The Whimsical Mama

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

End of Year Book Survey 2013 December 27, 2013

Since this is my first year blogging, I decided to take part in Jamie’s End of Year Book Survey (all graphics are from her original post! I thought they were awesome and wanted to use them. Thanks, Jaime, for your wonderful creativity!) to see how my first 1/2 year of blogging went as well as my year of reading. I’m excited to look back on 2013. I can’t believe this year is almost over! This time last year I was pregnant and miserable. This year I have two beautiful children running and crawling around the house! (:

 

1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

Contemporary YA –

I absolutely ADORED Fangirl. It was so close to my freshman year that it was overwhelming. I loved it. Definitely a new favourite!

Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic –

I read a lot of dystopian/ Post-apocalyptic this year, but the Legend trilogy had to be my favourite.

Historical Fiction –

This is actually an adult series, but I LOVE Philippa Gregory. I loved this entire series (excluding The Red Queen) and can’t wait to see what The Last Rose will bring to the table in 2014!

Paranormal —

I loved the ending of this trilogy. I do wish we could see more of after the epilogue! (No spoilers for those who haven’t read it!)

Science Fiction —

I’ve never been a fan of Cinderella, but oh man. Marissa Meyer KILLS it with this retelling! Gimme Cress!

Fantasy —


I cannot express how much I loved this trilogy. I am SO sad it’s over. And Cris. Oh, Cris. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let Jodi tell your story! I promise I won’t be mad!

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Sorry, just not that into you. Matched was awesome. Crossed and Reached were found wanting.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?


Oh my gosh, guys. This book BLEW MY MIND. I’m not into mermaids. This is not your typical mermaid story. I am SO glad I won this in Amalie’s additional YASH giveaway. PLEASE check this out if you haven’t already!

4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

See above. I CANNOT push it enough! It was INCREDIBLE!

ALSO:

READ IT! Erin is AMAZING! #TeamWil

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

C’mon guys. Just read this series already. Wow. ❤

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

I loved Amy’s series and I can’t wait for After the End!

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the experimentation going on, but man, this book was amazing! Hoping to start Her Dark Curiosity in the next week or so!

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

Romance has never really been my thing, but oh man. I LOVED this book. Rachel is amazing! (: So glad I was able to read this as an ARC!

9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I’ve gotta prep for City of Heavenly Fire! So excited! (:

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?


*swoon* I love this dress. I want this dress. I NEEEEEEEEEED this dress. And Cole. I need him too. Smack him around a bit for being so SNEAKY! >.<

11. Most memorable character in 2013?

So I’m cheating a bit. Using a movie pic. But come ON. Finnick is the shiz. WHY Suzanne, WHY?! (And I re-read The Hunger Games trilogy for the movie release. It was not a first time read!)

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

Wow. Lauren created such an amazing world. Definitely not a world I would want to live in, but wow. These characters. Read it. Now.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?

Oh man. Do you know Anderson Cooper’s story? No? Well, check out this book and see what all ONE human being has been through. It will rip your heart out.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?

Hubby and I listened to this audiobook and I loved it. I can’t believe it took me this long to read it!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

Music overwhelmed me, soaked into my skin like water. I didn’t have words for the squiggles and dashes across the pages, or the way his fingers stretched across the keys to make my heart race. If I could hear only one thing for the rest of my life, this was what I wanted.” – Jodi Meadows, Incarnate

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Shortest 10pg, “Magnus’s Vow” from City of Bones

Longest completed (read entirely) in 2013 570pgs

Longest completed in 2013 597pgs (I WAS pregnant at the beginning of 2013 lol)

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

For reasons. Mary will understand.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).


I ADORE the relationship between Artemis and Holly. Holly and Foaly are pretty epic too. I seriously need to finish this series!

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously


Again, I LOVE Philippa Gregory. It’s a toss up between The Kingmaker’s Daughter, The White Princess, and The Lady of the Rivers for the favourite of her books this year!

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

Incarnate and Infinite have already gotten some cover love, now it’s time for Asunder to shine! I will forever be thankful and grateful for Mary’s recommendation of this FANTASTIC series! Jodi is such a wonderful person and I will promote the heck out of all of her future books because she is a spectacular author! (:

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

I’m going to say fantasy. And I mean this loosely. As in combining supernatural/paranormal with it. I did read a large amount of dystopian this year too. I’ll just go with fiction. Yeah, fiction.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

Oh goodness. I’ll just make a list instead of covers! Jace from The Mortal Instruments, Jem from The Infernal Devices, Prince Wil from The Prophecy, Lo from Waterfell, Day from Legend, Jules from Revenants, Dossam (Sam) and Cris from Incarnate/New Soul, Jack and Cole from Everneath, Edward IV and Richard III from Cousins’ War (okay, more so from The White Queen on Starz, but still), Levi from Fangirl, and Linden and Gabriel from Chemical Garden. I read a lot of new series this year, don’t hate!

23. Best 2013 debut you read?


Oh wow. This book was AMAZING! (: *grabby hands* for book two! (:

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

I am so stoked to see more of the satellite aspect! Marissa’s world is awesome!

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

I have loved this series since high school. It was so bittersweet to see it come to an end! I love all of the Jack and Sky action though. Mmmm Jack…. (: I’m totally excited about her new series coming out next year that’s an extension of Blue Bloods

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

OH MAN. The feels. There was one scene that had me blubbering. It was so intense and heart wrenching, I had to go check on my own sweet babies while they were sleeping. Oh… I get chills just thinking about it!

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

This deserved so much more hype for being Megan’s debut novel! Here’s hoping I can help pump up the hype for Her Dark Curiosity.

reading-life-2013

(optional)

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2013?

I helped get my lovely Mary’s blog going by spreading the word, but I would have to say The Broke and the Bookish

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2013?

My review of Waterfell

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?

*crickets chirp*

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?

All of the ones I read about book piracy. It’s a very polarising topic.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

It was a personal event, but definitely getting to meet up and have lunch with the lovely Jodi Meadows. Best day before my birthday EVAAAAAARRRRRR! Second place goes to the signing with Megan Shepherd! Six hours in the car coming back from the beach to make it in time! (:

6. Best moment of book blogging/your book life in 2013?

See above! (:

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My Feature and Follow Friday post back in August.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Honestly, all of them! This beginning stuff is hard work!

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

My public library! Well, specifically the Children’s library of our library. The kiddos LOVE it! We try to go at least once a week.

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I technically completed my Goodreads challenge, but my own personal challenge I haven’t met. I’m not giving myself too much grief though. I did have a baby and newborns are just a bit of a time suck lol.

2014-books

 

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?

Yup. It’s the goal. I’m still avoiding all movie things! (: Hubby and I are going to read it together!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?

Oh, yes. I’m so excited!

3. 2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I’m very excited about this debut!

4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014?

I’m super excited about actually reading this one when it comes out. I know it will be bittersweet as all series endings are, but I’m ready. I think….

I’ve already read an ARC of this masterpiece, but I can’t wait for the book tour and to get my hardback copy and to hang out with Jodi again! (:

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?

I hope to continue to learn how to balance blogging with being a mama. I love to read and blog, but in all honesty, my kids come first.

Did you read any of the amazing books I read this year? What books do you recommend? 2013 was definitely a great year full of first for me. Tell me about your 2013, I’d love to know! (:

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Weekly Reading Review #4 August 3, 2013

27 July 2013 through 3 August 2013

This has been a light reading week for me. We were getting ready for my hubby’s three week long military training so there was lots of house straightening and laundry to be done. Our kitchen still isn’t finished, but everything has now been moved back into the kitchen. This week also brought about a big decision that I wanted to be serious about this review blog. I’m not coming into it thinking I will make any money, just that I genuinely want to help spread the word about great books (and occasionally a recipe or craft tidbit too!) And since I have decided to be serious about it, I joined NetGalley and Edelweiss to request ARC/DRC books. I’m new to this and hope that I will be able to look forward to some good reads! I’ve already been approved for two books by the publishers, and two others the publisher had available to download directly without approval. I’m excited to jump into them! Keep an eye out for their reviews! On that note, here’s this week’s wrap up!

Completed:
Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Read to the kiddos:
A Swim Through the Sea by Kristin Joy Pratt, 4 stars. This book was fantastic! My son is OBSESSED with Nemo and when I saw a clownfish on the front while we were at the library, I knew it must be borrowed. The drawings, which were done by the artist at 16, were spectacular! I also loved that this was an ABC book which we are currently starting to work on.
Elmo Says… by Sarah Albee, 3 stars
Good Night, Magic Fireflies by Erica Maese, 3 stars
Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle, 4 stars
How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms? by Jane Yolen, 3 stars
Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle, 4 stars.
Whose Nose Is this? A Look at Beaks, Snouts, and Trunks by Peg Hall, 3 stars
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, 4 stars. We have a Very Hungry Caterpillar crawl here in our city, and I thought I might take the kiddos around on it after we read it. Naps have been taken and I’m almost caught up on what I need to do today, so as long as the weather hold I believe we’ll go!

Currently Reading:
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Reached by Ally Condie
What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff
A Million Suns by Beth Revis, I believe I’ll be restarting this since I’m only about 40 pages in and haven’t read any in about a week.

New to my shelf:
DRC of I, Saul by Jerry B. Jenkins and James MacDonald via Worthy Publishing
DRC of In Defense of the Queen by Michelle Diener via Season Publishing
DRC of Into the Dark #1 Shadow Prince by Bree Despain via EgmontUSA
DRC of White Space by Ilsa Black via EgmontUSA

 

*Review* Cinder by Marissa Meyer July 30, 2013

affiliate links used

 Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles

Rating: 5/5 stars
Pub date: 3 Jan 2012
Publisher: Square Fish by Macmillan
Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tale, Science Fiction
Format: Paperback, special edition, signed, obtained through giveaway on Mary Had a Little Book Blog

Disclaimer This is entirely my own opinion of this work and in no way is affiliated with Marissa Meyer or Square Fish. I have not been compensated for reading or reviewing this work. I review based on the Goodreads rating system of stars.

Summary
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Growing up, I loved Disney. I loved several of the Disney princesses. I HATED Cinderella. I always thought she was a great priss. However, when I started hearing the hype over Cinder, I was greatly intrigued. When Mary announced her giveaway, I was instantly drawn to Legend and Cinder. Being the third winner, I expected I wouldn’t get either, but was ecstatic to see Cinder was still on the list. I immediately picked it. I had a few other things to read first, but seeing how popular Cinder and Scarlet were, I went ahead and requested Scarlet from the library. I was surprised how quickly I received it. I hit a lull in Reached and needed to step back for a bit. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to renew Scarlet, I quickly pounced on Cinder. I’m glad I did!

I’m always fond of strong female protagonists, but it is quite refreshing to see a female in a typically male dominated profession. Even when Prince Kai comes along to bring his broken android to her, he is expecting a man. His reaction reminded me a lot of Neo and Trinity. Whoa, whoa, whoa, you’re a GIRL?! A nice change from the classic tale, Cinder is more of a tomboy. I can relate to this. I’ve never been a girly girl, even now as a mother of a daughter, I like girly things occasionally, but not overly girly things.

Cyborgs. I’ll admit, I wasn’t terribly crazy about this idea at first. I dislike the Terminator movies, except for the last one with Christian Bale, but I only watched it FOR Christian Bale. I’ve never really been into the whole robot thing. It works with this world. It’s hard to estimate just how far into the future this is set. It takes place almost 130 years after World War 4. (I’m happy to say) World War 3 hasn’t even occurred yet in 2013. I’m feeling this is probably set in the 3000s. That being said, that much robotic technology and advances is acceptable to me. Forcing too much technological advances in novels irritates me.

New Beijing. This really interested me. I’ve read several reviews that were upset with the location setting saying that it wasn’t true to the Chinese culture. I didn’t go into it expecting a true Chinese culture representation because the name of the city is NEW. Two more world wars have occurred since the founding of this city. Obviously a lot has changed in the world. Each day cultures are blending more and more. I like the idea that Cinder is still assumed to be European, but raised in an Asian family. The idea of the Commonwealth and the other global conglomerates really interests me. I hope there is further detail in the future books. Just the basic detail of the rulers of each nation just intrigues me more. The Eastern Commonwealth is ruled by a monarchy. Some of the others are monarchies, some are elected, some aren’t quite clear how the ruling process is. I also like the idea of a colony on the moon. It’s crazy to think that here in 2013, the farthest man has ever been has been to the moon. The universe is infinite and we have explored so little. Even though it’s cliched and I’m not a Trek fan, space really is the final frontier.

The architecture also interests me. After so much time passing from now to the time of Cinder, it is interesting to think how things have changed architecturally and what they think of things we’ve built recently (if any still exists after two world wars and a new plague)

Letumosis. Of course, it’s expected that travelers will bring about new diseases to locations never before exposed. Letumosis is carried by Lunars (moon inhabitants) much like smallpox was carried by the Spanish/English/French settlers brought to the New World when they traveled and how the rats carried the fleas that carried Bubonic plague. It sounds as though travel between Earth and Lunar is strictly monitored and rarely allowed, so it makes Letumosis all that more mysterious. No cure is known and Lunars have developed an immunity to it. It sounds as if few families haven’t been struck by the plague at some point since it started wreaking havoc on Earth.

Princess Selene. No major spoilers, but I called it. Meyer really pulls a good one with this twist. It’s as obvious as it can be, but still leaves that feeling of doubt in your mind. When it clicks, you still ponder if it really could be THAT obvious. After that passes, the legend of the missing princes really feels like the legends of one of the princes in the Tower surviving the War of the Roses or the Grand Duchess Anastasia or one of the other sisters surviving the assassination of the Russian family. Supporters of a side will always cling to rumours when they spread like wild fire.

The ball. Really, what would a Cinderella retelling be if there wasn’t a ball involved? I think it’s a nice twist on the traditional tale, though.

It’s very interesting that there are two “evil” figureheads in this book. Directly, Cinder must deal with her “evil step-mother” who is actually her legal guardian. She despises Cinder and is absolutely horrid to her. The second figurehead is the Queen of the Lunar. With the Lunar gifts, she is overly mysterious and corrupt. She constantly lies and rumours abound about her.

It is interesting with the approach of Cinderella and her Prince Charming. It isn’t love at first sight, love because of who he is, or smushy overly romantic crap. It feels like an actual relationship beginning. Reluctance, friendship, attraction. It will be interesting to see how the relationship will play out. Happily ever after as man and wife or just friends?

I’m rarely a fan of cliffhangers, but this one was well done! Will Cinder run? If she runs, where will she go? Will she accept her fate? What does she do know that she knows what she does? So many questions are spinning, but it is interesting to have them spinning and not be upset over the cliffhanger. Maybe it’s because I have book two in my hands. I may change my tune once I finish Scarlet and have to wait til 2014 for the continuation if the cliffhanger is set up the same way.

I enjoyed this book very much, and it is definitely to be re-read and shared with my daughter when she gets bigger. I’ll share it too, with my son, if he’s interested. That’s another wonderful thing about this, it’s not overly girly and isolationist in it’s style. It easily could be enjoyed by a guy too. Or at least, in my opinion it could be.

Recommended for: Readers who like science fiction, modern tellings of fairy tales, female protagonist in a male dominated field
Not recommended for: Readers who prefer true retellings of fairy tales, futuristic technology, someone expecting lots of Chinese culture due to the setting

 

Top Ten Tuesday #4: Best Beginnings/Endings in Literature

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 Beginnings/Endings in Literature

This post is requiring much more thought than I originally anticipated. Three books immediately came to mind: Cinder, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Love You Forever. Lucky I finished Cinder last night for this list! Finishing out the lists is proving to take quite a bit of reflecting. Which books have struck me the most over my years if reading? Was it the first pages that sucked me in? Was it the end that blew me away? I also wanted to do books that meant more than their popularity. Harry Potter is an obvious for someone my age, but this series is the reason I fell in love with reading. I couldn’t pass it up. There are a great many of books that have stuck with me, so I may have enough for ten of each as well as a few bonus beginning/end duos.

Beginnings
1. Time Enough for Drums by Ann Rinaldi
This isn’t exactly the beginning, but this is the first page in my edition.
“Do you know how despicable a sneak is?”
A spy. He was a spy for the Americans! My head whirled in dizzy understanding as I looked up at him, standing in front of me, tall and lanky and broad-shouldered, still tanned from his trip, his dark looks spoiled by his anger.
“Answer me!” he snapped.
“Yes, sir.”
“What have I taught you in these last two years about decency and honour? Nothing?”
“I thought –”
“You thought what?”
” I thought you were a Tory.”
“And would that be reason to go into my private papers?”
“No. But you aren’t a Tory. You’re a Patriot, after all. You deceived me.”
“I had to. It’s part of my job. My life depends on it, can you understand that?”
“You mean –”
“I mean that I’ll hang from the highest tree or the nearest gallows if the British find out.”

I love all things American Revolution, and this was the first book I read by Ann Rinaldi. It was love at first read, and I frequently re-read it. To me, there isn’t a dull moment in this book, and after that excerpt, I was hooked and had to find out more about these characters!

2. The Host by Stephenie Meyer
The first time I attempted to read this was when it came out, just before Breaking Dawn. I was too wrapped up in Twilight to give this book a fair chance. The next summer, I went back to give it another shot. The beginning then hooked me and I flew through it.

3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling
I was very reluctant to read this book when I received it for Christmas. It was under great protest that I actually trudged through the first few chapters. I didn’t realise then that my life would be forever changed once I started this incredible series.

4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Does this one even need an explanation? I delight in the sarcasm of the opening sentence. (:

Endings
5. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
World War II/the Holocaust is a difficult subject to read in most circumstances. There are few books that can make it a topic of interest for children. Lois Lowry is a fantastic author, and the way she wraps up Number the Stars is incredible. Friendship prevails over prejudices.

6. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Luck that I finished reading last night for this topic! “…looking for a ghost.” Spectacular cliffhanger! I love how she has the most obvious secret out in the open, but part of you still questions if it really could be THAT obvious. Well done, Ms. Meyer, well done! I had to force myself to only read a few chapters of Scarlet last night, and I’m hoping it’s ever bit of the hype that surrounds it!

7. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
I’m not usually over fond of Epilogues, sometimes they just seem too forced – trying to please everyone or the sort. I LOVED the epilogue in Clockwork Princess. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read it.

8. The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling
Okay, I’ll admit that when I first started it, the vulgarity in it shocked me. Then I remembered it was written as an adult book, and yes, it was very much typical Scot. Seeing Rihanna’s “Umbrella” cracked me up to no end. When I was visiting my friend in Elgin, Scotland, I swear that song was on repeat every time we got in the car. It was ALWAYS on the radio and she and I laughed about it. When I saw it, I immediately messaged Lyndsay and said that JKR had stalked us during my visit. The end was like one I swear I had dreamed about. It was eerie!

9. Le Petit Prince/The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
In my multiple readings of this delightful book, I definitely feel that it hits being an adult right on the head. Adults often forget what it was like being a child and disregard children in general. I identify with the pilot being stuck in that world of being an adult, but still relating to those younger than myself.

10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
I will openly admit that upon hearing that JKR changed the last word from “scar” in the final drafts, I opened it to the last page to see the final line to see what it’d changed to. I was pleased to see “scar” was still in the last line even if it wasn’t the last word. Again, this defies my not so fond of epilogues deal. I grew up with Harry, and it feels that it wrapped everything up nicely. It was closure for me, even if I am still in denial that I AM an adult and Harry Potter will never have another midnight book or movie release.

Beginning/Ending Combo
I had two books that have to be on both lists. From the beginning to the end, it was perfection.

1. Lamb by Christopher Moore
Not for the fainthearted when it comes to religion. It is a comedy, it does poke fun at almost every religion, but if you go into it not taking it seriously, it is a spectacular read. It’s basically Jesus, the missing years, told by his best friend Biff.

2. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw
My mom read this to me as a child, and I always wanted to read it to my children when I had them. The first time I read it to my son, I bawled my eyes out. The first time I read it to my daughter, I bawled my eyes out. I still cry when I read it to them. This is such a touching story, and I will love my children forever, and they will forever be my babies.

Once I had this list going, I ended up with about 20 books on my list, and I decided to cut it down to 10 plus my two special cases. I was going to try 10 of each, but I have things that need to be done other than dig through the bookshelves all day! Are any of these books on your list? I’d love to see your lists!

 

 
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