The Whimsical Mama

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

Hello September, Goodbye July & August! September 7, 2014

Due to a goof and lapse in blogging, this month says goodbye to TWO months! Haha. I can’t believe it’s September. Wow. This year just keeps flying by. I’m happy for some cooler temperatures to be coming soon (hopefully! I live in the South and things have been super hot lately!) Life’s been changing quickly around our house and it’s taking some time to get adjusted to and a schedule worked out. Thank you SO MUCH to those who have stuck around with me through this summer and drop in blogging. I still have to announce my blogoversary winners, so keep an eye out in your inbox cause you might just be my winners! (: Still hoping I can go to YALLFEST in November and if I do, there will be signed giveaways in the future! (: I hope you’re doing well! Fill me in! How was your summer?!

 

Books I read in July & August (in order of completion)

Siege & Storm, Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Seamonster by Amalie Howard

Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols(eARC)

Too Clever Fox, The Little Knife by Leigh Bardugo

Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick(eARC)

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Waterfell & Oceanborn by Amalie Howard

Rites of Passage by Joy Hensley(ARC)

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

The Queen’s Vow by CW Gortner

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

If I Stay & Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Salvage by Alexandra Duncan(ARC)

The Jewel by Amy Ewing(eARC)

 

Books with the kiddos: (I mostly kept track!)

all the Pete books! Other than that, I didn’t really do well keeping track! OOPS!

 

Coming up in September:

lots of family birthdays!

Hubby’s unit’s family day

 

Reviews posted

Tot Time Thursday #2: Pete the Cat Pete’s Big Lunch by James Dean

 

Flashback Friday #2: City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

*Mini Review & Giveaway* The Prince & The Guard by Kiera Cass

*Review & Giveaway* The One by Kiera Cass

*Blog Tour & Review* 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

*Review* Mind Games by Kiersten White

*ARC Review* Perfect Lies by Kiersten White

Tot Time Thursday #3: Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses

Flashback Friday #3: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

Flashback Friday #4: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

Most visited

 

Blogoversary! (And giveaway!)

 

Goals for August
Work on commenting and visiting other blogs

Read more with the kiddos

Get back on track and stay ahead of schedule


 

 

September releases I’m excited for:

RITES OF PASSAGE!!!!!!

The Jewel

Vampires of Manhattan

SO MANY MORE CAUSE ALL THE BOOKS COME OUT THIS MONTH

 

 

September TBR:
The Young Elites

Vampires of Manhattan

Find Me

Illusions of Fate

THE ORPHAN QUEEN (sampler BUT STILL OMG)

 

Challenge Update:

I’m involved with four challenges officially.

Edelweiss & Netgalley challenge: 19/25 (Perfect Couple, Kiss of Broken Glass, Poisoned Apples – DNF not counting in total, Rites of Passage, The Jewel)

TBR Pile challenge: 54/11-20 {I can and most likely WILL be increasing my level on this. I’m also not including ARCs in this unless I complete them after the book is released} (Siege & Storm, Ruin & Rising, Seamonster, Oceanborn, The Queen’s Vow, Open Road Summer, If I Stay, Where She Went, Salvage)

Series challenge: 14/4-6 {I can and most likely will increase my level on this as well} (Grisha, Aquarathi )

Real” Book challenge: 33/21-30 (Siege & Storm, Ruin & Rising, Waterfell, Oceanborn, Rites of Passage, Open Road Summer)

How was your July & August? What’s up for September?

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Hello July, Goodbye June 2014! Plus a giveaway! July 1, 2014

No way is it already July. No. Way. June was a hectic month in our household. Hubby was gone to school 90% of the month. That left me juggling all the household things plus the blog. I thought I’d gotten far enough ahead that I was okay, but it ended up being not quite far enough. No worries. I am working hard to get a good amount ahead. I have reviews scheduled through the middle of September. Of those books, I’ve read through the middle of August. There are a few release week reviews I have scheduled. Now to transition that from paper to computer! July. I still can’t believe it. Wow. I’ve hit it. Well, in a week, but I’ve done it. I’ve been blogging for a solid year now! (Bookwise, this blog is actually about 3 1/2 years old!) This has been an incredible year. Full of ups and downs for sure, but I’ve had a blast on this journey. I’ve made some great friends and met a lot of awesome authors! Here’s to another year of blogging! Cheers! Make sure you check out the giveaway at the end and keep an eye out for LOTS of upcoming giveaways! (:

 

Books I read in June (in order of completion)

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

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton

Mind GamesPerfect Lie by Kiersten White

Taken & Stolen by Erin Bowman

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (audiobook & paperback)

Frozen by Erin Bowman

Shadow and Bone, The Tailor, & The Witch of Duza by Leigh Bardugo

 

Books with the kiddos: (I mostly kept track!)

Pete the Cat Play Ball! by James Dean

Pete the Cat Pete’s Big Lunch by James Dean

Pete the Cat Pete at the Beach by James Dean

Pete the Cat Too Cool For School by James Dean

Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by James Dean

Pete the Cat a Pet for Pete

Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes

Pete the Cat Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Pete the Cat Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Pete the Cat and His Four Buttons

 

Coming up in June

17 First Kisses Blog Tour

Punk’s birthday party

Trip to VA

BLOGOVERSARY!

 

Reviews posted

Love Story by Jennifer Echols

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton

Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore

My Not So Super Sweet Life by Rachel Harris

The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Elite by Kiera Cass

 

Most visited

Top Ten Tuesday: Beach Bag Reads

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer TBR

Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

 

Goals for July
Work on commenting and visiting other blogs

Read more with the kiddos

Stay ahead of schedule

post everyday this month

 

 

July releases I’m excited for:

Oceanborn by Amalie Howard (Oh hells yeah! I need MOAR Lo!)

On the Fence by Kasie West

Accidentally Married on Purpose by Rachel Harris

July TBR:
Oceanborn by Amalie Howard 

Accidentally Married on Purpose by Rachel Harris 

Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo

 

Challenge Update:

I’m involved with four challenges officially.

Edelweiss & Netgalley challenge: 15/25 (Perfect Lies, Cinderella’s Dress, Frozen)

TBR Pile challenge: 45/11-20 {I can and most likely WILL be increasing my level on this. I’m also not including ARCs in this unless I complete them after the book is released} (City of Heavenly Fire, Mind Games, Perfect Lies, Taken, Stolen, Frozen, Shadow & Bone, Clockwork Angel)

Series challenge: 13/4-6 {I can and most likely will increase my level on this as well} (The Mortal Instruments, Taken)

Real” Book challenge: 33/21-30 (City of Heavenly Fire, Mind Games, Perfect Lies, Taken, Frozen, Shadow & Bone, Clockwork Angel)

How was your June? What’s up for July?

 

GIVEAWAY NEWS!!!

I’m kicking off my blogoversary celebration now. I’ll have giveaways going up constantly on the blog and on Twitter so make sure you keep your eye out! (:

GIVEAWAY!!

Up for grabs in this first giveaway is an ARC of Infinite by the lovely Jodi Meadows.

This giveaway is open to US only (Sorry international readers! I promise I will one day have giveaways for you too!) Entrants must be 13 years old to enter. Those entrants under 18 MUST have parental consent. Giveaway is open July 1st 2014 (12am EST) through July 31st 2014 (12am EST). I reserve the right to disqualify entries in violation of my giveaway policies. All entries WILL be verified. Good luck. May the odds be ever in your favor! (:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Hello June, Goodbye May! June 1, 2014

I am really struggling with how quickly this year is flying by! I got a ridiculous amount of reading done last month. It kinda amazes me just how much I got accomplished. I’m not sure I will be that lucky this month with hubby at a class and me pulling single mama duty. My mom & stepdad are both on summer vacation now from school so I know the kiddos will be pleading to spend more time at Grammy’s & Skipper’s! We’re also planning on spending some time with at my in-laws’ while hubby is gone. My sis-in-law and nephews are coming in from Germany for the summer so cousin time is a must! Some of my best memories growing up are with my cousins and I hope my kiddos are the same.

Books I read in May (in order of completion)

Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore (ARC)

17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen (ARC)

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (audiobook)

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch (ARC)

The Selection, The Prince, The Elite, The Guard, and The One by Kiera Cass

The Bane Chronicles: The Midnight Heir, Rise of the Hotel of Dumort, Saving Raphael Santiago, Fall of the Hotel Dumort, What to But the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything, Last Stand of the New York Institute, The Course of True Love by Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls, by Cassandra Clare

 

Books with the kiddos: (I mostly kept track!)

Doc McStuffins A Knight in Sticky Armor by Andrea Posner-Sanchez 

All the Ways I Love You by Dorothea DePrisco

Pete the Cat Play Ball! by James Dean

Pete the Cat Pete’s Big Lunch by James Dean

Pete the Cat Pete at the Beach by James Dean

Pete the Cat Too Cool For School by James Dean

Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by James Dean

 

Coming up in June
Hubby’s military class

Dark Metropolis Blog Tour

Punk’s birthday

My mom’s birthday

Sis-in-law & nephews coming in from Germany

Trip to VA

 

Goals for June
Work on commenting and visiting other blogs

Read more with the kiddos

Stay ahead of schedule 

 

 

June releases I’m excited for:

Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore

17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

June TBR:
As You Turn Away by Molli Moran

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry 

Mind Games by Kiersten White

Taken by Erin Bowman

 

Challenge Update:

I’m involved with four challenges officially.

Edelweiss & Netgalley challenge: 12/25 (Dark Metropolis, 17 First Kisses, Snow Like Ashes)

TBR Pile challenge: 38/11-20 {I can and most likely WILL be increasing my level on this. I’m also not including ARCs in this unless I complete them after the book is released} (Pandemonium,The Selection, The Prince, The Elite, The Guard, The One, The Bane Chronicles)

Series challenge: 11/4-6 {I can and most likely will increase my level on this as well} (The Selection, The Bane Chronicles)

Real” Book challenge: 26/21-30 (Dark Metropolis, 17 First Kisses, The Selection, The Elite, The One, The Selection Stories – The Prince & The Guard, City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls)

How was your May? What’s up for June?

 

Hello May, Goodbye April! May 1, 2014

Is it really already May? I mean, for real? This year is going by way too quickly. I got a lot of work done this month and I’m proud of it. I hope I can continue staying so far ahead. I’m scheduled through the end of June on reviews, so I’m ready for the few trips we may be taking. The more work I get accomplished, the happier I am that I took the plunge into the review world. I’ve always struggled with reviews, but in the almost year I’ve been doing this, I’ve learned that there is no RIGHT way to do it. Hopefully someone that sees this is feeling the way I have and this helps them! Be YOU.

Books I read in April (in order of completion)

The Constant Princess  by Philippa Gregory 

After the End by Amy Plum

Richard III by Annette Carson

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier 

The Falconer by Elizabeth May 

Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier 

Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols

Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols 

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier

My Not So Super Sweet Life by Rachel Harris

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Love Story by Jennifer Echols

Books with the kiddos: (I mostly kept track!)

Good Night Tennessee by Adam Gamble

D is for Duck Calls by Kay Robertson

Three Little Dinosaurs by Charles Fuge

Doc McStuffins A Knight in Sticky Armor by Andrea Posner-Sanchez 

That’s Not My Fairy by Fiona Watt

Pinkaclicious 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

Even Fire Fighters Go to the Potty by Wendy Wax

Pete the Cat Big Easter Adventure by James Dean

Pete the Cat Play Ball! by James Dean

Pete the Cat Pete’s Big Lunch by James Dean

Pete the Cat Pete at the Beach by James Dean

Pete the Cat Too Cool For School by James Dean

Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by James Dean

Coming up in May
Hubby’s military class

Biggest Flirts Blog Tour

The Mortal Instruments Series finale

One of my new features that I didn’t get started in April!

Goals for May
Work on commenting and visiting other blogs

Read more with the kiddos

Stay ahead of schedule 

May releases I’m excited for:

The Falconer by Elizabeth May 

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes 

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare 

Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols 

May TBR:
As You Turn Away by Molli Moran

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry 

Mind Games by Kiersten White

Taken by Erin Bowman

 

Challenge Update:

I’m involved with four challenges officially.

Edelweiss & Netgalley challenge: 9/25 (After the End, Richard III, The Falconer, Biggest Flirts)

TBR Pile challenge: 25/11-20 {I can and most likely WILL be increasing my level on this. I’m also not including ARCs in this unless I complete them after the book is released} (The Constant Princess, Ruby Red, Sapphire Blue, Emerald Green, Dirty Little Secret, Delirium, Love Story, My Not So Super Sweet Life)

Series challenge: 9/4-6 {I can and most likely will increase my level on this as well} (Ruby Red, My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century)

Real” Book challenge: 15/21-30 (Ruby Red, Dirty Little Secret, Delirium)

How was your April? What’s up for May?

 

Hello April, Goodbye March! April 1, 2014

Another month already gone! This year is just flying by! March was a very productive month for me. I got a good amount of reading and blog work done. I have reviews written up and scheduled all the way through the middle of May! Things are moving along nicely. Hubby started a new job and the kids are growing like weeds. Life is really starting to look up with the start of spring. (: Keep an eye out for some more giveaways coming soon!

Books I read in March (in order of completion)

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Fifty First Times “Field Emotions” by Melissa West

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Free Four by Veronica Roth

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Books with the kiddos: (I actually kept track!)

How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Cats? by Jane Yolen

Spot Can Count by Eric Hill

The Story of Benjamin Franklin by Patricia A Pingry

You Are My I Love You by Maryann Cusimano Love (Bug’s Imagination Library Book) 

Down by the Station by Jess Stockham 

Cleo the Cat by Caroline Mockford 

Penguins Can’t Fly! by Richard Byrne 

Sesame Street: Elmo Look and Find by Publications International Ltd. 

The Story of Thomas Jefferson by Patricia A Pingry 

Thomas and the Treasure by Wilbert Awdry 

If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Joffe Numeroff 

How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Dogs? by Jane Yolen 

Digger the Dinosaur Rebecca Kai Dotlich 

Coming up in April
We actually don’t have anything big coming up this month. Hopefully that means it’ll be a low key month. I’m super excited about Easter though! (:

Goals for April
Work on commenting and visiting other blogs

Read more with the kiddos

Stay ahead of schedule 

April releases I’m excited for:

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

April TBR:
As You Turn Away by Molli Moran

After the End by Amy Plum

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols

Challenge Update:

I’m involved with four challenges officially.

Edelweiss & Netgalley challenge: 5/25 (Prisoner of Night and Fog)

TBR Pile challenge: 17/11-20 {I can and most likely WILL be increasing my level on this. I’m also not including ARCs in this unless I complete them after the book is released} (Cress, Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant, The Book Thief,Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire, Frozen, The Impossible Knife of Memory)

Series challenge: 7/4-6 {I can and most likely will increase my level on this as well} (Cress, Divergent, Code Name Verity)

Real” Book challenge: 12/21-30 {I have to sign up for this one once I get this post up!} (Cress, Divergent, The Book Thief, Code Name Verity, Frozen, The Impossible Knife of Memory)

How was your March? What’s up for April?

 

Hello March, Goodbye February! (A bit late!) March 9, 2014

Wow. March. And the start of the second week too! February blew by and I didn’t get as much accomplished as I had hoped. I was busy working on things for my family and for my daughter’s birthday. I had meant to get more done in the last two weeks, but I took time and focused on my kiddos. I have everything written up, I just have to type it out and get it scheduled to come up soon. I have some giveaways planned so keep an eye out! (:

Books I read in February (in order of completion)

The Little Android by Marissa Meyer

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

A Tale of Two Centuries by Rachel Harris

Books with the kiddos:

We read a lot, as usual. And as usual, I was terrible about keeping a good list. I do have an idea mulling around for the blog concerning the kiddos and books. It may start up in April if I do decide to go through with it!

Coming up in March

Bug’s birthday!

Girls Gone Sci Fi tour!

Hubby’s military class

Goals for March (same as last month, need to work better!0

Balance mama & wifey things with blogging life.

Work on commenting and visiting other blogs

Stay ahead of schedule

Read more with the kiddos

March releases I’m excited for:

Alpha Goddess by Amalie Howard

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

March TBR:

Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth

Alpha Goddess by Amalie Howard

I haven’t decided what else I want to get to this month. We’ll see where the reading spirit takes me!

Challenge Update:

I’m involved with three challenges officially; I still need to sign up for a fourth.

Edelweiss & Netgalley challenge: 4/25 (Uninvited and Cruel Beauty)

TBR Pile challenge: 8/11-20 {I can and most likely WILL be increasing my level on this. I’m also not including ARCs in this unless I complete them after the book is released} (The Little Android and A Tale of Two Centuries)

Series challenge: 4/4-6 {I can and most likely will increase my level on this as well} (A Tale of Two Centuries)

Real” Book challenge: 7/21-30 {I have to sign up for this one once I get this post up!} (What to Expect When You’re Expecting and The Ring & the Crown)

How was your February? What’s up for March?

 

*ARC Review* Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott February 24, 2014

***I was granted permission to read Fire & Flood by the publisher (Scholastic Press) in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Scholastic Press!***

Rating:4 stars
Pub date:25 February 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre:Young Adult Fiction
Format: ARC via publisher
Status:Book one of Fire & Flood series

Summary:

A modern day thrill ride, where a teen girl and her animal companion must participate in a breathtaking race to save her brother’s life—and her own.

Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can’t determine what’s wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She’s lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying — and she’s helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It’s an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother’s illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there’s no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can’t trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

My thoughts:

I was very excited when I first heard about this title. Victoria had a request form up on her page that she passed along to Scholastic. I immediately filled it out and pushed it from my thoughts. I didn’t want to dwell on it in case I didn’t get approval. My hubby brought in a package one day and held it out to me. It was from Scholastic. I was ecstatic. I wanted to dive in first thing, but I had some other things I had to read first. Mary over at Mary Had A Little Book Blog and I decided to read it at the same time. This was my first book by Victoria Scott and I do plan on continuing this series in the future and checking out her Dante Walker series.

The pacing felt a little slow to me in the beginning. After an initial lull, the pacing rapidly picks up and became a page turner until I finished. I felt a very strong similarity to The Hunger Games if the stakes were even higher. Instead of competing for themselves, the Contenders are competing for a loved one. At a first glance, you would think this was a dystopian, but it is very much a modern day thriller (confirmed by Victoria).

Tella’s world was rocked when her parents uprooted their family from Boston to Montana after her brother fell ill. It’s not clear what is wrong with her brother, just that he’s sick and seems to be fading rather quickly. Tella receives an invitation to the Brimestone Bleed, but her parents try to play it off like a joke and attempt to destroy the evidence of the invitation. She manages to get a hold of the device and listens to the full invitation. Her mom catches her before she leaves and they have a quick talk. Tella leaves to pursue the cure.

The first challenge in the jungle felt a little disappointing. There were a few dangers, but nothing out of the ordinary of if she had gotten lost in the jungle. The biggest question that remained in my mind is what happens if you lose the race? One person gets the cure, but what happens to the other Contenders?

I was not really able to connect with Tella for the better part of the book. She came off as spoiled and selfish even though she was there for her brother. Her internal dialogue was very immature and bratty. I know not all 17 year olds are not all created equal. I was often told I was mature for my age and sometimes I forget that not all teenagers think like I did. Once she hooked up with a group, I started to connect with her more because she started to grow as a person.She still has her moments of wishing she hadn’t come, but who wouldn’t? It’s not an easy thought potentially risking your life for someone. It’s human nature to prefer preserving yourself than others.

I really enjoyed the other characters (Guy, Ransom, Levi, etc) and I can’t wait to see if more of their backstories are included in the future. I’m also excited to see where their budding friendships take them. It’s an every man for himself situation and new friendships will only last for so long… right?

With the first race behind, things really began to pick up and it made me very happy. Right at the end of the jungle race is when it really became a page turner for me. The twists were very well done and I really enjoyed the desert race. The desert race was definitely a five star section. My toddler kept asking me to read to him before his nap and there were sections that I had to skim as I read because they were totally not suited for a toddler’s ears. Once he was asleep, I devoured the last 100 pages.The action and danger shot through the roof and it was amazing.

I loved the idea of Pandoras. They were simply incredible and it was a very well done idea. In a way they felt like the daemons from the His Dark Materials series, but DEFINITELY more badass.Maddox is incredible. His power – whoa. I really hope we get to learn more about how the Pandoras are created in the next installment!

The ending will definitely leave you wanting more. Keep in mind that this race is in four destinations and Fire & Flood only covers two of them. So much more excitement and challenges away in the Brimestone Bleed.

I’m proud to recommend this as a great read! It does not disappoint and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

About the author:

Victoria Scott is a teen fiction writer represented by Sara Crowe. She’s the author of the FIRE & FLOOD series published by Scholastic, and the DANTE WALKER trilogy published by Entangled Teen. Her books have been bought and translated in eleven foreign markets including the UK, Turkey, China, Poland, Germany, Australia, Israel, Taiwan, Brazil, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.


Victoria lives in Dallas with her husband and hearts cotton candy something fierce.

 

*eARC Review* Infinityglass by Myra McEntire October 27, 2013

Rating:  4 stars
Pub date: 6 August 2013
Publisher: Egmont USA
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Format:e-ARC via Netgalley
Status: Book three of the Hourglass series

Summary:

The stakes have risen even higher in this third book in the Hourglass series.

The Hourglass is a secret organization focused on the study of manipulating time, and its members — many of them teenagers -­have uncanny abilities to make time work for them in mysterious ways. Inherent in these powers is a responsibility to take great care, because altering one small moment can have devastating consequences for the past, present, and future. But some time trav­elers are not exactly honorable, and sometimes unsavory deals must be struck to maintain order.

With the Infinityglass (central to understanding and harnessing the time gene) at large, the hunt is on to find it before someone else does.

But the Hourglass has an advantage. Lily, who has the ability to locate anything lost, has determined that the Infinityglass isn’t an object. It’s a person. And the Hourglass must find him or her first. But where do you start searching for the very key to time when every second could be the last?

My thoughts:

After the spectacular blow up of action in Hourglass and Timepiece, I was a bit disappointed how this started slowly. I didn’t stay disappointed for long. Since this was an eARC, the formatting was a bit off, which as a bit irritating with the dual POV. That has nothing to do with the actual story, and more a personal preference.

Dune was a very likable character from the first two books. I  was glad i finally got to see more of him. He did feel a bit randomly thrown in at times in Hourglass and Timepiece, but I as pleased to see him get his own chance to tell his story. His loyalty to the Hourglass and his desire to protect Hallie are very well done.

Hallie is a difficult person to get a read on in the beginning. She’s so closed and standoffish that it almost makes it hard to like her. Until Dune breaks down her defenses. the way she was raised – almost like a prisoner doesn’t help her way of feeling like she doesn’t need anyone or any help.

The realisation that she is the Infinityglass that people start fighting over really throws her off her game. She quickly adjusts and accepts Dune’s help. Against both their better judgements, they find themselves falling for each other.

Dune is such a gentleman even though he is very much a teenage boy. It’s a refreshing change from reality. I wish more teen boys had the respect and mannerisms that Dune has!

The fight against Hallie’s mom (the head of Chronos) is heart wrenching and I wish Hallie didn’t blame herself for the events that come to pass. Despite the darkness from the threat and fighting with her momand Hallie’s penchant for relying only on herself,  it’s great that she lets herself accept help from the other members of Hourglass.

This series was a great one to find via recommendation and I gladly pass on the recommendation! I definitely plan to revisit this wonderful series again in the future!

 

*e-ARC review, Tour* I, Saul by Jerry B Jenkins and James MacDonald October 21, 2013

I was granted a digital review copy of I, Saul by the publisher (Worthy Publishing) in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3 stars
Pub date: 27 August 2013
Publisher: Worthy Publishing
Genre: Christian Lit, Adult, Fiction
Format: Digital Review Copy, hardcover provided by the publisher

Links:
I, Saul on Goodreads

Summary:
Told from the point of view of the disciple Luke, the apostle Paul and “Auggie,” a modern-day scholar, I, Saul, is a fast-paced story of intrigue and mystery. Readers will be reminded of Indiana Jones and the DiVinci code as they become absorbed in this page-turner by a master storyteller. Along the way they will learn of the fictionalized but plausible story of the life of Saul who relentlessly persecuted Christ’s followers prior to his conversion when he became known as Paul.

My thoughts:

When I first joined Netgalley in August, I went on a book requesting spree. As a new blogger, I didn’t expect to be approved for many books let alone a New York Times bestselling author. Jerry B Jenkins is one of two authors of the Left Behind series. Seeing his name and reading the book description, I decided to give it a try and request it. I was very surprised when my request was granted. Before I got started reading, I was invited to do a blog tour.

As was expected, given my experience of reading part of the Left Behind series, the writing was excellent and it had a great premise. It was truly fascinating to learn more about Paul.

I have stood in front of the prison where Paul was kept. It was an experience that words cannot describe. We did not get to go in, so I have not seen the actual dungeon, but I can only imagine what it was like.

I was disappointed with the pace of the action, though. All of the praises spoke volumes about how it was fast paced. I found it lacking. the action didn’t really pick up until around chapter twenty and then slowed back down. The story line always remained interesting, it just seemed a bit bogged down in the details.

The description comparing this to Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon was spot on. Auggie was very well versed in his field and his moral high ground helped keep things interesting. Despite numerous opportunities, he stuck firmly to his beliefs. A lot of Christians today would take the opportunities that Auggie was offered. It’s disheartening.

I really liked following Luke’s reading of Paul’s memoir manuscript. I don’t know a lot about the Jewish faith or the role it played in Saul’s early life, and it was interesting to learn more about his life prior to his conversion.

It wasn’t clear if this was a standalone or the first of a series until the end. I look forward to reading the rest of the story in I, Paul, due out next year in 2014.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jerry B. Jenkins’s novels have sold more than 70 million copies, including the phenomenal mega-best-selling Left Behind series. Twenty of his books have reached the New York Times best-seller list, including seven that debuted at number one, as well as the USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Wall Street Journal best-seller lists. Jenkins has been featured on the cover of Newsweek magazine. Jerry and his wife, Dianna, live in Colorado.

Worthy Publishing Group (www.worthypublishing.com) is a privately held, independent voice in Christian and inspirational publishing, based in Nashville, Tennessee, comprised of three divisions. Worthy Books publishes a boutique list of trade titles across a broad spectrum of genres, including current events, biography, fiction, devotionals, spiritual and personal growth, and specialized Bibles. Ellie Claire is a line of gift and paper expressions, and Freeman-Smith is a value-priced, impulse book imprint.

 

In Defense of the Queen by Michelle Diener September 23, 2013

Filed under: Book Review,Books,Interview — Maura @ 12:00 am
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affiliate links used


I was granted a digital review copy of In Defense of the Queen by the publisher (Season Publishing) in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4 stars
Pub date: 1 Aug 2013
Publisher: Season Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Format: e-ARC
In Defense of the Queen (Susanna Horenbout & John Parker) (Volume 3)

Summary:
*Disclaimer* From the author of In a Treacherous Court and Keeper of the King’s Secrets comes In Defense of the Queen, the third book in the Susanna Horenbout & John Parker series of Tudor-set historical suspense. However, you don’t need to have read the first two novels to enjoy In Defense of the Queen. As of the reading this book and publishing of this post, I have not read the first two books.

An artist never betrays her patron . . . especially one of the world’s most powerful kings.

Susanna Horenbout has learned this lesson from the cradle. But when she receives a letter from her father telling her to do just that, she faces a dilemma. Betray Henry VIII, or carry out the request of her father’s employer, Margaret of Austria, and pass secret information to Henry’s queen, Katherine of Aragon.

Caught between the machinations of her husband and her nephew, the Emperor Charles, Queen Katherine needs all the allies she can get. But what can Susanna really do to help her, and even if she does, will it be enough?

Susanna and her betrothed, Parker——one of Henry’s most trusted courtiers——balance on the knife’s edge of treason as they try to make sense of both international and domestic conspiracies. Sometimes, it’s better the enemy you know . . .

About the author:
Michelle Diener writes historical fiction. Her Susanna Horenbout & John Parker series, set in the court of Henry VIII, includes In a Treacherous Court and Keeper of the King’s Secrets, with In Defense of the Queen set for an August 1st, 2013 release.

Michelle’s other historical novels include Daughter of the Sky, The Emperor’s Conspiracy and Banquet of Lies (loosely connected to The Emperor’s Conspiracy), which will release on October 22nd, 2013.

Michelle also contributed a short paranormal story to the ENTANGLED Anthology entitled BREAKING OUT. All the proceeds of the sale of ENTANGLED go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Michelle was born in London, grew up in South Africa and currently lives in Australia with her husband and two children.

When she’s not writing, or driving her kids from activity to activity, you can find her blogging at Magical Musings, or online at Twitter and Facebook.

Interview:

Ms. Diener was nice enough to grant me an interview (via email) to go along with my review! (:

Concerning In Defense of the Queen:
Why did you decide on Henry VIII’s court?
Henry’s court came with Susanna Horenbout, so I had no choice, there :). I was doing some historical research into interesting women the history books often don’t mention, and stumbled upon Susanna Horenbout. My imagination was immediately fired up with ideas at the thought of an accomplished woman painter at Henry VIII’s court, and I just had to write a book about her. My first novel with her as the protagonist was In a Treacherous Court, and I just found I wasn’t done, yet. She, and her betrothed, John Parker, had a lot more story to tell, hence Keeper of the King’s Secret and In Defense of the Queen. I’ve since been in correspondence with a number of Susanna’s descendants, which has been great fun, too. They love my portrayal of their great x 10 grandmother!

What was the most difficult scene to write?

I always find action scenes quite hard to write, and spend a great deal of time on them. Parker’s race to get to the Tower of London before Cardinal Wolsey was incredibly difficult, juggling a lot of action with a great deal of emotion.

How much further will we see the Tudor court go? Will we get to see Susanna and Parker wed?

There is definitely at least one more book to be written, and Susanna and Parker deserve to finally get married, I think. 🙂

In Defense of the Queen is part of a series, but set up to read alone. What made you decide to set up the series this way?

I just think it’s respectful of new readers to make each book stand on its own as much as possible. That way, they can still go back and enjoy the other books in the series, but it doesn’t diminish the enjoyment of reading the later one they picked up.

What’s next after In Defense of the Queen? Do you have anything in the works?

My next release will be Banquet of Lies, which is coming out on October 22nd through Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books, so quite soon! It is connected to my November 2012 release, The Emperor’s Conspiracy, with some of the characters in The Emperor’s Conspiracy making an appearance in Banquet of Lies – although again, the books stand on their own. They are set during the Napoleonic Wars in London.

*** Right after I received Ms. Diener’s interview answers, I received an email from NetGalley that I was approved for Banquet of Lies! Keep an eye out for THAT review, too!***

Would you like to see In Defense of the Queen be obtained to make it to the big screen?

Oh, definitely! I don’t think there is enough historical action-thrillers out there on the movie scene, and I would LOVE to see these characters on the big screen. 🙂

Concerning your writing process and career:

What is your writing process?

I write a short outline before I start a book, and often write short paragraphs before I tackle each scene, so I know where I’m going, but I still have a lot of leeway.

What is your favourite writing environment?

My own home. It’s quiet, which I like when I’m working, and I have a good coffee machine :).

How do you get your plot ideas?

I love history, and there is so much material for stories in history, I simply can never run out of inspiration.

Do you get any say in your cover designs?

I am really lucky, in that my publisher, Simon & Schuster, always ask for my input before they hold the cover conference for my books. I’ve loved all the covers they’ve come up with for me. For my two self-published novels, I obviously had the full say in the look of the cover, and I love those, too.

What do you do to combat writer’s block?

The best way for me is to shake things up. Write with pen and paper, change the place where I write. Or reread really good books I love, to get reinspired.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I’m one of those annoying people who always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was very young.

Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?

There has never been a better time to be a writer than the present. Opportunities are opening up that where never there before, and as long as you are committed to working hard at your craft, and not cutting any corners, the world is your oyster!

Getting to know you outside of your books:

Do you prefer hardback, paperback, audiobook, or e-book?

I prefer paperback and e-book. I buy a mix of these. I would probably buy more e-books, but I live in Australia, and often the books I want aren’t available due to international rights restrictions. So I have to buy the print copies. I find my mind drifts too much with audiobooks, although when we are in the car on a long trip, my whole family loves listening to them. It makes the journey seem much shorter.

What book is currently on your nightstand?

The Outcast Prince by Shona Husk.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

I love baking and cooking. Which worked out well for me in Banquet of Lies, my upcoming release, as there is a lot of cooking in that book.

(If they’re old enough)Do your kids enjoy reading your books?

My daughter would love to read my books, but she is still too young. My son is even younger than my daughter and hasn’t even considered the possibility of reading my books yet.

Thank you for having me, Maura!

Thanks for letting me interview you! (: Can’t wait to read past and future books!

Review
When I started this, it was skipping over Pretty Dark Nothing. I hit a wall while reading it and decided to go on to my next eARC. I’m glad I did. I was not very far into the story, and the action was already gripping. Susanna’s brother shows up and there’s an assassin on the loose. So fascinating!

The more I read of this the better it got. The pace kept going faster and faster and the intrigue kept getting deeper. I have a particular fondness for the Tudor era of England. This takes place right in the early years of Henry VIII’s reign. He is still married to Katherine of Aragon, his first wife. The main premise is the different spy ranks for various world powers are either trying to get a message to the Queen or keeping her from finding out. What is this mysterious message? Currently, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, is betrothed to the little Princess Mary, daughter of Katherine and Henry. As she is such a young child and years away from marriage, Charles is contemplating breaking the betrothal in order to marry a wealthier, older bride. Margaret of Austria is trying to inform Katherine of this so she has time to persuade Charles to keep from breaking the betrothal. If the betrothal is broken, the already strained marriage of the king and queen may falter even more.

Susanna’s brother carries a message he needs Susanna to get to the queen. She reads it and is then forced with the decision on what to do. Should she betray her employer, King Henry, and warn his queen, or does she do nothing? She shows it to Parker, but before they can fully weigh their options, an assassin attempts to kill them. Parker is convinced it is Jean, another spy, and jumps out the window to pursue him. Very quickly, things escalate, fall apart, and Susanna finds herself accused of treason and locked in the Tower.

While she is playing a game of survival in the Tower, Parker is playing a similar game trying to prove to the king that Wolsey has falsified evidence against Susanna because the information he received had been faked. As a court painter and despite being imprisoned in the Tower, Henry has commissioned her to paint his bastard son, Henry Fitzroy. Wolsey’s hand is forced by the king, and he decides he must get Susanna to the dungeons of the Tower. Parker is chasing Wolsey, and Susanna with Parker’s aids, try to escape the Tower. During this, the mysterious French spy/assassin Jean makes his play. He takes Susanna prisoner. His plan is to force her to to reveal the hiding place of a French jewel and to convince her to run away with him. He also reveals an assassination plot to take out Henry Fitzroy. She refuses to accompany him and manages to escape into Parker’s arms while Jean goes to look for the jewel. Susanna quickly tells Parker of the plot and they race off to save the young bastard prince.

They arrive just in time to save Fitzroy, and race off to safety. They split into groups to confuse the attackers. Once Susanna and Fitzroy reach the Tower, they are refused entry. Finally, they reach the safety of the king. Henry is overjoyed with the rescue of his only male child. He quickly forgives Susanna of their past difficulties. He also says he will never speak against her upcoming marriage to Parker again.

****My thoughts****

When I saw this title on NetGalley, I was immediately drawn to it. I love all things Tudor. I also liked that this was in a series, yet could be read as a standalone. There were a few things I was a bit foggy on understanding, a few minor things that would be crystal clear had I read the previous books. I enjoyed it and definitely plan on reading the other books in this series and I’m HOPING for a wedding and another book! (: I believe I have found another historical fiction author I will enjoy for years to come. I’m also very excited that I’ve been approved for another eARC of Ms. Diener’s. I fell in love with the fierce devotion and loyalty of Parker and Susanna. I’m very excited to go back to the first two books of this series and see where their relationship started!

Recommended for: History and Tudors lovers. Those who love a fast paced mystery.

Not recommended for: Those who dislike historical fiction.

 

 
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