The Selection by Kiera Cass
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
"I might be a Five, but I wasn't worthless."
Let me start by saying I adore the entire concept for this book. It is sort of like The Bachelor meets The Princess Diaries meets The Giver.
In this dystopian world, each person's life is strictly dictated by their "rank." Each rank (1-8) is tied to specific jobs, social status, opportunities, and even food rations. Everything is dictated by your number. When a prince comes of age, though, in the royal family, every girl of age can be entered into the lottery. This is really the only way your family can climb the social ladder.
America is in love with a boy in a class lower than hers. She decides to enter the lottery to appease her family and Aspen, however. She is surprised when she is picked to be part of the selection. As she enters a world completely foreign to her, she tries to resist the prince and the process. However, she quickly finds Maxon is far from the snobby, stuck up man she imagined.
I liked, as I said, the overall idea. The writing is great and builds the characters well. My biggest let down with this novel was that not a lot happened. There was a whole lot of setup for the characters, the palace, and the process. A love triangle ensued. But nothing was decided on. No major action happened. By the end of the book I was shocked that it was, in fact, the end. I felt like there wasn't enough tension or plot happening.
I think the series would be great to continue with. I just think for the first book in the series, there should have been a lot more exciting, tense moments.
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Memories of another life, and the garden where it all began, keep Amalie Jarvis awake at night.
A columnist for a popular magazine, she attends a function in Palm Beach at the famous Breakers Hotel, only to cross paths with graphic designer Ian Gardner—who appears to hold the key to her visions. The more time they spend together, the more Amalie realizes how much she wants to be with him. And how much she fears admitting that she loves him.
Ian can’t remember the past, but he is drawn to Amalie with an intense passion he’s never felt before.
Many moons ago, they met in a garden. Different names, different faces—but their souls were still the same. Unable to resist her, Ian falls deeply in love. He remains by her side as she battles severe facial pain, not knowing what it is or if it could kill her. Frightened for her, he swears his adoration without ever speaking the words.
But their devotion has dangers, and they’re about to be faced by hazards neither of them could have foreseen…
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
Buy on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1TLR1hw
About the Author
Rosa Sophia lives in South Florida in a cottage by the sea. She is an automotive technician, crazy cat lady, and member of the Editorial Freelancers Association. She is the author of numerous novels including Meet Me In the Garden, Over the Ivy Wall, Orion Cross My Sky, and The House Guest.
What am I doing here?
We all have days when we wonder what the answer to this question is.
There are days of feeling down, feeling unnoticed, feeling like a royal mess-up.
There are days when we hurt others, when we get hurt, when we feel like a failure.
There are days when we want to quit, when we're tired, when we just want to throw in the towel.
There are days when we're confused, when we're lost, when we're just drowning in a sea of uncertainty.
What am I doing here?
It's a question that has been a universal question since man's existence, a question we try to answer in so many ways.
It is for this reason I love Walt Whitman's poem. He tries to answer the question.
His final verdict?
You are here for a reason. You have something to contribute.
The meaning of life is that it just is.
O Me! O Life!
BY WALT WHITMAN
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
"In the fairy tales, the poor girl smiles when she becomes a princess. Right now, I don't know if I'll ever smile again."
Red Queen follows the story of Mare Borrow in a world where discrimination runs high. In this world, the reds and the silvers are at war, the silvers being in power. People are grouped by the color of their blood. The silvers have special, supernatural powers, while the reds are more like the traditional "humans." Mare is a red, living in difficult conditions. Her life changes when she unknowingly meets a silver who "saves" her by getting her a job at the palace. When Mare learns she is not like the reds and has qualities of the silvers, her life forever changes. She ends up in a royal war, like many queens do. However, she also finds herself in a war between two brothers who are lined up for the throne.
Overall, the idea for this book was interesting. I liked the whole "rags to princess" story with a twist. I liked the post-apocalyptic feel and the premise of the red and silver bloods. However, this book never really grabbed me. I had trouble finding an emotional connection to Mare, even though the story was told in first person. For this type of narration, I just felt very distant from the protagonist. I also was not super involved in the love story the author weaved. There wasn't really a deep connection built either way, and I had a hard time buying into the love triangle.
The last one hundred pages of the book definitely picked up. The plot was exciting and there were a lot of twists, which I did really like. I still was never fully invested in the main character. I hope that the sequel to this book picks up with the same pace as the ending of this book because then I think the series would get a higher rating from me. Overall, this is an okay young adult read, but it is lacking the emotion and connection I look for in this type of work.
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Our lives are a string of worries.
Do my shoes match my outfit? Did I remember to pay the electric bill? Does my email sound too harsh? What will I make for dinner? Is she really mad at me or just tired? Are my split ends showing? Is this pimple super noticeable? Do they think I’m annoying?
Questions, fears, and to do lists swirl in our minds until we’re so dizzy we can barely see straight.
We flitter about from one task to the next, never resting, barely breathing, trying to accomplish and succeed and plan and promise. We live our lives in the fast lane, we live them in a whirring momentum we can’t stop.
At the end of the day, does it matter if my necklace is purple and my shirt is pink? Does it matter if there’s a gray hair poking out from my roots or if I forgot to return my library book on time or if I spelled a word wrong in the email? Does it matter if the meatballs were a little burnt or there’s mud on the carpet or I haven’t cleaned the ceiling fan in a year?
Our lives are a string of worries.
But are they the right ones? Sometimes we need to step back, to breathe, to get off the crazy train speeding toward the future. We need to realize our worries are not always the things that matter most. In fact, they rarely are.
Our lives are a string of worries, but they don’t have to be.
Take a moment, take it all in, and realize what matters. If today was it, would you really worry about the bills or putting gas in the car or finding organic apples at the store? Or would you spend your time doing what matters most—loving your family, finding your bliss, and soaking in the beauty around you?
Our lives are a string of worries… but you can choose to cut the string and focus on what matters most.
►►► #NewRelease ◄◄◄
FALLBACK (The Dead Survive Book 2) by Lori Whitwam, Author is now available for purchase on Amazon!
► #oneclick →→ http://amzn.to/1NicBG5
► Publisher: LIMITLESS PUBLISHING
►►► SYNOPSIS ◄◄◄
After being rescued from a brutal band of marauders, Ellen Hale rebuilt her life in the fortified neighborhood that became her home. A heartbreaking decision and devastating loss pushed her to become a fierce fighter, because weakness only got you and those you loved killed.
Now her community is facing a deadly threat, and Ellen has another choice to make.
Ellen volunteers as a member of fallback team three, tasked with establishing a temporary refuge for their citizens in the event their community is overrun by the enemy. As the danger intensifies, she and her adopted sister, Melissa, set off with the rest of their team on the road trip from hell.
Their mission is cloaked in secrecy, but suspicions of a traitor arise.
Something is affecting the zombies’ migration patterns, and when blacksmith Tyler Garrett is discovered trapped in a farmhouse, the team refuses to trust him. But Ellen believes his story, and it’s not just because of his rugged, blond good looks and soft-spoken manner—his skills can greatly benefit their team.
As the team struggles to reach the fallback, previously secure locations are overrun, and their chances of success seem remote. With the likelihood of a traitor nearly certain, and the lives of everyone she loves at risk, Ellen must figure out who to trust before the traitor—or the zombies—destroy them all.
Is there a spy among the fallback team,
or is there another threat lurking in the Kentucky hills?
►►► PURCHASE ◄◄◄
AMAZON →→ http://amzn.to/1NicBG5
►►► Meet the author ◄◄◄
Lori spent her early years reading books in a tree in northern West Virginia. The 1980s and 90s found her and her husband moving around the Midwest, mainly because it was easier to move than clean the apartment. After seventeen frigid years in Minnesota, she fled to coastal North Carolina in 2013. She will never leave, and if you try to make her, she will hurt you.
She has worked in public libraries, written advertising copy for wastewater treatment equipment, and managed a holistic veterinary clinic. Her current day job, conducted from her World Headquarters and Petting Zoo (her couch) is as the Managing Editor for Limitless Publishing, as well as editing for a select group of indie authors.
Her dogs are a big part of her life, and she has served or held offices in Golden Retriever and Great Pyrenees rescues, a humane society, a county kennel club, and her own chapter of Therapy Dogs International.
She has been a columnist and feature writer for auto racing and pet publications, and won the Dog Writers Association of America’s Maxwell Award for a series of humor essays.
Parents of a grown son, Lori and her husband were high school sweethearts, and he manages to love her in spite of herself. Some of his duties include making sure she always has fresh coffee and safe tires, trying to teach her to use coupons, and convincing the state police to spring her from house arrest in her hotel room in time for a very important concert. That last one only happened once—so far—but she still really, really appreciates it.
You can find her online at http://www.loriwhitwam.com.
Her Facebook author page is http://www.facebook.com/loriauthor
When you're a writer, there are several big dreams you have.
1. Get a contract
2. Hit the Bestseller list
3. Be at author signings and events
For the third item, the dream usually involves crowds of people, sold out stands of books, and hours of signing book after book.
I haven't had lines of people, and I certainly haven't pulled up in a limo to crowds shouting my name. I have had three very successful Barnes & Noble book signings I am so thankful for, though. I've had groups of friends, family, and even strangers support me at our local Barnes & Noble, and I've been so fortunate to live by a store that supports local authors like me. These events are huge confidence boosters, and they remind me to keep writing.
So when I booked an event for today back in March at an outdoor book festival, the bookworm in me and the author in me screamed. An outdoor book festival with loads of vendors, food, authors, and book signings? I immediately starting planning giveaways, ordering a tablecloth (pink, of course), and planning our trip. I bought a sundress--it would be hot, of course--and picked out some new sunglasses. I had a vision of sunny skies, books flying off the table, and reaching a new market.
Oh, the possibilities. Oh, the dream.
Then came the rain.
A Not-So-Perfect Author Event
100% chance of rain.
These were the words that shifted by picture of the anticipated book fest to a gloomy view. My husband and I watched Harry Potter this weekend and laughed at the rainy, gloomy castle scene because we knew this would be our world.
So I traded in my sundress for rain boots and a coat. We swapped out posters on our author table with some waterproof frames. We got tarps ready. We got rid of our "Love is" sign in board. We made adjustments. We got ready.
Then we got to the festival. We got semi-lost on the way in and couldn't find a spot in the parking garage. We ended up walking with two totes of books...and we ended up fighting on the way in to the festival. We got soaked. We were cold. We'd been up since 5 in the morning. We drove almost three hours. We got to our tent... and everything was wet. The rain was pelting the tent, collecting in the middle. The wind was blowing said rain into our faces.
It was not the book festival of my dreams.
We were surrounded by amazing authors and vendors who were trying their best to put on a sunshine face despite the gloomy weather. But as I quickly perused the sparse crowd, I realized the books flying off the table would not be because of massive sales... they would be because of wind.
I looked to my husband. I was teary-eyed, sad that he had wasted his day off to drive me to a rained-out festival. I was sad over all of the work and time and effort and money I'd put into the day.
Most of all, I was feeling my way to that dark place every author goes once in a while: the place of feeling like a failure. I felt like the rain was a bleak symbol of my writing career.
Finding the Silver Linings: How My Husband Saved My Spirits
It didn't take long, though, for my husband to help me shake it off. Sure, we were still cold and miserable and wet. Sure, there weren't throngs of people milling around.
But he helped me see the good things. He helped me stop feeling sad about my writing just because of a bit--or a lot-- of rain.
I realized that sure, I might have only sold three books. Sure, in many eyes, this was a bit of an author failure.
But Chad helped me see that the festival was about so much more than dollar signs.
1. I met some really great people. There were so many authors who, like me, were trying to find their place in the business, who were working so hard to promote, to advertise, to sell. It was so inspiring to see others who had been working hard... and were still working hard.
2. I got the coolest Edgar Allan Poe T-shirt and mug from classicbooklovers.com. Seriously check out their website! They just started their business earlier this year, and I already want one of every T-shirt they have.
3. I got to hear some really successful authors speak. It was great to hear them talk about their writing, their struggles, and tips they'd learned.
4. I sold three books to three strangers. I, being the pessimist, felt sad about this. Chad, the optimist, reminded me that three people I don't know now are reading my books. Three people who will tell more people about it. And he also reminded me of how many books I sold at my two Barnes & Noble signing events this year.
5. Chad and I made crazy good memories. We had some really funny moments. Chad broke the melancholy with his typical, ridiculous humor about popcorn and Porta Potties and everything else. Sure, it wasn't my most profitable event. But the thing is, I know in ten years, we'll be able to say "remember when" about this event. We'll remember that even on the cold, rainy day when we both wanted to give up, we made it through together. I'll remember that even though he spent a lot of money and drove a lot of miles, Chad told me not to give up. He told me it was worth it. He told me to keep at it. Because that's the kind of marriage we have. Aside from all the jokes and fighting, he supports me, no matter what. So at the end of the day, I might not have made a ton of money. But I realized what an amazing guy I have sitting in the book tent beside me. What's better than that?
What is Author Success? Defining a Successful Author Event
So many times in the writing world, we let numbers define us. Sales amounts, author ranks, lists. These are what we base our worth on, these are what we let define our confidence.
Today reminded me, though, that there's so much more to being a writer. We write to tell our stories, whether it's to five million people or to three people on a rainy, gloomy day. We write to experience life, to tell about life, to connect with others. I connected with a lot of people today. I got to see a new town.
So if you have a book signing or event coming up, don't worry so much about how many sales you make. Don't stress if you don't meet your personal quota.
Instead, think about sharing your story. Think about how amazing it is that all of your hours inside your own head resulted in you standing somewhere holding a copy of your book you are ready to pass to someone else.
And think about the people standing beside you, through sunshine or monsoon-like weather. Think about how lucky you are to have those people who believe in you and the power of your words.
And then, write on.
Death. Destruction. Murder. Rape. War. Bombings. Threats.
It's easy, especially with social media making news available instantaneously, to think the world has gone completely to hell. It's easy to think the world is all evil and cruel. It's easy to overlook the good, the beautiful, the inspiring.
It's easy to feel like giving up, to feel like: what difference can I make?
As an English teacher, I get the opportunity to teach a lot of inspiring literature. I get to teach stories that show compassion, survival, empowerment.
As an English teacher, I also believe a book can change a life. A book can show you a piece of yourself you didn't even know was there.
Thus, below is a list of my five book recommendations for anyone needing some inspiration. These books will remind you what it means to be human and what it means to achieve your goals.
1. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
This book is the true story of a boy soldier in Sierra Leone. It's amazing how few Americans know about this huge war and the atrocities that happened during it. Beah's story is one of violence, of evil, and of the worst humanity has to offer. But, it is also about redemption. He reminds us you can let go of your past, no matter how horrific, and you can change your life.
2. I Am Malala
This girl inspires the heck out of me. Malala reminds me education is power. She reminds me of why I keep teaching. She also demonstrates a perfect balance of female empowerment, bravery, and dedication. She was willing to die for her goals. She has also used her experience to help others. She is humble, she is intelligent, and she is unstoppable.
3. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
"If you can take it, you can make it."
This was the motto that got Louie Zamperini through a war, a plane crash, a raft at sea, and years of internment and torture by the Japanese.
Some of you have probably seen the movie, but you should definitely read the book, too. Louie shows you the human spirit really is unbreakable. He defines courage. He defines the will to survive. Most of all, he defines how the love of family can get you through anything.
4. Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius
Imagine being trapped in your own body for twelve years. You are completely mentally functioning, but no one knows it. Thus, you are presumed a vegetable, brain dead, and useless.
Imagine coming out of that state. How would you feel? Would you be angry? Depressed? Enraged at what was stolen from you?
I know I would. But Martin Pistorius shows us what it means to move on. He survived this reality but has no harsh feelings about it. Instead, he talks about the need to enjoy life, the need to move on, the need to soak in every moment. Martin's story is chilling, but it shows us we shouldn't take any moment or anyone for granted.
5. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
This book sometimes gets a bad rap for being arrogant, but I COMPLETELY disagree. The Last Lecture is a dying man's final words to his family and to his students. It really helps you get your priorities in order. It shows you what matters and what doesn't. It makes you think: am I doing everything I can to achieve my dreams? I love this book because it really reminded me no one is immortal. It made me live more consciously, choose more consciously, and love more consciously.
How about you? What books have changed your life? Moved you? Inspired you? Please comment below!
When I hear the word “chick lit,” I automatically picture the condescending looks I’ve received from others. The scrunched up nose, the vomity face, the eye roll… I’ve seen it all.
For reasons I won’t address in this article, Chick Lit gets a bad rap. People associate the genre with mindless literature, with gossipy women talking about lipgloss and men while sipping on tea and wearing all pink. There’s this notion that Chick Lit is not deep lit at all. As Kirsty Schofield discusses on her website, though, Chick Lit is much more complex a genre than given credit. It encompasses many types of works with many different styles.
Even before I started writing in the genre, I’ve been a fan. I’ve ignored the eye rolls, the snide remarks. I’ve been an avid follower of books and writers.
Chick Lit does cover talk about lip gloss and men and tea and pink… sometimes. But this is not all that categorizes the genre. To me, Chick Lit is an approach to explaining the modern woman’s struggle to find a lot of things--to find love, to find satisfaction, to find fulfillment, and to find identity. These searches can be humorous, can sometimes involve a man, can sometimes involve a gaggle of gossipping friends. But sometimes they don’t. Chick Lit, like any genre, is diverse in its tone, its goals, its message.
It is the same in several respects, though.
It is relevant. It is deep. It is real.
Many women can find themselves, find characters like themselves, in the pages of these books. At the end of the day, isn’t that what qualifies something as having literary value? Don’t we all want to connect to something, to see ourselves in the pages of a story?
Lindsay Detwiler, Author
I am super excited that I will be a vendor at the Gaithersburg Book Festival this Saturday from 10am to 6pm! Here's what you'll find at my booth:
1. Without You, Voice of Innocence, and Then Comes Love for only $10!! Grab a copy and even get it signed :)
2. FREE: Grab bags with Kabloomz hearts to plant and either a heart charm for your favorite bracelet or a Then Comes Love pin.
3. FREE: PoocheyChef treats for your furry friend, thanks to Henry!
4. WIN: A chance to win a $25 Barnes & Noble Giftcard and signed copy of Then Comes Love if you sign up for my newsletter!
The festival is free admission and free parking! There will be tons of authors, food, events, and writing workshops happening, so come hang out in #bookworm paradise!
Hope to see you in Gaithersburg on Saturday!
Lindsay Detwiler, Author