The Whimsical Mama

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

Waiting on Wednesday #79: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord February 8, 2017

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

My pick of the week is:

 

The Names They Gave Us

By: Emery Lord

Coming: 7 March 2017

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s

Summary:

From acclaimed author Emery Lord comes a vibrant, compelling story of love, loss, faith, and friendship.

Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

Emotionally-charged and unforgettable, Emery Lord’s storytelling shines with the promise of new love and true friendship, even in the face of life’s biggest challenges.

Why I’m excited:

 

Why I need you to be excited:

 

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*Review* An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir June 9, 2016

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***mild spoilers may follow***

Rating:  5 stars
Pub date: 28 April 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Format: hardcover, personal copy
Status: Book one of An Ember in the Ashes series

Summary:

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

My thoughts:

I thought I had reviewed An Ember in the Ashes last year after I read it, but apparently I didn’t. Ah, well. I will now after a re-read! I have to say, I loved An Ember in the Ashes as much the second time as I did the first. Maybe a smidge more knowing that there for certain is a sequel! Even better that I have jumped straight into A Torch Against the Night thanks to Mary letting me borrow her copy! (Look for that review soon too!)

Once again, I was immediately hooked into the fantastical Ancient Rome type setting. Ancient Rome is one of my favourite time periods to study. I also enjoyed the military aspect of Elias. As an Army wife, there’s a fine line between just enough military influence, and can this military crap end already. Sabaa Tahir manages to weave the military training and life in a great balance with Laia’s side of the tale.

Sabaa Tahir proves she’s going to be a master of world building for this series. She has created an entire new world, but masterfully draws on one of the most influential times. She also pulls from mythology, but spins it to something entirely new. She introduces aspects of the mythology through children’s rhymes remembered by the characters as young adults. It’s fascinating to see the characters realise something they’ve always considered children’s stories to come to life before their eyes. There’s a few desert scenes which ups the ante on survival struggles.

I really enjoyed the presentation of the Trials in the book. I won’t go into too much detail on what is involved in the Trials as they are obviously a giant part of the story. They really make you stop and think about what you would do in a situation like that. Let’s just say could you kill your best friend if your life depended on it? Speaking of best friend, Helene, Elias’s best friend is easily my favourite character. I love a strong heroine who doesn’t need to depend on a guy to come to her aid and actually gets a little PO’d when Elias tries to help when she’s capable of handling herself. XX chromosome does not equal an incapability to kick some butt!

It was very interesting to have alternating point of views, but if you don’t pay close enough attention to chapter breaks, you might lose who is who for a moment! I think it would have helped a bit if the different POV were in different colours like the Legend trilogy. And on the note of alternating POV, I would love to see more Helene in A Torch Against the Night. Not sure how that will play out due to the nature of the ending of An Ember in the Ashes, but a girl can hope! Helene is definitely a secondary character in need of a promotion!

Another credit to Sabaa Tahir’s world building is in her writing style. She manages to write quite vividly without overloading the reader in tedious details (I’m looking at you, Tolkien). This writing style really helps keep the action glowing quickly and the reader engaged. I will admit that Elias’s chapters are a bit faster paced and better than Laia’s chapters. I think it is a good balance though. It helps with the ebb and flow of the story. It can’t all be high otherwise the story would have nowhere to go.

For me, the romance stayed on the border of problematic. While it will be interesting to see where things go in A Torch Against the Night, I could have used a bit less in the romantic drama department. I guess with such a focus on military, fighting, and gore, the romance just seemed a bit misplaced at times. Also, love triangles. Ugh. Or squares or whatever shape this one might be.

Last year, before it released, An Ember in the Ashes was SURROUNDED by massive hype. Especially with the rumour of being a potential standalone, but ending leaving the reader wanting MORE. There was a strong push for pre-orders and early purchasing to help draw attention to the desire of another book. Normally I see a hyped book and I flee in the other direction. I’m often the black sheep when it comes to hyped books or it being hyped adds far too much pressure to enjoy the book. I decided to pick up a (signed!) copy at Parnassus Books when I was down for the Sarah J Maas signing. It was a fabulous decision. Not only did I love it, a sequel was also announced which helped the ending.

I highly recommend An Ember in the Ashes. Few books, in my opinion, deserve the hype, but An Ember in the Ashes is one of those few. It is full of complex issues and very fleshed out characters. Sabaa Tahir is a powerful wordsmith and should stay on your radar for future amazing books!

About the Author

Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

 

 

*ARC Review* The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord May 25, 2015

***mild spoilers may follow***

***affiliate links are used***

Rating:  5 stars
Pub date: 31 March 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Format: e-ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review, ARC provided by OTSP ARC tour
Status:standalone

Summary:
Following her pitch-perfect debut Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

My thoughts:
I received this ARC as part of the ARC tour hosted by On The Same Page. I also received a digital ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Neither of these copies swayed my opinion in any way.

Following in the vein of Open Road Summer, The Start of Me and You is full of best friends and second chances. As her second book, Emery ran the risk of the “sophomore slump,” by The Start of Me and You is anything BUT a slump! The Start of Me and You starts strong and ends stronger.

My absolute favourite thing in The Start of Me and You is the power of friendship. Paige and her group of friends are the perfect example of a great friendship. It’s not perfect by any means, but what friendship is? They know and understand each other through thick and thin. There’s one phone call that brings to mind an important friendship defining moment in my life. I won’t spoil the situation though! If you want to know my moment, send me a message on twitter! (@armywife2310)

As Paige grows and starts her life anew, her group of friends grows and changes to include guys. This group is reminiscent of my group of friends in high school – only we were in band! I think Emery did a great job of showcasing that teen guys and girls CAN have a relationship with zero romance. I’m a firm believer that friendship isn’t influenced by gender. One of my best friends in high school was a guy. Yes, we did try dating. No, we didn’t magically fall in love. Yes, we were MUCH better friends than a romantic item!

That being said though, Emery does a spectacular job weaving in the path to romance. I love that this pair starts their relationship based on friendship. They get to know the real side of each other and the affection slowly shifts from friend to romantic interest. I was totally shipping them before the ship even sailed!

Another thing I applaud Emery for is showing the nerdy side of life. That the nerd and the jock can get along and even be best friends. Beauty is not the only thing to attract a mate. I loved the geeking out. I was all about some Quiz Bowl in The Start of Me and You! I loved the breaking out the big guns by Max with Pride and Prejudice. Brava Emery for showing a guy can be well read too! I loved how passionate Max was about his interests and not being ashamed over them. Love what you love! I also loved the Open Road Summer shout out. (:

I loved getting to see Paige grow and change as she worked her way through her grief and her new chapter in life. I couldn’t relate on a personal level other than a fellow classmate succumbing to cystic fibrosis complications as our senior year started. I didn’t know Erin well, but her death still had a huge impact on me. Paige’s courage and determination were inspiring. Each step was hard fought, but also won. She knew she could never go back to the way things were, but she worked hard to get things to where she wanted. Eve if a thing or two was not how she originally planned it to be.

A bit heavier than Open Road Summer, but still a quick and enjoyable read for this non-contemporary fan! I definitely recommend adding Open Road Summer and The Start of Me and You to your spring/summer reading list and Emery Lord to your authors to always read list!

About the Author

I’m Emery, and I write books about flawed girls who are really trying, complicated families, friends who show up even when everything’s going down in flames, the boy who Gets You even when you don’t expect it, and the summer that changed everything.

Open Road Summer is out now, and The Start of Me & You releases March 31st, 2015.

I don’t check my GR inbox, but feel free to get in touch via ways listed on my website!
http://www.emerylord.com/p/site-qs.html

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

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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!
FFBC FOLLOW TOUR
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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Blogoversary! (And giveaway!) July 10, 2014

I am so blown away that it’s my blogoversary! Okay, it was actually yesterday. You know how in my confessions on Top Ten Tuesday mentioned either way ahead or scrambling on posts? Well, this week has been a scrambling one. I scheduled ahead for vacation, but only through the day we came home. I know, I know.  This year has been an incredible experience. Chock full of hard work and numerous rewards. I’ve said before, but I’ll say it again. This blog is older than a year old. I started blogging in 2011. Aspirations of becoming like Julie in Julie&Julia. That FAILED. Juggling a newborn and a new blog idea while hubby had a travel job just didn’t work. So this sat unused for ages. Then Mary started getting her blog off the ground. I debated jumping back in the blogging world for a long time before I actually committed. This time around, I was juggling a toddler AND a newborn, but hubby no longer traveled with work. Finally, I took the plunge and I never looked back.

The Whimsical Mama would never have been possible without all the support Mary’s given me. She is seriously my number one supporter in ALL THE THINGS. If you don’t know her, she blogs over at Mary Had a Little Book Blog. You should check it out. It’s incredible. Just like her! Mary and I go way back to my freshman year of college. Books have always been a big thing in our friendship and I love how close we are on and off the net. Still sucks that we live so far apart! Mary, you’re the best and I LOVE YOU!

This also wouldn’t be possible without you, dear reader. There are times when I feel like I’m blogging and talking to a wall, but when I see pages views and visitor numbers, it makes my heart soar. I could seriously talk to a wall about books, but knowing that someone, somewhere is checking out The Whimsical Mama, it reassures me that I’m doing the right thing. Thank you for sticking around even though I don’t get to do a lot of giveaways. I am happy that I’m going to be able to do more giveaways now. It’s killed me not to be able to share book love other than just publicity.

Thank you to all the publishers & publicists who have taken a chance on me. Especially Cassie McGinty at Disney Hyperion. She deals with my emails a lot and is always AWESOME! (: I’m so thankful for the opportunities you’ve given this lil ole blogger mama to share the book love. 

OBVIOUSLY ALL THE LOVE goes to the authors too. Let’s face it. They’re the true reason we’re here. Without their hard work, we wouldn’t have anything to gush about! I’ve had the chance to interact with one of my favourite authors (Melissa de la Cruz) and meet and build relationships with so many others. I love you all so much. Major shout out to Amalie Howard and Jodi Meadows. Last summer, many a night, there were hours long chats with Jodi, Mary, and Alex. So many fun times! Jodi took the time to drive down to meet me for lunch when I was up in the Northern VA area. She’s incredible. She’s a lovely lady and incredible author. Read her books. DO IT. Like I said yesterday, I stumbled across Amalie and I’m so happy I did. She’s super awesome and super talented. We haven’t had the chance to meet in person yet, but it will happen and it will be EPIC. I will forever more shout the recommendations about their books. Fo’ sho’.

Now, for the time we’ve all been waiting for! GIVEAWAY TIME! I have a ton of giveaways scheduled for this month and next, but this one is special for my blogoversary (plus the Infinite ARC giveaway). This is going to be a level giveaway. First up is a young adult book of choice (up to $15) from Book Depository! For every 300 entries, I’ll reveal another prize and add another winner. Prizes will be first come first serve if more than one is revealed. *** Prize #2 has been unlocked!!*** ARC of 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen! (US ONLY) If you don’t follow my giveaway guidelines, I will disqualify you. Don’t make me do it, please. I’ve had to disqualify people from every giveaway I’ve hosted thus far and it’s so disheartening.

 

Giveaway!

This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL (and only open to the countries where Book Depository delivers to) Entrants must be 13 years old to enter. Those entrants under 18 MUST have parental consent. Giveaway is open July 10th 2014 (12am EST) through August 10th 2014 (12am EST). I reserve the right to disqualify entries in violation of my giveaway policies. All entries WILL be verified. Winner(s) have 48 (FORTY-EIGHT) hours to respond to email/tweet. Good luck. May the odds be ever in your favor! (: For every 300 entries, I’ll add another prize & winner! Prizes will be revealed at each level! (Book Depository prize ONLY IS International all other prizes are US ONLY. Sorry!)

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Don’t forget about these giveaways!

 

Kiera Cass 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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Jodi Meadows 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 1st 2014 (12am EST) through July 31st 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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Please Be Kind, Rewind: 15-28 June 2014 June 28, 2014

Started last week behind schedule and have worked my butt off to get back ahead of schedule. Alas, that didn’t completely happen. Camping trips with no internet access can do that. Plus, we lost my great-uncle at the beginning of this week. It’s been a hard week. Lots of time with the family, but not under the best circumstances. It was also my mom’s birthday this week! (: We’re having a birthday cookout at my grandparents’ today for her. I am working to get ahead again, though! Hubby is home now, so the kiddos aren’t as wild. Things are getting accomplished! Also rearranged some bookshelves. I’ll post before and after pictures once I’m done rearranging. I just got some new books this week, have some returning from Mary, and have won a few giveaways! (:


Completed:

Taken by Erin Bowman

Stolen by Erin Bowman

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (paperback & audiobook) 

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

The Tailor by Leigh Bardugo

The Witch of Duva by Leigh Bardugo

 


Currently Reading:

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

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (paperback & audiobook) 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling (audiobook)

Siege & Storm by Leigh Bardugo

 



Read to the Kiddos:

Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes

Pete the Cat Pete’s Big Lunch

Pete the Cat Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Pete the Cat Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses

Pete the Cat A Pet for Pete

The Itsy Bitsy Spider

That’s Not My Tiger by Fiona Watt

That’s Not My Train  by Fiona Watt


New to my shelf:

Seamonster by Amalie Howard (e-novella)

WARP The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer (e-book, on SALE!) 

Pete the Cat Pete at the Beach by James Dean (I promised Punk some new Pete books for the kindle for his birthday once daddy got home!)

Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by James Dean

The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray (prepping for YALLFEST!)

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (replacing my missing for over a year one)

The Selection by Kiera Cass (YALLFEST prep!)

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (YALLFEST prep!)

Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo (Binge and YALLFEST prep!)

The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard (personal copy & future giveaway! Strange Chem isn’t going to be printing anymore so get your copies NOW!)

From the library:

as usual, more audiobooks! (:

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell 

Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Siege & Storm by Leigh Bardugo

 

 
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