The Whimsical Mama

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

Waiting on Wednesday #71: Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken December 14, 2016

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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:

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Wayfarer (Passenger #2)

By: Alexandra Bracken

Coming: 3 January 2017

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Summary:

All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them.

Why I’m excited:

I absolutely loved Alexandra Bracken’s writing style in A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farmboy. I immediately developed the desire to read everything Alexandra Bracken has written. I haven’t gotten to Passenger yet, but I’m definitely excited to read it and Wayfarer.

Why I need you to be excited:

It’s a time travel adventure!

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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!

 

 

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!

 

Top Ten Tuesday #67: Spring 2015 TBR March 17, 2015

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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 2015 Spring TBR

 Previous TBR posts (Winter 2013 6/10 Fall2013 3/10 Spring TBR 2014 6/11 Summer 2014 3/10  Fall 2014 2/10) After not doing well at all with my Fall 2014 TBR, I did much better with my Winter 2014. I read 6/10. True enough, I did have an extra month! Now for the books I plan to read this spring!

affiliate links used

1. Gilt by Katherine Longshore

2. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

3. Artemis Fowl The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer

4. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

5. The Archived by Victoria Schwab

6. Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel

7. Forged by Erin Bowman

8. Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

9. The Body Electric by Beth Revis

10. Chronicles of Faerie: The Hunter’s Moon by O.R. Melling

What are you planning to read this Spring? Anything I should take note of for this summer?

HAPPY SAINT PATRICK’S DAY!! (:

 

Please Be Kind, Rewind: 20-26 July 2014 July 26, 2014

Well… my streak of posting every day this month went bust this week. Ah well. I’ll try again in August! I fell behind in posting and have struggled to get caught back up. The office is almost completely cleaned up and organised. I’ll post some pictures once I’m completely done in there. The den is organised now too. Kids have bins for their toys and they’re easily accessible instead of all dumped in a giant tote. As a result of lots of working in the office, I finished Clockwork Prince and listened to all of Clockwork Princess this week. Now I have to figure out what to listen to next! Punk’s very belated birthday party is today and we’re super excited. It’s a pirate party! (Jake and the Neverland Pirates)


Completed:

Oceanborn by Amalie Howard

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (paperback & audiobook) 

Rites of Passage by Joy Hensley (ARC)

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (paperback & audiobook)

 

Currently Reading:

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

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

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

 

 

Read to the Kiddos:
Read to Tiger by S.J. Fore

Peanuts by Charles Schultz (Punk picked this out at the B&N Pop Cultured event!)


New to my shelf:

Atlantia by Ally Condie (sampler, B&N, extra copies to giveaway)

The Young Elites by Marie Lu (sampler, B&N, extra copies to giveaway)

The Way of Kings & Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (for hubby, sampler, B&N, extra copy to giveaway)

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (sampler, B&N, extra copy to giveaway)

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige (sampler, B&N)

Peanuts by Charles Schultz (Punk picked this out! sampler, B&N)

The Punkydoos Take the Stage by Jennifer Jackson (The kiddos don’t know they’ve won this yet! They’re getting it at Punk’s party today! Thanks Book Rock Betty and Disney-Hyperion!)

 

From the library:

as usual, more audiobooks! (:

 

Top Ten Tuesday #42: Books I’ve Read So Far in 2014 June 10, 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-ish Books I’ve Read So Far in 2014 

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson 

The Falconer by Elizabeth May 

17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen 

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare 

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch 

Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein 

Evertrue by Brodi Ashton 

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

 

Waiting on Wednesday #33: Dark Metropolis June 4, 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:

Dark Metropolis (Dark Metropolis #1)

 

By: Jaclyn Dolamore

 

Coming: 17 June 2014

 

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

 

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.

 

Why I’m excited:

I must confess, I have already read this delicious gem. (: It was simply fantastic and a quick read. I was pulled in by the cover and emailed a request. I received a physical copy and I’m also on the blog tour. (Keep an eye out for my review next week!) This book was so awesome. I can’t wait for book two. I feel like this has been flying under the radar, and I hope it catches the interest of people quickly!

Why I need you to be excited:

It’s coming out at the perfect time. It’s a diverse character read (which is just awesome! We need MORE diverse books!) Also, if you’ve finished City of Heavenly Fire, this is a great book hangover cure. It’s not the same world by any means. It is super exciting parallel world though! You won’t want to miss this one. Did I mention it’s alternate history? You. Want. This. (: Pre-order it NOW. DO IT.

 

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* 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.

 

 
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