The Whimsical Mama

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

Review: American Wife by Taya Kyle July 4, 2016

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***mild spoilers may follow***

Rating:  4 stars
Pub date: 4 May 2015
Publisher: William Morrow, HarperColins
Genre: Adult, Non-Fiction, Autobiography, Memoir
Format: ebook, purchased
Status: Standalone/Companion to American Sniper

Summary:

The widow of American Sniper Chris Kyle shares their private story: an unforgettable testament to the power of love and faith in the face of war and unimaginable loss—and a moving tribute to a man whose true heroism ran even deeper than the legend.

In early 2013, Taya Kyle and her husband, Chris, were the happiest they ever had been. Their decade-long marriage had survived years of war that took Chris, a U.S. Navy SEAL, away from Taya and their two children for agonizingly long stretches while he put his life on the line in many major battles of the Iraq War. After struggling to readjust to life out of the military, Chris had found new purpose in redirecting his lifelong dedication to service toward supporting veterans and their families. Their love had deepened, and their family was whole, finally.

Then, the unthinkable. On February 2, 2013, Chris and his friend Chad Littlefield were killed while attempting to help a troubled vet. The life Chris and Taya fought so hard to build was shattered. In an instant, Taya became a single parent of two. A widow. A young woman facing the rest of her life without the man she loved.

Chris and Taya’s remarkable story has captivated millions through Clint Eastwood’s blockbuster Academy Award-winning film American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper as Chris and Sienna Miller as Taya, and because of Chris’s bestselling memoir, in which Taya contributed passages that formed the book’s emotional core. Now, with trusted collaborator Jim DeFelice, Taya writes in never-before-told detail about the hours, days, and months after Chris’s shocking death when grief threatened to overwhelm her.

And yet throughout, friendship, family, and a deepening faith were lifelines that sustained her and the kids when the sorrow became too much. Two years after her husband’s tragic death, Taya has found renewed meaning and connection to Chris by advancing their shared mission of “serving those who serve others,” particularly military and first-responder families. She and the children are now embracing a new future, one that honors the past but also looks forward with hope, gratitude, and joy.

American Wife is one of the most remarkable memoirs of the year—a universal chronicle of love and heartbreak, service and sacrifice, faith and purpose that will inspire every reader.

My thoughts:

This Memorial Day Weekend, I was watching The Pacific on Amazon with my husband. We usually watch Band of Brothers, but I still hadn’t seen The Pacific, so we decided to switch things up this year. While watching, I decided I was in the mood for a Memorial Day type read after I finished The Star-Touched Queen. My first thought was to read American Sniper, which I received from my On The Same Page Secret Sister, Juli, last summer. Then I thought about Taya. I remembered I had snagged American Wife when it was a Kindle Daily Deal. It was decided. Though the events of American Sniper happen first, I opted to read American Wife first. I had seen American Sniper, so I figured I would be safe. I know, I know, the movie is always different than the book, but I still went with Taya’s book.

Through the tragic loss of her husband, Taya Kyle has become a household name. Chris Kyle had already risen to a sort of fame prior to his murder in 2013. Reading American Wife was one of the best and hardest choices I have ever made. As I’ve said numerous times, and as shown with my web address, I am an Army wife. Taya tells the entire story of her relationship with Chris. From beginning, until the end of the book. She says there is no end of their relationship, and I admire that. In the tale of how they met through marriage and deployments, I could relate on a ridiculous level. Though I’m not a Special Forces/SEAL wife, there are many similarities in the feelings Taya and I share concerning deployments. The underlying fear that at any moment there could be a knock on the door saying my husband was dead. The paralysing fear when you mistakenly watch the news and see coverage of an attack and days go by without a phone call or email.  I have LIVED that and I felt an immediate bond with Taya Kyle.

I guess this is going to sort of be a review and a spilling of how I related haha. Taya’s writing style is raw in a way. It’s obvious she isn’t in it to become a best selling novelist of numerous  publications. She writes in a way that she has to tell her story of Chris  and honour their love and his memory. It’s brutally honest. I laughed. I cried. It was as if I walked through each event with her. And in a way, I have lived through some of the events. I have lived through a deployment. I have lived through giving birth twice. I live the stay at home mom life. I live with wondering when the next deployment will come. If my husband will be safe.

I have to say, even though this was one of the hardest books I’ve ever read, I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to stay up until I finished it. I made myself go to sleep. I stole every opportunity I had to finish it the next morning.

You might think, since this was written to honour her husband, Taya Kyle would embellish and fluff up their relationship. She didn’t. She wrote about their hard times just as much, if not more, than the good times. Their marriage wasn’t perfect by any means. She even states at one point that the divorce rate for SEAL marriages are 90%+. Military marriages fail at like an 80%ish rate. Military marriages are HARD. Your family is not always the number one priority.  Most of the time, a military career takes that spot. It’s a difficult pill to swallow. Personally, the military was in hubby’s life before me.  It’s part of who he is and I love him for it. Even now with kids, I cannot imagine demanding he leave the National Guard. I am so proud of him and his service. I do understand where Taya was coming from when she gave the non-ultimatum ultimatum for him to get out of the SEALs. I sorta gave one when hubs had a travel job and was gone ALL THE TIME. With a new baby, it was difficult. I felt he was missing everything.

American Wife really made me think while I was reading. What would I do in the situation I lost my husband? I honestly can’t answer. It’s something that’s a very real possibility being a military wife, but it’s also something you can’t really imagine and prepare for at the same time. Of course we have arrangements planned, life insurance policies in place, and the standard deployment things like that, but it’s different having a plan and then actually going through it.

While I don’t agree with everything she talks about in her book, I really enjoyed reading it. It really was the hardest emotional book I have ever read. I do highly recommend it, especially to those in the military community.

About the Author

Taya Kyle is the widow of Chris Kyle, famous Navy SEAL sniper who wrote American Sniper and who was murdered in 2013.

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Top Ten Tuesday #93: Freebie (Summer TBR) June 28, 2016

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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 Summer TBR

Here’s what I’ve selected on previous TBR lists: Winter 2013 6/10 Fall 2013 3/10 Spring TBR 2014 6/11  Summer 2014 3/10 Fall 2014 2/10 Winter 2014 6/10 Spring 2015 5/10 Summer 2015 6/10 Fall 2015 6/10

This week is actually a freebie, but I decided I would share my Summer TBR since I haven’t shared one since back in the fall. Here’s hoping for a 10/10!

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  1. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

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2. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

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3. The Last Star by Rick Yancey

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4. Lois Lane Fallout by Gwenda Bond

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5. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

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6. And I Darken by Kiersten White

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7. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

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8. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne, & John Tiffany

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9. DC SuperHero Girls: Finals Crisis by Shea Fontana

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10. Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

What are you planning on reading this summer?

 

Waiting on Wednesday #46: And I Darken by Kiersten White June 22, 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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And I Darken (The Conqueror’s Saga

By: Kiersten White

Coming: 28 June 2016

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Summary:


NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL.

And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

Why I’m excited:

Ha. Really? It’s historical. Gender bending Dracula? Yes, please! Also, it’s fantasy. GIVE IT TO ME NOW! I got so ridiculously excited when this book was announced. I don’t care if the vampire legend is pulled in or not. That will be an added bonus, but just the strict history of this is fascinating enough. I think it will be so incredible to take such a terrifying figure and transform him into an unsuspecting female role. Females can’t be vicious, right? Ha. WRONG. I would much rather get into a fight with a guy than a girl!

Why I need you to be excited:

Dracula. Enough said. I mean, really? Who doesn’t like the tale of Dracula? No? Well, skip this one then. You’ll regret it though. This. Is. Gonna. Be. AWESOME!

 

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!

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday #25: Top Ten Characters I’d NEVER Want To Trade Places With January 28, 2014

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 Characters I’d NEVER Want To Trade Places With

Katniss Everdean in Panem, The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Really? Who would actually want to live in this world? And if I did, I’m totally with Katniss on the no having kids thing. I wouldn’t be able to watch my kids go through it. Nope, nope, nope.

 

Aria, Under the Never Sky trilogy by Veronica Rossi. Aether storms? No thanks. A life trapped in Pods? Nah, I’ll pass. I like natural sunlight and being outside too much for that.

 

 

 

Tella, Montana and Brimestone Bleed arenas, Fire & Flood series by Victoria Scott. While having a Pandora would be pretty awesome, I do not envy Tella’s situation in which she gets a Pandora. I would like to see the Amazon one day, I would not like being dropped in the middle of a rain forest/jungle situation. I really want to see the pyramids of Giza, I’m not fond of the idea of being dropped in the middle of a desert and told to get to point B.

 

Voldemort, Europe, Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. Seriously. Who would want to trade places with Voldemort? Incapable of understanding what love is or being able to fall in love. Not me. Besides, the idea of picking on a kid isn’t my cup of tea either. And the Death Eaters? C’mon, I’ll take true friends over those nutcases any day of the week.

 

 

 

Lilac LaRoux, the Icarus and unknown planet, These Broken Stars by Aime Kaufman and Megan Spooner. While it would be nice to be alone with the delightful Tarver, surviving a space crash and being stranded on an unknown planet to do it doesn’t make it on my must do list. Especially with that certain event near the end happens. I’ll pass, thanks.

 

 

Any character in the world of World War Z by Max Brooks. Zombie outbreak? Nah, I’m good. Even if those interviewed are the survivors, I’ll still pass. Though I highly recommend the full cast audiobook if you haven’t checked it out. (:

 

 

Rhine, USA, The Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren Destefano. Seeing as if I traded places with Rhine, I’d be dead already, I’m really not enthusiastic about that thought. Also not crazy about the whole getting kidnapped and forced to marry a complete stranger thing either.

 

Nerissa, USA, Waterfell by Amalie Howard. Not only can she not return home because her throne has been stolen, but her father was murdered. While Lo is tasty and I’d love to get to know him better, I would not like to find myself in Nerissa’s shoes! It will be nice to see how things continue on for Lo and Nerissa in Oceanborn though!

 

 

June Iparis, dystopian Los Angeles, Legend trilogy by Marie Lu. It would be awesome to be a kickass heroine, but the world that the United States has become is not a pleasant one and I would not want to live in it. Antarctica, however, would be a pretty badass place to visit, but overall, no thanks. I’m good here.

 

Sookie Stackhouse, Bon Temps, Louisiana, Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris. Yeah, no. I would NOT like to be able to read people’s minds for anything. Yeah, sometimes I do wish I could see what people were really thinking when I know they’re holding something back, but I really do believe that would be a curse and I’m not up for it. Plus the vampires, werewolves, and everything else she encounters is just too much. I love reading about those things, but I’ll keep them in my novels, thanks.

 

*Review* Champion by Marie Lu December 15, 2013

Rating:  5 stars
Pub date: 5 November 2013
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Format: hardcover, library copy
Status: Book 3 of the Legend series

Summary:

He is a Legend.
She is a Prodigy.
Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps Elect while Day has been assigned a high level military position. But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them once again. Just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything he has. With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion.

My thoughts:

Champion picks back up several months after the end of Prodigy. Day and June haven’t seen each other and Day is keeping a HUGE secret. They occasionally talk, but it’s not very frequent. Day is enjoying his time with Eden, who is recovering from the experiments that have been done on him. Day is undergoing treatment and suffering from violent headaches. June is training as Princeps-Elect under Anden with two others.

Things hit the fan (as should be expected) and things keep building and building. I thought it was well done. The action building was enough to keep you reading, but wasn’t so over the top that it was unrealistic for the Republic. One thing is for certain. It’s certainly full of all sorts of feels.

Day’s condition is slaying. The last few years of my great-grandfather’s life, I watched as the tall, strong, invincible man wither away to nothing. All I could do was watch. I really feel for June having to do the same as Day weakens. Watching someone wither is not a fun thing at all.

June continued to amaze me. She’s wicked smart and logical, but is also emotional and able to connect with people. She remains strong every step of the way even though she has ample opportunity to crumple under stress, grief, guilt, etc. She keeps it together and realises her true purpose along the way. She’s definitely a great role model for guys and girls alike. The ultimate choice she makes is one of the bravest things I have ever seen. I don’t even want to contemplate what I would do in the same situation.

Anden really grows as a character and it makes me happy. He has such responsibility thrown on him and he handles it with grace. The Senate thinks he’s incapable due to his youth, and he strives to prove them wrong. His country is under threat and he weighs every option carefully.

Ollie. Oh, Ollie. I love that dog. Ollie is the perfect companion. (:

As sad as I am that this wonderful trilogy is over, I am happy with the ending. Things were summed up nicely and even though somethings are left up to the reader to read between the lines, I am content. The epilogue was great. I think great things are in store for those who survive (no spoilers, I promise!). The fallout from June’s big choice is nicely done. One thing I wish there had been more of was Antarctica. That was definitely a nice and interesting glimpse into somewhere other than the Republic and Colonies.

On another note, Punk loved the few chapters I read to him. Naptime starts curled up in mama and daddy’s bed, curled up with mama, and asking mama to read to him. (: He’s been bringing me a book I’ve been reading or my kindle as his selection. You would think a 2 year old would bring bright and flashy kids’ books, but nope – he’s bringing mama HER books. Making a point to read in front of the kiddos is really making an impact. (:

 

 
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