The Selection series, by Kiera Cass: A Review

I was initially drawn to these books because of their beautiful covers. I only had the first book in this series on my list to read this year originally, though I fully intended to read all of them eventually. When I merged my “rainbow list” with the expanded 2017 Reading Challenge list, I decided to read the entire series as #17: A trilogy or series.

The story has an interesting premise, if a little overdone. My first impression as I started reading was this is The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor. My opinion was vindicated when I saw this on the back cover of book two (The Elite):

A cross between The Hunger Games (minus the bloodsport) and The Bachelor (minus the bloodsport).” – Publishers Weekly

The Selection series is above all else, a romance story. It is the story of sixteen year old America Singer, one of thirty-five girls chosen to compete to become the wife of Prince Maxon. America initially doesn’t want to join the Selection and doesn’t expect to even like the prince.

America’s reluctance to join the Selection – despite the benefits to her family, and pressure from her mother – stem from her secret romance with a boy who is a caste level below her. Everything in her society is opposed to her forming any permanent relationship with this boy despite their love for one another.

Besides the love triangle, there are elements of intrigue in the story. This is a culture deep in unrest, but how deeply this runs isn’t apparent at first. The first book barely touches on this part, focusing more on the elimination of girls from the Selection – dropping from thirty-five down to just eight by the end of book one.

We do learn in book one, about two groups of rebels that routinely attack the royal palace. Rebel activity really ramps up in book two, and by book three, things finally come to a head.

In the end, America has to decide who she is, and what she really wants before she can move in any relationship. Through some often painful growing up, she does ultimately make new friends in unlikely places.

I enjoyed reading this series. It is clearly a teen romance book, complete with the requisite teenage drama and poor decisions, but was a quick, fun read. I’m not convinced it needed to be a trilogy, however, as the story feels a little stretched in places.

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Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge – September 27, 2017

Welcome to the Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge! Join me in finding inspiration in unexpected places. Each week I post a new prompt intended to spark ideas for whatever writing project you’re working on—a journal entry, a poem, a short story. The possibilities are endless!

If you wish, consider sharing a link to your response in the comments below. There are a few simple rules, so please check them out below before posting.

Check your horoscope today, and then write how it compares with what you are actually experiencing in your life right now.

Thanks for playing along! Happy writing!

Rules for posting to Wednesday Writing Challenge:

  1. Must be family friendly.
  2. Hate and intolerance will not be accepted.
  3. No pornography, erotica, graphic violence or excessive profanity.

Have fun. Be creative. And let’s write more words!

Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge – September 20, 2017

Welcome to the Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge! Join me in finding inspiration in unexpected places. Each week I post a new prompt intended to spark ideas for whatever writing project you’re working on—a journal entry, a poem, a short story. The possibilities are endless!

If you wish, consider sharing a link to your response in the comments below. There are a few simple rules, so please check them out below before posting.

Reread the first paragraph of a book that you’ve read in the past year. Use this paragraph as the first paragraph in a new short story.

Thanks for playing along! Happy writing!

Rules for posting to Wednesday Writing Challenge:

  1. Must be family friendly.
  2. Hate and intolerance will not be accepted.
  3. No pornography, erotica, graphic violence or excessive profanity.

Have fun. Be creative. And let’s write more words!

The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman: A Review

I first chose The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman as one of the books to join my “Year of the Series” rainbow list because it’s been on my shelf for too long already. It’s a book I’ve wanted to read for awhile, especially since I picked up a copy at a random used book sale.

It then found a place on my 2017 Reading Challenge list as #26, a book set in a country I’ve never been to. Finding a country I’ve never been to wasn’t hard. I’ve only been outside the United States on three occasions. Finding a book set in another country, however, proved more difficult. The majority of the books I’d chosen were fantasy novels set it a world all their own, and not in the real world. By process of elimination, therefore, The Golden Compass ended up in this slot.

It turns out, The Golden Compass isn’t technically set in our world after all. It’s an alternate universe version of our world. Pullman has created a beautiful world filled with stunning language and imagery. His fantasy realm is anchored on our own world, at once both familiar and foreign.

This is the story of Lyra, an eleven year old girl who ends up caught between forces much larger than herself. But that’s not to say that she is merely driven along the path of the story by destiny. Lyra is a precocious, curious little girl who is quite capable of taking matters into her own hands. Her decisions impact the direction the story will go.

The tale that ensues is a fantastic ride. The writing is so smooth, it’s not difficult to set aside the questions and wait for the answers. There is so much I liked about this book, but to share it here risks spoiling the fun for someone else. I found this to be a phenomenal and satisfying read, and book two is set up perfectly at the end of this one. (Making a mental note to acquire the rest of the series!)

Bravahilarium – The Art of Being a Boy

Parenting isn’t easy. It never has been, and it never will be. That’s not to say there aren’t wonderful moments raising children, but it is certainly a challenge every day.

I’m in the middle of raising three incredible boys. They are incredibly busy, incredibly boisterous. They are incredible jumpers, fighters, huggers. They are fast, noisy, silly, infuriating and absolutely adorable.

When this Mary Poppins prompt came up, I decided I wanted to create a word for my boys. A word that speaks to who they are. I thought about all the noises they make, silly and crude and above all, loud. I wanted to include some of that in my word. As I listened in to their noise, my eldest broke out into a chorus of “butt-butty-butt-butt,” or something very like that. Potty talk and body noises are absolutely hilarious, of course. Unfortunately, most of their noise doesn’t convert well to anything resembling an actual word.

More than just a reflection of who they are, I wanted my word to express what I want my boys to be. Something that speaks of their enthusiasm for life, their wild abandon at play and their sweet, tender hearts underneath all the noise and dirt. I wanted to create a word that conveys all the things I want my boys to be: brave, strong, kind, sensitive, caring, funny, courageous.

This word should express the art of boyhood. It should be a roar of triumph, and a quiet whisper of tenderness. And between all of that, it should be filled with silliness.

My attempt then, to sum up boyhood in to a single nonsense word came down to this, a word with all the bravado and posturing they do with each other, that contains all their smiles and giggles, and that ends with the soft sigh of a hug.

bravahilarium
n. brə väˈhə lerˈēəm
the art of being a boy

Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge – September 13, 2017

Welcome to the Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge! Join me in finding inspiration in unexpected places. Each week I post a new prompt intended to spark ideas for whatever writing project you’re working on—a journal entry, a poem, a short story. The possibilities are endless!

If you wish, consider sharing a link to your response in the comments below. There are a few simple rules, so please check them out below before posting.

Go to the Writer’s Digest web site (or another market source) and pick five magazines in areas that interest you – gardening, parenting, doll collecting, sports, whatever – but that you have never queried before. Study the guidelines carefully and develop an action plan for querying one of these magazines for each of the next five months.

Thanks for playing along! Happy writing!

Rules for posting to Wednesday Writing Challenge:

  1. Must be family friendly.
  2. Hate and intolerance will not be accepted.
  3. No pornography, erotica, graphic violence or excessive profanity.

Have fun. Be creative. And let’s write more words!

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle: A Review

I read A Wrinkle in Time as book I can finish in a day, #10 on my 2017 Reading Challenge list. At only 211 pages, it should have been a lot easier than it was to finish in a single day. I managed it, but only just. To be fair, I was off work for the Labor Day holiday, and my kids were under foot all day long, making reading time difficult to come by.

Nevertheless, I did read this book in a single day. Once I was finally able to immerse myself into the story, I was swept away by this magical tale.

A Wrinkle in Time is the story of Margaret (Meg) Murry. As the story opens we learn that Meg’s parents are both brilliant scientists, her father has been missing for some time and the community believes he has abandoned his family, there’s something very special about Meg’s youngest brother, and Meg herself is considered plain and unintelligent. Reading through the story, we learn that Meg is not so plain or unintelligent, though she certainly believes this to be true.

L’Engle’s style is direct and unassuming. Her characters are unique and quirky. A Wrinkle in Time is a beautifully written coming-of-age sort of story where Meg learns to overcome the things she’s always believed she is not, in order to become who she really is.

The opening to the Time Quintet series, this classic science fiction story should be a must-read for young readers and older readers alike. Have you read it? I’d love to hear what you think of the book.