The Whimsical Mama

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

Goodbye June, Hello July! July 1, 2016

June started out to be a very promising reading month, and then turned out to be a bust haha. Hubs was gone to annual training for two weeks so I ended up staying at our office the full day every day which obviously, cut into home reading time. Though I had slow days, it was much easier to get some blog work done and stop in the middle of a post than stop in the middle of a good reading part. I could’ve done audiobooks since my mom was keeping the kids, but I ended up binge rewatching Reign and Agents of SHIELD. haha. We have a few vacations coming up in July and that will lead to lots of time in the car, so I should have a much better reading amount! I hope your June went well and have lots of exciting things coming up in July. We’ll be heading north for hubby’s sister’s wedding and the kids & I are heading to the beach with my mom and step-dad this month too! Good times for sure.

Books I read June (In order of completion)

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

 

Coming Up in July

My sister-in-law’s wedding

Bug being a flower girl

VA trip

Beach trip

 

 

Goals for July

RELAX

Juggle mama life and blogging life!

Write some reviews and posts

Try to get ahead and stay ahead on blogging

 

July Releases I’m Excited For

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

DC SuperHero Girls

Magic Tree House: Night of the Ninth Dragon

 

July TBR

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

Lois Lane Fallout by Gwenda Bond

 

 

 

2016 Reading Challenge (completed in bold)

A book based on a fairy tale: The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

A National Book Award Winner

A YA Bestseller: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

A book you haven’t read since high school

A book set in your home state

A book translated to English: Dream of the Rood by Cynewulf

A romance set in the future: Their Fractured Light by Aime Kaufman and Megan Spooner

A book set in Europe: The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory

A book that’s under 150 pages: The Hidden Prince by Jodi Meadows

A New York Times Bestseller: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

A book that’s becoming a movie this year

A book recommended by someone you just met

A self-improvement book

A book you can finish in a day: Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir

A book written by a celebrity

A political memoir: Memoir of Marguerite de Valois by Marguerite de Valois

A book at least 100 years older than you: Beowulf by Unknown

A book that’s more than 600 pages

A book from Oprah’s Book Club

A science-fiction novel

A book recommended by a family member

A graphic novel

A book that is published in 2016: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

A book with a protagonist who has your occupation: American Wife by Taya Kyle

A book that takes place during summer

A book and its prequel: The Winner’s Curse & Bridge of Snow by Marie Rutkoski

A murder mystery

A book written by a comedian

A dystopian novel

A book with a blue cover: My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins et al

A book of poetry: Holy Sonnets by John Donne

The first book you see in a bookstore

A classic from the 20th century

A book from the library

An autobiography: The History of the Bloody Massacres of the Protestants in the Year of Our Lord, 1572 by Jacques Auguste de Thou

A book about a road trip

A book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

A satirical book

A book that takes place on an island

A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy

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Top Ten Tuesday #92: Favourite 2016 Releases June 21, 2016

Filed under: Books,Top Ten Tuesday — Maura @ 12:01 am
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b301e-toptentuesday

Each week, the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish think up a fun theme for the week and participating bloggers around the net join in. The theme for this week is:

Top Ten (More like six so far) Favourite 2016 Releases

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  1. The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh. Sequel to The Wrath and the Dawn.

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2. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. Standalone fantasy!

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3. The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski. Finale of The Winner’s Curse trilogy.

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4. When We Collided by Emery Lord. Contemporary standalone.

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5. The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows. Finale of The Orphan Queen duology.

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6. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir. Finale of An Ember in the Ashes duology. Currently reading or recently finished.

I haven’t read them yet, but I know I will enjoy these 2016 releases!

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7. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas. Sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses.

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8. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows. I’m SO excited about this one! I know it’s gonna be great!

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9. The Last Star by Rick Yancey. The final book in The 5th Wave trilogy. I adored The 5th Wave, and I can’t wait to read the other two books! I think this will be what I take to the beach this year!

A Gathering of Shadows Final

10. A Gathering of Shadows by VE Schwab. Sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic. I’ve heard through the grapevine that this ends on an EPIC cliffhanger, so I’m currently waiting until A Conjuring of Light comes out to read books two and three at the same time! I HATE cliffhangers!

What have been your favourite 2016 reads so far this year? What are you looking forward to for the rest of the year?

 

*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.

 

 

Waiting on Wednesday #42: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir April 8, 2015

 affiliate links used

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Waiting on Wednesday” is a weekly event hosted by Jill at the Breaking The Spine. It showcases upcoming releases we’re anticipating!

 

My pick of the week is:

 

An Ember in the Ashes

By: Sabaa Tahir

Coming: 28 April 2015

Publisher: Razorbill

 

Summary:

I WILL TELL YOU THE SAME THING I TELL EVERY SLAVE.

THE RESISTANCE HAS TRIED TO PENETRATE THIS SCHOOL COUNTLESS TIMES. I HAVE DISCOVERED IT EVERY TIME.

IF YOU ARE WORKING WITH THE RESISTANCE, IF YOU CONTACT THEM, IF YOU THINK OF CONTACTING THEM, I WILL KNOW

AND I WILL DESTROY YOU.

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.

Why I’m excited:

I’ve heard so many good things already about this! Plus it takes place in a world inspired by Ancient Rome. I am all about me some Ancient Rome! Plus it’s by a debut author, so I’m even more intrigued! I have no knowledge of her writing, so I’m interested to see if she’s gonna make the buy automatically list. (:

 

Why I need you to be excited:

I know it’s pretty hyped right now, and I usually run from hyped books for a while, but I really think this one is worth the hype. Since it comes out at the end of the month, you still have a bit of time to decide to preorder. I’m really considering it! So head on over to your favourite indie’s site, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, whoever, and consider a preordering! (:

 

*Review* Across the Universe Series by Beth Revis August 16, 2013

Rating: 4.3 for the series
Pub date: 2011, 2012, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: YA, Futuristic, Sci-Fi
Format: paperbacks, obtained from the Public Library

Summary:
Across the Universe: A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone – one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship – tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

A Million Suns: Godspeed was once fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos. It’s been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. Everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He’s finally free to act on his vision—no more Phydus, no more lies. But when Elder learns shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a mystery that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier. Their success—or failure—will determine the fate of the 2,298 passengers aboard Godspeed. But with each step, the journey becomes more perilous, the ship more chaotic, and the love between them more impossible to fight.
Beth Revis catapulted readers into the far reaches of space with her New York Times bestselling debut, Across the Universe. In A Million Suns, Beth deepens the mystery with action, suspense, romance, and deep philosophical questions. And this time it all builds to one mind-bending conclusion: They have to get off this ship.

Shades of Earth: Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They’re ready to start life afresh–to build a home–on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience. But this new Earth isn’t the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed’s former passengers aren’t alone on this planet. And if they’re going to stay, they’ll have to fight. Amy and Elder must race to discover who–or what–else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed–friends, family, life on Earth–will have been for nothing. FUELED BY LIES. RULED BY CHAOS. ALMOST HOME.

This series was suggested to me, and I decided that it sounded great. I took Across the Universe with me on vacation and devoured it. It was nice and refreshing. I’m not usually big into the space scene (unless it’s Star Wars), but this was definitely nice for something different. Sometimes as a stay at home mom, I feel like Amy felt on Godspeed. There are times that I feel trapped and isolated behind walls. It really felt that way this past week after a straight week of rain with a whiny toddler who is missing his daddy. I can’t imagine being stuck in space. At least when I feel trapped here, I can step out in the rain for a few seconds just to catch a breath of fresh air.

As a parent, I can’t imagine having to face the choice Amy’s parents did. They were so ready to go to the new planet, but didn’t fully realise (at least it felt that way to me) what they were asking teenage Amy to give up. She’s a high schooler, she doesn’t know what’s out there for her. I know I wouldn’t want to be separated from my children, but I would want to help decide what is best for them. Even though the prospect seems horrible, I believe I wouldn’t put my children in a situation to have to choose between me and the world they’d be leaving behind. Hopefully, I will never be in that situation.

It seemed so strange in reading that the people of Godspeed didn’t seem to be that advanced. You would think three hundred years in the future, the intelligence level would be higher, not lower. Yes, the technology has advanced, but the people are no where remotely more advanced. the discovery of why they behave the way they do is incredible. A drug that keeps them docile and submissive. It also intrigued me how they were all monoethnic and zero diversity. I was excited to read through the series to see if the reason behind this would be explained.

When I started A Million Suns, I got distracted with the Matched series and ended up not reading for a while. I reread the part I had read and it quickly went by to the end. I was advised to have Shades of Earth on hand for when I finished. I’m very glad I heeded this advice.

The discovery that they were already at their destination was a HUGE surprise. I had an inkling that was where things were going, but I wasn’t expecting it. I was very excited to see how Revis would display this new world. I was pleased and displeased with it. I was hoping for something vastly different from Earth. Pink grass or something like that would’ve been a nice throw in.

It was great getting to meet the “Frozens,” but I was a bit disappointed with the portrayal of Amy’s father. He was the stereotypical soldier. As a military wife, I know that not all military personnel are like this. I feel if he’d been a bit more personable, his actions would’ve made more sense. But that’s just me as a military wife. Amy’s mother seemed a bit blase too. Just their personalities made them seem like an odd fit and strange that they had a child. They both appeared much too attached to their professions to have wanted a family. Don’t get me wrong, I used to be the type that was career hell or high water before a family. My priorities changed. I just seems to me that people with this personality set usually don’t have kids. They do appear like a close family in a way. I dunno. the family dynamic just felt off to me a bit.

Not wanting to spoil the ending (I want you to read it for yourself!), that plot twist was HUGE. It blew my mind and was fantastically done. I was hoping things would be explained and it was laid out just like I was hoping. I’m sad I came into the series after it was finished, but the cliffhanger between two and three, I don’t think I would’ve been able to handle a year wait! I will definitely read this again!

 

 
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