The Whimsical Mama

<3 Such is the life of a stay at home mommy and Army wife (:

*Review* The Elite by Kiera Cass June 30, 2014

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

Rating: 4 stars
Pub date: 23 April 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins, HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Format: hardcover via library
Status: Book two of The Selection trilogy

Summary:
The hotly-anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestseller The Selection.

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

 

My thoughts:

Wow. Once again I was completely sucked into America’s world. The Elite was even better than The Selection. I can see how people are frustrated by this series. Two incredible guys vying for your affections? One seems like the perfect choice then does something completely harebrained. If you aren’t into the story, it could quickly turn you off. I, however, do like the story, but I won’t hate on those who don’t!

The action picks right up from The Selection. By action, I do mean action as well as a lot of drama. I HATE real life drama, but the drama in The Selection series is so fantastic! The complexity of the world increases a bit, so the intrigue ramps up. This still isn’t an overly complex world though and that still doesn’t bother me. More of the history is revealed and things start to make  more sense. The victors write the history is definitely a theme that must be remembered while reading! The populace doesn’t know the full history of their nation and that’s the point. I’m confident even more of the history will be revealed in The One!

At the end of The Selection, I was Team Neutral over the boys. After The Prince, I was leaning more to Maxon. Through all of The Elite, I flipped back and forth. Kiera does a great job keeping the characters human. The guys screw up, America screws up, circumstances screw things up.

America continues to fight to stay true to herself, which is more than some of the other girls can say. She’s definitely not one to take things lying down.

Marlee — oh Marlee.I so almost lost it over Marlee. She’s definitely another girl with a backbone and sticks to her heart’s desire.

I was very happy to get to see more of the queen. It makes me more excited about her upcoming novella! I hope to see even more of her in The One.

Things I kind had an assumption about in The Prince totally turned out to be true and it absolutely broke my heart! I just don’t see how — ugh! SPOILER. UGH! Just no. No. No. No. No. For shame. >.<

The attacks are ramping up and so are my nerves. The more things happen between Aspen and America, the more nervous I am about Maxon’s reaction. You know THAT has to hit the fan before the end!

Very well written like The Selection, even if it’s focused more on the romance than the dystopian aspect. I’m still completely okay with that. I breezed through much like I did The Selection. I’m excited to read The Guard and see how it all goes down in The One. Who will she choose? Will the caste system end? So many things I must know NOW. All in all, a good and entertaining read. I recommend it more to romance readers than strict dystopian readers, but still a good dystopian even if it’s not as dark!

About the author:

100 Things I Love:

Being married. Cake. The smell of Autumn. Motherhood. Books. Elephants. Back rubs. On demand movies. Actually going out to movies. Faith. Cinnamon rolls. My family. Butterflies. When my kitchen is clean. Crayons. Pink. Tote bags. Dancing. Organizing via color coordination. That my wedding dress was tea length, not floor. Baking. My house. Writing utensils. Paper. India. The sound of water. Making videos. Buttons. The word Episcopalian. Making people laugh. Layering clothes. British accents. Pinterest. Animation. Fireworks. The smell of the Ocean. My wedding rings. Aprons. Reasons to get dressed up. Sex. Pop music. Stars. Taking walks. Daydreaming. Stickers. School Spirit. My friends. Living in a small town. Japan. Singing. Painting my toenails. Pranks/ practical jokes. Painting. Stretch canvas. Costumes. Dipping my fingers in melted wax. Style. Soda. Spending an hour typing at a coffee shop. Musicals. Back to school season. Mopeds. Good hair days. Naps. Not walking up but looking at a beautiful staircase. Driving alone. My ankles. Playlists. Spending entire days in pajamas. Holidays. Telling stories. Spontaneity. Theme parks. Bookshelves. The word copacetic. Boxes. Empty journals. Surprises. Doing things in groups. Doing things alone. Getting real mail. Decorating. Small forks. A good hug. Gift cards. New Years Goals. Going out to dinner. When someone else remembers some great story about me/us that I’ve forgotten. Toy stores. Fireplaces. Breakfast foods. Journaling. Crying for a good reason. Doorbells. Pointless adventures. Voting. My birthday. Reasons to make wishes. Recycling

http://www.kieracass.com/

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*Review* Divergent by Veronica Roth April 7, 2014

Rating:4 stars
Pub date:25 April 2011
Publisher:HarperCollins, Katherine Tegen Books
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic
Format:paperback, movie-tie in edition, borrowed via library
Status:Book one of the Divergent trilogy

Summary:

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.


During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

My thoughts:

Why did I not listen to Mary (Mary Had a Little Book Blog) and read Divergent sooner?! Why did I wait until it was next to impossible to avoid previews and potential spoilers?! Miraculously, I have avoided Allegiant spoilers of any kind. I also have avoided all Divergent talk of any kind. I’m very happy it lived up to the hype that’s been buzzing like crazy. Maybe that’s why I’ve been putting it off in case I was one of *those* people who didn’t like it. Whatever the reason, I’ve finally read it.

 

From theget go of Veronica’s debut I’ve been intrigued by the world our leading lady, Beatrice lives in. It’s obviously vastly different from ours. Her world is divided into five factions: Dauntless (brave), Erudite (intellectual), Amity (kind), Candor (honest), and Abnegation (selfless service). Beatrice was born and raised in Abnegation but doesn’t feel like she fits in. At the age of 16, everyone goes through an aptitude test. Something happens with Beatrice’s results and it leaves her with a lot to contemplate. Choosing Day arrives and she decides to leave Abnegation for Dauntless. Her brother Caleb also chooses to leave Abnegation. He chooses Erudite. This one choice will now make or break Beatrice.

Divergent could have gone in so many directions. Veronica did a great job of leaving you thinking what if? while blowing your mind with Beatrice’s (Tris) path of choice.

 

I definitely don’t think I could make it through the Dauntless initiation. Tris definitely has me there. The Dauntless are not to be taken lightly. I think they’re all slightly crazy. I would like to explore their compound though! I’m very glad I didn’t have to choose the single path that would define the rest of my life at 16. I’ve learned so much since then. If I had to stick to what I wanted at 16, I would be in law school right now. I also would most definitely not be living where I am now. I would be in Europe for sure. I wouldn’t be married and I certainly wouldn’t have kids. Everything I wanted changed so much my first year and a half in college!

 

Veronica does a great job with character development. In first person, we get to see inside of Tris’s head as she grows. She’s a person you can easily relate to, though I don’t envy her life. We also meet Four who is an interesting character. I’m very happy there is chemistry rather quickly between them, but not of the insta-love variety.

 

Veronica also created strong secondary characters. Tris mostly interacts with the other transfer initiates to Dauntless, but we do get to see her interact with a wide variety of people from various backgrounds. I’m excited to see their roles grow in the series.

 

Veronica’s world building was great too. I’ve only seen Chicago from the air, so I can’t do a genuine comparison, but she creates a fantastic dystopian, run down Chicago. She gives incredibly detailed descriptions of the areas of Chicago Tris explores.

 

The length may seem daunting (haha, see what I did there?) for those who aren’t used to longer reads, but this doesn’t read like it’s as long as it is. It pulls you in and propels you all the way through. It covers all the emotional bases and covers them well. I laughed. I cried. I wanted to yell. I wanted to throttle a few necks. This was a fantastic read that leaves you wanting more, so it might be a smart move to have Insurgent on hand. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, give Divergent a try! I’m not big on the if you liked X, try X deal, but I do think this will pull in The Hunger Games fans!

 

 

About the author

Veronica Roth is from a Chicago suburb. She studied creative writing at Northwestern University, and wrote DIVERGENT (Katherine Tegen Books, May 2011) and INSURGENT (May 2012). The third and final book in The Divergent Trilogy, ALLEGIANT, will come out on October 22, 2013. In the meantime she will spend endless hours browsing Wikipedia in her pajamas as she eats corn flakes. (Or some other kind of bland breakfast cereal.)

 

Please Be Kind, Rewind: 23-29 March 2014 March 29, 2014

Can I just say that I am really not a fan of the new update to the WordPress document formatting? I really liked being able to work in Word, Works, Open Office, etc. and paste straight in the post in the format I want. Not cool. Hubby was away at a military class this week and the kiddos took turns being piddly. Bug got shots and Punk’s allergies waged an open revolution against him. It’s been a rough week. But I still got some blog work and reading done!

Completed:

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein 4 1/2 stars

Frozen (ARC, personal copy, audiobook)by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston 3 3/4 stars.

Currently Reading:

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Everything Mother Goose Book by June Rifkin (yes, we’re still working on it!)

Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone by JK Rowling

Read to the Kiddos:

Sesame Street: Elmo Look and Find by Publications International

The Story of Thomas Jefferson by Patricia A Pingry

If You Give A Moose A Muffin by Laura Joffe Numeroff

Thomas and the Treasure by Wilbert Awdry

How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Dogs by Jane Yolen

Digger the Dinosaur by Rebecca Kai Dotlich


New to my shelf:

Asylum by Madeleine Roux (from my sis-in-law)

From the library:

Pete the Cat : Big Easter Adventure by Eric Litwin & James Dean (audiobook)

Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston (audiobook)

Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz (audiobook)

Splintered by AG Howard (audiobook)

The Great Discover (Thomas the Train) by Rev W Awdry (audiobook)

 

*Review* Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi February 3, 2014

Rating: 4 stars
Pub date: 1 December 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Format: hardcover, signed, won in a contest
Status:Book one of Under the Never Sky trilogy

Summary:

Since she’d been on the outside, she’d survived an Aether storm, she’d had a knife held to her throat, and she’d seen men murdered.

This was worse.

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland–known as The Death Shop–are slim. If the cannibals don’t get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She’s been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild–a savage–and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile–everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria’s help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

My thoughts:

I won a copy of this in a giveaway hosted by Mary. It sat on my TBR shelf for longer than it should have. Since it was surrounded by hype, I was kind of reluctant to read it. One good thing about waiting to read it is when I did, I got to binge read the series.

This world was incredible. It’s one that sucked me in immediately, but it is definitely a world that I would not want to live in. There are dangers that are everywhere you turn.

In a world where racism is still prevalent (if you disagree with that, we can debate at a different time), this was a book that focused on racism and stereotypes. You may disagree with me on it, but to me it felt that way. There are deeply ingrained beliefs on both sides. The Dwellers live in a fantastical world and are raised to believe those who live on the outside are dangerous savages (very colonial power vs native right?) The Outsiders hold a deep and bitter resentment towards the Dwellers for some long ago transgression which is later revealed.

I will admit that I read Roar & Liv before Under the Never Sky (Mary gave me massive grief) so I was waiting impatiently for the wonderful Roar to show up. I absolutely adore Roar. He’s my favourite by far! I wasn’t that big of a fan of Perry in the beginning. I’m not into the broody type. I did grow to care for him and I really like the pairing between Perry and Aria. I believe they work well together to balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Aria was very naïve when she was dropped on the outside, but it givers her tremendous room for growth and she spends the whole book blossoming. Through her perspective we see just how vast the technology gap is between Dweller and Outsider. Civilisation has progressed in the Pods to eradicate illnesses, has the capabilities to stop menstrual cycles, and create realms of unimaginable levels.

We see everything from Middle Ages-esque villages and technological levels where the Tides live to a more modern feeling city to the very futuristic Pods. Veronica does an amazing job of creating a vast technological arc in this sci-fi future. It feels to me that it is more post-apocalyptic than dystopian.

Having a boy and girl from vastly different backgrounds can be terribly cliché, but Veronica makes it work very well in this world. What I really loved about the Aria and Perry pairing was that it was not an insta-love situation. It was quite the opposite in the beginning which was very refreshing. It was nice to see a relationship truly built from the ground up and not starting with “love.” The complications of their genetic abilities adds a nice spice to their situation when breeding can be considered a key part of life.

I’ve never been a fan of perspective changes, but I’ve read several recently and they are starting to change my mind. Veronica did a great job with the easy glow back and forth between Aria and Perry. One thing I didn’t enjoy in UTNS was the futuristic jargon from the two societies. Obviously language changes every day, but without context (which some of these are through the book) it was very difficult to pick them up. Once I picked up on their meaning, the bafflement quickly faded.

While I didn’t feel that UTNS completely lived up to the hype, I did enjoy it enough to continue on with the series. I think maybe after time away from it and the hype dies down from Into the Still Blue, I may come back to it and read it again. I do plan on rereading the series eventually, just not sure on how soon. I would and do recommend UTNS to post-apocalyptic and sci-fi enthusiasts.

 

 
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