The Whimsical Mama

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

Top Ten Tuesday #52: Places I Want to Visit October 14, 2014

 

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:

Top Ten Places I Want to Visit

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I have been to lots of places. Literally and metaphorically. I have been blessed with chances to travel the world. These are places (real & fictional) that I would love to visit/visit again!

1. Scotland. I’ve been to Scotland. I would go back in a hot minute. The Falconer by Elizabeth May DOES NOT HELP THIS DESIRE. OH MAN. I can haz Edinburgh plz?

2. Hogwarts. Um. DUH. I’m STILL convinced my Hogwarts letter got lost in the mail. Definitely being carried by an owl as unreliable as Errol.

3. Russia. The Grishaverse isn’t *technically* Russia, but c’mon. As heavy as the Russian theme is, I want to go. *FYI, Russia has loooooong been on my to travel to list, but now I have a series to say influenced it too!*

4. Cinque Terre & Florence, Italy. I’ve been to Italy. It’s awesome. Every time I read Blue Bloods though, I want to go back to Europe. Especially Cinque Terre & Florence. Yes.

5. Manhattan. Again, I’ve been to NYC, but after every Blue Bloods reread, I want to go and thoroughly explore NYC/Manhattan.

 

6. Cair Paravel. Seriously. What kid doesn’t want to go to Narnia?

7. Rivendell. Hubby would agree with me on this one. (: He does judge me for liking the movies over the books though. Read them once. Never again!

8. Tara. I’ve been to Ireland, really don’t remember it cause I got sick. /: However, I ADORE Artemis Fowl and want to go back to Ireland and see Artemis & Holly’s stomping grounds.

9. Prague. Honesty moment. I haven’t read Daughter of Smoke and Bone yet. It’s on the immediate TBR. I know it takes place in Prague, and I’ve always wanted to go… SO. It’s a legit want to go cause of a book. (;

10. La Jolla/San Diego/Waterfell. Yes, please. Thank you, Waterfell! A major plus would be if Lo is there too. (; Amirite, Amalie?

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*ARC Review* Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton June 8, 2014

***I was granted permission to read this by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Entangled Teen!*** 

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

Rating: 3stars
Pub date: 3 June 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Historical Fiction, Fairy Tale
Format: e-ARC provided by the publisher
Status: standalone

Summary:

Being seventeen during World War II is tough. Finding out you’re the next keeper of the real Cinderella’s dresses is even tougher.
Kate simply wants to create window displays at the department store where she’s working, trying to help out with the war effort. But when long-lost relatives from Poland arrive with a steamer trunk they claim holds the Cinderella’s dresses, life gets complicated.
Now, with a father missing in action, her new sweetheart, Johnny, stuck in the middle of battle, and her great aunt losing her wits, Kate has to unravel the mystery before it’s too late.

After all, the descendants of the wicked stepsisters will stop at nothing to get what they think they deserve

 

My thoughts:

I wasn’t terribly pleased with Cinderella’s Dress. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it most certainly wasn’t how things turned out. Again, if I was the DNF type, this would’ve most likely been abandoned.

The cover is gorgeous and the summary promised such potential. It could have been an incredibly done retelling. Sadly, it fell short by miles.

The broken English was horrendous. It was so hard to understand. I had to reread dozens of passages trying to piece together what was trying to be conveyed.

The Cinderellalegend flip flopped between cousins and step-sisters a time or two and it bothered me. If a legend is going to be used, please use the same version consistently! And stick with the Polish name or the English one after the legend is revealed. Flipping between the two was tiresome.

For a YA novel, this had a more MG feel. It had a complex story idea, but was too simply portrayed. I also felt like it was full of filler scenes. I was far more interested in the young wartime love than the protection of the dress. It felt like more time was spent developing the romance than anything else. Even that wasn’t completely redeeming. All of the characters fell flat and failed to perform. 

I loved the idea of presenting part of the story through war correspondence. I actually have a WIP iidea mulling around about that and hve for ages. However, I feel like there were letters missing. I flipped back a few times thinking I might have accidentally skipped a letter or two thanks to mischievous toddlers. I never did. There were just story gaps and quite a few.The letters were still my favourite part. Especially the letters between Johnny and Kate. I’m happy that hubby and I have our own wartime letters that we wrote while he was deployed. 

I liked that the women had to give up jobs because the GIs returend home was included, but I feel it could’ve been presented in a better way. Creating that drama between Kate and Johnny wasn’t needed.

The one thing that really bothered me was the dropping of Kate’s father and brother. One is a massive spoiler, so I won’t delve into it too dar other than it was completely unnecessary. It did nothing for the story. Her brother? Just gone from the story. No more letters or mentions. It. Bothered. Me. Like. Crazy.

I will say that it was just interesting enough to keep me reading. More for finding out what happened between Kate and Johnny than anything else. The dresses were just blah. Despite being major players in the story, I feel like they didn’t bring much to the table. Kate was also rather careless with their protection. I get that a 17 year old may not be the most responsible person in the world, but still. 

The second half of the book was immensely better. It wasn’t completely enough to be rewarding for sticking it out but it did redeem it a bit. The ending did feel a little disappointing. Things didn’t feel wrapped up. The mystery of the magic behind the dresses was never fully explained. I still want to know how they got their power if a friend – not a fairy godmother was responsible for them. Ah, well. An okay read. Can’t say that I would recommend it. I am definitely not investing in a copy.

About the author:

SHONNA SLAYTON is the author of the YA novel Cinderella’s Dress, out June 3, 2014 with Entangled Teen. She finds inspiration in reading vintage diaries written by teens, who despite using different slang, sound a lot like teenagers today. While writing Cinderella’s Dress she reflected on her days as a high-school senior in British Columbia when she convinced her supervisors at a sportswear store to let her design a few windows—it was glorious fun while it lasted. When not writing, Shonna enjoys amaretto lattes and spending time with her husband and children in Arizona.

 

Top Ten Tuesday #41: Beach Bag Reads June 3, 2014

 

b301e-toptentuesdayEach 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 Books That Will Be in My Beach Bag/Should Be in Your Beach Bag

While I’m not entirely sure we’ll be making it to the beach this year, these are the books that I’ve selected to be in my beach bag or I think would be great beach reads to include in your beach bag! (: And of course, Punk and Bug wanted to include their two beach reads!

1. Taste the Heat by Rachel Harris. I read Seven Day Fiance last year at the beach, and it left me almost needing to run into the ocean to chill out. So, obviously, a book in the same series deserves the same treatment!

2. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. Mary actually recommended this to me for a beach read last year, but I didn’t get to it, so it’s added back for this year! (:

3. 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen. This is a super fast contemporary read that I knocked out in an afternoon. I think it would be a perfect beach read!

4. Oceanborn by Amalie Howard. C’mon. It has OCEAN in the name. Of course it’s gonna make the beach reads list! I absolutely loved Waterfell and recommend you read it as a beach read if you haven’t read it. If you have, I recommend Oceanborn! I NEED MOAR LO!

5. The Selection by Kiera Cass. Despite being a dystopian, I think this is a great light read for the beach. I knocked out the whole trilogy in less than a week so I think it’s a perfect beach bag add! 

6. Uninvited by Sophie Jordan. Definitely not light in the dystopian/futuristic setting, but it’s so action packed, it’s a super quick read that makes it a perfect beach bag read.

7. Seven Day Fiance by Rachel Harris. Like I mentioned above, I did read this at the beach and think it’s a good beach read. It’s set in the winter, so with the hot beach reading conditions and the swoony Cane, it’s a perfect beach bag read!

8. Die for Me by Amy Plum. Another quick read with two super swoony guys. I plan on listening to the audiobook at some point this summer, and the drive to the beach may be the perfect time!

9. Pete the Cat: Pete at the Beach by James Dean. This is Punk’s must pack read for the beach! He wants to learn to surf like Pete!

10. Ladybug Girl Goes at the Beach by David Soman & Jacky Davis. Bug wants to be like Ladybug Girl and have a blast at the beach!

Tell us, what are your favourite beach reads? What books will you be taking with you on vacation? It doesn’t have to be to the beach!

 

*ARC Review* The Ring & the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz March 31, 2014

***I was granted permission to read this by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Disney Hyperion!***

Rating:4 stars
Pub date:1 April 2014
Publisher:Disney Hyperion
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Romance, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Format:ARC provided by the publisher
Status:Book one of The Ring and the Crown series

Summary:

Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?


Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen.


But even with the aid of Emrys’ magic, Eleanor’s extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen’s Guard.


Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie’s face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she’s always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she’s always dreamed of–the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor’s court: trust no one.

My thoughts:

 While I as eagerly awaiting news of Melissa de la Cruz’s spin off from Blue Bloods, she first announced another new series – The Ring and the Crown. When I first saw the title, I thought it as the new Blue Bloods until I read the rest of the announcement. An alternate history with magic?! Count me in! I as so excited. I finally got up the guts to email a request about an ARC. I was so excited, I didn’t know how I would deal with a rejection. The wait for April would be a long and excruciating one. Thank my lucky stars, Disney Hyperion granted me an ARC. That was a glorious mail day! I tried to put it off until a bit closer to pub date to read it, but I just couldn’t wait anymore.


Once again, Melissa does a great job of drawing you in at once with interesting characters who aren’t all that they seem. She also does a great job of creating an alternate reality of London and New York. New York doesn’t feature much, but you do get a small taste. It’s set in what would be late Victorian/early Edwardian time for us, but being an alternate history, there are different rulers due to different outcomes.


The turning point to alter reality from our own occurred during the 100 years war between England and France. France never succeeded driving out the English – thanks to more powerful magic on the English side. Joan of Arc (Jeanne of Arkk) was still burned at the stake for witchcraft (only it was true this time) and Charles VII was never crowned King of France. As a result echoing through the ages: the British Empire comes to existence but it never crumbles. War of Independence? Nope. A minor uprising that is squashed. The United States of America is part of the America Provinces.


As a huge history nerd, I was very excited to see how Melissa was going to spin this alternate reality and I think she killed it. I often think of different history scenarios and wonder how things would be different if the outcome had been reversed. Pulling in Merlin and Avalon was perfection. I love myths involving Merlin, Avalon, Arthur, Camelot, etc.


I don’t know if it was an intentional homage or not, but I really felt a Prince and the Pauper pull between the two leading ladies – Princess Marie-Victoria and acolyte Aelwyn. Both long for lives that differ from their own. Who can’t relate to that? As a teenager, I often thought of what it would be like to be a princess. Not in an obsessive, I WANT to be a princess, just pondering how life would be different. Now, as an adult, I thank my stars that I am who I am. I like not having my every move watched and scrutinised. I definitely enjoy not having my every move as a mother watched and rumours flying if I’m pregnant again or not. Poor Princess Catherine!


I also loved the addition of the American Ronan. She has very heavy obligations thrust on her young shoulders and she has to decide how she wants her future to go.  That is the main theme of the book – do what is expected and accept responsibility for decisions/actions, discover yourself and be true to that self. These three lovely ladies as well as Isabelle of Orleans (descendant of the fallen French family) struggle to do just that.


Along the road of self discovery, the ladies are joined by the charming Prince Wolf (I call dibs NOW). I fell in love with Wolf in his first scene and he grows immensely from there. And what story wouldn’t be complete without a few villains? I’ll remain mum on their identities because there’s a scene at the end that is a doozie!


Melissa does a great job with character growth and world development once again. (Honestly, I’m NOT surprised.) She does a fantastic job of taking a simplistic style and making it so fabulous that you’re swamped with imagery without being up to your eyeballs in page long descriptions. I’ve seen a few complaints about straying from historical accuracies, but let’s be honest for a minute. It’s an ALTERNATE history therefore the world will be different. I’m a big history purist in historical fiction novels. Since this is an alternate history, Melissa gets some room to work with in it. It doesn’t have to be 100% accurate because it’s her alternate history. I really enjoyed The Ring and the Crown and can’t wait for more. As usual with Melissa’s writing, I was addicted from the beginning. Melissa’s writing is just a drug to me and I can never get enough! I highly recommend The Ring and the Crown to historical fiction and fantasy readers. Even if those aren’t your usual cups of tea, I still suggest you give it a shot! You never know when you’ll stumble across a new series you’ll enjoy! And the best news of all?! It comes out TOMORROW! 

About the author

Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.


Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys and the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas.


She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.


Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).


She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter.

 

Please Be Kind, Rewind: 16 – 22 March 2014 March 22, 2014

Another great week of blogging work and reading. I am well ahead on my schedule and that makes life much easier with two kiddos. Especially now that it is spring time and warming up. We plan on playing outside as much as possible after being cooped up all winter! I’ve already been enjoying some time in the sun while they nap. Curled up in the hammock reading. It’s great!

Completed:

The Path to Allegiant by Veronica Roth. 1 star.

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman. 4 stars.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. 4 ½ stars.

Currently Reading:

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein 

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

Read to the Kiddos:

Penguins Can’t Fly by Richard Byrne.

Cleo the Cat by Caroline Mockford

Down by the Station by Jess Stockham

You Are My I Love You by Maryann Cusimano Love (Bug’s Imagination Library book)

New to my shelf:

The Riverman by Aaron Sarmer (ARC, won from Macmillan Kids)

From the library:

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi (audiobook)

 

 
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