The Whimsical Mama

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

Top Ten Tuesday #99: Top Ten Tuesday REWIND – Villains/Criminals/Other Nasties August 9, 2016

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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 Tuesday REWIND – Villains/Criminals/Other Nasties

Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas 

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Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter by JK Rowling

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Bellatrix Lestrange from Harry Potter by JK Rowling

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Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter by JK Rowling

3

Loki, God of Mischief from Thor

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Black Knife from The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

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Khalid from The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

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Arin from The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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The Darkling from Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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Sturmhond from Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

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*Review* An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir June 9, 2016

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***mild spoilers may follow***

Rating:  5 stars
Pub date: 28 April 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Format: hardcover, personal copy
Status: Book one of An Ember in the Ashes series

Summary:

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

My thoughts:

I thought I had reviewed An Ember in the Ashes last year after I read it, but apparently I didn’t. Ah, well. I will now after a re-read! I have to say, I loved An Ember in the Ashes as much the second time as I did the first. Maybe a smidge more knowing that there for certain is a sequel! Even better that I have jumped straight into A Torch Against the Night thanks to Mary letting me borrow her copy! (Look for that review soon too!)

Once again, I was immediately hooked into the fantastical Ancient Rome type setting. Ancient Rome is one of my favourite time periods to study. I also enjoyed the military aspect of Elias. As an Army wife, there’s a fine line between just enough military influence, and can this military crap end already. Sabaa Tahir manages to weave the military training and life in a great balance with Laia’s side of the tale.

Sabaa Tahir proves she’s going to be a master of world building for this series. She has created an entire new world, but masterfully draws on one of the most influential times. She also pulls from mythology, but spins it to something entirely new. She introduces aspects of the mythology through children’s rhymes remembered by the characters as young adults. It’s fascinating to see the characters realise something they’ve always considered children’s stories to come to life before their eyes. There’s a few desert scenes which ups the ante on survival struggles.

I really enjoyed the presentation of the Trials in the book. I won’t go into too much detail on what is involved in the Trials as they are obviously a giant part of the story. They really make you stop and think about what you would do in a situation like that. Let’s just say could you kill your best friend if your life depended on it? Speaking of best friend, Helene, Elias’s best friend is easily my favourite character. I love a strong heroine who doesn’t need to depend on a guy to come to her aid and actually gets a little PO’d when Elias tries to help when she’s capable of handling herself. XX chromosome does not equal an incapability to kick some butt!

It was very interesting to have alternating point of views, but if you don’t pay close enough attention to chapter breaks, you might lose who is who for a moment! I think it would have helped a bit if the different POV were in different colours like the Legend trilogy. And on the note of alternating POV, I would love to see more Helene in A Torch Against the Night. Not sure how that will play out due to the nature of the ending of An Ember in the Ashes, but a girl can hope! Helene is definitely a secondary character in need of a promotion!

Another credit to Sabaa Tahir’s world building is in her writing style. She manages to write quite vividly without overloading the reader in tedious details (I’m looking at you, Tolkien). This writing style really helps keep the action glowing quickly and the reader engaged. I will admit that Elias’s chapters are a bit faster paced and better than Laia’s chapters. I think it is a good balance though. It helps with the ebb and flow of the story. It can’t all be high otherwise the story would have nowhere to go.

For me, the romance stayed on the border of problematic. While it will be interesting to see where things go in A Torch Against the Night, I could have used a bit less in the romantic drama department. I guess with such a focus on military, fighting, and gore, the romance just seemed a bit misplaced at times. Also, love triangles. Ugh. Or squares or whatever shape this one might be.

Last year, before it released, An Ember in the Ashes was SURROUNDED by massive hype. Especially with the rumour of being a potential standalone, but ending leaving the reader wanting MORE. There was a strong push for pre-orders and early purchasing to help draw attention to the desire of another book. Normally I see a hyped book and I flee in the other direction. I’m often the black sheep when it comes to hyped books or it being hyped adds far too much pressure to enjoy the book. I decided to pick up a (signed!) copy at Parnassus Books when I was down for the Sarah J Maas signing. It was a fabulous decision. Not only did I love it, a sequel was also announced which helped the ending.

I highly recommend An Ember in the Ashes. Few books, in my opinion, deserve the hype, but An Ember in the Ashes is one of those few. It is full of complex issues and very fleshed out characters. Sabaa Tahir is a powerful wordsmith and should stay on your radar for future amazing books!

About the Author

Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

 

 

Goodbye May – September, Hello October! October 1, 2015

Filed under: Books,Hello Goodbye Monthly Review — Maura @ 12:05 am
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I really can’t believe how quickly this year is flying by! It’s really kinda ridiculous. Totally meant to update May in June. That didn’t happen. Summer was HECTIC. Hoping autumn will be a bit more forgiving and laid back haha. I had a great summer and got a good amount of reading done. For a quick summer recap: In May, I did a down and back trip to Nashville with my friend Lauren to see Sarah J Maas on her ACOTAR tour. AMAZING. Talked publishing and books for hours with the incredible Lizzy Mason. One of hubby’s cousins got married and it was super awesome to get to see part of his family! In June, our English Mastiff, Maggie, was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy. Her back left leg is limp and drags. She has good days and bad days. There’s no treatment or cure. She’s learned to compensate for the weakness. We’re enjoying her every minute that we can. We know that sooner, rather than later, that we’re going to have to put her down. She’s super excited to be an indoor dog again though! June also brought hubby’s Annual Training with the National Guard. Maggie got sick THE DAY BEFORE he had to leave. It’s always something, I’m telling ya! July brought two beach trips. The kiddos and I went to Northern VA to visit hubby’s side of the family for the Fourth of July at the family cottage on the Potomac. SO MUCH FUN! Bug kept trying to figure out a way to get the newest baby in the family home. HER BABY. Haha. I celebrated my second book blogging anniversary, without actually doing anything. Oops! We also went to the beach with my mom and step-dad. The kiddos love the beach. I am super proud that I made the 6 1/2 hour and 8 hour beach drives solo with the kiddos. We also said goodbye to my 94 year old great-grandmother in July. It was hard. August brought Hubby’s 30th birthday! We also went to the fair with my (ex)step-dad. The kids had such a blast. Bug wanted to ride the BIG rides so bad and was quite upset she was too young. She loved the carousel and the pony rides though. Punk loved the animal exhibits. Punk also started pre-k this year. It hit me hard that I now have a school age kid! He’s loving it and I love that he’s loving it. I’m really enjoying the chance to have some one on one time with Bug. There are some days that she cries and doesn’t want to take Bubby to school. There are others that she cries because she doesn’t want to go pick him up! She’s sitting in my lap now as I work on this post haha. September was a bit more relaxed. Hubby’s unit had family day and we also went to an MTSU home game. That was a looooong day! Five hour drive down and back after a full day of fun! Now it’s on to October! I love October. Autumn is in full swing. My birthday is this month and so is HALLOWE’EN! How was your summer?

affiliate links used

Books I read in May-September (in order of completion)
The Whitechapel Fiend by Cassandra Clare
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
White Hot Kiss by Jennifer Armentrout
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
The Goddess Hunt (Goddess Test) by Aimee Carter
Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test Book 2) by Aimee Carter
The Goddess Inheritance (A Goddess Test Novel) by Aimee Carter
The Goddess Legacy (The Goddess Queen / The Lovestruck Goddess / Goddess of the Underworld / God of Thieves / God of Darkness (Goddess Test) by Aimee Carter
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
The Heir (The Selection) by Kiera Cass
A Darker Shade of Magic: A Novel by VE Schwab
Nothing but Shadows (Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy Book 4) by Cassandra Clare
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano
The Hidden Prince (Orphan Queen Novella 1) by Jodi Meadows
The Queen: A Novella by Kiera Cass
The Evil We Love (Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy Book 5) by Cassandra Clare
The Archived by Victoria Schwab
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
Vicious by VE Schwab
Most Likely to Succeed (The Superlatives) by Jennifer Echols
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog
The Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel by Melissa de la Cruz
Pale Kings and Princes (Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy Book 6) by Cassandra Clare
The Assassin and the Pirate Lord: A Throne of Glass Novella by Sarah J Maas
Pete the Cat’s Groovy Guide to Life by James Dean
The Assassin’s Blade: The Throne of Glass Novellas by Sarah J Maas
Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass series Book 1) by Sarah J Maas
Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass series Book 2) by Sarah J Maas
Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass series Book 3) by Sarah J Maas
Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass series) by Sarah J Maas
Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes Series) by Sara Raasch
Bitter of Tongue (Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy Book 7) by Cassandra Clare
Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo
Siege and Storm (The Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo
Ruin and Rising (The Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo
The Demon in the Wood: A Darkling Prequel Story (The Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo
The Glowing Knight (Orphan Queen Book 2) by Jodi Meadows

Coming up in October:

My birthday!

Punk’s class’s field trip to the corn maze

Hallowe’en!

Punk’s school’s fall festival

Goals for October

Stay ahead of schedule

Learn to successfully juggle two blogs

Spend time focused on the kiddos

Catch up on review writing

BALANCE

October releases I’m excited for:
Ice Like Fire (Snow Like Ashes Series) by Sara Raasch
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition (Harry Potter, Book 1) by JK Rowling
The White Rose (Jewel) by Amy Ewing
The Rose Society (A Young Elites Novel) by Marie Lu

October TBR:
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Ice Like Fire (Snow Like Ashes Series) by Sara Raasch
The White Rose (Jewel) by Amy Ewing
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition (Harry Potter, Book 1) by JK Rowling
Fairest: The Lunar Chronicles: Levana’s Story by Marissa Meyer
The Fulfillment (The Fulfillment Series) by Erin Rhew

Challenge Update:

2015 PopSugar Reading Challenge books completed:
A book with 500+ pages: Brazen by Katherine Longshore
A book turned into a movie: Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, Book 1)
A book published in 2015: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
A book with a number in the title: The 5th Wave: The First Book of the 5th Wave Series
An author under thirty: Vicious by VE Schwab
A book with non-human characters: This Shattered World: A Starbound Novel
A funny book: Most Likely to Succeed (The Superlatives) by Jennifer Echols
A book by a female author: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
A book with a one word title: Forged (Taken) by Erin Bowman
A book of short stories: The Assassin’s Blade: The Throne of Glass Novellas
A book set in a different country: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
A popular author’s first book: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
A book a friend recommended: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
A Pulitzer Prize book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A book based on a true story: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
A book that scares you: The Fault in Our Stars
A memoir: Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog
A book read in one day: A Curious Tale of the In-Between
A book set somewhere you want to visit: A Cold Legacy (Madman’s Daughter) by Megan Shepherd
A book with bad reviews: (either love or hate this one!) The Heir (The Selection) by Kiera Cass
A trilogy: The Hunger Games Trilogy
A book from your childhood: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
A book with a love triangle: White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements)
A book set in high school: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
A book with a colour in the title: The Red Tent: A Novel
A book that made you cry: The Assassin and the Empire: A Throne of Glass Novella (Throne of Glass series Book 1)
A book with magic: A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab
A graphic novel: Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel
A book by an author you’ve never read: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
A book set in your (college’s) hometown: Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
A banned book: The Giver by Lois Lowry
A book turned into a TV show: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

How was your summer? What’s up for October?

 

*ARC Review* The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord May 25, 2015

***mild spoilers may follow***

***affiliate links are used***

Rating:  5 stars
Pub date: 31 March 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Format: e-ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review, ARC provided by OTSP ARC tour
Status:standalone

Summary:
Following her pitch-perfect debut Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

My thoughts:
I received this ARC as part of the ARC tour hosted by On The Same Page. I also received a digital ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Neither of these copies swayed my opinion in any way.

Following in the vein of Open Road Summer, The Start of Me and You is full of best friends and second chances. As her second book, Emery ran the risk of the “sophomore slump,” by The Start of Me and You is anything BUT a slump! The Start of Me and You starts strong and ends stronger.

My absolute favourite thing in The Start of Me and You is the power of friendship. Paige and her group of friends are the perfect example of a great friendship. It’s not perfect by any means, but what friendship is? They know and understand each other through thick and thin. There’s one phone call that brings to mind an important friendship defining moment in my life. I won’t spoil the situation though! If you want to know my moment, send me a message on twitter! (@armywife2310)

As Paige grows and starts her life anew, her group of friends grows and changes to include guys. This group is reminiscent of my group of friends in high school – only we were in band! I think Emery did a great job of showcasing that teen guys and girls CAN have a relationship with zero romance. I’m a firm believer that friendship isn’t influenced by gender. One of my best friends in high school was a guy. Yes, we did try dating. No, we didn’t magically fall in love. Yes, we were MUCH better friends than a romantic item!

That being said though, Emery does a spectacular job weaving in the path to romance. I love that this pair starts their relationship based on friendship. They get to know the real side of each other and the affection slowly shifts from friend to romantic interest. I was totally shipping them before the ship even sailed!

Another thing I applaud Emery for is showing the nerdy side of life. That the nerd and the jock can get along and even be best friends. Beauty is not the only thing to attract a mate. I loved the geeking out. I was all about some Quiz Bowl in The Start of Me and You! I loved the breaking out the big guns by Max with Pride and Prejudice. Brava Emery for showing a guy can be well read too! I loved how passionate Max was about his interests and not being ashamed over them. Love what you love! I also loved the Open Road Summer shout out. (:

I loved getting to see Paige grow and change as she worked her way through her grief and her new chapter in life. I couldn’t relate on a personal level other than a fellow classmate succumbing to cystic fibrosis complications as our senior year started. I didn’t know Erin well, but her death still had a huge impact on me. Paige’s courage and determination were inspiring. Each step was hard fought, but also won. She knew she could never go back to the way things were, but she worked hard to get things to where she wanted. Eve if a thing or two was not how she originally planned it to be.

A bit heavier than Open Road Summer, but still a quick and enjoyable read for this non-contemporary fan! I definitely recommend adding Open Road Summer and The Start of Me and You to your spring/summer reading list and Emery Lord to your authors to always read list!

About the Author

I’m Emery, and I write books about flawed girls who are really trying, complicated families, friends who show up even when everything’s going down in flames, the boy who Gets You even when you don’t expect it, and the summer that changed everything.

Open Road Summer is out now, and The Start of Me & You releases March 31st, 2015.

I don’t check my GR inbox, but feel free to get in touch via ways listed on my website!
http://www.emerylord.com/p/site-qs.html

ctures.

 

Bout of Books 13 Wrap-Up May 18, 2015

affiliate links used below

I intended to participate in the last Bout of Books, but didn’t. I can’t remember what came up, but life happened. So I wrote the next date down in my planner. I had a blast this week with Bout of Books! I missed both chats, thanks to the kiddos, but it is what it is. I picked three books for my official TBR:The Fault in Our Stars,An Ember in the Ashes, and The Wrath and the Dawn. I only finished The Fault in Our Stars and The Wrath and the Dawn of these three. I did get a lot of reading done though. I read a total of 2,101 pages! True enough, 6 of the 7 books were audiobooks, but I still read! My favourite is a tie between The Wrath and the Dawn and The Fault in Our Stars. I faced a big fear when I read The Fault in Our Stars. My Gran was diagnosed with leukemia over a year ago, and I just haven’t been ready for any cancer books. Especially when I had had the ending spoiled for me. Cancer & death. I just wasn’t ready. Then talking with Lauren on the drive to see Sarah J Maas in Nashville on the 8th, we talked about a lot of things. She convinced me to go ahead and read it. I did and I’m so glad I did. Now to write ALL the reviews haha. Gotta get caught up!

Books completed:

The Fault in Our Stars

White Hot Kiss (The Dark Elements)

The Goddess Test

The Goddess Hunt (Goddess Test)

Goddess Interrupted

The Goddess Inheritance (A Goddess Test Novel)

The Wrath and the Dawn

 

Please Be Kind, Rewind: 19 April – 16 May 2015 May 16, 2015

Filed under: Books,Weekly Reading Review — Maura @ 11:45 pm
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Oops! I’ve been slacking in my weekly updates. Gotta get better! Anyway, I’ve had a rather busy month! Hope you all have been doing well! I’m still excited to be back in the swing of blogging and I’m super excited to be working on my Read It Before You See It feature. I’ve been knocking out some books so I can binge some movies! I have a feeling if I can keep knocking books out, I’ll be able to have a super movie marathon while hubby is at annual training this summer! What are some of your favourite page to screen adaptations? I have a huge list, but I’m always looking for more suggestions! (: I’m also excited by how many trades I’ll have coming in too! In case you’ve missed the trading on Twitter, check out #booksfortrade! I’ve also been busy with #boutofbooks this week too. So much fun trying to out do my normal reading amount. Not that hard, to be honest haha. My reading amount varies greatly from week to week. I had a blast in Nashville at the Sarah J Maas signing!

Got my May package from my Secret Sister today! It’s so awesome and I’ll have a write up of April AND May up next week. (: My Sister is the best! Our poor mailman delivered five packages today. He walks our route, so he drove up to the house to drop off the boxes after he walked our block. Sorry, Mr. Mailman! I’ll have lots of books rolling in! (:

affiliate links used

Completed:
Frozen by Erin Bowman (reread)
Forged by Erin Bowman
Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare
The Lost Herondale by Cassandra Clare
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
The Artemis Fowl #2: Arctic Incident Graphic Novel 1st (first) Edition by Colfer, Eoin (2009)
Artemis Fowl The Eternity Code Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception Graphic Novel (Artemis Fowl (Graphic Novels)) by Eoin Colfer
The Whitechapel Fiend by Cassandra Clare
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (audiobook)
The Last Apprentice by Joseph Delaney (audiobook)

Completed for #boutofbooks
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (audiobook)
White Hot Kiss by Jennifer Armentrout (audiobook)
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter (audiobook)
The Goddess Hunt by Aimee Carter (audiobook)
Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter (audiobook)

Currently Reading:
The Love Dare by Stephen & Anna Kendrick
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh ARC
The Goddess Inheritance by Aimee Carter

New to My Shelf:
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh ARC
Illuminae by Aime Kaufman & Jay Kristoff ARC
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anne Heltzel ARC

From my Secret Sister!
The Secret Bride (In The Court of Henry VIII, Book 1) by Diane Haeger
The Queen’s Mistake: In the Court of Henry VIII (Henry VIII’s Court) by Diane Haeger
The Queen’s Rival: In the Court of Henry VIII (Henry VIII’s Court) by Diane Haeger
The Love Dare by Stephen & Anna Kendrick
The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir
Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey by Alison Weir
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab OMG SO FREAKING EXCITED!

Trades: (Thank you SO much everyone!)
I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios ARC
Fever by Lauren DeStefano
Gameboard of the Gods: Age of X by Richelle Mead
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd ARC
Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd ARC
Unleashed by Sophie Jordan ARC
This Shattered World by Aime Kaufman & Megan Spooner ARC

Like audiobooks? Check this out! (: Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

 

*ARC Review* Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch May 11, 2015

***mild spoilers may follow***

***affiliate links are used***

Rating:  5 stars
Pub date: 14 October 2014
Publisher: Balzer+Bray, HarperCollins
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Format: e-ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Status: Book 1 of the Snow Like Ashes trilogy

Summary:

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

My thoughts:
I was SO excited for Snow Like Ashes. Before it was posted on Edelweiss, I told hubby I HAD TO HAVE it in my life. When HarperCollins posted the Fall 2014 books, I downloaded it and threw my TBR out the window.

I am normally not thrilled with the “for the fans of,” “if you loved ____, you’ll love ____” type lead ins. They’re actually usually a big turn off. This time, seeing Snow Like Ashes and A Game of Thrones together made me give it a look. I am so glad I did. I’m also glad I ignored the hype that was building way before ARCs came out. Hype is another thing that usually makes me run from a book!

I immediately fell in love with the world Sara created. An epic fantasy with a bit of a medieval feel to it. Sara starts strong and builds an incredible, tangible world.

The main group and leading lady, Meira, are from the fallen kingdom of Winter. Sara gives enough historical background to the fall of Winter in bits and pieces through the story, so there’s no fear of overwhelming info dump.

The big plot twist, I easily predicted, but the way it was presented is done in a way that it doesn’t come off as lame. It’s also done that if you aren’t paying SUPER close attention, it could easily sneak up on you!

The eight kingdoms are a fascinating approach. I love the use of seasons for four of the kingdoms. I also really loved the use of conduits and magic!

It could be easy to think there is a love triangle that develops, but I believe it is two very different types of love towards the two guys. I’m Team Theron anyway. 🙂

There is so much that happens in this fantasy debut. It’s incredibly action packed. You would think with SO much happening, it could become bogged down. Sara manages to go into Martin and Tolkien detail without the massively flowery language. A Game of Thrones is brilliantly done and I can’t wait to read Ice Like Fire. Keep an eye out for my review closer to October! 🙂

About the Author

Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, the first in a trilogy, came out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures., the first in a trilogy, came out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures.

 

Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord April 19, 2015

***mild spoilers may follow***

***affiliate links are used***

Rating:  5 stars
Pub date: 15 April 2014
Publisher: Walker Children’s, Bloomsbury
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Format: hardcover
Status: standalone

Summary:

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

My thoughts:
I am not a contemporary fan by any means, but Mary keeps throwing suggestions my way. She very rarely steers me wrong, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to read it!

I was instantly interested because Open Road Summer opens in Nashville. I went to college in Murfreesboro (where I met Mary!) and spent quite a bit of time in Nashvegas. I love Middle Tennessee! So being back in my old stomping grounds without leaving home was great! The way Emery paints the picture, you feel like you’re right there beside Reagan.

One of the best things about Open Road Summer is the road trip. Yes, Lilah is on tour and a country superstar, but just the road trip aspect was perfect. My best friends and I planned so many road trips in high school. The only ones that actually happened were band or family oriented, but those are still some of the best memories EVER.

The raw goodness and reality are perfect. In a way, it was out of this world, fantasy type reading for me because I still escaped in reading Emery’s work.

The characters were built exceptionally well. Starting with leading lady, Reagan, you have a front row seat into how much a summer can really change your life! Emery takes you through the good, bad, and nitty gritty. Reagan has a past, but who doesn’t? I loved getting to watch her come out of her shell and flourish. It was reminiscent to when I went to college in a way. Plus, I could relate to Reagan on other levels – photography, not tolerant of BS, and the fiercely loyal and close friendship reminds me so much of my friendships with two of my best friends.

Speaking of. Dee (as she’s known to Reagan, Lilah Montgomery to the rest of the world) is fantastic. She keeps Reagan grounded. Despite being a superstar, she is down to earth and very few people know the 100% real Dee. She’s the best best friend and offers Reagan the chance to come on tour with her as a fresh start and turn over a new leaf after a few bad life choices. Dee has her own troubles to deal with as well. Bad publicity leads to bringing in the other fantastic secondary character: Matt Finch.

Matt used to be in a family group and is now trying to make a break on his own. He’s a good friend of Dee’s and is brought in to help smooth out some bad Lilah publicity and keep her reputation intact. He has definitely met his match in Reagan but it is far from love at first sight. He matches her and brings out the best in her. Their banter brought many memories of my best guy friend from high school.

The beauty of Emery’s world will have you on the tour bus and backstage for a whirlwind summer. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get to see the beauty of young love and second chances. If you’re looking for a great pool or beach side read, look no further than this spectacular debut by Emery Lord.

About the Author

I’m Emery, and I write books about flawed girls who are really trying, complicated families, friends who show up even when everything’s going down in flames, the boy who Gets You even when you don’t expect it, and the summer that changed everything.

Open Road Summer is out now, and The Start of Me & You releases March 31st, 2015.

I don’t check my GR inbox, but feel free to get in touch via ways listed on my website!
http://www.emerylord.com/p/site-qs.html

 

Review: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare April 14, 2015

***mild spoilers may follow***

***affiliate links are used***

Rating:  5 stars
Pub date: 27 May 2014
Publisher: Margaret K McElderry Books, Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Urban Fantasy
Format: hardcover
Status: Book six of The Mortal Instruments series, book three of the second trilogy in the full series

Summary:

In this dazzling and long-awaited conclusion to the acclaimed Mortal Instruments series, Clary and her friends fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother.

Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures out of nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell.

The embattled Shadowhunters withdraw to Idris – but not even the famed demon towers of Alicante can keep Sebastian at bay. And with the Nephilim trapped in Idris, who will guard the world against demons?

When one of the greatest betrayals the Nephilim have ever known is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec must flee – even if their journey takes them deep into the demon realms, where no Shadowhunter has set foot before, and from which no human being has ever returned…

Love will be sacrificed and lives lost in the terrible battle for the fate of the word in the thrilling final installment of the classic urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments!

My thoughts:

The end. Wow. Another series ending. It doesn’t get easier for a series to end, but I still haven’t had a series cripple me like Harry Potter ending. I do have to say, the epilogue slayed me. Wow. The epilogue alone was perfection.

I really enjoyed the glimpse into the LA Institute. It will be nice to be able to see these characters come into their own/ I am hoping there will be more Mark. I want to know what will happen between the Faerie Court and the Clave.

I loved the Malec feels. From the start to the end, it was incredible. Communication is key in any relationship and that showed between all of the couples. It’s a hard lesson to learn.

I loved getting to see more into how the Clave worked. City of Heavenly Fire set up nicely to connect the transition between The Mortal Instruments and The Dark Artifices. I also loved how The Infernal Devices were woven in too. I hope they make more of an appearance in The Dark Artifices.

I have to say, I was not surprised with the Seelie Queen’s allegiance declaration. It was terribly clear to me what would happen there.

City of Heavenly Fire was very good, but there were times it felt too long and drawn out. It could’ve been because I never had much time to read in long spurts.

There were things I was disappointed over. Not quite as bloody as I was expecting. I was expecting more deaths. There were twists I wasn’t expecting though, which is always nice. Never fun to see everything coming!

I loved getting a look into a demon realm. It was fascinating and scary at the same time. Especially concerning Magnus’s parentage. Finally! Glad we got that answer. I thought it was neat The Bane Chronicles were alluded to through City of Heavenly Fire and at the end.

Even though knowing things had to end with Sebastian, Cassie still kept it interesting and full of twists. I actually cried!

Okay. I cried a lot. Like a lot, a lot. Especially during the epilogue. Sobbed. I’m surprised I didn’t wake up my kids haha.

City of Heavenly Fire is the best of the second The Mortal Instruments trilogy. With other enemy forces, Sebastian felt more believable I guess. It felt more fleshed out. It was a massive read. I guess I hadn’t paid attention to the page count when I ordered it!

I am pleased with how things went. I would like to know how relationships pan out. Hoping for snippets of that in The Dark Artifices. It will be a long wait til fall 2015 (I wrote this review immediately after I read The Mortal Instruments, I’m just now posting it!) but I’m sure it’ll be worth it. All The Infernal Devices references and character action makes me crave a reread. I recommend you check out the Shadow World if you haven’t I believe these books are worth the hype and controversy.

 

Character Reveal: Wilhelmina Korte from The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows March 2, 2015

OQ-tour2

Today, I am SO excited to be a part of the Character Reveal part of The Orphan Queen blog tour! I absolutely love Jodi and her books! As much as I loved her Newsoul trilogy, I love The Orphan Queen THAT MUCH MORE!

Now, before I introduce you to my girl, Wil, I want to show you the beautiful cover (I mean really, I want to frame it for my office when I remodel this spring!) and the summary!

18081228(Gorgeous, right?!) The Orphan Queen

Pub date: 10 March 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books, HarperTeen
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Status: Book one of The Orphan Queen duology

 

FIND IT: GOODREADS || AMAZON || BARNES & NOBLE || INDIEBOUND || BOOK DEPOSITORY

Summary:

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others,

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

 

oq-wil-fact1

I am here to introduce to you the incredible Wilhelmina “Wil” Korte! Here’s the full fact that I’m sharing with you today:

Almost ten years ago, Wilhelmina and the Ospreys were kidnapped to the kingdom that conquered their homeland. They stayed in an orphanage for a year until they orchestrated a breakout, then took over an old, abandoned castle in the mountains. Wil and the other older Ospreys raised the younger ones, hiring tutors to further their education and combat training. 

Now, I’ve already had the chance to jump into this strange new world Jodi has created, but just for fun, I’m going to play along that I haven’t!

I can’t even imagine being kidnapped from my homeland to the kingdom that conquered mine. I could draw parallels with a certain group kidnapping Americans, but I’m not getting into that. Not drawing the focus away from Wil & the Ospreys!

Why were the Ospreys kidnapped in the first place? With magic being such an important part of Wil’s world, it leads to a lot of strain between nations. I think that magic plays a big part in the Ospreys being kidnapped. (Obviously, I’m not going to TELL you why, just some thoughts I had before I read.)

How do they get the nickname Ospreys? Again, this is a big spoiler, but I find the backstory fascinating! There isn’t a detail too small for Jodi to flesh out and leave to chance.

I think it speaks volumes of the character of Wil and the other Ospreys to take the younger kids under their wings and make sure they get a full education. (Plus some combat training, cause you know a battle is going to go down!) When I was Wil’s age, I  was concerned with MY education. I wasn’t concerned with anyone else. The older Ospreys are basically parents to the younger kids. That’s A LOT of pressure on this group as it is.

What kind of education do you think these orphans are getting? One thing Wil learns is calligraphy! I think it’s amazing that to fully understand Wil, Jodi learned calligraphy herself. Check out her Instagram (unicornwarlord) to see just how talented she is! She was doing an awesome pre-order gift, but I’m not sure if you can still get that or not. Either way, you should pre-order and then ask if Jodi is still doing the calligraphy cards!

If you could pick one combat skill to learn with the Ospreys, what would you want to learn? I definitely would want to learn some hand to hand fighting and maybe even some dagger skills.

This is just a small glimpse into Wil and not even really scratching the surface on the Ospreys. For more character reveal information, make sure you check out the character tour leading up to release day week! The stops are as follows:

3/2 – The Whimsical Mama

3/3 – Aphonic Book Reviews

3/4 – Adventures in Reading

3/5 – Step Into Fiction

3/6 – Read Write Love 28

3/9 – Just a Broke Bookworm

3/10 – Love is Not a Triangle

3/11 – Jenuine Cupcakes

3/12 – The YA Book Traveler

3/13 – Katie’s Book Blog

Keep an eye out for my review on release day too! Now the mastermind behind Wil & The Orphan Queen! Jodi Meadows herself!

11Meadows-0051-240x300

Jodi Meadows lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy and the forthcoming ORPHAN QUEEN Duology (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen).

*A Kippy is a cat.

FIND JODI AT: WEBSITE || TWITTER || GOODREADS || TUMBLR || FACEBOOK

 

 
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