The Whimsical Mama

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*ARC Review* Perfect Lies by Kiersten White July 14, 2014

***I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to HarperTeen!***   

***As always mild spoilers may follow***

Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Pub date: 18 February 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Paranormal
Format: ARC provided by the publisher
Status: Book two of the Mind Games duology

Summary:
Annie and Fia are ready to fight back.

The sisters have been manipulated and controlled by the Keane Foundation for years, trapped in a never ending battle for survival. Now they have found allies who can help them truly escape. After faking her own death, Annie has joined a group that is plotting to destroy the Foundation. And Fia is working with James Keane to bring his father down from the inside.

But Annie’s visions of the future can’t show her who to trust in the present. And though James is Fia’s first love, Fia knows he’s hiding something. The sisters can rely only on each other – but that may not be enough to save them.

 

My thoughts:
I received an ARC of Perfect Lies with an ARC of Taken from HarperCollins. I was excited because it sounded like a great read, plus it was a short book. 

Right off, I liked Perfect Lies more than Mind Games. Not sure why, it just felt a little more put together even though it also felt more chaotic. I will say I don’t feel like things were wrapped up at the end.

Annie really blossomed in Perfect Lies and I loved it. I loved watching her realise she didn’t have to rely on Fia to function. I enjoyed her interaction with Cole. Their development in Perfect Lies was the best of the characters.

Fia really frustrated me. Her stream of consciousness was a whole bunch of crazy. It felt like the closer we got to THE event, the more unhinged she became. Her interactions with James were just off. With perfect instincts, I think she failed on that one. Ugh. I did love her interactions with Pixie, but much like Pixie, I found Fia to be very overwhelming. 

The action and pace felt much more intense than Mind Games and one detail really kept you wondering until about 3/4 through the book. I was relieved how that played out, which really kinda surprised me.

The world building  continued to be nonexistent and it actually did bother me a bit this time around because the actions that were taken made no sense to me because we never saw what the world was like.

 The snark was just as good, if not better though. I love me some snark! It just wasn’t enough to boost over the things that were lacking.

 I did enjoy reading this duology, and Kiersten’s style has intrigued me enough  to check out some of her other works. I still recommend this duology because it’s a quick read and provides enough enjoyment to be worth the time. I’m undecided if I’ll reread this in the future. Maybe if I need quick reads to fill the time.

About the author:

Hi! I’m the New York Times best-selling author of Paranormalcy and Supernaturally. I also give the most awkward hugs in the world. You should probably opt for one of my books over one of my hugs, but then again, maybe you like awkward hugs.

As for me, I like writing flirting scenes, and fighting scenes, and sometimes I write scenes that fall somewhere in between the two, but only if I can’t avoid it.

 

*Review* The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory May 19, 2014

***As always mild spoilers may follow***

Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Pub date: 6 September 2006
Publisher:Touchstone, Simon & Schuster
Genre: Adult, Romance, Historical Fiction
Format: audiobook, via library
Status: Book one of the Tudor Court series

Summary:

“I am Catalina, Princess of Spain, daughter of the two greatest monarchs the world has ever known…and I will be Queen of England.”

Thus, bestselling author Philippa Gregory introduces one of her most unforgettable heroines: Katherine of Aragon. Known to history as the Queen who was pushed off her throne by Anne Boleyn, here is a Katherine the world has forgotten: the enchanting princess that all England loved. First married to Henry VIII’s older brother, Arthur, Katherine’s passion turns their arranged marriage into a love match; but when Arthur dies, the merciless English court and her ambitious parents — the crusading King and Queen of Spain — have to find a new role for the widow. Ultimately, it is Katherine herself who takes control of her own life by telling the most audacious lie in English history, leading her to the very pinnacle of power in England.

Set in the rich beauty of Moorish Spain and the glamour of the Tudor court, The Constant Princess presents a woman whose constancy helps her endure betrayal, poverty, and despair, until the inevitable moment when she steps into the role she has prepared for all her life: Henry VIII’s Queen, Regent, and commander of the English army in their greatest victory against Scotland

My thoughts:

Goodness this has been on my TBR for YEARS. For whatever reason, it has been knocked back and ignored over and over. Finally going on an audiobooks on the ipod in case of travel or kiddos ask binge, I selected The Constant Princess. Sadly, Simon & Schuster had it set up with our online library that it couldn’t be transferred to an ipod, so I requested the cd set from the physical library. I knocked out 3/4 of the book while working on computer things and then finished it the next day during naptime.

I love all things Tudor. I am actually surprised I haven’t read much Tudor lit lately. I did binge The Cousins’ War series last year and just rewatched The White Queen – which is actually what put me in the mood for some Philippa Gregory. The last Cousins’ War won’t be out til the fall and The Constant Princess is the next book I haven’t read.

I will admit that I am more of an Anne Boleyn fan than Catherine of Aragon, mainly because I love Elizabeth I over Mary. It was very fascinating to  finally get in the mind of Catherine though.

I liked that Philippa Gregory put an emphasis on Catherine’s marriage to Arthur. Most of my readings have been at the end of Catherine’s reign during the rise of Anne Boleyn. I liked having the chance to read about a young Catherine. Imagine how different the world would have been if Arthur had lived!

Though I’ve always preferred to read about Anne Boleyn, I have always admired Catherine’s strength through her life.

The youngest daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain had no choice but to be destined for immense strength and greatness. Married and shipped off to a complete stranger in a strange country as a young teenager, Catherine has been groomed her whole life for this opportunity. As a royal princess, she knows she is nothing but a pawn in the struggle for political power.

I likedthat Philippa Gregory chose to follow the line of Catherine and Arthur falling in love during their short marriage. They were paired fantastically, but tragically torn apart.

Arthur was well done. I fell in love with him as Catherine did. Even though I knew how history played out, I still wanted their hopes and dreams to come to pass.

After Arthur’s death, we see more of his father, Henry VII. I’m in the camp of believing he had the princes in the Tower killed and I’ve never cared to read about him. Even in fiction (especially after The White Princess) I find him abhorrent. Plus he turns out to be a creepy old man in this. UGH.

Henry,oh little Prince Henry. I hated the spoiled brat almost as much as I hated his father in The Constant Princess. In the actions taken, Catherine really seals her own fate even though there are circumstances entirely out of her control.

I really didn’t care for the massive skip through time to the end. It did feel a bit awkward even though it does show how things played out. The Constant Princess wasn’t one of m favourites, but it was a relatively quick read. I would suggest starting with a different Philippa Gregory novel if you’re just now venturing into her works. She has much stronger books to read first.

About the author:

Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the novel The Other Boleyn Girl, which was made into a TV drama and a major film. Published in 2009, the bestselling The White Queen, the story of Elizabeth Woodville, ushered in a new series involving The Cousins’ War (now known as The War of the Roses) and a new era for the acclaimed author.

Gregory lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire, where she keeps horses, hens and ducks. Visitors to her site, www.PhilippaGregory.com become addicted to the updates of historical research, as well as the progress of her ducklings.

Her other great interest is the charity she founded nearly twenty years ago; Gardens for The Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for 140 wells in the primary schools of the dry, poverty stricken African country. Thousands of school children have learned market gardening, and drunk the fresh water in the school gardens around the wells.

A former student of Sussex University, and a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 of Edinburgh University, her love for history and her commitment to historical accuracy are the hallmarks of her writing. She also reviews for US and UK newspapers, and is a regular broadcaster on television, radio, and webcasts from her website.

 

*ARC Review* Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi March 3, 2014

Rating: 3 ½ stars
Pub date: 28 January 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Format: eARC via publisher
Status:Book three of Under the Never Sky trilogy

Summary:

The earth-shattering conclusion to Veronica Rossi’s “masterpiece” Under the Never Sky trilogy and sequel to the New York Times bestselling Through the Ever Night (Examiner.com).

 

Their love and their leadership have been tested. Now it’s time for Perry and Aria to unite the Dwellers and the Outsiders in one last desperate attempt to bring balance to their world.

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe-haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do-and they are just as determined to stay together.

Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. And when Roar returns to camp, he is so furious with Perry that he won’t even look at him, and Perry begins to feel like they have already lost.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble a team to mount an impossible rescue mission-because Cinder isn’t just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival, he’s also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

In this final book in her stunning Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.

My thoughts:

I have really struggled with this review. It’s not because the book was awful by any means, It just felt lacking for me. The action and danger was there and I enjoyed it. I just felt disconnected in a way. After talking to Mary (Mary Had a Little Book Blog) and reading some other ARC reviews, it seems I am not alone in this.

I enjoyed Perry and Aria’s relationship. I think they go very well together. I liked seeing their relationship blossom from dislike to love. I also was happy to see them take a larger leadership role in their respective worlds. Perry is definitely a natural leader and flourishes in it even though it’s obvious he isn’t sure of himself. I still love Perry’s fierce protective nature over Cinder.

I was disappointed with the lack of Cinder in Into the Still Blue. Though the scences with Cinder struck me the most and were some of my favourites. Veronica broke my heart, stitched it up, and smashed it to smithereens. I love poor Cinder and he’s certainly the only one who continuously reconnected me to the story.

I was most upset with Roar’s development. I mean really upset. I understand that he lost the love of his life, but come on man! The severe douchebaggery was not needed. I went from loving Roar to really wanting to smack him upside the head. Also, his character “development” didn’t help with my lack of connection with Into the Still Blue. I would say it actually caused me to become more apathetic.

By the end, I just didn’t care anymore. Thing were wrapped up and I didn’t feel like there should’ve been more to follow, I just felt that the final leg of the journey was lacking. As much as I loved Through the Ever Night and liked Under the Never Sky, I really don’t know if I’ll come back to this one again. Maybe only to see how things wrap up again. Or maybe time away from this series and the hype will help. I do believe Into the Still Blue suffered from over hype for me. I had heard so many things about how great the finale was going to be and I got so excited that I think it just didn’t live up to my expectations somehow. This is definitely one of those I can’t make sense of it things. Into the Still Blue just wasn’t for me. As a whole, I recommend this series, because it is really great and imaginative. I CANNOT recommend this on its own other than you have to see how things come together in the end.

About the author

Veronica Rossi graduated from UCLA and studied fine art at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. She began writing fiction for teens and received first-place awards in Pacific Northwest Writers Association and SouthWest Writers annual contests before completing UNDER THE NEVER SKY. It’s since captivated publishers in more than twenty countries world wide and been optioned for film by Warner Bros. Veronica lives in northern California with her husband and two sons. You can visit her on Facebook or at www.veronicarossi.com

 

 
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