The Whimsical Mama

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

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***mild spoilers may follow***

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

Summary:

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

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

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

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

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

My thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

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

 

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*ARC Review & Blog Tour* The Fulfillment by Erin Rhew October 22, 2015

NEW_eBOOK_FULFILLMENT

***I was granted permission to read this galley before publication by the author in exchange for an honest review and to participate in the author’s blog tour***

***mild spoilers may follow***


Rating:  4 stars
Pub date: 15 October 2015
Publisher: BookFish Books
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Format: ebook, eARC, provided by the author
Status: Book three of The Fulfillment Series

Summary:

Layla’s world tumbles out of control when she discovers the truth of her parentage and realizes the Prophecy—the one she upended her entire life to defend—is incomplete. When her new friends share the entire Prophecy, the revelations contained within it alter her destiny and challenge everything she and Wil believe in. Now, she must confront the Outlander queen to save the Ethereal kingdom while grappling with this new reality.

Tortured and imprisoned, Nash accepts his fate and offers the First Ones the one thing he has left to give: his life. In a desperate attempt to save the people he loves most, he surrenders himself to the Outlander queen and a destiny darker than he could have ever dreamed possible.

Wil, tormented by the consequences of his choices, realizes he may never be able to uphold his end of the Prophecy. His mistake casts a deep, foreboding shadow over his kingdom and those he loves, while its ripples threaten to shatter both the Prophecy and everything he and his family have sworn to protect.

In this epic conclusion, lives are lost, kingdoms clash, friendships are tested, and love and fate collide.

My thoughts:

Another year, another blog tour with Erin! (: It’s so hard to believe that The Fulfillment trilogy has come to an end. It has been one incredible ride and I am sorry to see these characters go! I may ramble for a bit because I just finished and I am at a loss for words. It happens almost every time I finish a series, you think I would be used to it by now! Haha.

My biggest regret with The Fulfillment was not rereading The Prophecy or The Outlanders again before jumping in. I just ran out of time. Life got crazy and cut into reading time! That being said, I KNOW it impacted my reading. There were things I couldn’t for the life of me remember. This was a (basically) one sitting read. I had to run and pick up Punk from pre-k, but I didn’t stop reading at all today. I had started, but got distracted, so I re-read today JUST IN CASE.

We pick back up right where we left off in The Outlanders. (I have to say the absolute best thing about this one was THERE COULD NOT BE A CLIFFHANGER!!! MWAHAHAHA!! Sorry… Erin drove me crazy with the first two and I have taken immense delight in the fact it couldn’t happen again). I am keeping my review major spoiler free, but a few minor ones might slip. I was so happy to be back in Erin’s world again. I’m not sure if it was everything not being 100% fresh or multiple “Mommy! I loves you!” from Bug this morning, but it took me a while to get going. Once I got settled in and things started to pop up in my memory, things just kept rolling and rolling.

I will give Erin major kudos. I had an idea of how things were going to play out (and I was right on most of it), but the way she had twists pop up are done well enough that it makes you question if your suspicions could possibly be right. There were a few, I’m gonna chuck my kindle across the room if this happens moments too. Not gonna lie.

This is so hard without going spoilery! This trilogy really has it all. Magic, romance, fighting. It’s everything you want in a fantasy series. Erin does a fantastic job answering every question that she has presented.

Where the POV were a bit chaotic for me in The Outlanders (my review), I felt in The Fulfillment, Erin was 110% on her game just like in The Prophecy (my review). This time around, each POV change, I felt connected and THERE. It’s been incredible to be able to see these characters grow.

Of the villains, I think The Fulfillment has the absolute best one. I am failing of thinking of the best way to describe how great this one is! (I’m afraid the name will be too spoilery). The next to last battle was my favourite. Even though there is another battle, I feel like that was the pinnacle. (I’m probably being dense and that IS the pinnacle haha).

It was really hard to see what happens to some of the characters. Other characters, it was all I could do to keep from bouncing up and down in the parent pickup car line. One death didn’t hit me as hard as I thought it would. In a way, it almost felt too convenient and that’s what kept it from getting a 5 star rating. I’m super sad to see these characters go. I’m so honoured that Erin allowed me the chance to be on all three tours. I do feel like a dolt because my review is late. (It’s been a week, folks. It’s been one heck of a week.)

It would be a lie to say everyone got their happily ever after, and I am perfectly okay with that. I like a little real life expectations in my reading. While everything IS tied up neatly with a bow at the end, a hint of the sadness from what the war cost can be felt and I think that’s well done and as it should be. The journey was a great one though! I don’t feel like Erin left anything unanswered. The Prophecy has been fulfilled. *ba dum shh* I totally wouldn’t say no to say, a novella or a few chapters of insight 10 years or so down the road. Just to check in. (;

I would definitely recommend The Fulfillment trilogy to fantasy and young adult fantasy readers. Just make sure you don’t have anything to do. Maybe pick a long weekend or holiday. It’s been an agonising wait between books! You’ll want to read them straight through if you’re anything like me! I’m also super stoked about Erin’s current WIP and I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to be on that tour too!

About the Author

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Erin Rhew is an editor, a running coach, and the author of The Fulfillment Series. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the “Grammar Police.”
A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin now lives in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest with the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) writer Deek Rhew and their “overly fluffy,” patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. She and Deek enjoy reading aloud to one another, running, lifting, boxing, eating chocolate, and writing side-by-side.

Find her online:
Twitter: @ErinRhewBooks
Facebook
Website

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*ARC Review* Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch May 11, 2015

***mild spoilers may follow***

***affiliate links are used***

Rating:  5 stars
Pub date: 14 October 2014
Publisher: Balzer+Bray, HarperCollins
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Format: e-ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Status: Book 1 of the Snow Like Ashes trilogy

Summary:

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

My thoughts:
I was SO excited for Snow Like Ashes. Before it was posted on Edelweiss, I told hubby I HAD TO HAVE it in my life. When HarperCollins posted the Fall 2014 books, I downloaded it and threw my TBR out the window.

I am normally not thrilled with the “for the fans of,” “if you loved ____, you’ll love ____” type lead ins. They’re actually usually a big turn off. This time, seeing Snow Like Ashes and A Game of Thrones together made me give it a look. I am so glad I did. I’m also glad I ignored the hype that was building way before ARCs came out. Hype is another thing that usually makes me run from a book!

I immediately fell in love with the world Sara created. An epic fantasy with a bit of a medieval feel to it. Sara starts strong and builds an incredible, tangible world.

The main group and leading lady, Meira, are from the fallen kingdom of Winter. Sara gives enough historical background to the fall of Winter in bits and pieces through the story, so there’s no fear of overwhelming info dump.

The big plot twist, I easily predicted, but the way it was presented is done in a way that it doesn’t come off as lame. It’s also done that if you aren’t paying SUPER close attention, it could easily sneak up on you!

The eight kingdoms are a fascinating approach. I love the use of seasons for four of the kingdoms. I also really loved the use of conduits and magic!

It could be easy to think there is a love triangle that develops, but I believe it is two very different types of love towards the two guys. I’m Team Theron anyway. 🙂

There is so much that happens in this fantasy debut. It’s incredibly action packed. You would think with SO much happening, it could become bogged down. Sara manages to go into Martin and Tolkien detail without the massively flowery language. A Game of Thrones is brilliantly done and I can’t wait to read Ice Like Fire. Keep an eye out for my review closer to October! 🙂

About the Author

Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, the first in a trilogy, came out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures., the first in a trilogy, came out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures.

 

Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord April 19, 2015

***mild spoilers may follow***

***affiliate links are used***

Rating:  5 stars
Pub date: 15 April 2014
Publisher: Walker Children’s, Bloomsbury
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Format: hardcover
Status: standalone

Summary:

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

My thoughts:
I am not a contemporary fan by any means, but Mary keeps throwing suggestions my way. She very rarely steers me wrong, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to read it!

I was instantly interested because Open Road Summer opens in Nashville. I went to college in Murfreesboro (where I met Mary!) and spent quite a bit of time in Nashvegas. I love Middle Tennessee! So being back in my old stomping grounds without leaving home was great! The way Emery paints the picture, you feel like you’re right there beside Reagan.

One of the best things about Open Road Summer is the road trip. Yes, Lilah is on tour and a country superstar, but just the road trip aspect was perfect. My best friends and I planned so many road trips in high school. The only ones that actually happened were band or family oriented, but those are still some of the best memories EVER.

The raw goodness and reality are perfect. In a way, it was out of this world, fantasy type reading for me because I still escaped in reading Emery’s work.

The characters were built exceptionally well. Starting with leading lady, Reagan, you have a front row seat into how much a summer can really change your life! Emery takes you through the good, bad, and nitty gritty. Reagan has a past, but who doesn’t? I loved getting to watch her come out of her shell and flourish. It was reminiscent to when I went to college in a way. Plus, I could relate to Reagan on other levels – photography, not tolerant of BS, and the fiercely loyal and close friendship reminds me so much of my friendships with two of my best friends.

Speaking of. Dee (as she’s known to Reagan, Lilah Montgomery to the rest of the world) is fantastic. She keeps Reagan grounded. Despite being a superstar, she is down to earth and very few people know the 100% real Dee. She’s the best best friend and offers Reagan the chance to come on tour with her as a fresh start and turn over a new leaf after a few bad life choices. Dee has her own troubles to deal with as well. Bad publicity leads to bringing in the other fantastic secondary character: Matt Finch.

Matt used to be in a family group and is now trying to make a break on his own. He’s a good friend of Dee’s and is brought in to help smooth out some bad Lilah publicity and keep her reputation intact. He has definitely met his match in Reagan but it is far from love at first sight. He matches her and brings out the best in her. Their banter brought many memories of my best guy friend from high school.

The beauty of Emery’s world will have you on the tour bus and backstage for a whirlwind summer. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get to see the beauty of young love and second chances. If you’re looking for a great pool or beach side read, look no further than this spectacular debut by Emery Lord.

About the Author

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

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

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

 

*Review* Oceanborn & Seamonster by Amalie Howard October 9, 2014

Oceanborn (The Aquarathi) (English Edition) (affiliate link)

Waterfell (The Aquarathi)

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

***I received a finished paperback from Harlequin Teen, Amalie Howard, & Jennifer Abbotts, I decided to review on my own. Being provided with a copy in no way swayed my opinion.***
Rating: 5 stars
Pub date: 29 July 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Format: paperback provided by Harlequin Teen
Status: book two of the Aquarathi series

Summary:
The coronation is over.
But the battle has just begun.
Nerissa Marin has won her crown. But can she keep it? Already, her ties to the human realm are driving a wedge between Nerissa and her people. When word arrives that her part-human prince consort, Lo, has been poisoned, she makes the difficult choice to leave Waterfell and return landside. As the royal courts debate her decision, even more disturbing rumors surface: a plot is rising against her, led by someone she least expects.
On land, Nerissa learns another shocking truth: Lo does not remember who she is. As her choice to try to save him threatens her hold on her crown, changing loyalties and uncertainty test her courage in ways she could never have imagined. Nerissa will have one last chance to prove herself as a queen …and save the undersea kingdom she loves

My thoughts:
Oh, wow. Once again, Amalie blew me away with her incredible underwater world of Waterfell. Even better that I revisited it in a two book and one novella binge read. The ocean fascinates me and Amalie takes a brilliant idea and runs with it. FANTASTIC.
The action and drama had perfect flow and ebbs. Everything builds until the wave breaks. Okay, I’ll stop with the puns and be serious (well as serious as I can be while utterly fangirling!)
Right off, Amalie hits you right in the feels. Or at least she destroyed mine! Lo’s in danger?! OH NO SHE DIDN’T! I really admire Rissa’s courage to face her royal duties as well as her land troubles. All while pulling time in high school.
Rissa, again, really grew as a character. She still has a strong stubborn and impulsive streak, but she’s also more grounded due to her bond with Lo. She’s also learned that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness.
I was blown away with the transformation in Lo. Not cool, Amalie. Not cool. It was difficult to watch Rissa watch Lo become an entirely different person. I was chewing my nails like crazy waiting for the outcome. EEP!

Once again Amalie’s snark was spot on and it seemed like everyone had a chance to shine with snarky brilliance. The quips between Rissa and Jenna were my favourite. Jenna’s a tough one. Not easily cracked and constantly on her toes. Some of her ideas were a bit harebrained and brilliant all at once.

It was hard for me to come to terms with how long it took me to read. I managed to re-read Waterfell in a few days. The cards were stacked against me and it took me a week to complete. Much like blogging recently, the kiddos have been a bit demanding and taking up more of my time. Normally, that would impact my rating and reading experience, but not this time. It constantly had me thinking about it even when I couldn’t read. I mulled over what I’d read and contemplated which direction Amalie would take.

For a hot minute, I feared Amalie would leave this as a duology. Then the twist I was hoping for happened! It resulted in a massive cliffhanger, but YAY MORE WATERFELL!

There was one character that genuinely surprised me and it brought tears to my eyes. I was happy forthe closure, even if it was a painful moment.

After the pain of Speio’s betrayal in Waterfell, I was happy to see him redeemed in Oceanborn. Events at the end have me super surprised though!

Ultimately, Oceanborn was all I wanted and more. I’m so distressed with the cliffhanger. AHHHH!!!! I could sing this series’s praises all day long. I highly recommend it. Fantastic characters and an incredible parallel world. Brava Amalie! Book three please? (:

SEAMONSTER: An Aquarathi Novella (The Aquarathi)(affiliate link)

 

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

Rating: 5 stars
Pub date: 17 June 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Format: ebook, personal copy
Status: novella of the Aquarathi series

Summary:
They say that love is the death of duty …
Speio Marin is land-bound, tied to the side of the Waterfell queen-to-be, Nerissa. There’s only one problem–she wants nothing to do with any of the Aquarathi or her undersea kingdom, preferring instead the freedom of pretending to be human. Torn between his own desires and his duty to serve his future queen, he spirals into an abyss of malcontent. Speio’s mistrust of humans is no secret, and he sees them only as a threat to the existence of his people.
Until he meets Anya Delmonico–a mysterious and enigmatic girl, teetering on the edge of survival. Anya is sedate and secretive, yet reckless enough to brave a hundred-foot cliff jump. Caught between a dark past and an ex-boyfriend who refuses to let her go, Anya knows that getting involved with anyone new is the last thing she should do. But when her past catches up to her, Speio turns out to be the only one she can trust, refusing to let her face her demons alone.
When Anya discovers the truth about Speio, putting her life in mortal danger from the Aquarathi as well as her own sinister pursuers, will he risk everything to protect her? Or will he choose duty above all?

My thoughts:
Oh, Spey. I love you so much now. After hating him SO hard at the end of Waterfell, Amalie does an incredible job giving some a glimpse into his mind. My heart melted and warmed to him. It was a great way to whet my appetite while waiting for Oceanborn. Can’t wait to see how he continues to redeem himself! Just read it! It’s so great!

About the author:

AMALIE HOWARD grew up on a small Caribbean island where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or being a tomboy running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure. 22 countries, surfing with sharks and several tattoos later, she has traded in bungee jumping in China for writing the adventures she imagines instead. She isn’t entirely convinced which takes more guts. She is the author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, PW and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was an Amazon best seller and a Seventeen Magazine Summer Read. She currently resides in New York with her husband and three children. Visit her at amaliehoward.com.

 

*ARC Review* Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick September 15, 2014

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

Rating: 4 stars
Pub date: 9 September 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary,Poetry, Realistic Fiction
Format: eARC provided by the publisher
Status: standalone

Summary:

Madeleine Kuderick’s gripping debut is a darkly beautiful and lyrical novel in verse, perfect for fans of Sonya Sones and Laurie Halse Anderson. Kiss of Broken Glass pulses with emotion and lingers long after the last page.

In the next seventy-two hours, Kenna may lose everything—her friends, her freedom, and maybe even herself. One kiss of the blade was all it took to get her sent to the psych ward for seventy-two hours. There she will face her addiction to cutting, though the outcome is far from certain.

When fifteen-year-old Kenna is found cutting herself in the school bathroom, she is sent to a facility for mandatory psychiatric watch. There, Kenna meets other kids like her—her roommate, Donya, who’s there for her fifth time; the birdlike Skylar; and Jag, a boy cute enough to make her forget her problems . . . for a moment.

 

My thoughts:

I was intrigued by Kiss of Broken Glass when Margot & Aubry talked about it on Tea Time. A book written in verse? I was excited. I knew the narrator was in a psych ward on 72 hour suicide watch, but I wasn’t ready for the feelings it would force to the surface.

I have struggled with depression and anxiety for over a decade. I tried to handle it on my own for the lonegst time. The darkest it ever got was when it became postpartum depression after I had Punk. I finally asked for help.

It wasn’t that thought that came popping up while I read. It was the things I dealt with in middle school. I was reased and bullied. 9/11 happened and it felt like my world was falling apart. A dear family friend died unexpectedly. My parents marriage was starting to end. A dark time that I don’t like to think about. Nothing happened that landed me in the psych ward though. Like the narrator, I did do a lot of reflecting. A LOT of reflecting.

I have known a few people who cut themselves so it was easy to relate to the situation. I’ve also known people struggling with eating disorders. Instead of criticising, they need our help and support. In any situation, judging is the wrong choice. You never know what someone is going through.

Kiss of Broken Glass is brutally honest and a fast read. I devoured it in one sitting. It really makes you think. It made me think back to times of trouble for me and made me thing about current pressures on kids. Makes me thing what it will be like 10-15 years from now when my kiddos will are in middle and high school. I only hope they’ll reach out for help if they need it and know that I’ll always be there for them. Kiss of Broken Glass is a powerful read that I highly recommend. A beautiful debut and Madeleine is on my watch list for future reads!

 

About the author:

Madeleine Kuderick grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, a community with rich literary tradition, where she was editor-in-chief of the same high school newspaper that Ernest Hemingway wrote for as a teen. She studied journalism at Indiana University before transferring to the School of Hard Knocks where she earned plenty of bumps and bruises and eventually an MBA.

Today, Madeleine likes writing about underdogs and giving a voice to those who are struggling to be heard.

 

Flashback Friday #5: City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare September 12, 2014

Flashback Friday is a feature I started here on The Whimsical Mama featuring books I read before I started blogging. Most reviews will come after rereading the book again. This is a biweekly feature. This week’s selection is:

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

Rating: 5 stars
Pub date: 8 May 2012
Publisher: Margaret K McElderry Books, Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Format: hardcover, personal copy ,audiobook, via library
Status: Book five of The Mortal Instruments series

Summary:
The New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments continues—and so do the thrills and danger for Jace, Clary, and Simon.

What price is too high to pay, even for love? When Jace and Clary meet again, Clary is horrified to discover that the demon Lilith’s magic has bound her beloved Jace together with her evil brother Sebastian, and that Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is out to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. As Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle wheedle and bargain with Seelies, demons, and the merciless Iron Sisters to try to save Jace, Clary plays a dangerous game of her own. The price of losing is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost?

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series.

My thoughts:

The reread binge has come to an end for The Mortal Instruments. I ended up forcing myself to take my time with City of Lost Souls because I ended up reading through the series faster than I anticipated. I would’ve started with The Infernal Devices if I had known I’d be able to breeze through soquickly. I still have to say I don’t like Sebastian as an adversary. I still prefer Valentine. Sebastian feels too evil to be believable. The action surrounding him in City of Lost Souls is better than in City of Fallen Angels. The first read, I had a sense of maybe things could’ve changed just like Clary. My second read, I could see that he’s too evil to be redeemed. This time around, I feel like the quest to save Jace is too drawn out. Some of the adventures of Jace, Clary, and Sebastian are too much of page fillers. Also the change in Jace is so drastic, he becomes unlikable for me. A brave move by Clare, but one I wish hadn’t happened. I also feel that Isabelle is abit out of character. I think it works nicely though because she’s never felt the way she does about Simon. That first rush of love is always unsettling even for someone as sure and confident as Izzy. I love that Jordan and Maia are working through their issues. They are easily my favourite couple in this book. I wish we’d gotten to see more of Luke and Jocelyn’s romance. Not delving into it makes me fear for their safety in City of Heavenly Fire. Why put so much work into something you’re going to destroy? The relationship between Clary and Sebastian truly makes my skin crawl. He is definitely one character I absolutely despise. Not just dislike, but outright hatred. I still feel the first trilogy half is the stronger of the two trilogies in this series. City of Lost Souls is stronger than City of Fallen Angels, but I still feel like it’s filler to set up for the epic showdown in City of Heavenly Fire. I have a feeling Jace has a larger role with the heavenly fire part. There is definitely action and unexpected twists which were incredible the first read, but not as thrilling the second time around. I can understand the beating a dead horse feel with more and more books being cranked out in this universe. I’ve already ordered City of Heavenly Fire. I think I will  borrow the next series before deciding to buy it. Hopefully, it will be more on the level of The Infernal Devices and first half of The Mortal Instruments. The more I think about it, the more I feel the second trilogy hasn’t been as well executed.

About the author:

“Cassandra Clare was born overseas and spent her early years traveling around the world with her family and several trunks of fantasy books. Cassandra worked for several years as an entertainment journalist for the Hollywood Reporter before turning her attention to fiction. She is the author of City of Bones, the first book in the Mortal Instruments trilogy and a New York Times bestseller. Cassandra lives with her fiance and their two cats in Massachusetts.”

You can find me online at

http://www.cassandraclare.com

I have a blog:

http://cassandraclare.livejournal.com/

and a Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/Cassandraclare

and a Twitter:

http://www.twitter.com/cassieclare

 

*ARC Review* Rites of Passage by Joy N Hensley September 9, 2014

 

 HAPPY RELEASE DAY, JOY!!!! ❤

 



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

Rating: 5 stars
Pub date: 9 September 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Military, Realistic Fiction
Format: ARC borrowed from the author
Status: standalone

Summary:

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she’s not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She’s even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won’t risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty…no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time’s running short. Sam must decide who she can trust…and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

 

My thoughts:

Oh. Wow. I have been so excited for this book. As a military wife, I’m always excited for books that support our troops at any level. On the flip side, I’m always nervous that it could give the wrong impression of military life. Rites definitely does it RIGHT. Even though I’ve been an Army wife/girlfriend for almost six years, there were things I learned. Now, just because it’s steeped in military lingo, DON’T DESPAIR CIVILIANS! It’s super easy to follow along. (:

Joy’s debut is FANTASTIC. I jumped right in even though I was having a massive book hangover from my previous read. I was immediately cured and twice as hungover when I finished. Chock full of snark, a desire to prove oneself, angst, military academy life, Rites has it ALL and MORE. I was on the edge of my seat and squirmy with excitement/anticipation the whole time!

Rites is from the perspective of Sam. Sam’s a military brat attempting to forge the way as one of DMA’s first female recruits, make her father Lieutenant Colonel father proud, fulfill her oldest brother’s date and get her elder brother & mother to accept her military decision. On top of all of that, she has to navigate training and classes, forbidden attractions, and a very anti-female group trying to force her out. She doesn’t know who to trust and she finds out her number one supporter is someone completely unexpected. Whoa. A lot for a teenager to handle, right? That’s not even the whole of it.

The minute details of military academy life are incredible. I’ve known a few people who have attended military academies so I know a smidge about academy life. As a military wife, I knew a smidge more about overall military life. Joy’s details made my slight advantage unnecessary. She paints such a vivid picture, it feels like you’re going through a smoke show right along with them. (Better them than me though! I’ve seen hubby’s video of his basic training class for even further proof that I am destined to be a military wife, not in the military myself!) It was in so much detail that it had me equal parts wanting to forbid my kids from going to saving up now for them both to go!

Obviously, military academies aren’t the path for everyone and Joy does a great job showcasing people who realise it’s not for them at every level of training through the school year. It’s a great estimate of you don’t know what you can handle in any situation until you’re there.

I could go into so much detail about why I loved every single page., but then there would be no need for you to pick it up yourself. You don’t want to miss this action packed debut. It’s great beginning to end. Do yourself a favour and order it NOW!

 

IT RELEASES TODAY!!!! GO ORDER IT NOW!!! (:

 

 

About the author:

Joy N. Hensley is a former middle school teacher. She used to spend her twenty-minute lunch breaks hosting author Skype chats for her students. Once upon a time she went to a military school on a dare. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two children, finding as many ways as she can to never do another push-up again.

 

Flashback Friday #4: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare August 29, 2014

Flashback Friday is a feature I started here on The Whimsical Mama featuring books I read before I started blogging. Most reviews will come after rereading the book again. This is a biweekly feature. This week’s selection is:

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

Rating: 4 stars
Pub date: 5 April 2011
Publisher: Margaret K McElderry Books, Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Format: paperback, personal copy ,audiobook, via library
Status: Book four of The Mortal Instruments series

Summary:

The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.

But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her—his mother just found out that he’s a vampire, and now he’s homeless. When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.

The stakes are higher than ever in the #1 New York Times bestselling fourth installment of the Mortal Instruments series.

My thoughts:

The first book of the second trilogy of The Mortal Instruments series feels a bit off par to the first three books. It picks up shortly after the events of City of Glass. Jace and Clary are happily together though Jace is having some issues. Simon is struggling dating Isabelle and Maia and fails to see how that’s a bad idea.

The plot is exciting and the twist at the end is mind blowing. I honestly don’t know why this feels lacking compared to the others. Maybe because things felt like they were pretty neatly tied up and now a new series of events are stirring up. I also like Valentine as a villain much better than Sebastian – or Lilith.

I did like that we have a bit of perspective toss up. It’s a progressive adjustment from the beginning of the series and I think it works nicely. I especially love the Malec scenes. They’re my favourite couple.

My favourite non couple pairing for scenes was Simon and Jace. I love the bickering. It’s the best. It’s even better when Kyle is thrown in.

I liked getting to see the background between Jordan Kyle and Maia. It’s a very tragic story but great that they’re going to have a chance to work through things.

My first read of The Mortal Instruments after reading The Infernal Devices, I was super excited to see Brother Zachariah. I wish there’d been more of him in it.

I still recommend this series, I just recommend the first trilogy half more strongly than I recommend the second set. This could change once I read City of Heavenly Fire. I do love City of Lost Souls as well. I’m just less than thrilled with City of Fallen Angels. As great as the first three are, I feel all this one does is set up the next trilogy.

About the author:

“Cassandra Clare was born overseas and spent her early years traveling around the world with her family and several trunks of fantasy books. Cassandra worked for several years as an entertainment journalist for the Hollywood Reporter before turning her attention to fiction. She is the author of City of Bones, the first book in the Mortal Instruments trilogy and a New York Times bestseller. Cassandra lives with her fiance and their two cats in Massachusetts.”

You can find me online at

www.cassandraclare.com

I have a blog:

http://cassandraclare.livejournal.com/

and a Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/Cassandraclare

and a Twitter:

www.twitter.com/cassieclare

 

Flashback Friday #3: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare July 18, 2014

Flashback Friday is a feature I started here on The Whimsical Mama featuring books I read before I started blogging. Most reviews will come after rereading the book again. This is a biweekly feature. This week’s selection is:

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

Rating: 5 stars
Pub date: 24 March 2009
Publisher: Margaret K McElderry Books, Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
Format: paperback, personal copy ,audiobook, via library
Status: Book three of The Mortal Instruments series

Summary:
To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters – never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City – whatever the cost?

Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the third installment of the New York Times bestselling series The Mortal Instruments.

 

My thoughts:

Re-reading binge continues with City of Glass. The action picks up shortly after the events of City of Ashes. Preparations are being made to travel to Alicante in Idris. Clary is on a mission to save her mother. Jace tries to leave Clary behind, but the determined Clary makes it anyway.

Along the way, the group comes across several new characters – all of which have an impact on the story. The most important being Sebastian – who isn’t all he seems.

They’re hurtling toward a battle with Valentine and his demon army. He’s certain his hidden followers in the Clave will ensure loyalty to him. He never expected the Clave to align with the Downworlders.

It’s clear that this was originally intended as a trilogy, but enough things are left open for the second trilogy to take place. The battle with Valentine is over, but the battle against Sebastian has only begun.

I really enjoyed getting to see even more perspective in City of Glass than City of Bones or City of Ashes. I really loved having more interaction between Alec and Magnus. I also enjoyed a closer look at Isabelle. She’s a tough warrior, but she also has her own insecurities. I found myself torn over Aline again. I like getting to see other Shadowhunters, but she also feels like an annoying character. She feels like she’s one that has to grow on you.

I will say that the length got to me this time around. Not sure why, but it felt like I was reading two books in one. It might be because I’m excited to see where everything ends up or it might be because I’m trying to remember what happens in each book.

Obviously being longer, there is much more chance for action. City of Glass definitely has highs and lows in action and slowly reveals everything that was alluded to in City of Bones and City of Ashes.

I do believe that you can read the first three books as a trilogy and not feel you have to commit to a six book series. However, I do think the events in the first three are necessary to the story for the next three. I do not see the second trilogy as standalone in their arc. They are reliant on the first three books.

About the author:

“Cassandra Clare was born overseas and spent her early years traveling around the world with her family and several trunks of fantasy books. Cassandra worked for several years as an entertainment journalist for the Hollywood Reporter before turning her attention to fiction. She is the author of City of Bones, the first book in the Mortal Instruments trilogy and a New York Times bestseller. Cassandra lives with her fiance and their two cats in Massachusetts.”

You can find me online at

www.cassandraclare.com

I have a blog:

http://cassandraclare.livejournal.com/

and a Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/Cassandraclare

and a Twitter:

www.twitter.com/cassieclare

 

 
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