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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Non-Fiction Beach Reading Recommendations June 27, 2016

Continuing on from my original post, which was inspired by Jamie’s post about beach reading recommendations, it got me to thinking about some other genres I would like to recommend. This week, I’m talking non-fiction. Though I love my YA, I do like to dabble in adult fiction and non-fiction. I have an adult fiction post planned as well.

Despite being non-fiction, these were all quick and engaging reads.

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  1. American Wife: Love, War, Faith, and Renewal by Taya Kyle. I blew through this book over Memorial Day weekend and my review will be coming up soon for full praises. Simply, Taya Kyle is the widow of Chris Kyle, known for writing American Sniper and his murder. Taya Kyle’s writing is fresh, painful, and like speaking with a friend. As a military wife, there was so much I could relate to, but also it was a fascinating read even if not connected to the military.

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2. The Wars of the Roses by Dan Jones. I actually was approved for this back when it was an ARC. I ended up finally getting around to reading it this past spring semester for a paper. Dan Jones writes in a spectacularly engaging way. If you have a chance to watch Great British Castles, (It’s on Netflix!) he’s the host. The way he presents the history of the castles is EXACTLY like his writing style. This was a very fascinating period in English history and I blew through this in one day!

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3. The Plantagenets by Dan Jones. I can’t remember if I was approved for this as an ARC, or I just discovered it after I was approved for The Wars of the Roses. Either way, I scored a finished copy in the clearance section at BooksAMillion. I also ended up reading it for class this semester too. It was a super fast read. I ended up reading about royals I didn’t need to cause it just flowed so well through the history of England that it keeps you engaged. There were some fascinating rulers of England!

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4. The Rival Queens by Nancy Goldstone. This seems to be a recurring theme with these! I read this for another class this last semester for a paper on Marguerite de Valois. She and her mother, Catherine de Medici were two incredible Renaissance women! There was only a section of this book relevant to my paper, but I ended up reading the whole book. The relationship between mother and daughter was extremely tumultuous and shaped the future of France.

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5. Memoirs of Marguerite de Valois by Marguerite de Valois Queen of Navarre. These memoirs of Marguerite de Valois could be very stretched truth, but she gives a very detailed account of the shenanigans of French court. If you watch Reign, Princess Claude is loosely based on Marguerite and yeah… she was known for getting around! I read this for a paper, and it was an eye opening experience haha.

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6. Marley and Me by John Grogan. Excluding the ending, which I don’t recommend reading in public without a box of tissues, this hysterical read is great for the beach. My Secret Sister, Juli sent it to me last summer when our dog first got sick with degenerative myelopathy and we were afraid we’d have to put her down. This was perfectly timed and  helped me come to peace with the thought of losing our furbaby.

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7. Perepolis by Marjane Satrapi. This non-fiction graphic novel set during the religious revolution in Iran is a page turner. The writing is witty and presents such a dangerous time in an easy to follow way.

 

Do you read non-fiction? What are some of your favourites?

 

Please Be Kind, Rewind: 17 – 30 May 2015 May 30, 2015

Filed under: Books — Maura @ 11:45 pm
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More good reading weeks! We also got to spend some time with hubby’s family Memorial Day weekend. One of his cousins got married and we traveled to Knoxville to celebrate. It was an absolute blast and we wish them many years of happiness! ❤ I’m buckling down and getting caught up on blog work. I would like to get far enough ahead that I only have to sit down maybe once a week or so to work on the blog. I’m going to take it slow again this summer, but I’m also sticking to my schedule. Hoping if I can get enough work done in the next two weeks, I’ll be ready! Hubby’s military schedule is all shades of crazy this summer, so it’ll mostly be me and the kiddos on our own. Sucks, but it is what it is.

 affiliate links used below

Completed:

The Goddess Inheritance by Aimee Carter

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

The Goddess Legacy by Aimee Carter

The Heir by Kiera Cass

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab

Nothing but Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Currently Reading:

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick

New to My Shelf:
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
Twerp by Mark Goldblatt
Finding the Worm by Mark Goldblatt(Both Goldblatt books were sent by Cassie McGinty for a review! I haven’t decided if the reviews will go up here or on Voyages of the Backyard Explorers yet! Maybe BOTH! haha)

From Mary: (She’s the bestest best friend ever)

A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefanoARC (My TBR may just fly out the window for this one! <3)
Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth WeinARC
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski(She surprised me with a finished copy! Also got my ARC signed <3)
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell(Take THAT USPS! I STILL HAVE IT!)

Trades: (Thanks, SO MUCH!)

Brazen by Katherine Longshore
Mortal Heart by Robin LaFeversARC
Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne BlankmanARC
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine KuderickARC
The Fall by Bethany GriffinARC
Doll Bones by Holly BlackARC
The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
All Fall Down by Ally CarterARC
The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan
A Cold Legacy by Megan ShepherdARC (My collection is complete now!)
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
These Broken Stars by Aime Kaufman & Megan SpoonerARC
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Clariel by Garth NixARC

 

Please Be Kind, Rewind: 12-18 October 2014 October 18, 2014

I am on a roll on reading this week! MAYBE at this rate I can read all the books I’m wanting to read before YALLFest. MAYBE. If the kids keep cooperating. All the reading means not a lot of working on the blog. Everything I read this week was a physical/ebook except for Crown of Midnight. It’s my audiobook read. I am definitely going to reread this series ASAP cause I know I’m not getting the full experience on audio! I’m working hard to get back on track, but I probably won’t be completely back to 100% until after YALLFest. I have about 20 books I need/want to read, Hubby has drill, Bug has a doctor’s appointment, Hallowe’en festivities, AND my birthday are all between now and then. SO. Needless to say. It’s a hopping time! I wouldn’t have it any other way though. I love this time of year!

***I am now an Amazon affiliate. I would appreciate it if you’d consider buying the books through my links if they’re available. (: Helping me helps YOU! October Featured Books or you can click on the book covers.  THANK YOU!!***

 

Completed:

Misguided Angel by Melissa de la Cruz


The Prophecy by Erin Albert Rhew


The Outlanders by Erin Albert Rhew (Go ahead and pre-order! Only $2.99!)


Bloody Valentine by Melissa de la Cruz


Lost in Time by Melissa de la Cruz


Gates of Paradise by Melissa de la Cruz

Vampires of Manhattan by Melissa de la Cruz

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Currently Reading:


Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas

 

 


Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor

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Read to the Kiddos:


Pete the Cat: Pete’s Big Lunch by James Dean

New to my shelf:


The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf (Punk’s Imagination Library book, got it last week and forgot to add it!)



From the library:


Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas


Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

We Were Liars by E Lockhart

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L Armentrout

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

as usual, more audiobooks! (:

 

Please Be Kind, Rewind: 13 – 19 April 2014 April 19, 2014

Wow. Another great week! (: I knocked out three books, two of which were ARCs! (: Two of them were great, and the other wasn’t the best. Now I’m at a loss on what I want to read next, haha. I have reviews lined up all the way through the middle of June now. I’m super happy with that. Now, maybe, if I have a hit the wall moment like I did in January, it won’t completely kill my momentum. I’m really enjoying not worrying about any kind of schedule as far as reading. I also went through my eARCs this week and culled the ones I’m not interested in anymore or attempted and they weren’t as great as I was hoping. That helped A LOT. I don’t feel as stressed per se. I wasn’t stressed, but I was just worried about disappointing people for not reading ALL THE BOOKS. Now, I’m not and I’m much happier and knocking through books quicker. I have more giveaways coming up soon, so if you didn’t win the signed copy of Incarnate, never fear! (:

Completed:
The Falconer by Elizabeth May (ARC) 5 stars.

Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols (ARC) 5 stars

Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier (audiobook)3 stars.




Currently Reading:

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

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

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier (audiobook)

 

 


Read to the Kiddos:

Breathe by Scott Magoon

Pinkalicious The Pinkerrific Playdate  by Victoria Kann

Spot Loves His Grandma by Eric Hill

Spot Loves His Mommy by Eric Hill

Cleo on the Move by Stella Blackstone

All the Ways I Love You by Dorothea DePrisco

Emergency! by Margaret Mayo

Thomas’ 123 Book by Wilbert Awdry


New to my shelf:

Breathe by Scott Magoon (Many thanks to Scott and SimonKids!)

Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore (Thanks Hyperion Teens!)


From the library:
Army Wives: The Unwritten Code of Military Marriage by Tanya Biank

Undaunted by Tanya Biank

 

*Review* Wither by Lauren DeStefano November 10, 2013

Rating:  5 stars
Pub date: 22 March 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Format: hardcover via library
Status: Book one of The Chemical Garden series

Summary:

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape–before her time runs out?

Together with one of Linden’s servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?

My thoughts:

Wither was recommended to me by the lovely Mary, Mary Had a Little Book Blog. While waiting for Perfect Ruin to come in at the library, I decided to read Wither. I started it on audiotape while I ran errands. I was also mulling over which book I was going to read next. I just finished Waterfell and was suffering from a bit of a book hangover.

The tone of Wither just gripped me. It was fantastic. Lauren did an incredible job. It’s hard to fathom a world where the people die so young. Females die at the age of 20 and males die at the age of 25. I would be dead already on that time line. My husband too. It’s something that humbles you in a way. Especially as I’m writing this. (originally written in my journal On our way to my hubby’s cousin’s funeral. Just 26 years old. In today’s world, someone that age shouldn’t die. It’s tragic when it happens. Not expected and unavoidable like in Rhine’s world.

There is a glimmer of hope in Rhine’s world, though. There’s the rumour of an antidote being researched all through the country. Some are optimistic, others try to stop it. They believe the human race is doomed and should just die out the way it’s going.

Our narrator, Rhine, is 16 years old. Four short years away from certain death. She’s just been taken away from home. She’s with a group of girls being inspected by a wealthy man. She suspects they are being inspected to be selected to become brides. Three of the girls are selected. Those not selected —-

Rhine is escorted into the back of a car with the other three girls. She wakes up in the lap of luxury, but is dismayed that she is nowhere near her childhood home of Manhattan. She’s in Florida. She’s immediately consumed with the desire to plot an escape. She makes friends with an attendant, Gabriel. After he tends to her, she decides to see if the door to her room is locked. She’s surprised to see that it is not. Rhine decides to explore to see if she can find a way to escape. She comes across Rose’s room. Later she’s asked to come back. She knows Rose is dying and assumes she is the House Governor’s wife. Despite knowing Rose is facing a quickly approaching death, they become friends.

Rhine meets the other two girls she was take with on their wedding day. They are married by age. Jenna is the last bride at 18 and Cecily is the first bride at 13. They are married to House Governor Linden Ashby.

Jenna is withdrawn. She’s resigned herself to her fate and would rather die in luxury than in squalor. She’s beautiful, but is destroyed over the deaths of her sisters. She and Rhine eventually become friends.

Cecily is completely ecstatic about her new life. She grew up in an orphanage. She proves to be a very ignorant child. She believes that this is the best thing that could ever have happened to her.

Rose eventually succumbs to the virus and it impacts Rhine more than she thought it would. It absolutely crushes the girls’ husband, Linden. Once Rose is gone, he begins to dote on his new wives. Cecily is soon pregnant.

The longer Rhine is trapped in the mansion, the stronger her desire is to escape. She tries to escape during a hurricane and is nearly killed. Gabriel is reassigned to a different part of the mansion and she fears he is dead. With Jenna’s help, she and Gabriel make a plan to escape.

Jenna suddenly falls ill before her 20th birthday and dies from the virus. Rhine is more determined than ever to escape. She and Gabriel finally manage to make their escape.

I really loved Wither. The narrator on the audiotape did a fantastic job. Lauren hit a homerun with her debut book! Even though it was fascinating to visit Rhine’s world, it definitely is not a world I would choose to live in!

 

 
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