The Selection: Book Review

35 GIRLS. 1 CROWN.

THE COMPETITION OF A LIFETIME.

My best friend has been begging me to read The Selection series by Kiera Cass for quite some time. So, when I received a Barnes & Noble gift card for my birthday, I knew I had to buy them.

To condense the lengths of these posts, I’m going to divide the books in The Selection series up into an individual review for each. This one, of course, will be for the first book – called ironically, The Selection.

the selection

***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***

Within the very first page, the reader already gets a sense of the main character – America Singer – being very much different than the average girl.

“I didn’t want to be royalty. And I didn’t want to be a One. I didn’t even want to try.”

Being in caste five – there being eight castes in total, this is surprising considering the fact that she is only three castes away from being homeless. And America is not so far above as to not have experienced real, true hunger.

As the beginning of the story unfolds, the reader learns exactly what those three earlier statements meant. The Selection, a competition, recruits girls all across their country of Illéa. One girl from each province. And for once, the caste you are does not matter.

“If your eligible daughter, sister, or charge is interested in possibly becoming the bride of Prince Maxon and the adored princess of Illéa, please fill out the enclosed form and return it to your local Province Services Office.”

And America Singer’s mother is adamant that her daughter fill out the application to have a chance of being in it.

But America has a secret – one that no one knows about. She is in love with a Six – Aspen. In their society, this is very rare: why would anyone want to marry down a caste? And then be transferred into a much harder one? This doesn’t bother America though. And this is also why she does not want to enter The Selection.

Aspen and America both love each other – despite all of the stigmas against them. Yet, for some odd reason, Aspen asks America to enter, for him. And because America would never do anything to hurt him, she agrees. It helps, naturally, that her mother wasn’t aware of this and so used a bit of money bribery.

After the submission, America sneaks out at midnight – like every night – to meet Aspen. Meeting together is risky, especially since if they were ever discovered, they would be in major trouble with the government.

She’s excited and gets there early. America has been saving the money her mother has been giving her as part of the bribe, and she plans to give it to Aspen. As a Six, his financial situation is much more dire.

Yet, Aspen is upset. Not with her, but at the fact that he doesn’t feel, he is providing for her. He suddenly says that its over. He can’t put her through being cold, hungry, and tired all the time: what being a Six would entitle. America tries to reason with him, but he leaves – after kissing her one last time.

America is heartbroken, yet has to try and not completely loose it since that would give away their secret. She comes back into the house and sometime soon after, the announcements for the thirty-five girls picked comes on.

What are the chances that she would be the one chosen from her province, Carolina? Out of hundreds of other girls?

“Miss America Singer of Carolina, Five.”

She gets picked.

Humor, romance, and conflict fill the remaining pages of the book as America tries to navigate the waters of being in The Selection. Being her unconventional self, she informs Prince Maxon up straight that she was not here to fall in love with him.

“I need to be here. My family needs me to be here. Even if you could let me stay for a week, that would be a blessing for them.”

“You mean you need the money?”

“Yes.”

Prince Maxon agrees to let her stay as long as he can. Because of her upfront honesty, America and the young royal become good friends…and as the story progresses, perhaps, something more.

~ Southern Dreamer

Note: This is a romantic series and as such there is kissing and physical contact. One or two scenes verges on being inappropriate but overall, it is clean.

Matched: Book Review

matched

***Warning: Spoilers Ahead***

Matched by Ally Condie, is the first in the three-book trilogy. It takes place in a dystopian society where everything you do is regulated to some extent.

Cassia Reyes, the main character, is heading to her Match banquet at the start of the tale. In the Society, you can be called to attend your Match ceremony at any moment after your seventeenth birthday. And for Cassia, it occurs exactly on her eighteenth birthday.

The Officials in the Society are the ones who match people together. It is supposedly a very intricate process, the responsibility only given to certain Officials. Whoever your match is – that will be your future husband or wife. There is no other choice, though you can decide to stay single.

This doesn’t bother Cassia, however. After all, her parents are happy together and she’s never had a reason to question the Society’s choices before. Why start now?

Yet, when Cassia later inserts her microcard to read the information about her match…something odd occurs. The face of her match from the banquet appears, yet seconds later, the screen goes black. A different face appears.

Disturbed by this, Cassia wants to tell one person: her grandfather. And because his Last Banquet is coming soon – he is eighty, the Official allows for her to do so. She tells him and they discuss it together. Then, Cassia asks about what her grandmother would say.

“I think,” he says finally, “she would ask you if you wondered.”

This is the beginning of Cassia starting to question whether or not the Society is right about everything. Could they be wrong about some things? Make mistakes? What if she is meant to be with the other boy that appeared on her microcard? Not the one she was matched with?

Matched is a story of romance, intrigue, and discovery. It follows the life of Cassia who is only beginning to wonder about everything she has been taught.

~ Southern Dreamer

Note: The quote is from Matched by Ally Condie.

 

Family Lake Trip

Last week, my family and I drove up to North Carolina. We were meeting my dad’s side of the family at a lake house in the Appalachian Mountains for a get-together-vacation. The scenery was stunning! Even though I’ve grown up living in a mountainous area, these mountains were far grander! The size and magnitude of it made me marvel at God’s creation. And to think, that he spoke something of such vastness into being!

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“And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so.” Genesis 1:9

As we drove up the narrow, dirt road of the Appalachian Mountains, my writer mind was bouncing off the wall with ideas. If I could have, I would have stopped the car and spent hours taking pictures! Inspiration was everywhere.

When we finally arrived at the lake house – which was beautiful – I had a bit of a mini-crisis. Wi-Fi was not abounding. And given the fact that I’m a bit…attached to my internet connections, it was definitely not something I was particularly happy with. It ended up being a good thing though, since I actually wrote in my diary and looked at some magazines I had been meaning to look at, but had never taken the time for.

I also did a few “firsts” on this trip. I tried kayaking for the first time, and actually liked it! I even went by myself for a bit (this is coming from a non-risk-taking/adventurous person, so you must understand the significance of this lol :p). I also tried paddle-boarding, though I didn’t go as far out on the lake with that as I did with the kayak.

On one of our days there, my mom, grandmother, and I drove into the local town of Cashiers. They had beautiful pieces of furniture, and several antique stores. We went to one store, called Gracewear. They had really cute t-shirts, cups, and jewelry in the Gracewear collection. This was actually the original Gracewear store and as such, we were able to meet the owners. It was really neat and we talked about Jesus together for a while.

We had a great time at the lake, and I thought it would be a great spot to come back to for future vacations!

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My brother and I on the dock of the lake.

 

~ Southern Dreamer

So Not Happening: Book Review

so not happening

So Not Happening by Jenny B. Jones is a humor-filled story that is a melting pot of God, faith, and city-girl meets countryside living.

Bella Kirkwood had everything that the world offers: New York City was her home, Broadway only a step away, and an A-list line of friends with her plastic surgeon father’s credit card in her pocket. She adored fashion, name brands, and would likely advertise ‘shopping is therapy.’

Yet her life quickly changed.

With the divorce of her parents, Bella was left to live with her mother. And her mother happened to try online dating, fall in love with a farmer in the middle-of-nowhere-Oklahoma, and move herself and Bella there.

This is so not what Bella Kirkwood is about. And she is wondering exactly where God is in all this. Then there is, of course, the two stepbrothers she could seriously do without: one always seems to be trying to push her buttons and the other watches way too much news for his elementary school age.

I found myself sympathizing with Bella as she stepped in cow poo, was forced to dumpster-dive by the annoying editor of the school newspaper, and having to live with there not being a good shopping center seconds away (#smalltownwoes).

So Not Happening by Jenny B. Jones is a hilarious story filled with some romance, mystery, and very relatable situations. I’d advise anyone to pick up a copy and laugh as you read of Bella’s adventures.

~ Southern Dreamer