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Book of the Week #56 "The Selection"

by Kiera Cass

In the future, the new country of Illéa is divided into providences, where each of the citizens falls into certain castes. One's are the highest and most wealthy and respected of people, whereas eights are the lowest, homeless and treated as barely human. When the story begins, Illéa is ruled by King Clarkson and Queen Amberly. When their son, Prince Maxon, becomes of age to marry, single women between the ages of sixteen and twenty are sent applications to enter the Selection. 35 women will be brought to the palace for Prince Maxon to choose from. One lucky woman will become his wife, as well as the princess, and later, Queen of Illéa.

When America Singer receives her application, she doesn't feel as lucky as most other girls would. Being a Five, she is a singer in a family of artists and she likes her job. She also already has the love of her life, Aspen, whom she expects is going to propose to her any day and is thrilled with that prospect. Yet Aspen encourages her to send in her application, knowing if she were to win, her life would be infinitely better. America's mother is also adamant that she enter, considering how much easier things would be for their family if she won. America finally gives in and sends in her application, not expecting it to go any further than that. She's shocked when she is selected to be one of the 35 lucky women that will compete for Prince Maxon's heart. She has no interest in him and doesn't care to know who he truly is. All she wants is to marry Aspen. Yet when Aspen breaks off their secret relationship, she's heartbroken and glad to be going away to the palace in Angeles, away from Aspen. Once there, she seems to be a frontrunner of the competition, the people of Illéa having liked her from what they've seen of the Selection on television. Yet this makes her a target to the other women. Prince Maxon is taking special notice of her, adding more fuel to the fire. On the one hand, Prince Maxon seems different than how she'd perceived him. On the other, she in no way feels fit for the palace.

I'd like to preface this review by saying that I had read The Heir by Kiera Cass before I read The Selection, and that was not a good idea. The Heir is different than the first three books in The Selection series; they have two different main characters. But there were spoilers since the two main characters are connected. I would definitely recommend starting with the first book, The Selection, and then go from there.

America Singer is a different character than I was expecting her to be. She's a lot more strong willed and considerate of others than I thought she would be. She knows what it's like to go hungry and wants to see the royal family do something about the poverty in the lower castes. And she isn't petty toward the other girls, except for Celeste, but you can't blame her there. Prince Maxon surprised me even more so. I was expecting some spoiled, playboy type character, but he isn't. If anything, he's made quite nervous by women, not having been around them much. And he is interested in what it's like for the lower castes, even though some of the stories prove to be too intense for him. Yet when learns of how difficult it is for some of the families, he sets out to make things right.

Being a dystopian novel, this book has a feel similar to The Hunger Games or Divergent, yet it's quite different in that it deals with a prince and girls striving to be princesses. It's like you take out some of the gore from those books and add in fairytale aspects. Like most young adult fiction, this is a fast read. You'll sit down to read a few pages and then find that you've read twenty without even knowing it.

All in all, I enjoyed this fast paced novel that is a different kind of dystopian and would recommend it to anyone that is a fan of the dystopian genre.

I give The Selection a 4 out of 5.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I *Still* Haven't Read Yet

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.


Every bookworm suffers from an overwhelming TBR. (Note: the term "suffer" is used loosely in this context.) There are so many books in the world and when one feels the need to read them all, a great pile of books marked as "to-be-read" is the result. Sometimes certain books go unread for absurd amounts of time, not because they are unappealing, rather, because there is a lack of time. Listed below are ten books that I've been meaning to read since before I started blogging, and have yet to get to.


10: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

I think I bought this book at a library sale a few years ago. It isn't the type of story I'd usually read, but maybe someday I'll get to it.


9: The Girl of the Woods by Grace Livingston Hill

I bought this book when I was maybe 15, and I still haven't read it.


8: A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemmeny Snicket

I've read the first three books in the series, but have yet to finish the others sitting on my shelf.


7: Memoirs of a Geisha by

I don't own a copy of this book, but it has been on my TBR forever.


6: Insurgent by Victoria Roth

I read Divergent a few years ago, and I liked it. I tried to read Insurgent and couldn't get into it, though I'd like to give it another shot sometime.


5: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
It'll happen someday.


4: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

I've had a copy of this book for a long time. I've started, but haven't finished it. That will change one day.


3: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

This is another book I've had on my shelf for years, and just haven't gotten to it. I will someday, though.


2: Emma by Jane Austen

In my attempt to read all of Ms. Austen's books, I can't leave out Emma. It's shameful how long this book has sat on my shelf unread.


1: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

This book makes its way to practically every TBR post I write. I'm going to read it one day, I swear.


So things have been pretty quiet here on A Real Writer's Life this week. Sorry about that, guys. I couldn't come up with a post that I loved for Top Ten Tuesday, and haven't finished the book I was planning to review this week. Also, writing on a new novel has taken quite a bit of time. But, I'm not giving up. I really want to try and get some more writing posts up and not just do Top Ten Tuesday and Book of The Week each week. So here's hoping I'll get some new posts written up soon!

Have a great weekend, readers and friends.

-Miranda Atchley

Book of the Week #55 "For Elise"

by Hayden Wand

When the narrator's great aunt passed away, she left him a large sum of money, simply to keep her more bothersome relatives from obtaining it. Coming into the money, the narrator quit his fast food job and bought a Queen Anne Victorian house upon learning it was haunted. The great house seems to be the perfect place to launch his writing career given the folklore attached to it. He expects tattered white dresses, rattling chains and eerie moans, yet instead he finds that his ghost has a taste for Frank Sinatra and editing with a red pen that is mightier than any sword. He is surprised when he finds a teenage girl has been haunting him. Recovering from his shock, he goes to the local library in hopes of finding out why Elise has been in his house for so many years.

This novelette is delightfully quirky. It'd be the perfect thing to read as you are waiting for guests to arrive for your Halloween party this year. It's humorous and touching at the same time. I love the witty style Hayden writes in as the narrator seems to be joking at his own expense. And the setting.... I love Victorian houses, and reading a book that is based around one was a treat for me. Plus all the little details, like the narrator using an old fashioned typewriter for his first drafts, and Elise, having passed in the 1940s, still dressed in the fashion of her youth. It's all-together charming.

All in all, For Elise is just the thing to read on crisp fall day. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a humorous ghost story with an air of mystery.

I give this book a 4 out of 5.

Lately 8.12.2016

Hello readers and friends. Today I thought I'd pop in with a lately post to just talk about what I've reading, watching, and listening to. I hope you all haven't melted. I've felt on the verge of so recently. It's just so hot. And here in Arkansas it's ridiculously humid. Bleh. But, the first day of fall (September 22) is only a month and a half away. Just 41 days. I haven't been counting or anything. It isn't like I have the first day of fall circled on my calendar. (I'm lying. I do.)

Without further ado, here is what I've been up to lately.


I got a lot of reading done in July. I read seven books, which is the most books I've read in one month this year. I'm working on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Sense and Sensibility right now.


I'm still working on a sequel to A Castle in the Sky. It's taken me a while to get this one going. In this book, Abi has been suffering from a severe case of writer's block, and I suppose I've been a sympathetic sufferer. Yet I'm finally getting more work done on it and it feels wonderful. I don't have a title yet; nothing has really come to me yet. I just have it labeled "1921" on my computer since that's the year it takes place in (though that is subject to change). I made a plot change recently, and it made a huge difference in the way I feel about this project. I'm getting so excited about it now that this change has come. I love that feeling. With this change, I think I want to turn this into a full-fledged series with several books.


I recently re-discovered 3rd Rock From the Sun. I used to watch this show a lot, and it had been a while since I did. It just makes me laugh.

There's not really anything new I've been listening to. The only new song that I really like is Happiness by NEEDTOBREATHE. I love that song.

Hope you're all doing well. Thanks for stopping by today.

-Miranda Atchley

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

This week, our Top Ten Tuesday topic is "rewind". This means that we could go back through the archives and pick a topic that we missed. Since I'm fairly new to Top Ten Tuesday, there was an abundance of topics that I could choose from, but one in particular stuck out to me; favorite heroines. When I think of my favorite literary heroines, I think of characters that are strong, that do things their own way and are true to themselves. Characters that break the mold and live their own lives rather than living to please everyone else. Those things make me admire characters and make them memorable. I feel like each of the characters I've listed below hold these traits, and that is why they're my favorites.


10: Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games
Katniss is the epitome of a strong female protagonist. After her father passed and her mother fell into a depression, she stepped up and took care of her family, overthrew the Hunger Games and won it twice, and started a rebellion that led to a better country, and all the while never says a curse word (in the books, anyway). What more could you ask from a character?

9: Lady Rosamund Easling, The Ringmaster's Wife
I'm drawn to stories about people who've left behind all they've known to pursue a better life. It takes guts to leave the country on a whim and join the circus, and Rosamund does so with grace.

8: Lanie Freeman, The Singing River Series
During the Great Depression in Fairhope, Arkansas, 14-year-old Lanie becomes mother to her four younger siblings after their mother passes during childbirth. She does so with strength and grace, putting everyone before herself and yet still finding moments here and there to pursue her passion for writing in Gilbert Morris's The Singing River Series. Not many teens at all can claim what Lanie can, and that makes her a heroine to look up to.

7: Amy Gallagher, Amy Inspired
Amy is the type of person I'd love to be friends with. She's the perfect girl to talk to about everything from books, to current events, and the little things in life.

6: Valancy Stirling, The Blue Castle
Valancy is such an interesting character. In the beginning, she was weak and timid, only doing what her controlling family told her to do. Yet as the book goes along, she develops a backbone, starts living her life fuller and becomes a happier person. She's definitely an admirable character.

5: Cassandra Mortmain, I Capture the Castle
Cassandra seems mature for her age. Sure, she doesn't know everything about life, and she makes some mistakes when it comes to Simon, but she's more sensible than her sister Rose and by the end of the story, she's learned quite a bit. It takes courage to know when to let go of something, and that makes her admirable.

4: Jem Watts and Merinda Herringford, Herringford and Watts Mysteries
These two are the perfect duo. They're both interesting in and of themselves, and they balance each other perfectly. Jem is sensible, yet with a fun loving side to her, and Merinda is feisty and a definite go-getter. And through all their adventures, they maintain a strong friendship.

3: Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice
No list of literary heroines would be complete without Lizzy Bennet. She's witty, strong willed and loves poetry. When her mother wanted her to marry Mr. Collins, she said no, because she knew it wasn't right for her. Who hasn't wanted to be Lizzy Bennet?

2: Jo March, Little Women
I relate to Jo March of Little Women in so many ways. We both love reading and writing, have felt excluded because we march to the beat of our own drums and grew up a bit tomboyish. Jo March is a timeless heroine that I will look up to for the rest of my life.

1: Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables
Anne of Green Gables is my favorite book for so many reasons and its protagonist is one of them. One can't help but love the endearing and imaginative Anne Shirley as many of us relate to her with her daydreams, love of beauty, quick temper, and want of love.

There are many admirable heroines in the history of literature. I've only listed ten of the best here. Who are some of your favorite heroines?

-Miranda Atchley