The Whimsical Mama

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

Secret Sister March Unwrapped April 9, 2015

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Last Monday, I received a glorious package from my Secret Sister, James Bond. The awesomeness and gratitude could NOT be fully shown in 140 characters on Twitter, so I decided to do a full unwrap on the blog. This will focus on my goodies. An in depth unwrap on the kiddos’ goodies can be found on Backyard Explorers.

When I opened the front door to see if the mail had gone by, Punk spotted our giant box first.

IMG_7137Bug was still napping, so we just opened the top to peek in.

IMG_7138Once Bug woke up, we dug in! I was SO overwhelmed by my Sister’s generosity. She is the sweetest for including the kiddos!

IMG_7140Now! To show off my goodies!

IMG_7141Isn’t she the BEST?! I am still so overwhelmed. Punk has tried to claim my hot chocolate, but I say it’s ALL MINE!

IMG_7142I’m on a huge Tudors kick right now. My Sis and I read Gilt by Katherine Longshore together and discussed it via letters. So much fun! Well, after finishing Gilt, I continued on to Tarnish and Brazen. While on this binge, I posted my Tudors era collection (Including the Cousins’ War series)

IMG_7049Tudor collection consists of:
The Other Boleyn GirlThe Secret Diary of Anne BoleynQueen Jezebel: A Catherine de’ Medici NovelThe Tudors: Season 1Elizabeth I: Red Rose of the House of Tudor, England, 1544 (The Royal Diaries)Mary, Queen of Scots: Queen Without a Country, France 1553 (The Royal Diaries)Mary, Bloody MaryDoomed Queen Anne: A Young Royals BookBeware, Princess ElizabethAnne of the Thousand Days / Mary, Queen of ScotsGiltElizabeth: The Struggle for the ThroneElizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, QueensElizabeth ILady JaneThe Other Boleyn GirlThe Boleyn InheritanceI did forget my DVD of Elizabeth (Spotlight Series)OOPS! I also have a few Philippa Gregory books on my kindle, but until they’re also in my physical collection, they don’t count (;

My sister very generously passed on some of her Philippa Gregory goodies to help flesh out my collection a bit more

IMG_7143
The Other Queen
The Red Queen (The Cousin’s War)
The Lady of the Rivers: A Novel (The Cousins’ War)
The White Queen (The Cousins’ War)

Don’t worry about The White Queen not being the show cover! I don’t mind having multiple copies of favourites! (: I haven’t gotten to The Other Queen yet in my reading, so I’m pretty excited for it while I’m on my Tudor binge! (:

I was SO excited to see This Shattered World: A Starbound Novel in this month’s box! (: I have been dying to get my hands on this December 2014 release! It is definitely a top priority after my Tudor binge!

IMG_7144I am a huge hoarder – I mean collector of bookmarks. When I saw this adorable yarn ball and crochet hook bookmark by Craft’ed, I wanted it hardcore! I was so happy to see it! Aren’t the owls adorable? Can’t wait to use them!

IMG_7145In her letter, my Sis said she planned this month’s box as a royal theme and every queen needs to be pampered! The soap and bath salts smell awesome and I can’t wait to try the face mask. (: And chapstick. Oh. Man. It’s awesome and Bug keeps trying to pilfer it.

IMG_7148I am a HUGE Nashville Predators fan and have been wanting some regular post earrings to compliment my dangly ones. So happy to have these in my life for some post season play! Woohoo Preds clenching a playoffs spot.

IMG_7147My Sis is SO talented! She knit me a washcloth and some mug mats. The mats have hearts in them! LOVE! And I’ve already used one. (: IMG_7149IMG_7156Mug mat in use with my White Queen mug! (:

I am including the big bear with mine, because he was sent for me, but Bug has confiscated him for her own. He’s so soft! I can’t really blame her for stealing him!

IMG_7150I am so excited for my new reads! Thank you so much my dear Sister! I love and appreciate all of the goodies you shared with us! ❤

IMG_7155

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Top Ten Tuesday #33: Gateway Books/Authors in My Reading Journey April 1, 2014

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

Top Ten Gateway Books/Authors in My Reading Journey

JK Rowling– JKR is one of the authors responsible for making me fall in love with reading on my own. As a kid, I loved being read to, but HATED reading on my own. JKR changed all of that with a little boy named Harry. (: 

Rachel Harris – Rachel has gotten me to venture into the world of New Adult. I loved Seven Day Fiance. New Adult is on my genre list of venturing into more. 

Lois Lowry – Opening my reading up to dystopian societies. It’s kinda funny, really. Tea Time talked about this on 26 March when discussing The Giver trailer. I already had this list sketched out on paper and had her down for dystopian. I love her other works too, but she really got me into dystopian before it was cool to be dystopian. 

The Royal Diaries series – This middle grade series is what got me hooked on history. I devoured these books like they were going out of style! I still need to finish the series and I hope my kiddos love them as much as I did/do!

Philippa Gregory – It started with Royal Diaries and matured when I discovered Philippa Gregory’s Tudor era writings. She only increased my obsession with mid15th-early17th century England! 

Carolyn Meyer – Another middle grade obsession. I love her Tudor era books!

Stephenie Meyer – Yes, she’s on my list. I will admit, Twilight launched me back into reading YA in college. I haven’t looked back on reading since then! 

Ann Rinaldi – There’s a real middle grade theme going on today! Rinaldi is another middle grade author who flamed my obsession with history.

Anne Frank – Dear Anne really sparked the flame on my love of reading about World War II. It was really a combination of her writing and wanting to know what my Grandaddy went through. 

American Girl series– This is THE series that really was the bridge between picture books and middle grade for me. I loved having people read these to me and I would occasionally sit and read them myself. I have four of the dolls that will be passed down to Bug and I have a bunch of the books! 

That’s it for Top Ten Tuesday today! What are your gateway books/authors? Feel free to comment and leave your link! (: 

 

*ARC Review* The Ring & the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz March 31, 2014

***I was granted permission to read this by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Disney Hyperion!***

Rating:4 stars
Pub date:1 April 2014
Publisher:Disney Hyperion
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Romance, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Format:ARC provided by the publisher
Status:Book one of The Ring and the Crown series

Summary:

Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?


Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen.


But even with the aid of Emrys’ magic, Eleanor’s extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen’s Guard.


Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie’s face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she’s always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she’s always dreamed of–the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor’s court: trust no one.

My thoughts:

 While I as eagerly awaiting news of Melissa de la Cruz’s spin off from Blue Bloods, she first announced another new series – The Ring and the Crown. When I first saw the title, I thought it as the new Blue Bloods until I read the rest of the announcement. An alternate history with magic?! Count me in! I as so excited. I finally got up the guts to email a request about an ARC. I was so excited, I didn’t know how I would deal with a rejection. The wait for April would be a long and excruciating one. Thank my lucky stars, Disney Hyperion granted me an ARC. That was a glorious mail day! I tried to put it off until a bit closer to pub date to read it, but I just couldn’t wait anymore.


Once again, Melissa does a great job of drawing you in at once with interesting characters who aren’t all that they seem. She also does a great job of creating an alternate reality of London and New York. New York doesn’t feature much, but you do get a small taste. It’s set in what would be late Victorian/early Edwardian time for us, but being an alternate history, there are different rulers due to different outcomes.


The turning point to alter reality from our own occurred during the 100 years war between England and France. France never succeeded driving out the English – thanks to more powerful magic on the English side. Joan of Arc (Jeanne of Arkk) was still burned at the stake for witchcraft (only it was true this time) and Charles VII was never crowned King of France. As a result echoing through the ages: the British Empire comes to existence but it never crumbles. War of Independence? Nope. A minor uprising that is squashed. The United States of America is part of the America Provinces.


As a huge history nerd, I was very excited to see how Melissa was going to spin this alternate reality and I think she killed it. I often think of different history scenarios and wonder how things would be different if the outcome had been reversed. Pulling in Merlin and Avalon was perfection. I love myths involving Merlin, Avalon, Arthur, Camelot, etc.


I don’t know if it was an intentional homage or not, but I really felt a Prince and the Pauper pull between the two leading ladies – Princess Marie-Victoria and acolyte Aelwyn. Both long for lives that differ from their own. Who can’t relate to that? As a teenager, I often thought of what it would be like to be a princess. Not in an obsessive, I WANT to be a princess, just pondering how life would be different. Now, as an adult, I thank my stars that I am who I am. I like not having my every move watched and scrutinised. I definitely enjoy not having my every move as a mother watched and rumours flying if I’m pregnant again or not. Poor Princess Catherine!


I also loved the addition of the American Ronan. She has very heavy obligations thrust on her young shoulders and she has to decide how she wants her future to go.  That is the main theme of the book – do what is expected and accept responsibility for decisions/actions, discover yourself and be true to that self. These three lovely ladies as well as Isabelle of Orleans (descendant of the fallen French family) struggle to do just that.


Along the road of self discovery, the ladies are joined by the charming Prince Wolf (I call dibs NOW). I fell in love with Wolf in his first scene and he grows immensely from there. And what story wouldn’t be complete without a few villains? I’ll remain mum on their identities because there’s a scene at the end that is a doozie!


Melissa does a great job with character growth and world development once again. (Honestly, I’m NOT surprised.) She does a fantastic job of taking a simplistic style and making it so fabulous that you’re swamped with imagery without being up to your eyeballs in page long descriptions. I’ve seen a few complaints about straying from historical accuracies, but let’s be honest for a minute. It’s an ALTERNATE history therefore the world will be different. I’m a big history purist in historical fiction novels. Since this is an alternate history, Melissa gets some room to work with in it. It doesn’t have to be 100% accurate because it’s her alternate history. I really enjoyed The Ring and the Crown and can’t wait for more. As usual with Melissa’s writing, I was addicted from the beginning. Melissa’s writing is just a drug to me and I can never get enough! I highly recommend The Ring and the Crown to historical fiction and fantasy readers. Even if those aren’t your usual cups of tea, I still suggest you give it a shot! You never know when you’ll stumble across a new series you’ll enjoy! And the best news of all?! It comes out TOMORROW! 

About the author

Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.


Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys and the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas.


She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.


Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).


She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter.

 

Waiting on Wednesday #21: The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz March 12, 2014

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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:

The Ring and the Crown (The Ring and the Crown #1)

 

by Melissa de la Cruz

 

Coming: 1 April 2014

 

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

 

Summary:

 

Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?


Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen.


But even with the aid of Emrys’ magic, Eleanor’s extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen’s Guard.


Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie’s face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she’s always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she’s always dreamed of–the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor’s court: trust no one.

 

Why I’m excited:

 

I ADORE Melissa de la Cruz. I really do. I have loved her since 2007. I was sad when her Blue Bloods series ended. I was excited when she announced she had TWO new series coming in 2014. TWO. YES! One, was a new spinoff from Blue Bloods. The other, a an alternate history historical fiction. OH MY. YES! I love history. I’m the type of nerd that likes to think “what if?” on various history scenarios. Now, the lovely Melissa has created one for this bookish history loving nerd. And not only is it alternate history, it has MAGIC. YES YES YES! Many wonderful thanks to Disney Hyperion for the ARC approval!

 

 

Why I need you to be excited:

 

Royals and magic. C’mon! It’s gonna be brilliant. Melissa is amazing and she will NOT disappoint with this. I’ve actually already read it, so I know it’s a great read. It’s very exciting and I knocked it out in about 24 hours. Assassination attempts, runaway romance, a Prince and the Pauper switch, it’s incredible. This is a series you can’t miss! What’s even better? You don’t have to wait long to read it! It comes out on April 1st. Go ahead and preorder. You know you want to! (;

 

 

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?

 

 
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