet in her father's parlor one day when two other suitors arrived on the Wayles' doorstep. Hearing the voices blending, they looked at each other, agreed they stood no chance, and left without interrupting. (Jeff B., Reader's Services)


Hamilton: The Revolution


Miranda, Lin-Manuel and Jeremy McCarter. Hamilton: The Revolution. 2016. 782.14 Miran.L Hamilto

When I first heard about the show I didn't pay attention. A hip-hop musical about the American Revolution and Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton? Not for me, I thought. That initial reaction embarrasses me now. The musical is one of the top artistic achievements ever, and this book gives the back story. Critic and artist McCarter outlines how the show was born and developed, and composer/lyricist/librettist Miranda offers hundreds of footnotes detailing creative challenges.

"Hamilton" artfully tells an 18th-century story--of politics, passion, revolution, parenthood--within a contemporary musical framework. The story is told through outsiders: Hamilton was an immigrant from the Caribbean, and the performers are mostly people of color. These twists dramatically expand the universe of theatergoers and soundtrack-listeners. (Well, the universe of listeners anyhow--tickets to an actual show will be mighty pricey for a long time.)

Read more: Hamilton: The Revolution


The Road to Little Dribbling

titleBryson, Bill. The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain. 2015. (914.1 Bryso.B)

Bryson's at it again. Traipsing around Britain. Cracking wise, offending, lauding, kvetching...and making us laugh out loud.  He's done this before way back in 1995 as a newcomer to Great Britain and diehard Anglophile. In Notes from a Small Island, launched just a bit before he hit it big with his later books, Bryson began his love/befuddlement relationship with all things British, many of which, even back then, he described as quirky, inexplicable and devised to make a casual observer wonder about the inner workings of the British mind. He took us on a trek to some pretty obscure places, but entertained us with loads of really trivial but fun facts about ancient ruins, forgotten inventors, eccentric wealthy folks and obscure customs. Now a full-fledged British citizen, having acquired an English wife (and subsequently English kids and grandkids) Bryson revisits many of those places in this book. Guess what. He's still doing that same thing--exploring, explaining and making us snort, guffaw or hoot with laughter. 

(Barbara L., Reader's Services)


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