The Whimsical Mama

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

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

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*Review* My Not So Super Sweet Life by Rachel Harris June 24, 2014

***I was given a ebook copy to celebrate the book release in exchange for an honest review & to help boost sales. Thanks, Rachel!***   

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

Rating: 4 stars
Pub date: 21 April 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Format: ebook provided by the author
Status: companion in the My Sweet Sixteenth Century series

Summary:
Cat Crawford just wants to be normal—or at least as normal as a daughter of Hollywood royalty can be. And it looks like fate is granting her wish: she’s got an amazing boyfriend, Lucas; her fabulous cousin, Alessandra, living with her; and her dad planning his second marriage to a great future stepmom. That is, until her prodigal mother reveals on national television that she has something important to tell her daughter…causing a media frenzy.

Lucas Capelli knows his fate is to be with Cat, and he’s worked hard to win her over once and for all. Unfortunately, Lucas has his own issues to deal with, including a scandal that could take him away from the first place he’s truly belonged.

As secrets are revealed, rumors explode, and the world watches, Cat and Lucas discover it’s not fate they have to fight if they want to stay together…this time, it’s their own insecurities.

Well, and the stalkerazzi.

 

My thoughts:
While I really enjoyed My Not So Super Sweet Life, it didn’t fully capture me the way My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century and A Tale of Two Centuries did. I was excited to see the romance bloom between Lucas and Cat. Rachel, once again, did a spectacular job showing the ups and downs of young love. Young love is never easy and Rachel shows it that beautifully. She also does a great job balancing the you never forget your first love with moving on and growing up romantically.

What killed it for me was Cat’s behaviour. All her life she’s watched her mother only do things that were great for her. Suddenly she’s interested in being mother of the year? It may be the age and no tolerance for BS talking, but Cat’s reactions really got under my skin. It really upset me with how she started treating Jenna once mommy dearest reappeared too. Jenna had been more of a mother in a few months than Cat’s biological mother her whole life. Just no. You don’t do someone like that. I chalk it up to being a teenager. We all do crazy things in one way or another. Rachel did a great job on keeping the emotions running high over the mama drama though! Rachel’s writing was still spot on, the displeasure was entirely on character actions for this!

I liked the addition of Ransom, but he definitely didn’t feel as fleshed out as he could have been. Here’s to hoping for his own companion book. *hint hint* Rachel *hint hint*

For some reason, the pacing seemed a bit erratic compared to My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century and A Tale of Two Centuries. I would’ve liked the pace to be more consistent and a longer book. Something just felt off with the pacing and length. (Rachel just told me it was more of an extended novella than novel, so that makes more sense now. I still would like more though! (; lol)

I was sorely disappointed with not seeing more of Less. With their relationship, I would’ve pegged it as perfection for Cat to turn to Less as well as Lucas. I was hoping for a little double date action, too! Rats! I also think more interaction with Less would’ve solved the length issue. It just felt weird to have her disappear after fighting so hard to stick around.

I liked getting to see in Lucas’ head. I enjoy getting a guy’s perspective every now and then! Especially in a drama filled book like My Not So Super Sweet Life! I know how a girl thinks, it’s nice to see how a guy thinks/reacts to situations. (: Lucas’ perspective was refreshing.

Overall, I enjoyed My Not So Super Sweet Life and it was a quick read. It wasn’t Rachel’s best, but I always know I’m in for a treat when her name is attached to the writing! Witty snarkiness and swoony guy action, really, what more do you need in a fun, quick read? (:

About the author:

Award-winning and Bestselling author Rachel Harris writes humorous love stories about sassy girls next door and the hot guys that make them swoon. Emotion, vibrant settings, and strong relationships are a staple in each of her books…and kissing. Lots of kissing.

An admitted Diet Mountain Dew addict and homeschool mom, she gets through each day by laughing at herself, hugging her kids, and watching way too much Food Network with her husband. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romance, and LOVES talking with readers.

Website: www.RachelHarrisWrites.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelHarrisBks
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RachelHarris…
Street Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Flirt…
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/olH75

GIVEAWAY!!

This giveaway is open to US only (Sorry international readers! I promise I will one day have giveaways for you too!) Entrants must be 13 years old to enter. Those entrants under 18 MUST have parental consent. Giveaway is open June 24th 2014 (12am EST) through July 8th 2014 (12am EST). I reserve the right to disqualify entries in violation of my giveaway policies. All entries WILL be verified. Good luck. May the odds be ever in your favor! (: For every 100 entries, I will add another copy to be given away!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

*ARC Review* Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman April 21, 2014

Rating:4 stars
Pub date:22 April 2014
Publisher:HarperCollins, Balzer+Bray
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance
Format:eARC provided by the publisher
Status:Book one of the Prisoner of Night and Fog series

Summary:

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she’s ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

My thoughts:

Continuing my World War II reading kick, I selected an ARC I’ve been looking forward to for several months. When I first saw the cover, I was intrigued and then I read the summary. I immediately added it to my TBR. I was super excited when I got autoapproval with Harper. Prisoner of Night and Fog was one of the first books I downloaded.

After I finished The Book Thief, I knew I wanted to continue my World War II binge and start knocking out some more ARCs. Fantastic luck that Prisoner of Night and Fog fit that bill perfectly!

Again, I was back in World War II era Germany. The events of Prisoner of Night and Fog take place at the beginning of Hitler’s rise to power. Where The Book Thief is about poor Germany, Prisoner of Night and Fog is about a young girl on the fringe of Hitler’s inner circle. It was a very difficult in the beginning, being in the mind of a National Socialist party supporter. Like I said in my review of The Book Thief, my great-grandfather (and also one of my grandfathers) fought for the Allies, so it’s hard to swallow Hitler’s propaganda through Gretchen’s eyes.

Gretchen was well done. She’s smart and driven. She’s very observant and thoughtful about what she sees/hears. As she learns the truth about Hitler and her world falls apart, my heart broke for her. The things she goes through and deals with are enough to shatter anyone, but she remains strong. It’s easy to root for her and hope she continues to succeed.

Her adversary turned romantic interest, Daniel Cohen, is a Jew. I loved him from their first encounters. It was obvious he came from a different background than Gretchen, but it helps make his character. He challenges Gretchen to really look at the things Hitler has taught her to believe. He tells her to look between the lies of the things Hitler is trying to get the people of Munich, and eventually all of Germany, to do. He serves as a wonderful friend and guide as Gretchen’s world crumbles. I can’t wait to see where things take them in the next installment.

The character that really struck me the most was Reinhard. For me, he was what you can’t help but assume all enemy combatants are – especially Nazis. To follow Hitler, you would assume they were all unhinged. Obviously, that’s not true for all Germans or even all members of the Nazi party, but for Reinhard, it is completely true. He is a complete psychopath. He made my skin crawl. He was definitely a perfect villain.

The biggest surprise for me was how Hitler was portrayed. I’ve always thought he was a complete psychopath with absolutely no redeeming qualities. Anne did an impressive job weaving in moments that made him seem vulnerable and human. There were even moments I felt sorry for him. But when he showed his insanity, it was all out. Anne did a great job again and again. I can’t wait to see the next evolution of Hitler in the next phase of Nazi Germany. She created a great view inside prewar Germany.

Prisoner of Night and Fog was a beautifully done historical fiction. Anne did a great job taking real people and weaving them in a fictional murder mystery. She created relatable characters to interact with real historical figures. I recommend Prisoner of Night and Fog for those who enjoy World War II historical fiction, especially for a look into Hitler’s inner circle at the beginning of his rise to power. The best thing? Prisoner of Night and Fog releases TOMORROW! (: 

 

 

About the author

Anne Blankman may have been meant to be a writer because her parents named her for Anne of Green Gables. She grew up in an old house with gables (gray, unfortunately) in upstate New York. When she wasn’t writing or reading, she was rowing on the crew team, taking ballet lessons, fencing and swimming. She graduated from Union College with degrees in English and history, which comes in handy when she writes historical fiction.

After earning a master’s degree in information science, Anne began working as a youth services librarian. Currently, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her family. When she’s not writing young adult fiction, she’s playing with her daughter, training for races with her husband, working at her amazing library branch, learning to knit (badly), and reading.

Anne Blankman is the author of PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG, the first in a three-book deal slated for publication in spring 2014 from Balzer + Bray | HarperCollins. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.

 

Waiting on Wednesday #26: Tease by Amanda Maciel April 16, 2014

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Waiting on Wednesday” is a weekly event hosted by Jill at the Breaking The Spine. It showcases upcoming releases we’re anticipating!

 

 

My pick of the week is:

Tease

 

By: Amanda Maciel

 

Coming: 29 April 2014

 

Publisher: HarperCollins, Balzer+Bray

 

Summary:
Emma Putnam is dead, and it’s all Sara Wharton’s fault.

At least, that’s what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma’s shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who’s ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media.

During the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her role in an undeniable tragedy. And she’ll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.

In this powerful debut novel inspired by real-life events, Amanda Maciel weaves a narrative of high school life as complex and heartbreaking as it is familiar: a story of everyday jealousies and resentments, misunderstandings and desires. Tease is a thought-provoking must-read that will haunt readers long after the last page

 

 

Why I’m excited:

I was bullied in elementary and middle school. It’s not a fun thing to experience. I’m interested in seeing how Amanda takes the story of a supposed bully and turns it around to her being bullied. 

Why I need you to be excited:

Bullying is something that’s “a part of childhood.” It’s something I’ve experienced. It’s something that I wish no child ever had to experience. Being a bully is never a good or acceptable thing. However, after having been bullied and keeping my mouth shut and letting people walk all over me, I’ve learned to stand up for myself. Everyone should know how to stand up from himself or herself, but I don’t think it should come at the cost of being bullied. Just from the summary, I think this will be a book everyone should read, much like Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. 

 

Waiting on Wednesday #24: Talker 25 by Joshua McClune April 2, 2014

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Waiting on Wednesday” is a weekly event hosted by Jill at the Breaking The Spine. It showcases upcoming releases we’re anticipating!

 

 

My pick of the week is:

Talker 25 (Talker 25 #1)

 

By: Joshua McClune

 

Coming: 22 April 2014

 

Publisher: HarperCollins, Greenwillow

 

Summary:

Debut author Joshua McCune’s gritty and heart-pounding novel is a masterful reimagining of popular dragon fantasy lore, set in a militant future reminiscent of Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker and Ann Aguirre’s Outpost.

It’s a high school prank gone horribly wrong-sneaking onto the rez to pose next to a sleeping dragon-and now senior Melissa Callahan has become an unsuspecting pawn in a war between Man and Monster, between family and friends and the dragons she has despised her whole life. Chilling, epic, and wholly original, this debut novel imagines a North America where dragons are kept on reservations, where strict blackout rules are obeyed no matter the cost, where the highly weaponized military operates in chilling secret, and where a gruesome television show called Kissing Dragons unites the population. Joshua McCune’s debut novel offers action, adventure, fantasy, and a reimagining of popular dragon lore.

 

 

Why I’m excited:

I thought the combination of military and fantasy would make for an interesting combination. I’m always up for a good fantasy read and I enjoy a bit of military action thrown in. Let’s face it, Jodi Meadows has me on a bit of a dragon kick. We’ll see if these dragons measure up to Acid Breath though! (: 

Why I need you to be excited:

A debut author with an intriguing new twist. Fantasy and dystopian will probably call to some CJ Redwine fans. Dystopian and dragons to Jodi Meadows fans. I just think this sounds like a good read and a debut author who needs some support! (: Plus…. DRAGONS. That should be all you need!

 

 

*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.

 

 
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