The Whimsical Mama

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*Review* Cinder by Marissa Meyer July 30, 2013

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 Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles

Rating: 5/5 stars
Pub date: 3 Jan 2012
Publisher: Square Fish by Macmillan
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale, Science Fiction
Format: Paperback, special edition, signed, obtained through giveaway on Mary Had a Little Book Blog

Disclaimer This is entirely my own opinion of this work and in no way is affiliated with Marissa Meyer or Square Fish. I have not been compensated for reading or reviewing this work. I review based on the Goodreads rating system of stars.

Summary
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Growing up, I loved Disney. I loved several of the Disney princesses. I HATED Cinderella. I always thought she was a great priss. However, when I started hearing the hype over Cinder, I was greatly intrigued. When Mary announced her giveaway, I was instantly drawn to Legend and Cinder. Being the third winner, I expected I wouldn’t get either, but was ecstatic to see Cinder was still on the list. I immediately picked it. I had a few other things to read first, but seeing how popular Cinder and Scarlet were, I went ahead and requested Scarlet from the library. I was surprised how quickly I received it. I hit a lull in Reached and needed to step back for a bit. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to renew Scarlet, I quickly pounced on Cinder. I’m glad I did!

I’m always fond of strong female protagonists, but it is quite refreshing to see a female in a typically male dominated profession. Even when Prince Kai comes along to bring his broken android to her, he is expecting a man. His reaction reminded me a lot of Neo and Trinity. Whoa, whoa, whoa, you’re a GIRL?! A nice change from the classic tale, Cinder is more of a tomboy. I can relate to this. I’ve never been a girly girl, even now as a mother of a daughter, I like girly things occasionally, but not overly girly things.

Cyborgs. I’ll admit, I wasn’t terribly crazy about this idea at first. I dislike the Terminator movies, except for the last one with Christian Bale, but I only watched it FOR Christian Bale. I’ve never really been into the whole robot thing. It works with this world. It’s hard to estimate just how far into the future this is set. It takes place almost 130 years after World War 4. (I’m happy to say) World War 3 hasn’t even occurred yet in 2013. I’m feeling this is probably set in the 3000s. That being said, that much robotic technology and advances is acceptable to me. Forcing too much technological advances in novels irritates me.

New Beijing. This really interested me. I’ve read several reviews that were upset with the location setting saying that it wasn’t true to the Chinese culture. I didn’t go into it expecting a true Chinese culture representation because the name of the city is NEW. Two more world wars have occurred since the founding of this city. Obviously a lot has changed in the world. Each day cultures are blending more and more. I like the idea that Cinder is still assumed to be European, but raised in an Asian family. The idea of the Commonwealth and the other global conglomerates really interests me. I hope there is further detail in the future books. Just the basic detail of the rulers of each nation just intrigues me more. The Eastern Commonwealth is ruled by a monarchy. Some of the others are monarchies, some are elected, some aren’t quite clear how the ruling process is. I also like the idea of a colony on the moon. It’s crazy to think that here in 2013, the farthest man has ever been has been to the moon. The universe is infinite and we have explored so little. Even though it’s cliched and I’m not a Trek fan, space really is the final frontier.

The architecture also interests me. After so much time passing from now to the time of Cinder, it is interesting to think how things have changed architecturally and what they think of things we’ve built recently (if any still exists after two world wars and a new plague)

Letumosis. Of course, it’s expected that travelers will bring about new diseases to locations never before exposed. Letumosis is carried by Lunars (moon inhabitants) much like smallpox was carried by the Spanish/English/French settlers brought to the New World when they traveled and how the rats carried the fleas that carried Bubonic plague. It sounds as though travel between Earth and Lunar is strictly monitored and rarely allowed, so it makes Letumosis all that more mysterious. No cure is known and Lunars have developed an immunity to it. It sounds as if few families haven’t been struck by the plague at some point since it started wreaking havoc on Earth.

Princess Selene. No major spoilers, but I called it. Meyer really pulls a good one with this twist. It’s as obvious as it can be, but still leaves that feeling of doubt in your mind. When it clicks, you still ponder if it really could be THAT obvious. After that passes, the legend of the missing princes really feels like the legends of one of the princes in the Tower surviving the War of the Roses or the Grand Duchess Anastasia or one of the other sisters surviving the assassination of the Russian family. Supporters of a side will always cling to rumours when they spread like wild fire.

The ball. Really, what would a Cinderella retelling be if there wasn’t a ball involved? I think it’s a nice twist on the traditional tale, though.

It’s very interesting that there are two “evil” figureheads in this book. Directly, Cinder must deal with her “evil step-mother” who is actually her legal guardian. She despises Cinder and is absolutely horrid to her. The second figurehead is the Queen of the Lunar. With the Lunar gifts, she is overly mysterious and corrupt. She constantly lies and rumours abound about her.

It is interesting with the approach of Cinderella and her Prince Charming. It isn’t love at first sight, love because of who he is, or smushy overly romantic crap. It feels like an actual relationship beginning. Reluctance, friendship, attraction. It will be interesting to see how the relationship will play out. Happily ever after as man and wife or just friends?

I’m rarely a fan of cliffhangers, but this one was well done! Will Cinder run? If she runs, where will she go? Will she accept her fate? What does she do know that she knows what she does? So many questions are spinning, but it is interesting to have them spinning and not be upset over the cliffhanger. Maybe it’s because I have book two in my hands. I may change my tune once I finish Scarlet and have to wait til 2014 for the continuation if the cliffhanger is set up the same way.

I enjoyed this book very much, and it is definitely to be re-read and shared with my daughter when she gets bigger. I’ll share it too, with my son, if he’s interested. That’s another wonderful thing about this, it’s not overly girly and isolationist in it’s style. It easily could be enjoyed by a guy too. Or at least, in my opinion it could be.

Recommended for: Readers who like science fiction, modern tellings of fairy tales, female protagonist in a male dominated field
Not recommended for: Readers who prefer true retellings of fairy tales, futuristic technology, someone expecting lots of Chinese culture due to the setting

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Top Ten Tuesday #4: Best Beginnings/Endings in Literature

Each week, the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish think up a fun theme for the week and participating bloggers around the net join in. The theme for this week is

Top Ten Beginnings/Endings in Literature

This post is requiring much more thought than I originally anticipated. Three books immediately came to mind: Cinder, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Love You Forever. Lucky I finished Cinder last night for this list! Finishing out the lists is proving to take quite a bit of reflecting. Which books have struck me the most over my years if reading? Was it the first pages that sucked me in? Was it the end that blew me away? I also wanted to do books that meant more than their popularity. Harry Potter is an obvious for someone my age, but this series is the reason I fell in love with reading. I couldn’t pass it up. There are a great many of books that have stuck with me, so I may have enough for ten of each as well as a few bonus beginning/end duos.

Beginnings
1. Time Enough for Drums by Ann Rinaldi
This isn’t exactly the beginning, but this is the first page in my edition.
“Do you know how despicable a sneak is?”
A spy. He was a spy for the Americans! My head whirled in dizzy understanding as I looked up at him, standing in front of me, tall and lanky and broad-shouldered, still tanned from his trip, his dark looks spoiled by his anger.
“Answer me!” he snapped.
“Yes, sir.”
“What have I taught you in these last two years about decency and honour? Nothing?”
“I thought –”
“You thought what?”
” I thought you were a Tory.”
“And would that be reason to go into my private papers?”
“No. But you aren’t a Tory. You’re a Patriot, after all. You deceived me.”
“I had to. It’s part of my job. My life depends on it, can you understand that?”
“You mean –”
“I mean that I’ll hang from the highest tree or the nearest gallows if the British find out.”

I love all things American Revolution, and this was the first book I read by Ann Rinaldi. It was love at first read, and I frequently re-read it. To me, there isn’t a dull moment in this book, and after that excerpt, I was hooked and had to find out more about these characters!

2. The Host by Stephenie Meyer
The first time I attempted to read this was when it came out, just before Breaking Dawn. I was too wrapped up in Twilight to give this book a fair chance. The next summer, I went back to give it another shot. The beginning then hooked me and I flew through it.

3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling
I was very reluctant to read this book when I received it for Christmas. It was under great protest that I actually trudged through the first few chapters. I didn’t realise then that my life would be forever changed once I started this incredible series.

4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Does this one even need an explanation? I delight in the sarcasm of the opening sentence. (:

Endings
5. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
World War II/the Holocaust is a difficult subject to read in most circumstances. There are few books that can make it a topic of interest for children. Lois Lowry is a fantastic author, and the way she wraps up Number the Stars is incredible. Friendship prevails over prejudices.

6. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Luck that I finished reading last night for this topic! “…looking for a ghost.” Spectacular cliffhanger! I love how she has the most obvious secret out in the open, but part of you still questions if it really could be THAT obvious. Well done, Ms. Meyer, well done! I had to force myself to only read a few chapters of Scarlet last night, and I’m hoping it’s ever bit of the hype that surrounds it!

7. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
I’m not usually over fond of Epilogues, sometimes they just seem too forced – trying to please everyone or the sort. I LOVED the epilogue in Clockwork Princess. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read it.

8. The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling
Okay, I’ll admit that when I first started it, the vulgarity in it shocked me. Then I remembered it was written as an adult book, and yes, it was very much typical Scot. Seeing Rihanna’s “Umbrella” cracked me up to no end. When I was visiting my friend in Elgin, Scotland, I swear that song was on repeat every time we got in the car. It was ALWAYS on the radio and she and I laughed about it. When I saw it, I immediately messaged Lyndsay and said that JKR had stalked us during my visit. The end was like one I swear I had dreamed about. It was eerie!

9. Le Petit Prince/The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
In my multiple readings of this delightful book, I definitely feel that it hits being an adult right on the head. Adults often forget what it was like being a child and disregard children in general. I identify with the pilot being stuck in that world of being an adult, but still relating to those younger than myself.

10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
I will openly admit that upon hearing that JKR changed the last word from “scar” in the final drafts, I opened it to the last page to see the final line to see what it’d changed to. I was pleased to see “scar” was still in the last line even if it wasn’t the last word. Again, this defies my not so fond of epilogues deal. I grew up with Harry, and it feels that it wrapped everything up nicely. It was closure for me, even if I am still in denial that I AM an adult and Harry Potter will never have another midnight book or movie release.

Beginning/Ending Combo
I had two books that have to be on both lists. From the beginning to the end, it was perfection.

1. Lamb by Christopher Moore
Not for the fainthearted when it comes to religion. It is a comedy, it does poke fun at almost every religion, but if you go into it not taking it seriously, it is a spectacular read. It’s basically Jesus, the missing years, told by his best friend Biff.

2. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw
My mom read this to me as a child, and I always wanted to read it to my children when I had them. The first time I read it to my son, I bawled my eyes out. The first time I read it to my daughter, I bawled my eyes out. I still cry when I read it to them. This is such a touching story, and I will love my children forever, and they will forever be my babies.

Once I had this list going, I ended up with about 20 books on my list, and I decided to cut it down to 10 plus my two special cases. I was going to try 10 of each, but I have things that need to be done other than dig through the bookshelves all day! Are any of these books on your list? I’d love to see your lists!

 

(Late) Weekly Reading Review #3 July 29, 2013

So, this week’s review is late. This weekend got busy and escaped me and I realised last night as I was falling asleep that I forgot my review! I did a bit of reading for me, but I haven’t finished any of my books yet. The bulk of the reading was for the kiddos. I don’t mind though. It makes me extremely happy that they are already showing an immense love for books!

Our library has story time three times a week. At the main branch it’s on Monday and Tuesday and at the smaller branch on Wednesdays. I had meant to get in the habit of going this summer, but with our kitchen flooding and taking all summer to be remodeled, it hasn’t happened. I’m determined to get in the habit though! Last Monday, I saw on Facebook that the main branch was having a train enthusiast come and speak about trains. I immediately knew that I must take the kiddos with the way my son loves trains. I was shocked that out of the about 20 kids who were there, my son was the only one who knew who Thomas the Train is. Wow. The speaker was a bit dull for kids, in my opinion, but my son seemed to enjoy it a teeny bit. I think he enjoyed the colouring page and our usual routine of him playing at the train table while I pick out books more, though. At our library, kids cannot get their own library card until their sixth birthday. So, that means the kids and I share my card. (I really need to get hubby to get a card for when Ladybug starts wanting books of her own too!) Each card is allowed to get 20 items at a time. You can see how this can be a potential problem when a mama has to share her items with two kids. Kids’ books aren’t terribly long and we read several a day for the most part. This results in a usual 10 books for the kiddos per trip and we have been going twice a week to rotate books. Sometimes they get more if I’m waiting on books to come in or am slowing down for a bit of a break after a reading marathon.

We didn’t make it to story time today, hopefully we’ll be up and ready to go tomorrow. May be a bit more difficult since story time is earlier on Tuesday than Monday! It’s not a complete loss though, Punk spent the weekend with my step-dad and we didn’t read any of the library books, so they aren’t ready to return anyway!

Another big day in our house is when the kids’ books arrive from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. If you’re in TN and have kids under the age of five, PLEASE enroll them in this wonderful program. If you aren’t in TN, you can still check it out and see if it is in your area. She’s slowly expanding it. My children have both been enrolled since birth. I’ve made a big deal about Book Day from the get-go. We always sit down and unwrap the book and look through it when it arrives. Then we read it that night for our bedtime story. Right now, the kids are on separate mailing dates, so the books arrive at different times throughout the month. I hope it stays this way so it stays a bit more exciting!

I guess to blame for the lack of a Friday post could be blamed on an over hour long Twitter conversation with Mary, Alex, and author Jodi Meadows. We had so much fun! #EvilAuthorsAreEvil! I’m so excited for the chance to meet her in person one day! Our conversations are always hysterical!

Completed:

Read to the kiddos:
Stop, Train, Stop! by Wilbert Awdry. 3 stars.
Dancing with Degas by Julie Merberg. 4 stars. I LOVED the use of the Degas paintings. Of course I’m biased because I loved Degas going into this. Yes, I’m hoping my kiddos love his work as much as I do!
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle. 4 stars. C’mon, it’s Eric Carle. I love him, too!
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood. 3 stars. It would be 4 or 5 stars if my son was rating this. He giggled the whole way through!
Dinosaur Opposites by Paul Strickland. 3 stars.
Duck to the Rescue by Jez Alborough. 3 stars.
The Little Red Caboose by Marian Potter. 3 stars. My son would also rate this one a 4 or 5. We read this one several times this week! He is gaga for trains!
Misty Island Rescue by Wilbert Awdry. 3 stars.
Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones by Bryon Barton. 3 stars.
Dot the Fire Dog by Lisa Desimini. 3 stars.
Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss. 4 stars. (read at our church’s preschool playgroup)
Winnie the Pooh’s Opposites by AA Milne. 3 stars. (Bug’s Dolly book)
Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora. 3 stars. (Bug’s Dolly book)
Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan. 3 stars. (Punk’s Dolly book)

Currently reading:
Reached by Ally Condie. I will admit that I’ve had to take a step back from this book at the moment. It’s just slow reading for me.

A Million Suns by Beth Revis. I guess technically I’m not still reading it as I haven’t read anymore in over a week. I’ll probably re-start it once I finish a few other books.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Oh, wow. I’m breezing through this book. I LOVE it. I’m planning on doing a review when I finish, so hopefully that will be out later this week!

New to my shelf:
Stardust by Neil Gaiman, via library. I loved the movie and have wanted to read the book ever since!
Shades of Earth by Beth Revis, via library. I guess a reason I’ve been at a standstill on A Million Suns was because Mary told me to have 2 and 3 in my hands for immediate read through.
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. This was given to me by the wonderful Mary (: She’s the best!
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I decided to treat myself to two books and this was one of them!
Grave Mercy by RL LaFevers. This was the second book I ordered.

I guess I should also include my new Kindle reads each week too! They are new to my virtual shelf!
Hollowland by Amanda Hawking
Entangled by Nikki Jefford
The Light Tamer by Devyn Dawson

For now, I’m going to pass on listing the new to the kids’ shelf unless it’s one we buy. I may change my mind later, but for now, I’ll just list them as we read them.

Have any of you heard of Thomas the Train before? I thought he was still much more popular than he seems to be… or maybe the kids were just shy and not wanting to show off. I know how that is!

 

Domestic Goddess Day July 24, 2013

Well… partially a domestic goddess day. I didn’t get as much done as I would’ve liked, but still had a productive day for feeling like a giant pile of poo when I woke up this morning. My morning consisted of the usual PBS lineup cuddled up with the kiddos. I did get a load of laundry going this morning, but I’ve yet to flip it. Once naptime rolled around I decided to work on the quiet books a bit more again today. I’m determined to get the majority of pages in playable order ASAP. I’ve had pieces parts together for a year and a half, but Punk hasn’t gotten to play with any of them yet. That changed today. As soon as I finished the Sock Matching Page, which is patterned off of Imagine Our Life’s design, Punk was jumping up and down in anticipation to FINALLY get to play with it. He’s been warned away from the “Ouchies” (pins) for ages and now Mama finally is letting him play with it. He very proudly matched the six sets of socks. We’re also working on naming their colours. I decided to do solid colours: red, orange, yellow, green, purple, and pink. So far he can name red and yellow, but everything else is “blue!” I also finished the Pirate page, but he hasn’t really paid it much attention yet. Think he’s too enthralled with matching socks! He also kept pulling out the Holiday House page that is completely pieced, but not finalised. Mine also isn’t set up for the LED lights. I’m doing well to sew, don’t need to throw in electrical works! I also have a solar system page, as does she, but I had designed and stitched mine before she put up hers. Mine is no where near as detailed! I also included Pluto, cause I can. (:

I still have a stack of pages to finish and pair together, some of them I’m considering completely redoing. But I’m happy with the work I got accomplished today. I’ve missed sewing! I did snap three needles though. >.< Was NOT happy with that. One of the downers of working with the stiff pellon. Multiple layers are murder on needles! I've stopped for the evening to enjoy a bit of downtime with the hubby and kiddos.

We did leftovers for dinner tonight, but last night I made this: Steak and Guinness Pie. It’s something my family had while we were in Ireland back in 1999. My mom found a recipe for it when we got home and it’s been an occasional treat ever since! I do alter a few things though, if you’re interested feel free to ask! I must’ve had a mother’s intuition on knowing the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would be welcoming little Prince Cambridge when I planned it for this week. Must’ve been in a mama sense – European mood (;

Trying to decide if I’m going to do a book review this week and if it’s going to be over the trilogy as a whole or just one. Either way, I have to finish the third book first so I can decide. Enough blogging tonight. I have a toddler who is begging to be tickled by pouncing on my back continuously while I lie and type! After sufficient tickles it’ll be back to reading Reached by Ally Condie and watching The Hunger Games! (: Just a casual night for this mama!

 

Top Ten Tuesday #3 Words/Phrases That Turn Me Off From A Book July 23, 2013

Filed under: Books,Top Ten Tuesday — Maura @ 12:26 pm
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b301e-toptentuesday

Each week the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish think up a fun theme for the week and participating bloggers around the net join in. The theme for this week is

Words/Phrases that turn me off from a book:

1. Autobiographies Just not into them.
2. The Next Twilight! Twilight is a guilty indulgence. I still don’t know why I like it, but I don’t want more of it!
3. Cheating Just no. Yes, I read Dear John like everyone else when the movie came out. As a military spouse I wanted to CHOKE that girl. Ew. No. Cheating is a big no no for me ESPECIALLY when it involves deployments. Just no.
4. Divorce My parents are divorced. I struggle/struggled enough as it is with it, I don’t want more of it. I don’t want to think of it as I’m married and have two kids. Just not my cup of tea.
5. Abuse Be it, verbal, spousal, child, whatever, I don’t want it.
6. Awful looking cover Yes, sometimes I *DO* judge a book by its cover. It happens. If your cover sucks, what does that say about your story? C’mon, authors, you can do better!
7. Lame blurbs If all I see is blah blah falls for blah blah and they blah blah and love, and drama, and blah blah, I’m not gonna touch it. Your blurb has to intrigue me, not turn me off.
8. Religion Yes, I’m a Christian. Yes, I attend church. No, I don’t want to be preached at in my readings. No, I don’t want your beliefs crammed down my throat. Now, if it’s a character’s personal struggle with their religion/belief system, I’ll consider it. I’m getting ready to read The Reluctant Fundamentalist which deals with considering where he stands on his beliefs and such, but that came from a snap decision to try something outside the norm because I heard part of the interview with the author on BBC one day.
9. Fifty Shades Trilogy No. Nope, not even gonna touch that. `Read part of it while it was still fanfic and had to bail on it. Now that it’s published for real, no. I still think of it as Twilight smut.
10. If you loved… you’ll love…/Over-hyped books Don’t tell me I’ll love this book just because I loved another book. Unless it’s by the same author, but even then, don’t assume! You don’t know my life! (: I can’t do the over-hyped books. If I catch it just as the hype is starting and it sounds really interesting, I’ll check it out. If it’s been beaten to death by everyone and their sister, probably not. I’ll wait til the hype dies down or just not read it.

On the flip side. Since I wasn’t doing these when TBTB did Ten Words/Phrases that make me pick up a book

1. J.K. Rowling Let’s face it, I not so secretly worship the ground she walks on. If her name’s attached to it, I’ll read it. I midnight book release partied hard for the last three Harry Potter books. I waited impatiently for her to release her new not Harry Potter book. I devoured The Casual Vacancy when it came out. Now that it’s been leaked that she wrote under a pseudonym, I will be all over that book once I get through the huge stack of library books I already have.
2. Dystopian Yes, I’m on *that* bandwagon, but when amazing books are being cranked out and all happen to be dystopian, it happens!
3. Thomas and Friends or Pete the Cat Seriously, if my son sees it, mama reads it.
4. War of Roses to Tudor England Obsessed. I have been since I was in elementary school.
5. Vampires I will probably at least give it a chance. I did read Twilight.
6. Steampunk Yes, I’m into that right now too.
7. Shadowhunters and Downworlders So sue me. I will read all of the Shadowhunters series Cassie Clare publishes and I am NOT ashamed!
8. Europe Particularly Paris, Scotland, or London. I’ve been to all three locations and would go back in a heartbeat. Until then, I live vicariously through characters who are there.

What are your thoughts? Normally, I would go for recommendations to change my mind, but those are some pretty grievous sins up there. You can try, but if it has cheating in it at all, please, don’t waste our time. I won’t touch it, and you’ll have wasted your time trying to convince me to give it a chance. Feel free to link your TTT, I’d love to compare lists!

 

Weekly Reading Review #2 July 19, 2013

Filed under: Books,Weekly Reading Review — Maura @ 2:03 pm
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Not as much reading this week, our household seems to finally be on the mend from the epidemic sinus infection that struck right as we returned home from vacation so that resulted in housework being done. A bit of work on our kitchen was done too. Slowly, but surely, my kitchen is becoming workable again! Our new appliances arrived, and I’m tickled pink over them. I NEVER imagined I would be so excited about kitchen appliances. Amazing how much changes when you DON’T have appliances to use. Hopefully, our cabinets will arrive soon too! Anyway, back to reading. Made a trip to the library again this week. Without the toddler, too! In and out in five minutes. Sometimes, it’s spectacular to have quick jaunts to the library. I am looking forward to getting back into our library routine soon though! He’s staying with my mom a lot this summer. Our kitchen being down and she’s out for summer break result in lots of Grammy-Punky sleep overs. Ladybug is as jealous as an infant can be. I think she enjoys her just me and mama time, though. I can tell she misses her brother by the way her face lights up when he comes home, though!

Completed:
The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory. 2 stars. I tried so hard to like this, but it was just okay. Margaret Beaufort is a horrendous protagonist. See my review for more information.

Matched by Ally Condie. 4 stars. I really enjoyed this book! I couldn’t put it down (despite Ladybug’s best efforts when I had 100 pages left!). I haven’t decided if I’m going to review just Matched or the whole series yet. Depends on how Reached goes.

The Day the Rain Came by Allia Zobel Nolan. 3 stars. It’s cute, it really is, but I feel like it could be more for a kids’ book. My son LOVES this book right now. He loves the interactive parts and we read it several times this week. He also sat and “read” it to himself a few times, too.

The Berenstain Bears On the Moon by Stan and Jan Berenstain. 3 stars. This was one of our bedtime stories my son selected this week. He was so proud at pointing to the moon and telling me, “Moon, mama!” I enjoyed reading this with him, especially since he’s going through a bit of an aeroplane and moon obsession. We have to stop and look for the areoplane or helicopter when he hears one coming close to flying over when we’re outside. He proudly points to the moon when he sees it and is sad when it can’t come inside with us.

Crossed by Ally Condie. 3 stars. As much as I loved the fast paced, Matched, Crossed was really lacking. It wasn’t anywhere near as action packed or as enjoyable. If I abandoned books/series lightly, I might have abandoned this one. But I felt obligated to see it through because of the way Matched touched me. I also want to see where the story goes. I have a love-hate relationship with love triangles, and I have to admit I’m intrigued who Cassia will end up with. Right now, I’m fully Team Xander.

Currently Reading:
Reached by Ally Condie. I just started it this morning, so no real comment thus far.

A Million Stars by Beth Revis. I got sucked into Matched and haven’t gotten as far into this as I would’ve liked. So far, it’s as good as Across the Universe was.

New to my shelf:
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. As much as I’ve heard about it and Cinder, I went ahead and requested it so I had it on hand for once I finished Cinder via the library.
Everneath by Brodi Ashton via the library.
Hereafter by Tara Hudson via the library.
The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory via the library

 

Top Ten Tuesday #2: Authors Who Deserve More Recognition July 16, 2013

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b301e-toptentuesday

Each week the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish think up a fun theme for the week and participating bloggers around the net join in. The theme for this week is

Authors who deserve more recognition

When I first started to think of this list, I immediately thought of some of the authors I’ve recently been introduced to through their books via Mary like Ally Condie, Beth Revis, Amy Plum, etc. So they’re on my list, but not ON my list. It’s taken me a while to sit and think about some different authors. I even sat in front of my bookshelves scanning titles. Then I went through my Goodreads lists. Finally, I have them. Some of them may be more well-known, but not as commanding as JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer.

Honourary: Lois Lowry. Yes, I know she’s very well-known, but to me, her writing deserves much more recognition than she has. Yes, she’s more children than YA, but still. I love her. I’ve done numerous book reports and presentations on her works. A Summer to Die is my favourite. I balled my eyes out!

The rest in no particular order:

Melissa de la Cruz is one of the more known authors on my list. She’s the best-selling author of The Blue Bloods series, The Au Pairs series (haven’t read them), as well as a few others and she has a new book Frozen: Heart of Dread coming soon. I’ve devoured The Blue Bloods since right after the first book came out. I’ve waited impatiently each year for the next book and was sad/happy to see this cycle end. Witches of East End is getting ready to come to the small screen and it’s a library book sitting in my stack waiting to be read.

Eoin Colfer again, is probably one of the more well knowns, but also a bit in the obscurity. I fell in love with Artemis back in junior high and flew through his adventures until somehow I missed a publication and have the last two books to read. Artemis Fowl has definitely been a joy to read, and I’ve passed it along to one of my nephews, and can’t wait to share it with my kids. Holly Short is hysterical. I’ve also read The Wish List and The Supernaturalist. Supposedly Artemis Fowl is coming to the big screen and Colfer himself is working on the screenplay, but I haven’t heard any news on progress in a while.

Carolyn Meyer. Let’s face it. I love her books. The Royal Diaries. The ones I haven’t read are on the list to read, just not at the top of the list at the moment. My absolute favourites of hers are Doomed Queen Anne: A Young Royals Book and The Royal Diaries: Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess, Russia, 1914. I hope my daughter loves her works as much as I did/do.

Ann Rinaldi is another that’s well-known in some circles, but not a huge name. She’s one of THE names in YA historical fiction. My favourite by her is hands down, by far, Time Enough for Drums. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read this book. It’s simply fantastic. I love the American Revolution era and this takes place in the heart of the action. Jemima is a personality to which I can relate. Every book I’ve read, I could barely put it down in order to do other things.

O.R. Melling is virtually unknown to Goodreads apparently. She only has one book listed. I was introduced to this author by my best childhood friend. I loved The Summer King (The Chronicles of Faerie). Then again, I love Irish and Celtic folklore. It’s been a while since I read it, and looks like on Amazon there is a new book in the series so it’ll get added to the to check out library list! (:

Margaret Peterson Haddix is another known and not known author. Or at least it feels that way to me. I’ve loved everything I’ve read. If I had to pick a favourite, I probably would go with Turnabout or Just Ella. I loved the The Shadow Children too, but have a few books to finish.

I really enjoyed Witch Child by Celia Rees and think her other books are under appreciated. I have a few on my to read list that have some how slipped through the cracks over the years. Pirates! has been on my bookshelf for ages and I have no idea how it’s never been read. My mom read it, but some how I skipped over it. The Fool’s Girl is on my Kindle waiting to be read soon.

Kathryn Lasky is more children’s than YA, but I also think her works are under appreciated. I loved all of her contributions to the Dear America and The Royal Diaries series. Her other series look good, and I hope to enjoy them with my children. It’s always nice to have a “reason” to read books that are considered below my interest level. Sometimes you just need a simplistic adventure for a change.

I’ll admit, I haven’t read as much of Judith Tarr’s works as I’d like, but I loved Rite of Conquest (William the Conqueror). Yes, I read it while I was in France in 2006. Yes, I greatly enjoy being a supreme nerd. I am a book and history nerd and I am NOT ashamed! I also enjoyed Kingdom of the Grail, though it’s been a while since I read it. I highly recommend her to historical fiction lovers.

And last on my list is Moira Young. Now, I haven’t actually read any of her books yet, but her debut book, Blood Red Road, was featured at the end of a book I’ve read recently (can’t remember which one) and thought it sounded interesting so I immediately put it on my TBR list.

Okay, so I lied. Another extra: Laura Howard. I haven’t read The Forgotten Ones: Book 1 (The Danaan Trilogy) yet, but I can’t wait to read it and I can’t wait to see where her career goes! (:

 

*Review* The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory July 14, 2013

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The Red Queen (The Cousin’s War)

Rating: 2 stars
Pub date: 3 Aug 2010
Publisher: Touchstone
Genre: Historical fiction, Romance, Adult Fiction
Format: Hardback, obtained from the Public Library

Book 2 of The Cousins’ War series

Summary
The second book in Philippa’s stunning new trilogy, The Cousins War, brings to life the story of Margaret Beaufort, a shadowy and mysterious character in the first book of the series – The White Queen – but who now takes centre stage in the bitter struggle of The War of the Roses. The Red Queen tells the story of the child-bride of Edmund Tudor, who, although widowed in her early teens, uses her determination of character and wily plotting to infiltrate the house of York under the guise of loyal friend and servant, undermine the support for Richard III and ultimately ensure that her only son, Henry Tudor, triumphs as King of England. Through collaboration with the dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret agrees a betrothal between Henry and Elizabeth’s daughter, thereby uniting the families and resolving the Cousins War once and for all by founding of the Tudor dynasty.

In all honesty, I was tempted to give up on this book. The magical and captivating character of Elizabeth Woodville made The White Queen a joy to read. I devoured each section and could hardly put it down. The opposite is true with The Red Queen . I really struggled. The sanctimonious, whiny, selfish, and narcissistic Margaret Beaufort is just a giant put off. If it weren’t for the worry of missing something in this book that might be referenced in the future series books, I would’ve probably abandoned it. That takes a lot from me. I don’t bail on books easily or lightly. Strictly based on the main character, I would’ve bailed. The historical time frame helped redeem it. I’m obsessed with all things Tudors and this is their matriarch.

It opens just before her first marriage to Edmund Tudor. All she cares about is her blasted “saint’s knees” from praying so much. It’s all she goes on about is how she has saints’ knees and she wants to be a Mother Superior of her own order. She’s obsessed with Joan of Arc, and honestly, I think she blows Joan of Arc’s position out of proportion. She wants people to comment on her piety and she goes to great lengths to advertise how pious she is. She flaunts it and baits people to comment. In this ambitious time of England, no one cares about how much you pray. Everyone cares about which house you support: York or Lancaster. Margaret is from the Lancaster house and is the heir apparent to it. This doesn’t jive in this male dominated world. She laments at not being well-educated though she is much more educated than most girls of the time. This is a world that a woman is only good for the sons she will bare.

At twelve, she is married off to Edmund Tudor, half-brother of the current King of England, Henry VI. She constantly complains that he does his husbandly duty and doesn’t allow her to pray 24/7. She complains that he’s constantly away with his brother Jasper. She complains that she’s in the middle of nowhere in Wales. She complains about the language, the staff of the household, the food, anything and everything to anyone and everyone within earshot.

She finds herself pregnant and is little more than a child herself. War is brewing in the land as the Yorks are unhappy with their lot of being a minor royal house and think themselves better than the Lancaster rulers. Doesn’t help things that Henry VI is slowly losing his touch with reality. Margaret relates this to herself and says they are both chosen by God to do His will and the king is just seeing visions. Things keep getting worse and her husband is captured and dies before her baby is born. Jasper returns to her just before she delivers. Her mother has given orders to the ladies in waiting to order the midwives that if it comes to choosing between the mother and the baby to save the baby. Save the baby above all costs ESPECIALLY if it is a boy. Margaret realises she is worthless as a girl. She has a long and difficult delivery, but finally gives birth to a boy. Jasper wants to name the child after his father, but Margaret claiming divine intervention and the usual that she’s been directed to name the child Henry and he shall be a King of England.

She finds out that she is to be married off again. This time to a man much older than she is. Her first husband was already more than 10 years older and now this husband is even older than the first. He is the second son of the Duke of Buckingham. She comes to see that her new husband is much kinder than Tudor, but she thinks him a coward because he does not wish to get involved in the chaos that is consuming England. She constantly nags him about joining the cause and fighting for her, her son who is the heir of the Lancasters, and for his king. He politely points out that he is keeping them sage by staying out of the fighting. She keeps believing he’s a coward. She is so naive about her views of the world and how “wronged” she has been. Her son was third from the throne while Henry VI was king, and is now completely disinherited while Edward of York sits on the throne. *Her* throne. She fails to remember that throne passes to the males. She begins to obsess over Edward of York and his wife, Elizabeth Woodville. She deems Elizabeth to be sub par and of inferior birth and a waste of space. She obsesses over the fact it should be her by Edward’s side if things had played out better. She switches from calling Elizabeth a whore and a witch and celebrates that she is more holy and educated. She has been touched by the hand of God, but that harlot sits on the throne and pops out babies every time you turn around! She constantly prays for their deaths and the deaths of their children. Not something a saint should be concerned with, in my opinion.

Her husband dies and she then obsesses about wedding Edward instead of him being married to that witch. But he’ll want to have all sorts of sex and expect her to get pregnant and have babies, and she’s a saint and shouldn’t do that stuff. Seriously, this is her thought process. I want this, but I’m a saint. My son should be king, because I’m a saint. I have saints’ knees and should sign my name as Margaret R.

She decides to break the year of mourning and approaches husband number three. He’s a lord in his own right and she petitions marriage, with no sex, and she keeps her lands. Lord Stanley accepts because he’s in it for himself too. His family’s motto is Sans Changer and they do anything but STOP changing. Where Stafford (husband 2) didn’t want to fight at all, Stanley waits to see who the winning side will be THEN charge into battle.

Edward dies, and the Queen flees into sanctuary with the royal children, except the Prince of Wales who is escorted to the royal apartments at the Tower so the Lord Protector, Richard of Gloucester, can make coronation preparations. Then he has the royal children declared illegitimate and seizes the throne for himself. Cue more sainthood claiming and throne loss lamenting. There’s a failed uprising, disgrace – resulting in losing her lands and wealth to her husband and is sent into exile. The new Queen dies and to save his royal niece/lover from scandal she is sent to live with Margaret. A battle for supreme childish bitch starts.

Finally, it boils down to Henry Tudor versus King Richard III on the battleground. England is torn apart again. Back the Lancaster claimant who grew up in exile or back the usurper who stole the throne from his brother’s son and most likely had his two nephews executed? Battle ensues and at the last moment, the Stanley armies swoop in to aid Tudor. Richard is executed and his body just dumped (cue best game of hide and seek EVER!). His crown is stripped from his head and given to Tudor who becomes Henry VII and the first of the Tudor dynasty. Word makes it back to Margaret that her son won and all she cares about is that she gets to sign her name as Margaret R.

That’s about it. Despite a huge war-torn time period, this book really lacks in action until the last bit. That’s about it in the redeeming aspect. Will I read it again? Possibly. Anytime soon? Not a chance. I am looking forward to the next book though. It HAS to be better than this!

 

Weekly Reading Review July 12, 2013

Filed under: Books,Weekly Reading Review — Maura @ 2:49 pm

For my first review I’m going to include our vacation week too because I got a lot of reading done!

Completed:

The White Queen (The Cousins’ War #1) by Philippa Gregory. 4 stars. I love Gregory. I’ve loved her ever since I dove into The Other Boleyn Girl. The way she brought Elizabeth Woodville to life was spectacular!

If I Should Die (Revenants #3) by Amy Plum. 4 stars. I was introduced to this series by Mary. I am so grateful she did! Paris! Immortals! The series was amazing. My one beef with IISD is the lack of Jules. C’mon, Amy, more Jules!

Across the Universe by Beth Revis. 4 stars. Again, I was introduced by Mary. I’m serious, I go to her for a lot of recommendations! Though I will still take credit for introducing her to Twilight launching that little obsession of hers, but that’s a different story! (: Back to AtU. I loved it. Wow. SciFi isn’t always my thing, but I’m glad I gave this one a go. I mean, c’mon! Beatles song as the title AND lyrics in the beginning? Match made in heaven. Can’t wait to jump into A Million Suns!

Ladybug Girl at the Beach by David Soman. 4 stars. I got this as a treat for our beach vacation. It was very cute and my own little Ladybug smiled and cooed through the whole story. I look forward to reading the whole series with her!

Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes by Eric Litwin. 4 stars. This was also a trip treat. Pete came into our lives thanks to my cat loving mom. My son fell in love and I love that he loves Pete. Giggles always ensue when I read “Does Pete worry? Goodness no!” Probably has something about the way I draw out goodness (:

Prodigy by Marie Lu. 4 stars. It had its ups and downs, but I really enjoyed this book! I wasn’t happy with the cliffhanger ending, but I am never a fan of them. I need Champion NOW!

Currently Reading
The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory. Started out much slower paced compared to TWQ, but the action is kicking up!

What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff. Just a brush up month by month with baby #2 (:

New to my shelf
Cinder by Marissa Meyer I won this in one of Mary’s giveaways. It’s signed! Can’t wait to jump in!
The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory via the library
A Million Suns by Beth Revis via the library
The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey via the library
Matched, Crossed, Reached by Ally Condie via the library

 

Top Ten Tuesday #1: Best/Worst Movie Adaptations July 9, 2013

Filed under: Books,Top Ten Tuesday — Maura @ 11:37 am

I’ve had this blog for a while, but have been horrible about posting. Time to remedy it! As well as the occasional recipe (once our kitchen has been put back together!) and some home preschool/toddler craftiness, I’m gonna throw in some book stuff. Let’s face it, reading is my kryptonite. I’ve only come across a few books I haven’t been able to finish, and most of those I’ve gone back to and then finished them. Most of my recommendations come from my lovely friend, Mary, over at her blog, Mary Had a Little Blog, Goodreads.com or sequels/other series by authors I already know/like. So I’m hoping to spread some more love for reading. At first, I thought about just doing some reviews and such on the books I read for ME, but why not review some for the kiddos too? Not like I don’t read a million and one of those a week anyway (: So to kick off this book review part of my blog, I’m going to participate in the Top Ten Tuesday event The Broke and The Bookish do. I’ve been reading these on Mary’s blog for a while, and then went over to TBTB and checked it out on their site and thought, eh, why not?

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The Best (in no particular order cause I just can’t do it!):

 
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Let’s face it, in today’s world, the black and white films are a little neglected. We want 3D, in your face explosions, with colour EVERYWHERE. Sometimes, it’s nice to appreciate simplicity. TKM is one of my favourite books of ALL TIME. For real. I could read it on a weekly basis and it wouldn’t get old. I can still relate to Scout today.

 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I know, there’s been a lot of back and forth on this. I honestly loved the adaptation. Yes, things were changed, but growing up with the details being changed in Harry Potter, I’ve grown to view adaptations from a book lover and movie lover perspective. I have grudgingly accepted that a 100% true to the book adaptation just isn’t feasible for most books. Moving on from that, I really loved this. Jennifer Lawrence isn’t just the actress that portrays Katniss, she really brings her to life. And don’t get me started on Peeta and Gale (;

 

As far as true to the book adaptations go, Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets always feels like the closest to me. I’ll admit, I didn’t care for the book, but I was thrilled with how closely they followed the book in the movie. Yes, looking back on it, it feels overly childish. I WAS a child when it came out and it’s a CHILDREN’S series so yeah. I’m still in love with the casting for the series. Alan Rickman IS Snape.

 

Da vinci Code by Dan Brown. I read the book before I went to France in 2006 and just before the movie came out. I love the book. LOVE the book. I was okay with the bits they changed. To me it makes it a bit easier to follow on screen. You can only do so much with actions to convey a heavy realisation like that. My mom hated how they changed it. Never thought my mom would be the purist over me for page to screen adaptations.

 

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. Really? Do I NEED to explain the awesomeness of this adaptation? I own the theatrical release and extended release on DVD and the extended on blu-ray. Really. My husband and I are obsessed.

 

The Chronicles of Narnia
by CS Lewis. The new ones, not the ones from the 80s/90s. I love the books, I love the movies they’ve done. I wish they could do them all with this cast, but the rate they’re releasing them, I don’t think that’s gonna happen and that really makes me sad.

 

The Bad and the Ugly (again, in no particular order):

T*Witches
Come on, Disney. We know how you are at ruining things. I love you, but really? WHY did you have to screw this up? Good for you for getting the Mowry twins, but really? They are NOT Cam and Alex in any way shape or form. My best friend and I devoured these books when they were being released. We were ECSTATIC about a movie being made. We got burned. Third degree burns. Shame on you, Disney, shame on you.

 
Angels & Demons by Dan Brown. I’ll admit it. I started with The Da Vinci Code, but I read this one the next summer before/while I went to Italy, Greece, and Scotland in 2007. I loved it more than I loved Code. It was great reading about the Vatican while I was there. Book = amazing. Move = are you kidding me? This had such potential. I understand that they flipped it to seem like this comes after Code since it’s the more known of the two. But everything they piddled with and changed just stunk. I’m all for changing details when it adds to the story, but to me, EVERYTHING was awful. I love Ewan McGregor, but he just did not fit his role. That being said, I’m not sure I’m looking forward to The Lost Symbol and Inferno. Movies, I’ve read the books. That’s a whole different can of worms though!

 

The Twilight Saga
Yes, I fan girled over the vampires. But another read, and I still to this day wonder what about them I love so much. They’re so simply written. They have the potential of being GREAT, but just no. Don’t get me wrong, there are parts of the movies I do like. Kristen Stewart as Bella is not one of them. The way they do the sparkle on the vampires, I do not like. Cameron Bright and Dakota Fanning, perfect casting.

 

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
I don’t even know if I can go there on how disappointed I was with this. It’s one of my favourites in the series. When I saw the preview of the attack on the Weasley house, I blew a gasket. I refused to go see it in theatres. It’s the only one I didn’t see in theatres.

 

The Other Boleyn Girl
by Philippa Gregory. I have to watch this pretending there is no book. Let’s just leave it at that.

 

Where the Wild Things Are
I can’t even begin to describe how much I LOATHED this movie.

 

Anticipating:

The Host by Stephenie Meyer. This book falls under the I started, couldn’t finish, put it down for a year, picked it back up, and then devoured it books. I needed time away from Twilight before I could start this one. The movie looks really good, I just haven’t had a chance to see it yet.

 

City of Bones
by Cassandra Clare. I flew through TMI and TID like they were novellas. I loved all of them. I am leery on the movie adaptation though. I always am when a book comes to the big screen. I have to read the book again before I see the movie and then have to go into it not thinking like a purist. It’s a long complicated process for me haha.

 

Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins. So. Excited.

 

Divergent
I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my list. Until then, I avoid all movie news.

 

The Maze Runner
It’s the same as Divergent.

 

 

I think that’s all for now. At least off the top of my head, not raiding my movies or books haha.

 

 
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