The Whimsical Mama

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Non-Contemporary Young Adult Beach Reads June 20, 2016

Filed under: Books — Maura @ 12:01 am
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When I read Jamie’s post about non-contemporary young adult beach reads, I knew it was the perfect post for me to share my own recommendations. I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary reads. I do recommend Emery Lord and Jennifer Echols though if you are looking for good contemporary authors.

These are all quick reads. They aren’t heavily detailed in world building (no Tolkien style writing here!) but the character development is great.

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  1. The Wrath and the Dawn is a delicious quick historical fantasy. This is a retelling of Arabian Nights and Renee Ahdieh is a brilliant story teller. Just make sure you take the sequel, The Rose and the Dagger, with you!

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2. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a little heavier on the world building, but this trilogy is still a fantastic read. It’s always great to read about a badass girl who can take care of herself! Plus there’s a super steamy romance that’s perfect for beach reading. Don’t forget to take along The Winner’s Crime and The Winner’s Kiss.

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3. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. In my opinion, The Infernal Devices is the superior series in Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter realm. On audio or physical reading, this trilogy is a fantastic quick binge.

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4. Legend by Marie Lu. This was actually a beach read for me a few summers ago. I devoured Legend and Prodigy at the beach and it left me panting for Champion. This dystopian is a brilliant page turner.

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5. A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano is a middle grade novel, but that doesn’t take anything away from its brilliance. I devoured this read in one sitting, even though it wasn’t at the beach, but at home. I do think this would be a quick beach read though!

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6. The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter. I’m always a glutton for a good read involving Greek mythology. This series by Aimee Carter is a super quick binge that’s light, dark, and romantic all in one!

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7. Die for Me by Amy Plum. A swoony Frenchman? Yes, please! I adore Paris, so even visiting through reading is great. Throw in relaxing by the ocean and it’s PERFECTION.

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8. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. While I still need to read the last book, this is a fantastic fantasy. Plus it’ll make you want to ditch the beach and head to Prague!

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9. Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz. Yep. Melissa de la Cruz’s drama filled series with fallen angels as vampires series makes the list. The fantasy aspect is light and almost contemporary in presentation, it makes it a great, light beachy read.

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10. Waterfell by Amalie Howard. Alien mermaids? Colour me intrigued! What makes this such a great read for the beach is that it takes place at the beach! This is a light world building fantasy as it mostly takes place in San Diego. The realm of Waterfell is a super interesting idea though. Make sure you have Oceanborn to read too!

What are some of your favourite non-contemporary beach reads? Keep an eye out the next few weeks for more beach reading recommendations!

 

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Please Be Kind, Rewind: 16 November 2014 – 4 April 2015 April 4, 2015

Filed under: Book Review,Books,Weekly Reading Review — Maura @ 11:57 pm
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It feels good to be back! After a break for summer, then drama stirring every time I was ready to jump back in, I was afraid I might just hang up my blogger hat. The idea to start a blog for some of the adventures with the kiddos has sparked the desire to fully jump back in the YA blogging world too. I can’t let drama get me down from about what I’m passionate!

Instead of trying to do a FULL recap from NOVEMBER until now, I’ll just let my reading speak for itself and start back with recaps next week. I will recount as best as I can remember on books I’ve gotten. No hope on library books except for what I have on hand now though. I will still include books I get/read with the kiddos, but there will no longer be Tot Time Thursday reviews/posts. All things children’s lit, homeschooling, etc will be over on our new blog Voyages of the Backyard Explorers!

affiliate links used below

Completed: (Starting in November til today)

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano
No Intention of Dying by Lauren DeStefano
The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
The Strange Case of Finley Jayne by Kady Cross
The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross
The Dark Discovery of Jack Dandy by Kady Cross
Die Once More by Amy Plum
The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd
A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer
Gilt by Katherine Longshore
The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer
The Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer
Tarnish by Katherine Longshore
Brazen by Katherine Longshore
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel

Read with the Kiddos
Ladybug Girl and the Dress-up Dilemma
City Adventures #1: Help Is On The Way! (Lego Reader)
Ten Rules of Being a Superhero (Christy Ottaviano Books)
Ninja!
Bitty Baby and Me
What Is a Princess? (Disney Princess) (Step into Reading)
Scuffy the Tugboat and His Adventures Down the River
Tiny Toons Adventure: Happy Birthday, Babs!
Luke Goes to Bat
The Gingerbread Kid Goes to School (Penguin Young Readers, L2)
Potty (Leslie Patricelli board books)
Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House, No. 1)
On the Night You Were Born
The Knight at Dawn (Magic Tree House, No. 2)
A Perfectly Messed-Up Story
Murray’s First Book of Words (Sesame Street First Board Books)

Currently Reading:
Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan
Mummies in the Morning (Magic Tree House, No. 3)
Pirates Past Noon (Magic Tree House, No. 4)

New to Our Shelves:
From My OTSP Secret Sisters (last round and current round)
Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
The Archived by Victoria Schwab
The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter
The Goddess Inheritance by Aimee Carter
Twisted Fate
The Last Apprentice (Revenge of the Witch)
The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory
The Lady of the Rivers: A Novel (The Cousins’ War)
The White Queen (The Cousins’ War)
The Red Queen (The Cousin’s War)
This Shattered World: A Starbound Novel

From Mary:
Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, Book 1)
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

Giveaways/Book Swaps/ARCs
Maid of Wonder by Jennifer McGowan
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
Let the Sky Fall
Fairest: The Lunar Chronicles: Levana’s Story
Rebel Angels (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy Book #2)
Extraction by Stephanie Diaz
Rebellion by Stephanie Diaz

Library:
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel
The Artemis Fowl #2: Arctic Incident Graphic Novel 1st (first) Edition by Colfer, Eoin (2009)
Artemis Fowl The Eternity Code Graphic Novel
Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception Graphic Novel (Artemis Fowl (Graphic Novels))
Captive (The Blackcoat Rebellion)
Maid of Secrets (Maids of Honor)
Tarnish by Katherine Longshore
Brazen by Katherine Longshore
Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Purchased:
Gilt by Katherine Longshore
The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows
Maid of Secrets (Maids of Honor)
Maid of Deception (Maids of Honor)
Origin by Jessica Khoury
Juliet Immortal
Venom (Secrets of the Eternal Rose)
The Scorpio Races
Red Riding Hood
Playing Dirty by Jennifer Echols
Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion)
The Girl of Fire and Thorns

How’ve you been lately? Read anything good recently? Have you checked out our new blog extension yet? Tot Time Thursday now has its own blog at Voyages of the Backyard Explorers!

 

*Blog Tour, Review, & Giveaway* Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore June 13, 2014

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***I was granted permission to read this by the publisher in exchange for an honest review as a part of the blog tour hosted by Itching For Books. Many thanks to Disney-Hyperion!***   

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

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Rating:5 stars
Pub date:17 June 2014
Publisher:Disney Hyperion
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Horror, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Romance
Format: eARC/ARC provided by the publisher
Status:Book one of the Dark Metropolis duology

Summary:
Cabaret meets Cassandra Clare-a haunting magical thriller set in a riveting 1930s-esque world.

Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder’s mother is cursed with a spell that’s driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules.
Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city’s secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own.

Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they’re not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too.

Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, this is a chilling thriller with a touch of magic where the dead don’t always seem to stay that way.

My thoughts:

I am so happy to be a part of the blog tour for Dark Metropolis today! The first time I saw the cover, I knew I had to get my hands on it. Plus it was recommended for fans of Cassie Clare. Throw in some historical fiction action and I WAS SOLD.(Seriously, book hang over from City of Heavenly Fire? Give Dark Metropolis a look!)

I greatly enjoyed Dark Metropolis from the get go. It was clear that it was post WWI, but I wasn’t certain which country it was until I stumbled across some random facts Jaclyn posted on Goodreads. I was figuring US or UK, I wasn’t expecting Germany. (Yes, I realised my goof after remembering the references to the Chancellor. I know, I KNOW. )

I really enjoyed the world building Jaclyn did. I loved getting a view inside the club world and seeing the distinct class differences. It was great to see how the characters navigated the perilous world of mixing classes. In my life, that’s not something that happens everyday and isn’t frowned upon when it does. I guess the closest I come is mixing ranks at hubby’s military parties. It’s always a little intimidating when I speak with the higher ranks’ spouses. For the characters, everyone is pushed out of their comfort zone at one point or another.

I loved the reanimation. I’m not big into zombies. My mom tries all the time to get me into The Walking Dead, but it just hasn’t happened. These aren’t your typical zombies and I think that’s what I love about it so much. They have flashes of memories from before their deaths and are completely capable of communicating and functioning as long as they continue to take a mysterious serum. If doses are missed… well… let’s just say things get bad. As a Disney title, there was a completely unexpected twist between characters. I was not expecting the beginnings of a lesbian relationship. I do, however, believe that it fits perfectly and wasn’t something that was forced. I can’t wait to see how things continue. Yes, I’m purposefully leaving out names because I don’t want to give the game away! I feel that’s a major spoiler and I want (hope) your feelings develop for this relationship the way mine did.I have mixed feelings about ANOTHER relationship though. I think I’m for it. There are just so many things up in the air! EEP!

There were a lot of unanswered questions that you have quickly. Where’s Thea’s dad, if he’s alive like her mother maintains Why is magic being suppressed, but the government is trying to harness it? Why are people disappearing? How does reanimation work? That’s only from the immediate beginning. Thankfully, Jaclyn does a FANTASTIC job of giving you answers to numerous questions without having a single info dump. She does leave enough answered questions to leave you wanting more and for me, it’s going to be an impatient wait for book 2! The ending was SO emotional. I cried. Not ugly crying, but I cried. As usual hubby gave me the I’m judging you for crying over a book look. HEART WRENCHING. *sobs*

Dark Metropolis is a great alternate history read and I recommend it highly. It may not be for everyone, but not every book is. Dark Metropolis is full of great characters, mystery, and fantastic world building. Jaclyn weaves it in such a way it’s hard not to spoil things! Which is why I didn’t delve too much into characters. That was incredibly hard not to delve into the wonderful characters she creates. They are so wonderful!

 

*Excerpt*

“All right,” he said. “It’s just this: ever since the war, when people die from suicide, and sometimes murders and executions, the government has been reviving them. The city has been in need of manpower since the war, and suicide is no good way to die, so it benefits everyone.”

“Reviving them? After death?”

“Yes. So they can have a second chance. And do some good work for the city. That’s where I saw Nan. At the-the rehabilitation centre. Gerik has a hand in it, but I can’t breathe a word to anyone.” 

 

About the author

Jaclyn Dolamore

Jaclyn Dolamore was homeschooled in a hippie sort of way and spent her childhood reading as many books as her skinny nerd-body could lug from the library and playing elaborate pretend games with her sister Kate. She skipped college and spent eight years drudging through retail jobs, developing her thrifty cooking skills and pursuing a lifelong writing dream. She has a passion for history, thrift stores, vintage dresses, David Bowie, drawing, and organic food. She lives with her partner and plot-sounding-board, Dade, and two black tabbies who have ruined her carpeting.

 www.jaclyndolamore.com | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

GIVEAWAY:

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Please Be Kind, Rewind: 27 April – 3 May 2014 May 3, 2014

I’m working from my own laptop for the first time in AGES and it’s GLORIOUS. I’ve either been working on my posts from our desktop, hubby’s laptop, or my mom’s netbook that I’ve been borrowing. Punk and our dog Maggie killed my charge port forever ago and we’ve just now been able to get a new laptop for me. And it’s not just a laptop, it’s a 2 in1! Yay for laptop and tablet capabilities! I’m super excited about having this. The one thing I don’t like is that I can’t read my eARCs as of yet. I haven’t figured out how. My kindle app only works with my actual books and not documents. I’ve only piddled with it for a few hours so I’m sure I’ll be up and full running soon. And if not, I have my Paperwhite to read on! Or I can always steal the newly gifted Kindle Fire back from the kiddos. Haha. They’re happy to OFFICIALLY call mama’s Kindle theirs now. This week has been awesome for reading. I haven’t gotten as much work done on the blog to stay ahead, but I’m still super far ahead on paper so that’s good! It’s a beautiful day outside, so my office is our back porch until it’s time to head to a birthday party! What did you all think of the big news of Harper buying Harlequin? I’m still reeling. I think it will be epically awesome or epically bad bad BAD.


Completed:

Love Story by Jennifer Echols 4 stars.

Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore (ARC) 

17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen (ARC)




Currently Reading:

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

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling (audiobook)

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (audiobook)

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch (ARC)

 


Read to the Kiddos:

Truck Stop by Anne F Rockwell

Meet Me at the Moon by Gianna Marino

Chuggington: Snowstruck Wilsonby Scholastic Inc

That’s Not My Meerkat by Fiona Watt

Pretendby Jennifer Plecas

That’s Not My Train by Fiona Watt


New to my shelf:

Taken & Frozen by Erin Bowman (Thanks, Alison Lisnow and HarperTeen!)

17 First Kisses ARC by Rachael Allen (Thanks Alison Linsow and HarperTeen!)


From the library:
audiobooks, lots of them! (:

 

*Review* Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein April 28, 2014

Rating:4 stars
Pub date:10 September2013
Publisher:Disney Hyperion
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction
Format:e-book via library
Status:Book two of the Code Name Verity companion duology

Summary:

While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.

My thoughts:

The last book in my World War II binge is Rose Under Fire. I couldn’t wait to jump in after finishing Code Name Verity. I knew as a companion novel, it wouldn’t be a true sequel, but I was excited to see the next part.

The ending of Code Name Verity ripped my heart to shreds, but it warmed to see Maddie coping relatively well several months later. Though Maddie returns in Rose Under Fire, our leading lady of the story is American pilot, Rose Justice. Rose and Maddie do become fast friends though! Elizabeth Wein does a fantastic job again, creating such genuine feeling characters.

Rose is a young woman determined to prove female pilots are just as good and just as important to the war effort as male pilots. Though the US is involved with World War II and has been since the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Rose is surprised to find just how different life is in the US vs Europe. The depression is raging in the US as well as in Europe and there are vast shortages, but in the US, Rose didn’t have to worry about being bombed like Maddie has dealt with in the UK.

Rose is courted by Maddie and Jamie’s friend, Nick. Before he’s transferred to the front, he proposes and Rose thinks he’s joking. She remarks that she doesn’t understand why so many people rush into marriage during war. This comment struck a chord with me. As I’ve said before, my hubby and I got married 72 hours before he had to report back for duty before he flew out for Iraq. We had had the marriage before battle talk several times before we got married. Unlike Rose and Nick, , we’d known each other and dated for almost a year and a half. It wasn’t a rushed thing like Rose believed hers would be. In a way, she comes to regret her decision.

During a mission, she’s intercepted by two Nazi war planes which force her to follow them to Germany. They are surprised to see that she is a female pilot, but still turn her over to authorities. She is sent to Ravensbruck, the same camp Julie was sentenced to go to.

Once at Ravensbruck, we meet several other incredible women. First, we meet Elodie who was part of the French Resistance. After this brief encounter, she and Rose never encounter each other face to face again, but Elodie still plays a major role as a supplier.

She later meets the Rabbits and a few other political prisoners. The tales of what these women endure is very difficult to stomach. Even though this is a historical fiction novel, it is based on true evens that did occur at the prison camp.

It is incredibly relieving to know Rose survives Ravensbruck. I don’t think I’m spoiling this the way the book is laid out and if you look at the chapter lists. Still, reading the things that happens in Rose’s six month tenure is heartbreaking. All of this happens after D-Day, which was the turning point in the war, but not the end by any means. The time frame Rose recounts her time in Ravensbruck is the same time the 89th Infantry Division liberated Ohrdruf Concentration Camp. Reading Rose’s story and having researched the things my Grandaddy saw had me in tears off and on the entire latter part of the book. My Grandaddy could never speak of the horrors he saw.

Roza, one of the Rabbits, was operated on five times at Ravensbruck and was almost permanently crippled. The doctors did horrific experiments to “simulate” situations at the front. In reality, it was for the sheer pleasure of torture.

Karolina only endured one operation but spent eight months terribly ill and close to death before she finally recovered. She escaped with only a minor limp.

Lisette was a political prisoner from Poland, but she was originally from France. She was the adopted mother of the group. I absolutely adored Lisette. She reminds me of my Gran with her love of learning and being incredibly loving and caring.

Irina was a Soviet combat pilot who had been shot down and captured. I also admired Irina. Though she was staunchly against the Fascists, she also wasn’t thrilled with the Soviets.

The story comes to a close during the Nuremberg trials. In a way, the conviction of the captured Nazis doesn’t seem like enough justice for the terrible things they did. There never could be large enough Earthly cost for them to pay for their crimes.

I really liked that most of the book was written as a journal recounting. I have never been through anything traumatic and I’ve often kept a journal because like Rose, I find writing therapeutic. I did enjoy her poetry. I would like to know more about what happened to Rose down the road. Did she become a doctor? Did she get married, etc.? Minus that disappointment, I highly recommend Rose Under Fire. A difficult topic to stomach, but a lesson to be remembered so as to not be repeated.

About the author


Elizabeth Wein has lived in Scotland for over ten years and wrote nearly all her novels there.  Her first five books for young adults are set in Arthurian Britain and sixth century Ethiopia.  The most recent of these form the sequence The Mark of Solomon, published in two parts as The Lion Hunter (2007) and The Empty Kingdom (2008).  The Lion Hunter was short-listed for the Andre Norton Award for Best Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction in 2008.  Elizabeth also writes short stories.


Elizabeth’s latest novel for teens is a departure in a totally new direction.  Code Name Verity, published by Egmont UK, Disney-Hyperion and Doubleday Canada in 2012, is a World War II thriller in which two young girls, one a Resistance spy and the other a transport pilot, become unlikely best friends.  Code Name Verity has received widespread critical acclaim. Among its many laurels it is shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal; it is a Michael Printz Award Honor Book, a Boston Globe/Horn Book Awards Honor Book, and an SCBWI Golden Kite Honor Book. It is also a New York Times Bestseller in young adult fiction.

 

*Review* Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein April 27, 2014

Rating:5 stars
Pub date:7 May 2013
Publisher:Disney Hyperion
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction
Format:paperback, personal copy
Status:Book one of the Code Name Verity companion duology

Summary:

Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called “a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel” in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.

My thoughts:

The next book in my World War II binge is back in the Allied perspective. In a way, it was comforting to return to it. Code Name Verity is the harrowing tale of British (not English, mind you) best friends, Julie and Maddie. One is a pilot, the other is a spy and this two part book covers the beginning of their friendship through an operation in France in 1943. Remember, this is classified. Careless talk costs lives. (World War II OPSEC – operation security – for Britain) This MilSo LOVED that reference throughout. I think I’ll encourage anyone who asks details about hubby’s future deployments to look up World War II propaganda.

The first narrator of Code Name Verity refers to herself as ‘Queenie’ through her tale. She has been captured by the Gestapo in France. She agrees to tell them information about the British airfields in exchange of ending torture. In the way she gives the information is through the story of how she and Maddie became best friends.

You can tell through her mannerisms and speech that ‘Queenie’ comes from a privileged background. At times she seems flippant, which may be how she protects and isolates herself from her situation, but it was a bit grating. Not enough to deter me from finishing. I was far to interested to see the outcome to let a bit of snarkiness get me down! I can be quite snarky myself.

Queenie’s tale is also very heavy with technical details. It can be a bit overwhelming, but you have to remember she is doing her job. She agreed to give details on Britain’s air front war movements and that’s what she does.

There are some very tedious parts through her tale as well as some heartbreaking ones. She has little interaction with the other prisoners, but what she does is hard to stomach. She has to witness torture and an execution. She also has to deal with them hurling insults at her because she has agreed to work with and help the Germans in order to save her own skin – if only temporarily. Spies don’t survive capture and she understands that. She doesn’t sit and dwell on rescue. She remains realistic and determined to carryout her mission.

“It’s like being in love, discovering your best friend.”

The second half is narrated by ATA pilot, Maddie Brodatt. You already feel a connection with Maddie because you watched how her friendship with Julie unfolded in the first half.

Maddie survives the crash in France, but is in more danger than ever because she is a Jew. Obviously, German occupied France is not the best place to be a Jew. From Maddie, we get some missing pieces of time that Julie didn’t know what happened. She visits Julie’s home and sparks start smouldering between Maddie and Jamie, Julie’s beloved brother who survived an aeroplane crash in the North Sea.

Once Maddie knows Julie has been captured, she wants to do something to help free her. While she’s stuck underground, waiting to be extracted from France, she gets to experience life with a French Resistance family. (So, now I’ve had poor German, Hitler’s inner circle German, German Jews, British pilot, British spy, and now French Resistance family – just making my rounds through all involved parties!)

I enjoyed Maddie’s part a lot more than I enjoyed Julie’s. Despite Julie’s situation which should’ve been rife with emotion, it keeps you a bit at arm’s length. It wasn’t a bad thing by any means. I’m a very emotional reader, so I connected to the emotion driven Maddie more than I did with the cool and calculating, Julie. I loved both characters dearly, I just happened to connect with Maddie more.

In reading a few blurbs, I saw one mentioned that mentioned a ‘tear stained copy.’ I was concerned that Code Name Verity wasn’t striking me as deeply as it had others until the end. I was very glad that I was outside alone and the kiddos were down for naps so I could week in peace. Elizabeth Wein did such an incredible job creating two incredibly inspiring heroines. She did an amazing job of thrusting me smack dab in the middle of war torn Britain and France. I will say that ever since I saw Pearl Harbor, I’ve wanted to read more about the RAF/Allied pilots and just never have. I’m glad I went on impulse to order this after hearing great things about it. I’m always on the lookout for strong female leads and Elizabeth Wein delivers two in Code Name Verity. This is a book I gladly recommend to historical fiction fans, those looking for a good copy tale, and those who are plane enthusiasts. Looking down the road to when my kiddos are older, I plan on encouraging them to read Code Name Verity. It’s THAT good! Now, “Kiss me Hardy! Kiss me quick!”

About the author


Elizabeth Wein has lived in Scotland for over ten years and wrote nearly all her novels there.  Her first five books for young adults are set in Arthurian Britain and sixth century Ethiopia.  The most recent of these form the sequence The Mark of Solomon, published in two parts as The Lion Hunter (2007) and The Empty Kingdom (2008).  The Lion Hunter was short-listed for the Andre Norton Award for Best Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction in 2008.  Elizabeth also writes short stories.


Elizabeth’s latest novel for teens is a departure in a totally new direction.  Code Name Verity, published by Egmont UK, Disney-Hyperion and Doubleday Canada in 2012, is a World War II thriller in which two young girls, one a Resistance spy and the other a transport pilot, become unlikely best friends.  Code Name Verity has received widespread critical acclaim. Among its many laurels it is shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal; it is a Michael Printz Award Honor Book, a Boston Globe/Horn Book Awards Honor Book, and an SCBWI Golden Kite Honor Book. It is also a New York Times Bestseller in young adult fiction.

 

 

*ARC Review* The Ring & the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz March 31, 2014

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

Rating:4 stars
Pub date:1 April 2014
Publisher:Disney Hyperion
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Romance, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Format:ARC provided by the publisher
Status:Book one of The Ring and the Crown series

Summary:

Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?


Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen.


But even with the aid of Emrys’ magic, Eleanor’s extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen’s Guard.


Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie’s face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she’s always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she’s always dreamed of–the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor’s court: trust no one.

My thoughts:

 While I as eagerly awaiting news of Melissa de la Cruz’s spin off from Blue Bloods, she first announced another new series – The Ring and the Crown. When I first saw the title, I thought it as the new Blue Bloods until I read the rest of the announcement. An alternate history with magic?! Count me in! I as so excited. I finally got up the guts to email a request about an ARC. I was so excited, I didn’t know how I would deal with a rejection. The wait for April would be a long and excruciating one. Thank my lucky stars, Disney Hyperion granted me an ARC. That was a glorious mail day! I tried to put it off until a bit closer to pub date to read it, but I just couldn’t wait anymore.


Once again, Melissa does a great job of drawing you in at once with interesting characters who aren’t all that they seem. She also does a great job of creating an alternate reality of London and New York. New York doesn’t feature much, but you do get a small taste. It’s set in what would be late Victorian/early Edwardian time for us, but being an alternate history, there are different rulers due to different outcomes.


The turning point to alter reality from our own occurred during the 100 years war between England and France. France never succeeded driving out the English – thanks to more powerful magic on the English side. Joan of Arc (Jeanne of Arkk) was still burned at the stake for witchcraft (only it was true this time) and Charles VII was never crowned King of France. As a result echoing through the ages: the British Empire comes to existence but it never crumbles. War of Independence? Nope. A minor uprising that is squashed. The United States of America is part of the America Provinces.


As a huge history nerd, I was very excited to see how Melissa was going to spin this alternate reality and I think she killed it. I often think of different history scenarios and wonder how things would be different if the outcome had been reversed. Pulling in Merlin and Avalon was perfection. I love myths involving Merlin, Avalon, Arthur, Camelot, etc.


I don’t know if it was an intentional homage or not, but I really felt a Prince and the Pauper pull between the two leading ladies – Princess Marie-Victoria and acolyte Aelwyn. Both long for lives that differ from their own. Who can’t relate to that? As a teenager, I often thought of what it would be like to be a princess. Not in an obsessive, I WANT to be a princess, just pondering how life would be different. Now, as an adult, I thank my stars that I am who I am. I like not having my every move watched and scrutinised. I definitely enjoy not having my every move as a mother watched and rumours flying if I’m pregnant again or not. Poor Princess Catherine!


I also loved the addition of the American Ronan. She has very heavy obligations thrust on her young shoulders and she has to decide how she wants her future to go.  That is the main theme of the book – do what is expected and accept responsibility for decisions/actions, discover yourself and be true to that self. These three lovely ladies as well as Isabelle of Orleans (descendant of the fallen French family) struggle to do just that.


Along the road of self discovery, the ladies are joined by the charming Prince Wolf (I call dibs NOW). I fell in love with Wolf in his first scene and he grows immensely from there. And what story wouldn’t be complete without a few villains? I’ll remain mum on their identities because there’s a scene at the end that is a doozie!


Melissa does a great job with character growth and world development once again. (Honestly, I’m NOT surprised.) She does a fantastic job of taking a simplistic style and making it so fabulous that you’re swamped with imagery without being up to your eyeballs in page long descriptions. I’ve seen a few complaints about straying from historical accuracies, but let’s be honest for a minute. It’s an ALTERNATE history therefore the world will be different. I’m a big history purist in historical fiction novels. Since this is an alternate history, Melissa gets some room to work with in it. It doesn’t have to be 100% accurate because it’s her alternate history. I really enjoyed The Ring and the Crown and can’t wait for more. As usual with Melissa’s writing, I was addicted from the beginning. Melissa’s writing is just a drug to me and I can never get enough! I highly recommend The Ring and the Crown to historical fiction and fantasy readers. Even if those aren’t your usual cups of tea, I still suggest you give it a shot! You never know when you’ll stumble across a new series you’ll enjoy! And the best news of all?! It comes out TOMORROW! 

About the author

Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.


Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys and the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas.


She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.


Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).


She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter.

 

Top Ten Tuesday #31: Spring TBR March 18, 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 on My Spring TBR

I didn’t do well at all with my Fall TBR. I did MUCH better with my Winter TBR, but still not the best. December was packed with family things. January was infected with sinus ilk for all four of us. February I did better. The beginning of March has been great. I hope my Spring TBR will go well! I’m still a big mood driven reader and right now I want to read all the WWII books. Good thing I have a few! I also need to get back into my ARC reading. Fantastic thing that I have an ARC that fits both of those bills. (;

Code Name Verity/Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

As You Turn Away by Molli Moran

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (yes, this is STILL on my TBR. I’m DETERMINED this spring it WILL be read!)

The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard

After the End by Amy Plum (I can’t wait anymore. I have to read it NOW)

Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz (My trusty fall back if a reading funk happens. I love Melissa!)

The Falconer by Elizabeth May (I can’t wait much longer. I’ve wanted to read this for so long and I’ve waited long enough!)

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (NO SPOILERS! )

What’s on your TBR for this spring? Any good recommendations based on these?

 

Waiting on Wednesday #21: The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz March 12, 2014

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

 

My pick of the week is:

The Ring and the Crown (The Ring and the Crown #1)

 

by Melissa de la Cruz

 

Coming: 1 April 2014

 

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

 

Summary:

 

Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?


Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen.


But even with the aid of Emrys’ magic, Eleanor’s extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen’s Guard.


Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie’s face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she’s always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she’s always dreamed of–the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor’s court: trust no one.

 

Why I’m excited:

 

I ADORE Melissa de la Cruz. I really do. I have loved her since 2007. I was sad when her Blue Bloods series ended. I was excited when she announced she had TWO new series coming in 2014. TWO. YES! One, was a new spinoff from Blue Bloods. The other, a an alternate history historical fiction. OH MY. YES! I love history. I’m the type of nerd that likes to think “what if?” on various history scenarios. Now, the lovely Melissa has created one for this bookish history loving nerd. And not only is it alternate history, it has MAGIC. YES YES YES! Many wonderful thanks to Disney Hyperion for the ARC approval!

 

 

Why I need you to be excited:

 

Royals and magic. C’mon! It’s gonna be brilliant. Melissa is amazing and she will NOT disappoint with this. I’ve actually already read it, so I know it’s a great read. It’s very exciting and I knocked it out in about 24 hours. Assassination attempts, runaway romance, a Prince and the Pauper switch, it’s incredible. This is a series you can’t miss! What’s even better? You don’t have to wait long to read it! It comes out on April 1st. Go ahead and preorder. You know you want to! (;

 

 

Throwback Thursday #1: Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz October 10, 2013

Throwback Thursday is a meme I’m starting. TBT is when I’ll review a book I read before I started blogging. This week’s selection is:

Rating:  4 stars
Pub date: 27 March 2007
Publisher: Hyperion
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Format: paperback, personal copy
Status: Book one of the Blue Bloods series

Summary:

When the Mayflower set sail in 1620, it carried on board the men and women who would shape America: Miles Standish; John Alden; Constance Hopkins. But some among the Pilgrims were not pure of heart; they were not escaping religious persecution. Indeed, they were not even human. They were vampires.The vampires assimilated quickly into the New World. Rising to levels of enormous power, wealth, and influence, they were the celebrated blue bloods of American society.

The Blue Bloods vowed that their immortal status would remain a closely guarded secret. And they kept that secret for centuries. But now, in New York City, the secret is seeping out. Schuyler Van Alen is a sophomore at a prestigious private school. She prefers baggy, vintage clothes instead of the Prada and pearls worn by her classmates, and she lives with her reclusive grandmother in a dilapidated mansion. Schuyler is a loner…and happy that way. Suddenly, when she turns fifteen, there is a visible mosaic of blue veins on her arm. She starts to crave raw food and she is having flashbacks to ancient times. Then a popular girl from her school is found dead… drained of all her blood. Schuyler doesn’t know what to think, but she wants to find out the secrets the Blue Bloods are keeping. But is she herself in danger?

I came across Blue Bloods just after Masquerade was published in 2007. I would stroll up and down the aisles of the YA section at Barnes and Noble looking for new reads. I saw the cover of Blue Bloods and was immediately drawn in by the obvious vampire aspect. I mean, c’mon. There are bite marks on her neck. MUST be vampire involved! Honestly, I think this is when I came across Twilight, too, but put it back cause it didn’t catch me. I thought what the heck, school’s almost over so I’ll pick it up. I started it the next school day. Wow. Back to B&N to get book 2! I actually “got in trouble” in my AP US History class for reading this one. My teacher told me if I was going to read in class at least make it look like I was paying attention. I said okay and set the book down on my desk and kept reading. (: Now, I wasn’t being bad, I’m great with history. Can’t remember what we were covering, but it was something I already knew well so… I read. (:

Let me introduce you to the big players:

Schuyler Van Alen – I love her. I identified so much with her! I wasn’t part of the “cool kids” in HS. I never wanted to be, and I was okay with that. I loved my friends. I think the way she handles herself when she is thrust into the middle of the Committee is inspiring. She stays true to herself and never wavers.

Oliver Hazard Perry – Oh, Ollie. He’s the best best friend a girl could hope for! His crush on Schuyler is adorable as well.

Bliss Llewellyn – I can kinda relate to Bliss being the new kid in school. I switched school systems in middle school.

Jack Force – Jack is the off limits hot jock in school. He’s a year older than Schuyler and always seems unattainable. Schuyler nurses a secret crush she even tries to hide from Ollie. There’s so much more to Jack than meets the eye and it just pulls you right in.

Mimi Force – Your stereotypical hateful Mean Girl. She’s THE queen bee of the school and lords it over EVERYONE. She especially hates Schuyler because she might as well be a charity case. Mimi is so evil that you hope she has a redeeming aspect.

Everyone’s world is thrown upside down when one of their fellow students is found dead. Schuyler is then among the new inductees of this year’s crop of Committee recruits. It is revealed to her that she is a vampire, a fallen angel from heaven. Or so she thinks. She soon learns that she is a new creation. She’s part human and part angel. This makes things extremely complicated as there has never been another like her. The Committee reveals that the girl who was found dead was killed and they don’t know who did it.

The race is on to uncover a mystery that has been hidden from the Coven for generations. At each turn, things become clearer and more muddled. Schuyler teams up with Jack in trying to uncover the murderer. Certain things come to light that throw their suspicions down the drain. Schuyler’s grandmother is attacked and she offers a piece to the puzzle that might help solve things. She says to find Schuyler’s grandfather.

Blue Bloods is a quick and light read. It’s full of NYC socialite drama with a dark twist. I never thought I would go for a book like this, but Melissa does such a fantastic job with the story line that some of the Mean Girls type drama actually makes it better overall.

The drama and intrigue continues in book two, Masquerade.

Recommended for: Those who have an interest in fallen angels, vampires, NYC, and lots of drama (but GOOD drama!)

Not recommended for: Those who don’t care for drama or a new spin on vampires.

 

 
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