The Whimsical Mama

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

*ARC Review* Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White May 10, 2015

***mild spoilers may follow***

***affiliate links are used***

Rating:  5 stars
Pub date: 9 September 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal
Format: e-ARC, provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Status: standalone

Summary:

Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare in this lush, romantic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.

“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

Kiersten White captured readers’ hearts with her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy and its effortless mix of magic and real-world teenage humor. She returns to that winning combination of wit, charm, and enchantment in Illusions of Fate, a sparkling and romantic new novel perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, The Madman’s Daughter, and Libba Bray..

My thoughts:
I was ecstatic when Illusions of Fate popped up on Edelweiss! I mean, LOOK AT THAT COVER! It’s GORGEOUS! Plus the description having Downton Abbey and Cassandra Clare in it definitely piqued my interest. Usually comparisons and perfect for fans of turn me away, but sometimes curiosity gets me. Especially when a gorgeous cover is involved! I love Downton Abbey and The Infernal Devices, so a book with elements of both? YES, PLEASE!

I have only read Kiersten’s Mind Games duology, (review) so I was familiar with her writing, but Illusions of Fate is an entirely different beast. It’s definitely, hands down, my favourite of the three I’ve read. Mind Games was okay/good, but Illusions of Fate knocked it out of the park.

Leading lady Jessamin left her island home to further her education. She is faced with racial discrimination. She is darker skinned than her classmates and is poor. Wealth and privilege are the ways of the land. (Sounds familiar, right?) Her estranged father is a professor at her school, but ignores her existence. She doesn’t let that get her down though. She is determined to fulfill her dreams. I related to Jessamin through her use of sarcasm. Sarcasm FTW! (: The most refreshing thing about this delightful fantasy (besides being a standalone!) is that Jessamin isn’t a damsel in distress. She has the brains and courage to take care of herself in troublesome situations. Her fatal flaw is her stubbornness though. She doesn’t seek help even when she truly needs it. (Ouch, that sounds familiar…)

It was also fascinating to see how Kiersten handled racism/discrimination in Illusions of Fate. Jessamin is a person of colour and discriminated as such, but she also discriminates against those unlike herself. I believe Kiersten takes a delicate and very important subject and spins it into her world beautifully.

The world of Illusions of Fate is complex and thoroughly fleshed out. It would’ve been so easy to keep things drawn out and spin into a duology or even a trilogy, but Kiersten does a fantastic job of keeping the story concise while putting layer upon layer of complexity to her characters and the world.

The storyline is neatly wrapped up in the end, but I feel it leaves just enough of a void for a new story to take off if so desired. I absolutely love that Illusions of Fate is a standalone. No long commitments of waiting for a new book each year, but I also wouldn’t be opposed to a companion novel sometime.

Kiersten creates a beautiful and addicting world, and you’ll find yourself wanting to devour it in one sitting. I loved it so much I had to have a physical copy for my shelves!

About the Author
Hi! I’m the New York Times best-selling author of Paranormalcy and Supernaturally. I also give the most awkward hugs in the world. You should probably opt for one of my books over one of my hugs, but then again, maybe you like awkward hugs.

As for me, I like writing flirting scenes, and fighting scenes, and sometimes I write scenes that fall somewhere in between the two, but only if I can’t avoid it.

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

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*Blog Tour & ARC Review* Remember Me by Romily Bernard September 18, 2014

Remember Me (Find Me #2)

by Romily Bernard

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: September 23rd 2014

Read an excerpt

Synopsis:

In the sequel to Find Me, Wick Tate, sarcastic teen hacker, is back and once again dealing with criminals and corrupt cops…and a brooding new love interest. Will Wick persevere when some secrets refuse to stay hidden?
Wick had thought her troubles were over.
But she should’ve known better.
Not only is she embroiled in a new murder case, which starts with a body with “Remember Me” carved into it and doesn’t stop there, but she also discovers new evidence surrounding her mother’s suicide…which leads her right back to her imprisoned deadbeat dad. And she has to deal with her flirty new hacker friend, Milo, sniffing around—which her boyfriend, Griff, isn’t too happy about.
The pressure might be too much as secrets—including Wick’s own—climb to the surface.
Remember Me is an edge-of-your-seat thrilling read that’ll have readers turning the pages at lightning speed! The paperback of Find Me is on sale simultaneously, and a digital original novella from Romily, featuring Griff, is on sale just a few weeks before! 

I am struggling right now! Reading Find Me and Remember Me back to back, I’m overwhelmed. It’s one thing seeing inside the hacking world in a movie. Entirely different getting inside a hacker’s head. Whoa.
I’m normally all about me some dystopian &/ fantasy and not really ip for contemporary cause I’m not into real life and romance scene. Yes, I’m  reading a contemporary, but I’m still escaping. I know minimal things of the world of Wick and exploring it has been great!
Right from the beginning, Romily hooks you all over again. Just like Find Me, Remember Me is easily a one sitting read. Unless, of course, you’re a mama of two tots and scrambling to find time to read because your precious two hours of reading a day doesn’t happen. STOP FIGHTING NAPS PUNK AND BUG! >.< Anyway…
One major difference this time around is how much darker things are. Find Me was dark, but Remember Me takes it to a whole other level. Wick is dealing with murders on top of all the other things (fallout from Todd, her dad being in prison, being adopted, etc.) With so much more going on, and not being able to read consistently, I did have to occasionally back up a few chapters to refresh. I think it was a combination of so much going on, reading Find Me and straight into Remember Me, and mommy brain. The struggle is REAL.
Speaking of struggle, that’s a big think Wick and Griff do. After finally getting together in Find Me, they have to fight for their relationship in Remember Me. They struggle with their lives and their romance the entire book. I loved the gritty honesty of life and not a fairytale like romance like in most contemporary YA. I can get both sides of the coin (Wick & Griff), but I also got a bit annoyed with Griff for REASONS (aka SPOILERS lol).
With a new job also comes a new character in Milo. He’s just… well, Milo. Haha. I prefer Griff’s brand of shady over Milo’s, but I also like Milo’s snark over Griff’s moodiness. I know novellas are becoming a played out hot mess, but I would love to see more Milo (*hint hint* Romily *hint hint*)!
I think Romily does a great job avoiding the sophomore slump with Remember Me. It’s full of twists and turns, and of course completely unexpected revelations. It builds on the events of Find Me, sets up for the trilogy finale of Trust Me, and shines on its own. A great read beginning to end and I highly recommend it.




 

 




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Follow the FFBC Remember Me Blog Tour and don’t miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

I graduated from Georgia State University with a Literature degree. Since then, I’ve worked as a riding instructor, cell phone salesgirl, personal assistant, groom, exercise rider, accounting assistant, and, during a very dark time, customer service rep.
So don’t let anyone tell you a BA degree will keep you unemployed. 

Win (1) of (2) signed paperbacks of Find Me + Remember Me by Romily Bernard (US Only)

 

 

*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.

 

Waiting on Wednesday #40: In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis September 10, 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:

In a Handful of Dust (Not a Drop to Drink #2)

 By: Mindy McGinnis

 Coming: 23rd September 2014

 Publisher: HarperTeen, Katherine Tegen Books

 

Summary:

The only thing bigger than the world is fear.

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.

In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.

 

Why I’m excited:

Okay, so I haven’t read Not a Drop to Drink yet, but I’m super excited to binge read this companion/duology. It’s gonna be great!

 

Why I need you to be excited:

It’s a dystopian! It’s gonna be great. It’s a companion novel, so you don’t technically have to read the first book first from what I understand. Come check out this world!

 

*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.

 

*Blog Tour* The Jewel by Amy Ewing August 31, 2014

 

The Jewel (The Lone City #1)

by Amy Ewing

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: September 2nd 2014

Rate: 4 stars

Synopsis:
The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.
Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.
Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence… and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for. 

The first thing that caught my attention for The Jewel, was the cover. It’s GORGEOUS! I threw the don’t judge a book by its cover rule right out the window on this one. Not even knowing the summary, I knew I wanted to give this book a read. Once I knew it was a dystopian? It became a MUST read.

Violet was a fantastic main character. She was instantly intriguing and I would love to know more how these mysterious powers are passed along through families. Especially why only the females have the gene. I understand why the royalty brought in surrogates for a while, but after a while, I don’t understand why the practice wasn’t thrown out. But if it had been, there wouldn’t be a story!
The main thing I loved about Violet was that she’s a musician. As a fellow musician, I loved the emphasis on her talents. I contemplated digging through my classical cds to add them to my ipod to listen to while I read. I never did because that would’ve cut into reading time. I blew through it quickly as it was, so I didn’t want any distractions from reading! The Jewel screams to have music added to the audiobook in the style of If I Stay/Where She Went (IMHO!)
Other than the unexpected romance twist, the BIGGEST problem I had was the lack of historical explanation. I wanted to know what happened to create this government. In most cases it’s been war, but nothing is said. It’s kind of explained how this government formed, but not the situations that made it necessary. As this is a trilogy, I’m hoping it will be explained in the future!
This was totally capable of being a full 5 star rating, but I didn’t care for the eventual romance. In a way, I was hoping it wouldn’t be a factor in the book at all (I am firmly in the a book doesn’t HAVE to have romance to be a good book camp). I was also figuring the romance would be with someone else. Since I was expecting it to be with an entirely different character, I was a bit disappointed with how things panned out.
Along side Violet, there is an incredible cast of characters that gives such depth to The Jewel. I had a love-hate relationship with the Duchess. I want to know what’s happening to Raven. Lucian is totally a new Cinna and I love it. I’m most intrigued by Garnet. I want him front and centre in book 2!
Just when you think you have things figured out, Amy takes things in another direction. I’m so interested and excited to see where things go from here. The cliffhanger at the end is BRUTAL. That’s one of the downfalls of reading ARCs or starting a new series that isn’t completed. The wait is going to be a tough one! I need book 2 NOW.
I definitely recommend The Jewel to dystopian fantasy readers. It’s an intriguing and quick read. It definitely keeps you on your toes and guessing what could be coming next. I plan on continuing this trilogy and definitely plan on purchasing a finished copy! The cover is beautiful and will make a gorgeous addition to my shelves.

 

 










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Follow the FFBC The Jewel Blog Tour and don’t miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.
Amy Ewing is the young adult author of THE JEWEL, the first in a trilogy from HarperTeen, coming out September 2014.
She grew up in a small town outside Boston, where her librarian mother instilled a deep love of reading at a young age. Amy moved to New York City in 2000 to study theater at New York University. Unfortunately, her acting career didn’t quite pan out. She worked in restaurants, as an administrative assistant, a nanny, and a sales representative for a wine distributor before the lack of creativity in her life drove her to begin writing.
Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing for Children from The New School, where she was lucky enough to meet a fabulous community of YA writers who keep her sane on a daily basis. She lives in Harlem, where she spends her days writing, eating cheese, and occasionally binge watching The Vampire Diaries.
Win (1) of (3) copies of The Jewel (Us Only)

 

 

*Cover Reveal* The Social Media Experiment by Cole Gibsen July 9, 2014

Today, I’m excited to be part of the cover reveal for The Social Media Experiment by Cole Gibsen! The Social Media Experiment releases 2 September 2014 from Entangled Teen!

 

The Social Media Experiment 500x750

The Social Media Experiment official blurb:

 

On the surface, seventeen-year-old Reagan Fray appears to have everything. She’s popular, Ivy League–bound, and her parents are rich enough to buy her whatever she wants. Behind the scenes, Reagan is a girl with an anxiety disorder struggling to hold the fraying threads of her life together. It takes work to stay on top, and when that fails, Reagan’s learned from her politician mother that a little social espionage never hurts. That is, until the day Reagan finds all of her texts and private messages printed out and taped to every locker in her high school.

Finding herself ostracized from her friends and on the receiving end of the bullying she used to dish out, Reagan won’t settle into her new role as social pariah without a fight. Determined to get back in with her friends and reclaim her social status before her mother finds out and sends her to boarding school, Reagan has no choice but to team up with outcast Nolan Letner.

But the closer Reagan gets to Nolan, the more she realizes all of her actions have consequences, and her future might be the biggest casualty of all.

 

About the author

Cole Gibsen author photo

I love writing, day-old chinese food, and my nail polish is always chipped. My YA novel, KATANA, will be released, spring 2012 by Flux. You can check out my website at www.colegibsen.com Word to your mother. (But seriously, you should call her. She worries.)

Additional links to Cole’s pages:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/colegibsen

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cole.gibsen

Tumblr: http://colegibsen.tumblr.com/

 

 

 

 
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