The Whimsical Mama

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

Top Ten Tuesday #51 Hard to Read Books September 30, 2014

 

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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 Books That Were Hard to Read

affiliate links used – covers; titles lead to Goodreads

1. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

2. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

3. Allegiant by Veronica Roth

4. Where She Went by Gayle Forman

5. The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

7. A Song of Ice and Fire George RR Martin

8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

9. Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston

10. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

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Hello September, Goodbye July & August! September 7, 2014

Due to a goof and lapse in blogging, this month says goodbye to TWO months! Haha. I can’t believe it’s September. Wow. This year just keeps flying by. I’m happy for some cooler temperatures to be coming soon (hopefully! I live in the South and things have been super hot lately!) Life’s been changing quickly around our house and it’s taking some time to get adjusted to and a schedule worked out. Thank you SO MUCH to those who have stuck around with me through this summer and drop in blogging. I still have to announce my blogoversary winners, so keep an eye out in your inbox cause you might just be my winners! (: Still hoping I can go to YALLFEST in November and if I do, there will be signed giveaways in the future! (: I hope you’re doing well! Fill me in! How was your summer?!

 

Books I read in July & August (in order of completion)

Siege & Storm, Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Seamonster by Amalie Howard

Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols(eARC)

Too Clever Fox, The Little Knife by Leigh Bardugo

Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick(eARC)

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Waterfell & Oceanborn by Amalie Howard

Rites of Passage by Joy Hensley(ARC)

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

The Queen’s Vow by CW Gortner

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

If I Stay & Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Salvage by Alexandra Duncan(ARC)

The Jewel by Amy Ewing(eARC)

 

Books with the kiddos: (I mostly kept track!)

all the Pete books! Other than that, I didn’t really do well keeping track! OOPS!

 

Coming up in September:

lots of family birthdays!

Hubby’s unit’s family day

 

Reviews posted

Tot Time Thursday #2: Pete the Cat Pete’s Big Lunch by James Dean

 

Flashback Friday #2: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

*Mini Review & Giveaway* The Prince & The Guard by Kiera Cass

*Review & Giveaway* The One by Kiera Cass

*Blog Tour & Review* 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

*Review* Mind Games by Kiersten White

*ARC Review* Perfect Lies by Kiersten White

Tot Time Thursday #3: Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses

Flashback Friday #3: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

Flashback Friday #4: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Most visited

 

Blogoversary! (And giveaway!)

 

Goals for August
Work on commenting and visiting other blogs

Read more with the kiddos

Get back on track and stay ahead of schedule


 

 

September releases I’m excited for:

RITES OF PASSAGE!!!!!!

The Jewel

Vampires of Manhattan

SO MANY MORE CAUSE ALL THE BOOKS COME OUT THIS MONTH

 

 

September TBR:
The Young Elites

Vampires of Manhattan

Find Me

Illusions of Fate

THE ORPHAN QUEEN (sampler BUT STILL OMG)

 

Challenge Update:

I’m involved with four challenges officially.

Edelweiss & Netgalley challenge: 19/25 (Perfect Couple, Kiss of Broken Glass, Poisoned Apples – DNF not counting in total, Rites of Passage, The Jewel)

TBR Pile challenge: 54/11-20 {I can and most likely WILL be increasing my level on this. I’m also not including ARCs in this unless I complete them after the book is released} (Siege & Storm, Ruin & Rising, Seamonster, Oceanborn, The Queen’s Vow, Open Road Summer, If I Stay, Where She Went, Salvage)

Series challenge: 14/4-6 {I can and most likely will increase my level on this as well} (Grisha, Aquarathi )

Real” Book challenge: 33/21-30 (Siege & Storm, Ruin & Rising, Waterfell, Oceanborn, Rites of Passage, Open Road Summer)

How was your July & August? What’s up for September?

 

Top Ten Tuesday #48: Books I’m Not Sure I Want to Read August 12, 2014

 

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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 Books I’m Not Sure I Want to Read

 The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. For real. I’m so torn on this book. I’ve heard great things, but it covers a subject much too close to home. My Gran was diagnosed with leukemia last year, and I just don’t think I can handle it.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I know, I know. I did want to read it, but I started the audiobook and just couldn’t get into it. I listened to like 10 min and I really don’t think I want to read it.

A Dance With Dragons by George RR Martin. I really think I won’t read anymore or reread this series until the whole flipping series is complete. Then I’m getting a paperback set and dismantling it to read it by character. Jumping around so much bothers me! O.o

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. Mary has highly recommended this series to me, I just don’t know if I want to make time for it. /:

The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith. I’ve read the first book and just dunno. They’re good, but I’m too attached to the show and they are too different.

Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. Nope. I’m a big fantasy reader and hubby has tried to spark my interest, but it’s too big of a commitment even for me!

All the free books I stupidly downloaded for my kindle back when I was obsessive about scoping out free book giveaways on Facebook. I’ll never get to them and half of them aren’t even that interesting. 

Requiem by Lauren Oliver. Good heavens this audiobook was KILLING ME. Plus I saw a certain twist coming a mile away and the love triangle is so forced it’s ridiculous. Just not interested in knowing how things end.

Until the Beginning by Amy Plum. I was so underwhelmed by After the End that I am not interested in knowing how things play out.

 

*Review* Mind Games by Kiersten White July 13, 2014

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

Rating: 3 1/4 stars
Pub date: 19 February 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins, HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Paranormal
Format: hardcover, personal copy, signed
Status: Book one of the Mind Games duology

Summary:
Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future.

Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways…or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.

In a stunning departure from her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy, Kiersten White delivers a slick, edgy, heartstoppingly intense psychological thriller about two sisters determined to protect each other—no matter the cost.

 

My thoughts:

I was nervous going into Mind Games. I ordered it to go along with my ARC of Perfect Lies that came as a surprise from Harper. I’d been excited about Mind Games and Perfect Lies and took a leap of faith when I asked Mary to get them personalised during the Dark Days tour. I was supposed to go, but things fell through and I wasn’t able to go.

I didn’t enjoy Mind Games as much as I’d hoped, but enough to be happy I got it personalised.

It was nice to have a relatively short read. It took me longer than expected to read because life interfered and it almost forced me to put it down because a super stressful week did not jive with such a dark book. Thankfully, I woke up in a better mindset the night after I had decided to put Mind Games down and I knocked it out during the kids’ naptime.

I enjoyed Annie’s POV much more than Fia’s. Both as a stream of consciousness felt rather chaotic, especially with jumping between past and present as well as between sisters. Close attention HAD to be paid to chapter endings/beginnings. I got confused a few times when I got careless with reading.

Orphaned and taken in to an elite school, the girls are already a bit unstable. Annie is blind, plus sees visions. Fia has been in charge of watching out for her older sister since the accident that stole Annie’s sight. The school continues to destroy Fia. To make matters worse, James enters the scene.

From the beginning, things go from bad to worse for the girls. Fia is forced to commit murder and Annie is held hostage to ensure Fia cooperates.

For being under 240 pages, a lot of action goes down and the ending does leave you curious for more. The writing style is not one I cared for. The stream of consciousness of a lot of mental ramblings was overwhelming at times. Too much crazy from Fia. WAY TOO MUCH CRAZY.

While a lot happens in a short amount of time, there is minimal world building. We don’t know anything about the outside world or even really anything about the school where they live. Not too thrilled with that, but this is so character driven that I’ll let it slide. If this was more than a duology, it would be a major issue.

As such a short book, I can recommend it. It’s a fast read (don’t take my logged time as a testament to that since I went days without reading). I’m interested enough to continue on to book two. If it was more than a duology, I don’t know if I would commit, but two short books, I can get behind this story.

About the author:

Hi! I’m the New York Times best-selling author of Paranormalcy and Supernaturally. I also give the most awkward hugs in the world. You should probably opt for one of my books over one of my hugs, but then again, maybe you like awkward hugs.

As for me, I like writing flirting scenes, and fighting scenes, and sometimes I write scenes that fall somewhere in between the two, but only if I can’t avoid it

 

*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.

 

*Review* Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier May 26, 2014

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

Rating: 3 stars
Pub date: 30 October 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt, Macmillan
Genre: YoungAdult, Romance, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction
Format: audiobook, via library
Status: Book two of the Ruby Red series

Summary:

Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.

At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.

 

My thoughts:

Sapphire Blue picks where Ruby Red left off which ended with a big cliffhanger (BOO! I HATE cliffhangers!) This book doesn’t suffer from book two syndrome straight out. I feel that Sapphire Blue and Ruby Red are on similar lines of decency. Again, I wasn’t blown away, but interested enough to see what happens next.

I’m uncertain over Gwen in Sapphire Blue. She seems to regress in maturity a bit. She becomes suspicious over everything. Some suspicion is good with not knowing what the purpose of gaining the blood of the circle will do, but there is such a thing as too much and she crosses that line by MILES.

Gideon still leaves the jury out. Being hot and cold all the time got really annoying. Flirting with Charlotte while his feelings weren’t clear is just low.

I still really didn’t care for Charlotte. She’s a mean girl to the extreme. I really don’t think she has any redeeming qualities.

I loved the addition of Xemerius. It makes me sad that more characters can’t interact with him because I think it would make it better. His quips are pretty great though and quips aren’t always meant to be heard.

The pace really seemed to slow. Maybe it was where I couldn’t read at my own pace since I was reading strictly by audiobook. I don’t feel like any questions from Ruby Red were answered. I actually think I have even more unanswered questions and a new suspicious theory. Again, I feel like something could’ve been lost in translation. I still really didn’t like the narrator. I may have missed something if I spaced a bit, but I doubt it.

Flipping between how beautiful Gideon is and how Gwen and Lesley are searching for answers (which only led to more questions for me) became vexing. I could’ve gone without the boy obsession. He treats her like crap and she goes all doe eyed. I hope there’s less of that in book 3. Possibly will happen with that ending. Still not a great read, but now that I’m 2/3 through the series, I might as well finish since I do have the audiobook already checked out.

About the author:

Kerstin Gier is the bestselling author of the Ruby Red trilogy, as well as several popular novels for adults.

 

*Review & Giveaway* Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier May 25, 2014

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

Rating: 3 stars
Pub date: 10 May 2011
Publisher: Henry Holt, Macmillan 
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction
Format: paperback, personal copy &audiobook, via library
Status: Book one of the Ruby Red trilogy

Summary:

Gwyneth Shepherd’s sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon–the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.


My thoughts:
Oh, where do I even begin? I bought this on a whim and it’s been sitting in the TBR for a while. I’ve been on an audiobook kick lately and went through my TBR to see what books I had that the library had on audio. I got the whole trilogy in one swoop from the online library. I figured that way I would have it on hand to binge it. This was a good/bad decision

While the kiddos watched their morning shows & played and I do things around the house, I listen to audiobooks. So that’s when I listened to this on audio. If I had a moment to relax, I picked up my physical copy. I read much faster on my own than listening to an audiobook. I wish I had read it all in the physical form over the audio. I really wasn’t a fan of the narrator’s voice. It really took away from the story for me. It wasn’t enough to deter me from pushing through though.

I enjoyed Gwen’s narration as a character. I definitely related to the snarky personality. She’s smart, but you get the sense she doesn’t want to flaunt it because of her cousin, Charlotte. I didn’t care for Charlotte on any level. She’s a spoiled brat who reminds me a lot of a certain someone I know.

I’m undecided on Gideon. He has his good and bad moments, but I just can’t get a feel for him. I’m leaving judgement until later for now.

I really enjoyed the time travel aspect. I love a good time travel read and this series has some great potential. It feels a bit simplified. The characters all interact through the time travel and I feel that would be too great a risk for changing history, but if you don’t think about it too seriously, it works. The amount of time allowed to travel or the things Gwen and Gideon do don’t make much sense, but I’m hoping things will be explained in book 2.

It feels like it’s closer to the younger side of young adult than appealing to adults who read young adult. Not sure if it’s the actual written style or the translation style. More on that in a moment.

The action was decent enough. It was a fairly quick read. Some things felt a bit off, but it’s a translation, so things probably don’t move as fluidly in English as it did in the original German. I don’t speak/read German, so I can’t test that theory!

How the gene started or is passed down isn’t clear or explained either. Hopefully that’s something else that’s explained in book 2 also! 

Ruby Red wasn’t a bad read. It wasn’t terrible, but it also wasn’t that great. I highly doubt I will ever reread the series and as such, I have a copy to giveaway! It was interesting enough to intrigue me to read books two and three, but this is a one and done read for me. My copy is in basically pristine condition. Hubby says it doesn’t even look like I read it. The giveaway will run for two weeks, so make sure to get your entries in! (:

About the author:

Kerstin Gier is the bestselling author of the Ruby Red trilogy, as well as several popular novels for adults.

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 May 25th 2014 (12am EST) through June 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! (:

 

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*Review* Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston May 11, 2014

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

Rating:3 stars
Pub date:17 September 2013
Publisher:Putnam Juvenile
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Dystopian, Paranormal
Format:personal copy, hardcover, signed; ARC obtained from ARCycling
Status:Book one of the Heart of Dread series

Summary:

From New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston comes this remarkable first book in a spellbinding new series about the dawn of a new kind of magic.

Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she’s heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.

My thoughts:

I have to take a moment and marvel that there is finally a Melissa de la Cruz book that didn’t wow me. I went in knowing it wasn’t received at well as other things she’s written, but c’mon. It’s by Melissa freaking de la Cruz. I had hopes that it was a fluke. I don’t know what it was, but whatever it was, I don’t know what happened with this book.

I was so excited for a new Melissa de la Cruz series. I bought a signed copy as a Happy Birthday to me present. The whole idea of Frozen intrigued me. Everything’s FROZEN. Ice age-esque. So. Excited. Finally, I decided to read it. I found out my library had it on audiobook so I decided it’d be a good listen while I do things around the house book. Nope.

The action in the beginning had me listening to sections a few times and checking my physical book. There’s so much info dumped at a time. I’m still not sure if I caught everything or not.

I was hoping the characters would redeem it. Nope. Reading or listening, I really couldn’t get into the two POV characters of Nat and Wes. I honestly didn’t care about them and would frequently have to replay or reread sections because I would zone out.

It also felt way too much like Under the Never Sky. I didn’t like how Into the Still Blue went and Frozen really felt like an alternate version in a way. Maybe if I’d read this first, my feelings would be swapped. Either way, I was distracted by that though a lot, too.

Some parts screamed Melissa de la Cruz wrote this and once I started noticing that, I started looking out for parts to mentally scream to myself “YAY! She totally wrote this part and I can tell it!” While it’s neat that I can hear her writing voice, it’s also annoying because it should be a seamless transition and one style shouldn’t over power the other. I know he’s helped her on other works, but I’ve never felt a voice struggle like I did in Frozen. Now, don’t get me wrong. Melissa can write a killer romance scene and I enjoyed those. But, they weren’t enough to redeem the suck.

If I gave up on books more easily than I do, I might have bailed. My love for Melissa de la Cruz kept me in til the end, but also distracted me. Now that I know what to expect, I’ll probably reread it. Hopefully without the distractions it will be a lot better. I’ll still definitely read Stolen when it comes out later this year. I’m interested enough in the story to at least give it a shot!

About the authors:

 

 

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.

 

GIVEAWAY LINK
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//

 

*ARC Review* After the End by Amy Plum May 4, 2014

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

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

Rating:3 stars
Pub date:6 May 2014
Publisher:HarperCollins
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Science-Fiction
Format:ARC provided by the publisher
Status:Book one of the After the End series

Summary:

She’s searching for answers to her past. They’re hunting her to save their future.

World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They’ve survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.

At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.

When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.

Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she’s trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.

My thoughts:

This has been another review that has been difficult to write. I absolutely adored Amy’s Revenants series and I was so excited when After the End was announced. This was an ARC I wanted hardcore. When it went up on Edelweiss, I requested it THAT DAY. I hoped and prayed for it. Approval for it and autoapproval from Harper came. There were other books I wanted to read now that I had approval and I wanted to wait until a bit closer to publication date to read. April rolled around and I was read to read. 

Going into it, I knew there had been a few bloggers who didn’t care for it, but I didn’t pay it any mind. A new series from Amy Plum had to be spectacular, right?! How wrong I was. There wasn’t anything wrong with the writing itself. Amy’s writing style was as superb as it had been in Revenants. I just couldn’t get behind the story. They idea sounded fantastic. The execution – though filled with several predictable and cliche moments was well done. Some of the characters were fantastic. Some…. were not. 

Juneau had such great potential, but I really didn’t like her. She’s very ignorant of the modern world, but that’s to be expected.She just didn’t come off as I was hoping. I really wasn’t expecting the creepy cult magic that was thrown in. I couldn’t get into the “Yara” stuff at all. It weirded me out more than it intrigued me. I think she’s supposed to come off as naive, but it doesn’t come across like that for me. 

I did enjoy reading in the point of view of Miles. I connected with him and liked him more than I liked Juneau. I could understand some of his actions, especially after how Juneau treated him most of the time. I didn’t like how she ordered him around and expected him to do things for her.

I was so confused by what was supposed to be happening. I understand that there’s a sequel, but I feel like I’m as in the dark about what caused the group to be in the wilderness as I was when I started reading. 

Things are proven to be false, but still used to find answers. Um. No. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. That really got on my nerves after that revelation happened, but the practice was still kept in place. I understand she felt comfortable doing it, but if it doesn’t work, IT DOESN’T WORK. 

All in all, I’m more confused than anything. It was an interesting story, but I wouldn’t say to go out of your way to read it. It obviously does nothing but set up for a sequel. The ending is beyond cliche. There are some actions that didn’t make sense and there’s a lot of info not told. I’ll probably check out the sequel just to know what the hell is going on. I didn’t hate it, but I certainly didn’t love it like I was hoping. A big let down after being excited for months for sure. In book two, I would like more ACTION action, and not filler action. Without the filler, this totally could’ve been a standalone and it would’ve gone a much higher rating from me for it. 

About the author

Amy Plum is the author of the International Bestsellers DIE FOR ME (Indie Next List pick, Romance Times top pick, and recipient of a starred review from School Library Journal), UNTIL I DIE, and IF I SHOULD DIE. The books have been translated into eleven foreign languages. The trilogy is accompanied by an eNovella entitled DIE FOR HER.

Amy grew up in Birmingham, Alabama before venturing further afield to Chicago, Paris, London and New York. An art historian by training, she can be found on most days either daydreaming or writing (or both) in a Parisian café. Visit her at http://www.amyplumbooks.com and check out http://www.youtube.com/user/revenantc… for videos and extras.

After being raised in Birmingham, Alabama, in a rather restrictive environment, AMY PLUM escaped to Chicago to an even more restrictive environment at a university that expelled people for dancing. (And where she was called to the dean’s office for “wearing too much black”.) After all of that restrictiveness, she was forced to run far far away, specifically to Paris, France, where she only wore black and danced all she wanted.

After five years in Paris, she ventured to London, where she got an M.A. in Medieval Art History, specializing in Early Sienese Painting (1260-1348) mainly because it promised almost no hope of finding a paying job afterward.

Amy managed to find work in the world of art and antiques in New York. But after almost a decade of high-pressure lifestyle in the Big Apple, she swapped her American city for a French village of 1300 inhabitants.

After signing with HarperCollins for the DIE FOR ME series, Amy left her job as an English professor at Tours University to write full-time. She now lives in Paris with her two kids and big red dog Ella.

She is a huge fan of Edward Gorey and Maira Kalman (and collects both of their books/art), as well as David Sedaris, Amadeo Modigliani, and Ira Glass.

Check out videos and extras from Amy at Revenant Central.

 

*Review* Allegiant by Veronica Roth April 14, 2014

Rating:3 stars
Pub date:22 October 2013
Publisher:HarperCollins, Katherine Tegen Books
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic
Format:e-book, audiobook, borrowed via library
Status:Book three of the Divergent trilogy

Summary:

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

My thoughts:

This has been one of the hardest reviews to write and not for a good reason. Allegiant was very disappointing for me. If I hadn’t loved Divergent and Insurgent, I would’ve rated it lower. Not sure if I’ll re-read. I definitely won’t buy the whole series. I really thought about ordering 1&2, but what’s the point of owning them without 3? Ugh. After such great character development in Divergent and Insurgent, it really tanks in Allegiant. It seems like the new secondary characters weren’t developed fully and didn’t do much for me while good and old secondary characters were ignored and dropped. No one is safe either. Terrible things happen to everyone. Just when you think things are starting to look up, it all goes to hell again. That really felt like the main theme of the book. Not sure what the main theme was supposed to be, but to me that’s what it came across as. 

I feel like the genetics was dumbed down. I can’t explain how, exactly, I just was disappointed with it. It felt like she was trying to move Jew vs non-Jew to post-apocalyptic/war torn/futuristic/dystopian time frame. It felt so forced. Everything did, really. 

I like Four, I really do. I cannot stand reading from his POV and suddenly throwing it in felt forced and awkward. I did not like the transitioning between Four and Tris. Speaking of not liking things between Four and Tris; the fighting. Oh, the fighting. It was so freaking annoying. Really, really, REALLY annoying. There were times when I just wanted to stop reading because it was killing me.

It really felt like Allegiant was rushed and it wasn’t as well written or edited as Divergent or Insurgent. It’s like Veronica didn’t really know where she wanted to go with the story other than that killer twist at the ending. Overall it wasn’t what I was expecting. After the action building and building, I was expecting something spectacular to happen in Allegiant, and to me, the action just felt severely lacking. For such a long book, I feel like not much really happened.  I didn’t think Allegiant was great, but it also wasn’t completely terrible.

To be honest, I didn’t cry over the death. I was disappointed with it and thought it was rather useless. Especially after going through such lengths to show the struggle between the two characters and then suddenly sacrificing to save him/her? No. Just. No. From the death to the end I was so bored and wanted to stop reading. What was the point of bailing at that point though? So close to the end I might as well finish. I’m very curious about the fan fiction alternate endings now. I haven’t read fan fiction in years and I really want to just to see other endings. Have I mentioned that everything felt forced? Because it did. The entire story, the “sacrifice” death, the ending, etc. I honestly cannot recommend Allegiant. Not in any way. I would be completely okay with this trilogy being a duology. Yeah, it would’ve been a major cliffhanger full of what ifs, but I would’ve liked that better than how it really ended. Read Divergent and Insurgent, but skip Allegiant. Unless you like writing that tanks in the end. Then totally go for it.

 

Sorry to those who saw the incomplete review of this. I had it all typed up but apparently WordPress decided my full review didn’t need to be saved/posted.

 

 


About the author

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

 

 
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