The Whimsical Mama

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

Friday Feasts #4: Pan-Roasted Chicken with Dijon Mushroom Sauce and Brown Rice July 8, 2016

This week’s Friday Feasts post is another HelloFresh recipe, but not one that I did as a box. Hubby’s mom came to visit, so we decided against ordering a box that week. However, when I was pausing our subscription, I spotted this recipe. I had to make it. It looked scrumptious and it did NOT disappoint! Once again, this was a family pleaser! The full recipe can be found here.

(HelloFresh’s finished plating and my ingredients!)

Hubs & I love mushrooms, so I did more than called for! I’m enjoying using out herb garden for more than just homemade spaghetti sauce this year. I did have to buy some though since some of ours weren’t ready to start harvesting.

I cut the chicken breasts into smaller chunks so that they could cook a bit faster, and easier to manage once on the plate! The sauce smelled so amazing while it was cooking! I may have taste tested a tad more than necessary. Sheesh. I’m craving this now while I’m working on it! I did also add more garlic than is called for. As usual!

The chicken also smelled good before I let it cook in the sauce for a while. Picky Bug and Punk didn’t like the rice. They’re like their daddy and not a big rice fan. This would be super yummy over some egg noodles or maybe even spaghetti or linguine noodles too. Both kiddos gobbled down their chicken and asked for seconds! My mother-in-law also enjoyed this recipe.

I always have a referral code to HelloFresh which takes $40 off of your first box! The code is:

S6RMQS

 

I also occasionally get some boxes that I get to give away for free. Keep an eye out on my Twitter (@armywife2310) for your chance to snag a free box! (New subscriptions only)

 

What do you think of the Pan Roasted Chicken? Does it sound like a recipe you would try?

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Friday Feasts #3: Lasagna Baked Penne June 24, 2016

Another Friday Feasts is here! This week was another family pleaser which was a HUGE surprise! It was such a pleaser that Punk has asked for it again. Hopefully I’ll make it again soon. This is another HelloFresh recipe, and the full recipe can be found here.

I was a bit skeptical of this recipe when I opened the box and saw just how much kale was in the box. WHOA. A LOT of Kale. Honestly, I think I used about 1/4-1/3 of the kale cause I wasn’t sure how it would cook down. I think it was just enough.

I got caught up in the cooking process and didn’t take as many pictures of these steps as usual. I chopped the kale as small as I could before I added them into the casserole. I did get a bit heavy handed with the chili flakes. It was on the spicy side which is what made it so surprising that the kiddos DEVOURED their servings and asked for MORE. It was such a pleasant surprise. Punk did scrape off the meat, but he’s still in the if it’s not chicken, turkey, or some fish he won’t eat it.

This meal was incredibly easy to prepare and was more than enough for all four of us to eat plus leftovers! I didn’t add anything other than a can of mushrooms to the recipe this time. And… maaaaaaaaaybe some more garlic. Shhhhhh! This would be a perfect meal to prepare and freeze for a quick busy night meal. This has been one of my favourite boxes that we have gotten so far. I HIGHLY recommend the Lasagna Baked Penne!

Before baking, and after we chowed down! It smelled so good, we dug in immediately and I forgot to snap a plated picture! I still can’t get over how much the kiddos loved this recipe. Such a surprising family pleaser!

 

*ARC Review* Perfect Lies by Kiersten White July 14, 2014

***I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to HarperTeen!***   

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

Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Pub date: 18 February 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Paranormal
Format: ARC provided by the publisher
Status: Book two of the Mind Games duology

Summary:
Annie and Fia are ready to fight back.

The sisters have been manipulated and controlled by the Keane Foundation for years, trapped in a never ending battle for survival. Now they have found allies who can help them truly escape. After faking her own death, Annie has joined a group that is plotting to destroy the Foundation. And Fia is working with James Keane to bring his father down from the inside.

But Annie’s visions of the future can’t show her who to trust in the present. And though James is Fia’s first love, Fia knows he’s hiding something. The sisters can rely only on each other – but that may not be enough to save them.

 

My thoughts:
I received an ARC of Perfect Lies with an ARC of Taken from HarperCollins. I was excited because it sounded like a great read, plus it was a short book. 

Right off, I liked Perfect Lies more than Mind Games. Not sure why, it just felt a little more put together even though it also felt more chaotic. I will say I don’t feel like things were wrapped up at the end.

Annie really blossomed in Perfect Lies and I loved it. I loved watching her realise she didn’t have to rely on Fia to function. I enjoyed her interaction with Cole. Their development in Perfect Lies was the best of the characters.

Fia really frustrated me. Her stream of consciousness was a whole bunch of crazy. It felt like the closer we got to THE event, the more unhinged she became. Her interactions with James were just off. With perfect instincts, I think she failed on that one. Ugh. I did love her interactions with Pixie, but much like Pixie, I found Fia to be very overwhelming. 

The action and pace felt much more intense than Mind Games and one detail really kept you wondering until about 3/4 through the book. I was relieved how that played out, which really kinda surprised me.

The world building  continued to be nonexistent and it actually did bother me a bit this time around because the actions that were taken made no sense to me because we never saw what the world was like.

 The snark was just as good, if not better though. I love me some snark! It just wasn’t enough to boost over the things that were lacking.

 I did enjoy reading this duology, and Kiersten’s style has intrigued me enough  to check out some of her other works. I still recommend this duology because it’s a quick read and provides enough enjoyment to be worth the time. I’m undecided if I’ll reread this in the future. Maybe if I need quick reads to fill the time.

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.

 

*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

 

*Blog Tour & Review* 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen July 11, 2014

17firstkisses

I am SUPER excited to be a part of Rachael’s blog tour for 17 First Kisses!! (:

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***I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to HarperTeen!***   

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

Rating: 5 stars
Pub date: 17 June 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Format: ARC provided by the publisher
Status: standalone

Summary:
No matter how many boys Claire kisses, she can’t seem to find a decent boyfriend. Someone who wouldn’t rather date her gorgeous best friend, Megan. Someone who won’t freak out when he learns about the tragedy her family still hasn’t recovered from. Someone whose kisses can carry her away from her backwoods town for one fleeting moment.

Until Claire meets Luke.

But Megan is falling for Luke, too, and if there’s one thing Claire knows for sure, it’s that Megan’s pretty much irresistible.

With true love and best friendship on the line, Claire suddenly has everything to lose. And what she learns—about her crush, her friends, and most of all herself—makes the choices even harder.

In her moving debut, Rachael Allen brilliantly captures the complexities of friendship, the struggles of self-discovery, and the difficulties of trying to find love in high school. Fans of Sarah Ockler, Susane Colasanti, and Stephanie Perkins will fall head over heels for this addictive, heartfelt, and often hilarious modern love story

 

My thoughts:
I cannot ever remember devouring a contemporary in one afternoon. I was surprised to receive an ARC from HarperTeen. As I’ve said before, I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary, but I thought I would give it a try. Alsison Linsow took the time to send it to me, so I could at least give it a chance. I’m very happy that I did. I believe this is a below the radar greatness that needs to be shared. It’s not your typical fluffy high school tale and I really enjoyed that.

I instantly related to Claire as the girl living in a small town, super excited to blow that popsicle stand. Hello, high school me! I also related to Claire on the “a boy is threatening our friendship deal.” Only I didn’t come out of my experience with my friendship intact. Now that neither of us are with said boy, we ocassionally talk, but our friendship was all but destroyed. Over a boy. A boy neither of us are with now. I’m even married with two kids! I would love to go smack our 16 year old selves and be like HE IS NOT WORTH IT. *sigh*

I loved including the story of how each kiss happened. It left me reflection on my kisses. Some I still remember fondly. Others, I wonder what the crap I was thinking. I mean, really.

Despite the name, the focus is on family and friend relationships which I really enjoyed.

It was chock full of flawed characters and uncertain situations and I loved it. I don’t like perfect characters or plots. I hate cookie cutter lives. Life isn’t like that and I think that’s my main problem with most contemporaries.

I did have a problem with the slut shaming. Kissing a few boys at a party makes a slut now?! Grr. Flirty? Yes. Slut? Not even remotely. That made me so angry and my heart went out to Claire. 17 First Kisses shows sex in a responsible, truthful way. Not hushed up like it’s shameful, but also not presented as a sex for all with no consequences. Classy and tasteful presentation. Brava, Rachael!

This debut is underrated thus far, and I hope it gets a chance to explode on the scene. There are lovey dovey scenes, snarky scenes, cliche scenes, everything and more to make a quick and enjoyable contemporary.  I highly recommend it. Go forth and enjoy it! (:

About the author:

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Rachael Allen lives in Atlanta, GA where she’s working furiously on her PhD in neuroscience. When she’s not doing science or writing YA, you can find her chasing after her toddler and her two sled dogs. Her debut YA novel 17 FIRST KISSES, is forthcoming from Harper Teen. Rachael may or may not have had 17 first kisses…luckily she doesn’t kiss and tell.

Website: http://rachaelallenwrites.blogspot.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7326808.Rachael_Allen

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rachael_allen

Be sure to follow the tour so you can find out more about Rachael and her wonderful debut!
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Don’t forget about the giveaway!
Guidelines:

– US Only giveaway

– Must be 13 or older to enter

– Giveaway starts JULY 7th until JULY 14th

– All entries are double-checked and false entries will be disqualified

– Winner will be notified via email and needs to answer in 48 hours letting us know if he/she accepts the prize and send us his/her full name and address.

– Your personal information won’t be used or be seen unless you’re the winner of the giveaway. We won’t sell it nor use it in a bad way.

– Tour Hosts are not responsible for any lost or stolen items

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*Review & Giveaway* The One by Kiera Cass July 7, 2014

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

Rating: 4 stars
Pub date: 6 May 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins, HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Format: hardcover via library
Status: Book three of The Selection trilogy

Summary:
The highly anticipated third book in Kiera Cass’s #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series, The One will captivate readers who love dystopian YA fiction and fairy tales. The One is perfect for the fans who have followed America’s whirlwind romance since it began—and a swoon-worthy read for teens who have devoured Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Ally Condie’s Matched, or Lauren Oliver’s Delirium.

The Selection changed America Singer’s life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of Illéa, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen—and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she’s made her choice . . . and she’s prepared to fight for the future she wants.

Find out who America will choose in The One, the enchanting, beautifully romantic third book in the Selection series!

 

My thoughts:

I haven’t devoured a series (and enjoyed it) this quickly in a while. I’m blown away by how quickly I knocked it out! The writing and plot are beautiful in their simplicity. Kiera didn’t need to get all flowery and show and she didn’t. I’m extremely satisfied with where this trilogy ended. I’m not happy with every outcome, but let’s face it, no one is ever 100% thrilled by all the outcome in a series!

The action from The Elite continued to rise in The One until everything explodes at the end. I found the action scenese were well done and I was often squirming in my seat from nerves!

America really came into her own as she realised her full potential. I won’t give major details away. It was nice to see her realise everything isn’t as it seems and sort out her feelings for the boys. I won’t give anything away there either. I do believe she ended up with the guy she is meant to be with, though.

I believe Maxon really flourishes as well. He makes decisions that aren’t easy in anyway imagineable. I believe he will become the ruler Illea needs. There were still moments when I would’ve loved to wreing his neck, but again — he’s human and prone to mistakes. Knowing what happened to him through his life, I was happy to see him stand up to his father.

As much as Aspen’s ego bothered me through the series, I was thrilled to see him make huge strides. I grew to respect his loyalty and devotion to America as things evolved.

I have to say the character who surprised me the most was a toss up between Celeste and Kriss. I had a feeling about Celeste so it wasn’t a huge shock, but Kriss was. Again, no details because I don’t want to spoil anyone’s experience.

I loved getting to see the girls’ relationships grow with Queen Amberly even more than they did in The Elite. She’s easily one of my favourite characters and I could relate to her through our mutual loss due to miscarriage. I still struggle with not knowing if my daughter would’ve been a twin or not. I think in a way, that’s worse than knowing for certain.

Getting to see more of America’s family was great. I love May. She’s so feisty! I would love to know what Gerad chooses to do as his profession.

OverallI’m thrilled with the arc this story took. The prose was lovely and it was an enjoyable read. I’m definitely planning on eventually ordering the series. It will look nice on my dystopian shelf! I still recommend this series to all readers. I think it’s a good series to at least give a shot. I’ll be sure to check out any of Kiera Cass’s future works. I am hoping I can go to YALLFest in November. If I do get to go, I’ll keep you updated. If I go, that means…. GIVEAWAY! Kiera will be there and I will totally be getting books signed. (:

About the author:

100 Things I Love:

Being married. Cake. The smell of Autumn. Motherhood. Books. Elephants. Back rubs. On demand movies. Actually going out to movies. Faith. Cinnamon rolls. My family. Butterflies. When my kitchen is clean. Crayons. Pink. Tote bags. Dancing. Organizing via color coordination. That my wedding dress was tea length, not floor. Baking. My house. Writing utensils. Paper. India. The sound of water. Making videos. Buttons. The word Episcopalian. Making people laugh. Layering clothes. British accents. Pinterest. Animation. Fireworks. The smell of the Ocean. My wedding rings. Aprons. Reasons to get dressed up. Sex. Pop music. Stars. Taking walks. Daydreaming. Stickers. School Spirit. My friends. Living in a small town. Japan. Singing. Painting my toenails. Pranks/ practical jokes. Painting. Stretch canvas. Costumes. Dipping my fingers in melted wax. Style. Soda. Spending an hour typing at a coffee shop. Musicals. Back to school season. Mopeds. Good hair days. Naps. Not walking up but looking at a beautiful staircase. Driving alone. My ankles. Playlists. Spending entire days in pajamas. Holidays. Telling stories. Spontaneity. Theme parks. Bookshelves. The word copacetic. Boxes. Empty journals. Surprises. Doing things in groups. Doing things alone. Getting real mail. Decorating. Small forks. A good hug. Gift cards. New Years Goals. Going out to dinner. When someone else remembers some great story about me/us that I’ve forgotten. Toy stores. Fireplaces. Breakfast foods. Journaling. Crying for a good reason. Doorbells. Pointless adventures. Voting. My birthday. Reasons to make wishes. Recycling

http://www.kieracass.com/

Giveaway!

This giveaway is open to US only ( Entrants must be 13 years old to enter. Those entrants under 18 MUST have parental consent. Giveaway is open July 6th 2014 (12am EST) through July 20th 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 winner!

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*ARC Review* Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott February 24, 2014

***I was granted permission to read Fire & Flood by the publisher (Scholastic Press) in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Scholastic Press!***

Rating:4 stars
Pub date:25 February 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre:Young Adult Fiction
Format: ARC via publisher
Status:Book one of Fire & Flood series

Summary:

A modern day thrill ride, where a teen girl and her animal companion must participate in a breathtaking race to save her brother’s life—and her own.

Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can’t determine what’s wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She’s lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying — and she’s helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It’s an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother’s illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there’s no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can’t trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

My thoughts:

I was very excited when I first heard about this title. Victoria had a request form up on her page that she passed along to Scholastic. I immediately filled it out and pushed it from my thoughts. I didn’t want to dwell on it in case I didn’t get approval. My hubby brought in a package one day and held it out to me. It was from Scholastic. I was ecstatic. I wanted to dive in first thing, but I had some other things I had to read first. Mary over at Mary Had A Little Book Blog and I decided to read it at the same time. This was my first book by Victoria Scott and I do plan on continuing this series in the future and checking out her Dante Walker series.

The pacing felt a little slow to me in the beginning. After an initial lull, the pacing rapidly picks up and became a page turner until I finished. I felt a very strong similarity to The Hunger Games if the stakes were even higher. Instead of competing for themselves, the Contenders are competing for a loved one. At a first glance, you would think this was a dystopian, but it is very much a modern day thriller (confirmed by Victoria).

Tella’s world was rocked when her parents uprooted their family from Boston to Montana after her brother fell ill. It’s not clear what is wrong with her brother, just that he’s sick and seems to be fading rather quickly. Tella receives an invitation to the Brimestone Bleed, but her parents try to play it off like a joke and attempt to destroy the evidence of the invitation. She manages to get a hold of the device and listens to the full invitation. Her mom catches her before she leaves and they have a quick talk. Tella leaves to pursue the cure.

The first challenge in the jungle felt a little disappointing. There were a few dangers, but nothing out of the ordinary of if she had gotten lost in the jungle. The biggest question that remained in my mind is what happens if you lose the race? One person gets the cure, but what happens to the other Contenders?

I was not really able to connect with Tella for the better part of the book. She came off as spoiled and selfish even though she was there for her brother. Her internal dialogue was very immature and bratty. I know not all 17 year olds are not all created equal. I was often told I was mature for my age and sometimes I forget that not all teenagers think like I did. Once she hooked up with a group, I started to connect with her more because she started to grow as a person.She still has her moments of wishing she hadn’t come, but who wouldn’t? It’s not an easy thought potentially risking your life for someone. It’s human nature to prefer preserving yourself than others.

I really enjoyed the other characters (Guy, Ransom, Levi, etc) and I can’t wait to see if more of their backstories are included in the future. I’m also excited to see where their budding friendships take them. It’s an every man for himself situation and new friendships will only last for so long… right?

With the first race behind, things really began to pick up and it made me very happy. Right at the end of the jungle race is when it really became a page turner for me. The twists were very well done and I really enjoyed the desert race. The desert race was definitely a five star section. My toddler kept asking me to read to him before his nap and there were sections that I had to skim as I read because they were totally not suited for a toddler’s ears. Once he was asleep, I devoured the last 100 pages.The action and danger shot through the roof and it was amazing.

I loved the idea of Pandoras. They were simply incredible and it was a very well done idea. In a way they felt like the daemons from the His Dark Materials series, but DEFINITELY more badass.Maddox is incredible. His power – whoa. I really hope we get to learn more about how the Pandoras are created in the next installment!

The ending will definitely leave you wanting more. Keep in mind that this race is in four destinations and Fire & Flood only covers two of them. So much more excitement and challenges away in the Brimestone Bleed.

I’m proud to recommend this as a great read! It does not disappoint and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

About the author:

Victoria Scott is a teen fiction writer represented by Sara Crowe. She’s the author of the FIRE & FLOOD series published by Scholastic, and the DANTE WALKER trilogy published by Entangled Teen. Her books have been bought and translated in eleven foreign markets including the UK, Turkey, China, Poland, Germany, Australia, Israel, Taiwan, Brazil, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.


Victoria lives in Dallas with her husband and hearts cotton candy something fierce.

 

Hello February, Goodbye January! February 2, 2014

I hope you’ve had a great start to 2014! I basically took the month off in January and it was nice. After the craziness of the holidays and trying to cram blogging and family obligations all together, it was nice to focus mainly on my family. I love reading and blogging, but my family comes first. Taking a step back really helped me and I think it’ll help me focus and balance things better from now on. I started getting good at working in advance and scheduling, but I’ve got to get even better. I’ve got to get better at taking a step away from the computer, phone, kindle, books, etc when the kiddos want/need me. Books will always be there to be read. My babies won’t always be babies.

Books I read in January (in order of completion)

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

Brooke by Veronica Rossi (novella)

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi (eARC)

Vampires, Scones, and Edmund Herondale by Cassandra Clare (novella)

Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd (ARC)

Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott (ARC)

These Broken Stars by Aime Kaufman & Megan Spooner (ARC & audiobook)

Evertrue by Brodi Ashton

Defiance by CJ Redwine

 

Books with the kiddos:

We read a good amount of books, but not as much as I would’ve liked. We’ll work on that in February! The weather in January has been awful, either frigid or snowing so we haven’t gotten to the library nearly as often as we should’ve. Hopefully February will be a bit more forgiving in the weather department!

Events attended:

  • Jodi Meadows web chat for the #Incarnate read-a-thon
  •  Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows, CJ Redwine, & Myra McEntire signing in Nashville, TN

Coming up in February

  • 4 year wedding anniversary ❤
  • Family time
  • Dark Days tour
  • These Broken Stars tour

Goals for February

  • Balance mama & wifey things with blogging life.
  • Work on commenting and visiting other blogs
  • Stay ahead of schedule
  • Read more with the kiddos

February releases I’m excited for:

  • Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott
  •  Perfect Lies by Kiersten White
  • Cress by Marissa Meyer (the lovely Mary is getting this signed for hubby as an anniversary present to me! Aren’t they the best?!)
  •  Alienated by Melissa Landers
  • Tremor by Patrick Carman

February TBR:

  • The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard
  • Uninvited by Sophie Jordan
  • Mind Games by Kiersten White
  • Perfect Lies by Kiersten White
  •  Cress by Marissa Meyer

Challenge Update:

I’m involved with three challenges officially; I still need to sign up for a fourth.

Edelweiss & Netgalley challenge: 2/25 (Into the Still Blue and Her Dark Curiosity)

TBR Pile challenge: 6/11-20 {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} (TTEN, Brooke, Vampires Scones & Edmund Herondale, These Broken Stars, Evertrue, and Deception)

Series challenge: 3/4-6 {I can and most likely will increase my level on this as well} (TTEN, Brooke, ITSB, Her Dark Curiosity, Evertrue)

“Real” Book challenge: 5/21-30 {I have to sign up for this one once I get this post up!} (TTEN, Fire & Flood, These Broken Stars, Evertrue, Deception)

How was your January? What’s up for February? I’m excited about things that are coming up this year. 2014 is definitely looking up to be a great year!

 

*Review* The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory July 14, 2013

affiliate links used

The Red Queen (The Cousin’s War)

Rating: 2 stars
Pub date: 3 Aug 2010
Publisher: Touchstone
Genre: Historical fiction, Romance, Adult Fiction
Format: Hardback, obtained from the Public Library

Book 2 of The Cousins’ War series

Summary
The second book in Philippa’s stunning new trilogy, The Cousins War, brings to life the story of Margaret Beaufort, a shadowy and mysterious character in the first book of the series – The White Queen – but who now takes centre stage in the bitter struggle of The War of the Roses. The Red Queen tells the story of the child-bride of Edmund Tudor, who, although widowed in her early teens, uses her determination of character and wily plotting to infiltrate the house of York under the guise of loyal friend and servant, undermine the support for Richard III and ultimately ensure that her only son, Henry Tudor, triumphs as King of England. Through collaboration with the dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret agrees a betrothal between Henry and Elizabeth’s daughter, thereby uniting the families and resolving the Cousins War once and for all by founding of the Tudor dynasty.

In all honesty, I was tempted to give up on this book. The magical and captivating character of Elizabeth Woodville made The White Queen a joy to read. I devoured each section and could hardly put it down. The opposite is true with The Red Queen . I really struggled. The sanctimonious, whiny, selfish, and narcissistic Margaret Beaufort is just a giant put off. If it weren’t for the worry of missing something in this book that might be referenced in the future series books, I would’ve probably abandoned it. That takes a lot from me. I don’t bail on books easily or lightly. Strictly based on the main character, I would’ve bailed. The historical time frame helped redeem it. I’m obsessed with all things Tudors and this is their matriarch.

It opens just before her first marriage to Edmund Tudor. All she cares about is her blasted “saint’s knees” from praying so much. It’s all she goes on about is how she has saints’ knees and she wants to be a Mother Superior of her own order. She’s obsessed with Joan of Arc, and honestly, I think she blows Joan of Arc’s position out of proportion. She wants people to comment on her piety and she goes to great lengths to advertise how pious she is. She flaunts it and baits people to comment. In this ambitious time of England, no one cares about how much you pray. Everyone cares about which house you support: York or Lancaster. Margaret is from the Lancaster house and is the heir apparent to it. This doesn’t jive in this male dominated world. She laments at not being well-educated though she is much more educated than most girls of the time. This is a world that a woman is only good for the sons she will bare.

At twelve, she is married off to Edmund Tudor, half-brother of the current King of England, Henry VI. She constantly complains that he does his husbandly duty and doesn’t allow her to pray 24/7. She complains that he’s constantly away with his brother Jasper. She complains that she’s in the middle of nowhere in Wales. She complains about the language, the staff of the household, the food, anything and everything to anyone and everyone within earshot.

She finds herself pregnant and is little more than a child herself. War is brewing in the land as the Yorks are unhappy with their lot of being a minor royal house and think themselves better than the Lancaster rulers. Doesn’t help things that Henry VI is slowly losing his touch with reality. Margaret relates this to herself and says they are both chosen by God to do His will and the king is just seeing visions. Things keep getting worse and her husband is captured and dies before her baby is born. Jasper returns to her just before she delivers. Her mother has given orders to the ladies in waiting to order the midwives that if it comes to choosing between the mother and the baby to save the baby. Save the baby above all costs ESPECIALLY if it is a boy. Margaret realises she is worthless as a girl. She has a long and difficult delivery, but finally gives birth to a boy. Jasper wants to name the child after his father, but Margaret claiming divine intervention and the usual that she’s been directed to name the child Henry and he shall be a King of England.

She finds out that she is to be married off again. This time to a man much older than she is. Her first husband was already more than 10 years older and now this husband is even older than the first. He is the second son of the Duke of Buckingham. She comes to see that her new husband is much kinder than Tudor, but she thinks him a coward because he does not wish to get involved in the chaos that is consuming England. She constantly nags him about joining the cause and fighting for her, her son who is the heir of the Lancasters, and for his king. He politely points out that he is keeping them sage by staying out of the fighting. She keeps believing he’s a coward. She is so naive about her views of the world and how “wronged” she has been. Her son was third from the throne while Henry VI was king, and is now completely disinherited while Edward of York sits on the throne. *Her* throne. She fails to remember that throne passes to the males. She begins to obsess over Edward of York and his wife, Elizabeth Woodville. She deems Elizabeth to be sub par and of inferior birth and a waste of space. She obsesses over the fact it should be her by Edward’s side if things had played out better. She switches from calling Elizabeth a whore and a witch and celebrates that she is more holy and educated. She has been touched by the hand of God, but that harlot sits on the throne and pops out babies every time you turn around! She constantly prays for their deaths and the deaths of their children. Not something a saint should be concerned with, in my opinion.

Her husband dies and she then obsesses about wedding Edward instead of him being married to that witch. But he’ll want to have all sorts of sex and expect her to get pregnant and have babies, and she’s a saint and shouldn’t do that stuff. Seriously, this is her thought process. I want this, but I’m a saint. My son should be king, because I’m a saint. I have saints’ knees and should sign my name as Margaret R.

She decides to break the year of mourning and approaches husband number three. He’s a lord in his own right and she petitions marriage, with no sex, and she keeps her lands. Lord Stanley accepts because he’s in it for himself too. His family’s motto is Sans Changer and they do anything but STOP changing. Where Stafford (husband 2) didn’t want to fight at all, Stanley waits to see who the winning side will be THEN charge into battle.

Edward dies, and the Queen flees into sanctuary with the royal children, except the Prince of Wales who is escorted to the royal apartments at the Tower so the Lord Protector, Richard of Gloucester, can make coronation preparations. Then he has the royal children declared illegitimate and seizes the throne for himself. Cue more sainthood claiming and throne loss lamenting. There’s a failed uprising, disgrace – resulting in losing her lands and wealth to her husband and is sent into exile. The new Queen dies and to save his royal niece/lover from scandal she is sent to live with Margaret. A battle for supreme childish bitch starts.

Finally, it boils down to Henry Tudor versus King Richard III on the battleground. England is torn apart again. Back the Lancaster claimant who grew up in exile or back the usurper who stole the throne from his brother’s son and most likely had his two nephews executed? Battle ensues and at the last moment, the Stanley armies swoop in to aid Tudor. Richard is executed and his body just dumped (cue best game of hide and seek EVER!). His crown is stripped from his head and given to Tudor who becomes Henry VII and the first of the Tudor dynasty. Word makes it back to Margaret that her son won and all she cares about is that she gets to sign her name as Margaret R.

That’s about it. Despite a huge war-torn time period, this book really lacks in action until the last bit. That’s about it in the redeeming aspect. Will I read it again? Possibly. Anytime soon? Not a chance. I am looking forward to the next book though. It HAS to be better than this!

 

 
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