Fluff, feminism, and free speech: a late-to-the-party book review of ‘The Selection’

Fluff, feminism, and free speech: a late-to-the-party book review of 'The Selection'The Selection (The Selection #1), by Kiera Cass (hardcover, 336 pages). First published 2012. Genre: young adult, dystopian, chick lit, romance. Three out of five stars.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. And when I say “a lot”, I mean “a truckload”. Warning: this will get long.

I feel like I need to start off by saying that before I picked this up at the library, I knew nothing about Kiera Cass, her books, or the intense online drama that surrounds this book. I picked it up blind, thinking it was a fluffy YA dystopian romance that I may or may not enjoy, but would certainly provide some fluffy entertainment for a Monday afternoon. It’s a quick, easy read with very light world-building and minimal character development, a somewhat sweet love story, and a fairly predictable plotline, but like a sugary treat, it’s hard to not gulp down all the same. I fluctuated in my rating throughout, first thinking it would be a two-star book, then thinking I really enjoyed it and it was probably a four-star book, then deciding it was not that great and downgrading to three stars. Again, this was all before hitting Goodreads and the Interwebs to learn more about the series or the author.

So, I’m going to divide this review into two parts: how I feel about the book (this is my original perception of the book and remains unchanged by what I’ve read around GR), and how I feel about continuing with the series overall, now that I’ve had time to mull over the book and have learned more about the series and the author. I say this because I do feel strongly that book bloggers have an obligation to be upfront about their opinions and how they may flavor a review they’re writing, and while I did mostly enjoy this book, my opinions definitely would flavor how I might feel about any future installments in the series. It’s kind of hard to view art and a creator separately and I think it’d be difficult to not see the rest of the series in a different light. Also, I feel like it’s important to be choosy about the authors we support and promote, especially those of us who are bloggers or budding writers ourselves and want to support our sisters, or who identify as feminists and want to support authors who write feminist stories.

So yeah, this will get looooooong. Read on for the full review and my thoughts on all the drama!

Read More

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award from Em!

My bookish friend Em from Backlist Books recently nominated me for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!Thank you Em! The rules are: answer ten questions, then nominate ten other bloggers and give them a set of questions to answer.

Here are Em’s ten questions to start, and my answers:

What 2015 book are you most excited about? I’m really eager to read The City of Mirrors and see how that trilogy ends. It was supposed to be released last year and then it got pushed back. I’m also really eager to read A Court of Thorns and Roses–it sounds so good!

https://31.media.tumblr.com/1207ddd54d7167928de5a24d4594a614/tumblr_nd91voSZ8Z1sjbr2bo1_400.gif

Which blog did you discover recently that you can’t believe you didn’t know about? I can’t believe it took me so long to start following The Broke and the Bookish. I only recently started reading the blog regularly after linking up for Top Ten Tuesday and now it’s one of my favorite book blogs to read.

What’s the best book outside of your regular genres/topics/authors you’ve read in the past year? (You can extend this time-frame if you haven’t been reading adventurously lately!) I’m not normally big on memoirs or nonfiction, but I really enjoyed Full Body Burden. It was hard to put down!

Judging books by their covers: yay or nay? Oh hell yes. I find so many lovely books that way on GR.

What’s your favorite book-to-movie adaptation? Well, like so many other ladies, I really love the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. I think they nailed it in every way, especially in the casting of Mr. Darcy.

http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mbzxxoMHM31r3zat8.gif

Which fictional world do you wish you could move into? I think I’m pretty happy with my world. But I’d love to visit the Shire and the Night Circus,

Hardcover or paperback? Paperback all the way. They’re easier to hold and easier to pack around in a purse.

How many books do you read in a week, on average, and are you happy with your number? I read an average of one to four per week, depending on how much reading I do on the weekend and whether I’m focusing on one title or picking up several simultaneously. I would like to read more, but life has been hectic lately! Hopefully this summer I can up my number.

http://rack.0.mshcdn.com/media/ZgkyMDEzLzExLzAxL2U2L3JhcHVuemVsYm9vLjY1NTFkLmdpZgpwCXRodW1iCTg1MHg4NTA-CmUJanBn/432810be/b29/rapunzel-books.jpg

Which books are on the top of your TBR list? Station Eleven, which sounds amazing (and Em was sweet enough to send me a copy at Christmas); A Dance With Dragons, though I’m putting it off until GRRM gets his butt in gear and continues writing the series; and the Mistborn series, which the husband bought for me at Christmas.

Because this is Backlist Books, which books published at least a year ago are highest on your TBR? Eep–I have so many! It’s hard to pick just one. I suppose A Dance With Dragons. I keep hearing rumors about it from friends but so far I’ve managed to stay spoiler-free!

 

Now, it’s my turn to ask questions! I’m nominating Katrin from Land of Candy Canes, Erin from Mini. Rebel, and Cait from Paper Fury to answer my questions…and also anyone else who would like to (I do always love reading your answers!):

  1. What book character would you like to hang out with for a day?
  2. Which book do you commonly gift to people (for birthdays, holidays, etc.)?
  3. Which book(s) have surprised you the most, in a good way?
  4. What’s one of the most memorable first lines you’ve ever read?
  5. What about closing lines?
  6. What’s your fave retelling of a classic story?
  7. What book(s) are you most looking forward to reading this year? They can be new releases or older books that you just haven’t picked up yet.
  8. Do you prefer standalone books or series?
  9. If you could rewrite part of a book you’ve read recently, how would you do it? (Change the end, alter a character arc, etc.)
  10. What sequel are you most looking forward to?

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Goals/Resolutions For 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Ooh, goal-setting time! I’m going to be honest: New Year’s is probably my favorite holiday of the whole year. I love that ritual of starting fresh, the feeling that you have a clean slate and can accomplish anything you set your mind to. Of course I have a whole separate list of goals and resolutions for the new year, but for this post I’ll focus specifically on my book-related goals.

1. Finish some of the series I’ve started. I think at last count I had about a dozen in progress (cringe). I really, really need to finish some of these before starting any new ones.

2. Read daily. I do try. But sometimes I watch TV instead, or I waste time on the internet, and other days I’m just busy with life. It’s not that those are bad things, per se, but I’d like to get in a habit of reading a book every single day, even if it’s just a few pages–it makes me happy when life is chaotic and stressful, and it’s much better than scrolling through Pinterest for an hour.

3. Read a few classics. I’ve ignored this genre lately, but I have a few on my shelf I’d like to tackle.

4. Read more nonfiction. I rarely read nonfiction. But I’d like to try reading at least one nonfiction title each month.

5. Start reviewing books on my YouTube channel. This is something I’ve thought about for a while, and I’m going to start doing it in 2015! I want to do short reviews, maybe two or three minutes tops, on some of the books I read each week. I might not film a video for every book I read, but I’d like to do several each month.

6. Work through my owned TBR shelf. I have a huge TBR shelf on Goodreads, obviously. But I’ve been accumulating books on the physical bookshelf in my living room all year, and I haven’t read any of them because I keep loading up on titles from the library. Which is fine…but a) I have some really good titles on there waiting to be read, and b) we’re running out of shelf space, which means it’s time for a cull. So once I’m done with my current library batch, I’m going to start digging through my owned pile.

7. Blog about books on a regular basis. I’ve even been neglecting my monthly roundups–for shame. It’s time to get back in the habit.

8. Be more active in the book blogging world. I have a few things I’m working on now, including my YouTube project. Connecting with other book bloggers gives me new titles for my TBR list and exposes me to books I might not otherwise hear about or be inclined to pick up.

9. Get my bookshelf organized. It’s a mess.

10. Read more, period. Books, magazines, blogs about books and magazines–I just need to read more, period!

 

What are your bookish goals (or goals in general) for the new year? Share them with me in the comments!

My Writing Process blog tour

Computer keyboard

(Photo by Rayi Christian W via Unsplash)

I was recently asked by my friend Katrin at Land of Candy Canes if I would join in the My Writing Process blog tour. You can find her lovely post here. I’m so honored that she nominated me–on top of being one of my favorite bloggers, Katrin is just an all-around cool person. She introduced me to veganism and was the driving force behind making that final leap from vegetarian to vegan. She’s just as crazy about books, tea and animals as I am, and she’s got great style. I’m so grateful to have her for a friend and I hope you will check our her blog and love it as much as I do!

Now, on to my writing process!

What am I working on? Right now, I’m trying to get back into the swing of posting on a daily basis. I have several reviews I’d like to share, I’m still answering Thought Questions, and I would really love to start posting more recipes. I just never seem to take adequate notes and pictures while cooking!

How does my work differ from others of its genre? I started out primarily as a beauty blogger, but I started throwing in lots of other stuff–book roundups, cooking posts, pictures of animals. I still love blogging about style but I tend to go all over the place, whereas it seems that a lot of bloggers really have a “niche”. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

I also talk a lot about my vegan lifestyle and how this affects my fashion, beauty and culinary choices. So that makes me different from the average style/food blogger.

Why do I write what I do? Well, I blog about animals and veganism because I’m quite passionate about those topics. Also, books: I can never get enough of books and reading, and blogging is a way to connect with other bookworms. When it comes to my style posts, I’m quite keen on blogging in this area because I feel like it’s really hard to find trendy yet budget-friendly beauty and clothing items that are also vegan and as “green” as possible. I hope my blog helps others on the lookout for these items; I know it’s fun for me to chat with other bloggers interested in the same items!

How does my writing process work? I’d like to say that I have a “writer’s notebook” or a special process for drafting posts, but I don’t. If I have a really big multi-post project that I want to work on, like my seven-day “How to grow your blog” series from January, then I’ll usually plot it out a bit on a sheet of paper before drafting up the posts and saving them for later polishing. With reviews, I’ll jot notes during testing and then draft the post when I’m ready to publish it. Some posts I schedule ahead of time, like the Music Monday posts, while others (like Ten on Tuesday) are totally spur of the moment.

Who’s up next? Unfortunately I wasn’t able to list three other bloggers in this space, since a lot of people were already busy with summer vacation and couldn’t join in at the last minute. (Totally understandable!) But I do want to nominate Elle from ElleSees. She blogs about budget-friendly beauty and posts tons of reviews and how-to guides (my favorite are the hair how-to’s!), with lots of tips for those of us who are short on time, looking for a budget cosmetic dupe, or want to DIY something nifty. I love her honesty and warmth–her down-to-earth nature really shines through in her blog. I hope you’ll enjoy her blog as much as I do!

Thank you all for reading, and thank you again Katrin for the nomination!

The Goodreads Tag

I found this tag over on Evelyn’s blog We Were Raised By Wolves and just had to fill it out–you all know how nuts I am for books! I tag anyone else who wants to fill it out.
 
What was the last book that you marked as read?
Prince of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence. It’s the start of a trilogy that’s piqued my interest for some time. I would say it was just okay–interesting enough that I’d like to eventually read the other two books, but not so much so that I’m in a particular hurry.
 
What are you currently reading?
I’m still nibbling my way through The Art of Happiness, by the Dalai Lama, and I recently started Writers of the Future: Volume 30, an anthology of sci-fi and fantasy short stories.
 
What was the last book you marked as to read?
The Taken trilogy by Erin Bowman. I’m a sucker for dystopia.
 
What book do you plan to read next?
Probably S., by J.J. Abrams. I also have some biographies of Nikola Tesla that I want to dig into.
 
Do you use the star rating system?
Yes, and like so many other users, I wish they allowed half-star ratings! So many books are really in between two stars.
 
Are you doing a 2014 reading challenge?
Yes. I challenged myself to read 100 books and so far I’ve read thirty-nine books and six of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories (which GR for some reason marks as full books). I’ve also partially finished five other books, but they went on the “unfinished” list.
 
Do you have a wishlist?
No. I just add books to my “to-read” list and then look for them at the library.
 
What book do you want to buy next?
The next novel in A Song of Ice and Fire. 
 
Do you have any favorite quotes?  Would you like to share a few?
You can find my faves here.
 
Who are your favorite authors?
Diana Gabaldon, George R.R. Martin, Bill Bryson, Neil Gaiman, Arnaldur Indridason, and Agatha Christie.
 
Have you joined any groups?
No. I try not to spend a lot of time on the computer for things like that. I’d rather be reading!

What are your favorite genres?
I will pretty much read anything if it’s well written. I’m a sucker for dystopia, steampunk and fantasy of a medieval bent (like A Song of Ice and Fire). Magic is okay if used judiciously, but I hate reading fantasy novels where the characters constantly fight themselves into corners and then POOF! magic saves the day. It’s like a big fat cheat. I also really like Nordic or British crime thrillers (American, not so much). Anything with time travel is instantly interesting to me.

My husband has a theory that I’ll pick up anything if the character on the cover is wearing a hood. Based on my “read”/”to-read” list, he may be right.