The Whimsical Mama

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

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

NEW_eBOOK_FULFILLMENT

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

***mild spoilers may follow***


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

Summary:

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

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

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

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

My thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

TheFulfillment_ErinRhew_AuthorPic

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

Find her online:
Twitter: @ErinRhewBooks
Facebook
Website

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End of the Year Survey 2014 January 3, 2015

Filed under: Books,End of Year Survey — Maura @ 12:00 am
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2014 End Of Year Book Survey

Last year was my first full year (partially) of blogging. I hit my one year of blogging in July. I didn’t post as much in the summer because I was enjoying as much time with my kiddos as possible. When I was ready to jump back in, the KH incident happened and honestly, it scared me a bit. So, I continued my step back from blogging. The safety of my family comes first and it always will. I’m ready to start blogging again though. I’ve missed it more than I thought I would. It was great to look back on my 2013 End of the Year Survey and then reflect on 2014. Once again, all the graphics are from Jamie.

***Affiliate links used below***

reading-stats-2014

Number Of Books You Read: 210 total, 122 personal reads
Number of Re-Reads: 20 (I really thought it was more!)
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy (duh)

 best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

Contemporary:
Find Me


This book. Oh. Wow.

Dystopian:
Defiance (Defiance Trilogy)

I didn’t spend the time on this that it deserved, but it is a beautiful dystopian/fantasy that I can’t wait to re-read and finish the trilogy!

Historical Fiction:
The Ring and the Crown

I’m a glutton for historical fiction AND Melissa de la Cruz books. This book was superb. I absolutely adored the alternate historical timeline that Melissa created. I am DYING for book two. *crosses fingers and toes for an ARC*

Paranormal:
Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone)

Once again, I owe another great new book discovery to Mary. She’s been on my case to read these forever. I still have to finish book three, but these are such a great read!

Science Fiction:
Cress (The Lunar Chronicles)

Not my favourite of the series, but it was still great! I’m looking forward to Fairest: The Lunar Chronicles: Levana’s Story
and Winter this year.

Fantasy:
Illusions of Fate

I have a love-hate relationship with this one. Holy wow that Kiersten created this to be a standalone. Fantasy is not an easy thing to do that way. And GRRRR for this being a standalone! I would love to explore this world more! And look at that cover. BAM!

 

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

After the End


*RAGES FOR DAYS*

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 

17 First Kisses


If you know me at all, you know contemporary is NOT my thing. That’s why I was completely shocked by how much I adored this standalone debut!

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?

Oceanborn (The Aquarathi) (English Edition)


I LOVE Amalie and her books. I will push Waterfell (The Aquarathi) and Oceanborn forever! PLEASE HarlequinTeen, I NEED MORE!!!! I definitely pushed it the most, not sure how many people read what I suggest!

 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

These Broken Stars (Starbound)


Though this is technically a standalone, it’s also part of a trilogy and it’s INCREDIBLE. Oh wow. This audiobook. *swoons*

Frozen (Taken)


This definitely does NOT suffer a sophomore slump. So man feels. So much love. Book three noooooooow.

Evertrue: An Everneath Novel


*iz dead* So incredible. So happy I got to meet Brodi and gush over this beautiful series.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

Dirty Little Secret


Again, still not a contemporary fan, but (thanks to Mary, duh) I am a HUGE Jennifer Echols fan now!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Open Road Summer

I seem to owe, Mary a lot for book recommendations! She asked me if I would be interested in reading and reviewing this for Bloomsbury. I said yes! She’s usually good on recommending books I’ll love, so I try to give them a shot. Emery’s debut is spectacular!

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The One (The Selection)

I don’t know what it was about this trilogy. I could NOT put it down! It was like crack!

 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

The Jewel

 This debut was fantabulous and I can’t wait for book two!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

Her Dark Curiosity (Madman’s Daughter)

 

I can’t wait til A Cold Legacy is out and I can have the pretties on my shelf! These covers are gorgeous!

11. Most memorable character of 2014?

Rose Under Fire

 Code Name Verity was rough, but oh, man, Rose Under Fire ripped my heart out and stomped all over it. Rose is just a powerful character!

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

Kiss of Broken Glass

Being written in verse was a huge switch up for the year and I loved how this flowed. It spoke to me on a deep level and I finished it super quickly.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

The Impossible Knife of Memory

Army wife. PTSD. Who I am and what I fear most. Laurie Halse Anderson took a topic supremely close to my heart and showcased it beautifully. I bawled, I laughed, I loved it wholeheartedly. Read it.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 

Throne of Glass

I know, I know! Honestly, if I hadn’t had the chance to meet Sarah J Maas at YALLFest, I probably would still be waiting to read it! The wait between Harry Potter books was excruciating. Committing to another long series was just a tough decision. I definitely will love rereading them though!

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

“You get your energy from being by yourself,” I guessed. This was Harper’s description of the strange phenomenon I did not understand. “Having to talk to a bunch of people at once, especially people you don’t know, makes you feel drained.” Biggest Flirts
Biggest Flirts (The Superlatives)

1. Um. Hello description of me! I swear, Jenn followed me in HS to create her characters in The Superlatives! I see so much of HS me in all of them! ❤

“We don’t choose who we love, her mother had once said. Love sweeps you off your feet like a riptide, and leaves you blind by the time you find your footing on the shore.” Stolen
Stolen: A Novella (Taken)

2. This is so me falling in love with the hubby! I wasn’t expecting it, and I was swept up quickly. So beautiful.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Little Knife: A Tor.Com Original (THE GRISHA)

Shortest! Oh, this trilogy and its novellas.

What to Expect the First Year

Actual longest, but I didn’t read all of it (again) in 2014.

City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments)

Actual longest completed. Bittersweet feeling.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Frozen: Heart of Dread, Book One

I so did NOT think it was possible for MDLC to write something I disliked so much. Guess there always has to be something, right? I was just SO let down with this. UGH!

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Night of Cake & Puppets (Kindle Single) (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy)

Zuzana and Mik FOREVS! ❤

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Blue Bloods 3-Book Boxed Set

So, they’re from a re-read like last year’s favourite pair, but OH MAN do I love Oliver & Schuyler’s relationship!

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

The Orphan Queen

Hands down my favourite from a previously read author. HOLY WOW. I’m dying for the Black Knife novellas!

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy)

Mary, stop glaring at me through the computer for taking so long to read this! I am so in love with this series! I plan to read it over and over through the years!

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy)

Oh, Ronan. I loved you so much in The Winner’s Curse. Then reasons.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?

Rites of Passage

This. Book. Read it. Now. Do it. Love it. Tell Joy how much you love it. Kthnxbai

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Snow Like Ashes

Holy wow. This world building. I was THERE. Sara is INCREDIBLE. I can haz book two?

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

The Selection

Stupid grinned through this. The Selection = Twilight for me. I don’t know WHY I love them so much, but I just DO. #TeamMaxon

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

The Book Thief

Bawled like a freaking baby through physical copy/audiobook and then bawled even harder watching the movie.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

The Falconer: Book 1

So much love for this gem! I’m impatiently waiting to see if the UK will be out in print before ARCs are out here for book 2 to see how I get my hands on it! I need to know THINGS.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

If I Stay

My feels. Dead. Dead, dead, dead. Sobbed so hard.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

Dark Metropolis

Definitely some unexpected twists in this gem that made it so much better! Definitely an underdog that needs more love!

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Allegiant (Divergent Series)


REASONS. *RAGES FOR YEARS* This is a duology, man. Allegiant does not exist. >.< DEAD TO ME.

.

book-blogging

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014? 

I made friends with a lot of new bloggers on Twitter, but I dropped the ball on checking out their blogs. /: I plan to remedy that in 2015!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014? 

EESH! I can’t pick just one!

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

My Tot Time Thursday feature I started seemed to be getting a lot of hits! I’m excited to see if it will still do well when I start it up again! (:

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

See below! But also, the Brodi/Jodi signing at the beginning of 2014! I love their books so much and it was great to get to meet Brodi Ashton, CJ Redwine, and Myra McEntire in person. And of course, it’s always awesome to get to see Jodi!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?

YALLFEST. Hands down, going to YALLFest. Because THESE happened

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Me with Leigh Bardugo *fangirls for days*

IMG_4319

Brendan Reichs!

IMG_4320

SO FLIPPING AWESTRUCK. KATHY FREAKING REICHS.

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Scott Westerfeld!

IMG_4328

LOVED meeting this fantabulous husband-wife duo! ❤

IMG_4334

SUCH a trooper! Her line was ridiculous AND she was sick.

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So happy I got to meet half of the lovely TeaTime ladies! ❤ Aubry!

IMG_4349

*iz dead* So my book didn’t get personalised for timing reasons, BUT I still got to meet her and talk to her! She is SUCH a sweetheart! ❤

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My Blogoversary post!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

A lot of them, but I am so thankful for the views of people who have been checking in every day to see if I’ve come back to blogging yet. You guys are AWESOME and I AM BACK because of YOU! ❤

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Bookoutlet and Book Depository!

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I did, I did! I wanted to read 100 for me books and I surpassed it! I also set a Goodreads goal of 200 and I passed it as well. I was involved with a few challenges, but I stopped keeping track of them about halfway through the year. I think I completed most of them though!

 

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?

Captive (The Blackcoat Rebellion)

I am so excited to see where the action goes next!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?

The Cage

I have adored Megan’s Madman’s Daughter trilogy and I can’t wait to see where her new series goes!

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Red Queen

This cover. I am so excited! I’ve been seeing some mixed things on it, so I hope I come out loving it!

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?

A Cold Legacy (Madman’s Daughter)

I’m so not ready to say goodbye yet!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?

I hope to make sure I read to my children every single day. Doesn’t matter if it’s just a passage from what I’m reading and Punk asks or a children’s book. Just make time for them and read to them.

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Burning Kingdoms (The Internment Chronicles)

Pre-order this and read it and Perfect Ruin (The Internment Chronicles)
. Do it. Do it for the kitties. (;

 

*Review* The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson May 18, 2014

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

Rating: 5stars
Pub date: 7 January 2014
Publisher:Viking Juvenile
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Realistic
Format: personal copy, hardcover, signed
Status: standalone

Summary:

For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.

My thoughts:

I was very nervous the first time I read the synopsis of The Impossible Knife of Memory. As a military spouse, I live in a precarious world. I am fiercely loyal to our troops. I will call out military BS and that is a frequent subject of conversation between my husband and I. I don’t mind when civilians call out military BS. Some families do mind. One thing that I will get up in arms about is trash talking or poorly representing our veterans. I could rage forever on that, but I won’t because I don’t need to with The Impossible Knife of Memory.

PTSD. It’s a great fear of mine and probably a fear of a lot of military families. PTSD is also known as shell shock. When my Grandaddy came home with it at the end of WWII, he was simply told to suck it up and be a man. Today, we know it’s not just something you can wish or will away. If only it were that simple.

I was cautiously optimistic with The Impossible Knife of Memory. I’ve loved everything I’ve ever read by Laurie Halse Anderson, but as a military wife and it covering a topic close to my hear, I was concerned. I hoped she wouldn’t take the situation of a PTSD family lightly. I had no need to be concerned!

Right from the beginning Laurie had me hooked. Hayley was such a relatable character for me on so many different levels and I absolutely loved it. I could relate to teenager Hayley because she reminded me so much of myself in high school. I didn’t blow off homework or land in detention, but her snarky personality is what screamed at me.

In chapter one, she’s in detention for telling off a teacher for calling her ‘missy.’ Oh, hello, freshman year biology! I had a teacher who ALWAYS called the girls ‘girly-girl.’ One day, I’d had enough and much like Hayley, gave him a piece of my mind. I told him he could call me by my name or not address me in such a sexist and demeaning way. (No, I didn’t get put in detention. Yes, he went out of his way not to address me the rest of the year unless he HAD to address me. No, he didn’t use any ‘nicknames’ for the boys. Yes, that’s what pissed me off enough to speak up.) Wow. I’m still disgusted by this memory years later. UGH.

By page three, I was reminded all over again just how much I love Laurie Halse Anderson’s writing. It really makes me sad/jealous of Mary for getting to meet her at TLA. It also makes me sad that I can’t jump into a re-read of Speak or Fever 1793 either! (Two of my favs and currently with Mary cause she got them SIGNED for me!!)

A flashback in chapter five had me in tears. Her dad reflects on a situation when he feared he wouldn’t come hme to her. Obviously,that is another big fear of mine as a military wife. (Hubby and I have been through one deployment together and that was before/right after we were married in 2010. Then, he would’ve left behind me and our dog. Now, if something happens in a future deployment, it would impact our two children as well.) Hayley’s dad remarks that he would leave her behind and that she was only a little girl. Hubby’s worst fear is leaving us behind and the kids not knowing their daddy or forgetting him while he’s deployed. It’s obvious to see how this scene ripped me to shreds.

As bad as the struggle against PTSD is, Hayley finds solace in friends. Gracie remembers when Hayley lived in town when they were little. Hayley has blocked things out and refuses to remember happy times, but she’s grateful to have Gracie . Gracie goes from having a perfect family to it being destroyed by parental issues. She doesn’t choose the best things in how to cope with the situation. She and Hayley really lean on each other a lot for support and are great friends to each other.

Hayley also finds Finn. I absolutely loved Finn. I think Laurie Halse Anderson did a fantastic job with him. He has some family issues of his own, but still manages to mellow Hayley out. I really swooned over a certain stargazing scene, because that was mine and hubby’s first not a date, but really a date,date. Then snarky  comments and pseudo fights made them feel even more realistic.

While it was hard to stomach some of the flashbacks Hayley’s dad had, it was amazing to see how well Laurie Halse Anderson did with adding every layer to this broken soldier. More often than not, I wept with him near the end.

I also loved the conflict and eventual acceptance of the runoff stepmom who returns. It added a level of showing just how difficult things can be for veteran families, but also shows that there is help out there for those who need it.

I was very happy to see not a single hint of a soldier is weak if he seeks help in The Impossible Knife of Memory. I passionately believe it takes a great deal of courage to seek help. I appreciated that she also showed how difficult the VA system can be. It definitely could have lengthened the book if more than a glimpse was shown. That’s another can of worms though. I believe that will eventually be taken care of. It has to be. Our veterans DESERVE better treatment than the VA is currently doing. *huffs*

I’m still so blownaway by the magnificence of The Impossible Knife of Memory. Hayley’s voice is strong and so beautifully done. Gracie shows that even a normal teen from a normal family can have everything fall apart. Finn shows that passion and determination are a huge help in achieving your goals.

Laurie Halse Anderson does an incredible job with such an important topic. PTSD and military family suicide is something that needs more focus on it. Hubby may disagree because of all the suicide prevention death by power point briefs he has to go through after a suicide in their regiment, but I think with more help, it wouldn’t be such a pressing issue.

I’m so thankful Laurie Halse Anderson wrote The Impossible Knife of Memory. It portrays a subject close to my heart so well. The Impossible Knife of Memory is a book civilian or military can appreciate. I highly, HIGHLY recommend it. It’s definitely taken its place as my favourite 2014 publication read and will be hard to unseat.

About the author:

 Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times-bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous ALA and state awards. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists.

Mother of four and wife of one, Laurie lives in Northern New York, where she likes to watch the snow fall as she writes. You can follow her adventures on Twitter, http://twitter.com/halseanderson and on her tumblr http://lauriehalseanderson.tumblr.com/

Check out Laurie’s website, http://madwomanintheforest.com/

 

*ARC Review* The Falconer by Elizabeth May May 5, 2014

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

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

Rating:5 stars
Pub date:6 May 2014
Publisher:Chronicle Books
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal
Format:ARC provided by the publisher
Status:Book one of The Falconer series

Summary:

Heiress. Debutant. Murderer. A new generation of heroines has arrived.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

My thoughts:

I can’t remember exactly how I stumbled across Elizabeth May on Twitter last summer, but I’m glad it happened. It was before The Falconer came out in the UK and ages before ARCs were due out here. I mulled over the idea of preordering a UK copy, but talked myself out of it. Boy, that was a mistake. Luckily, I scored an e-ARC on Edelweiss. Second mistake was waiting til a month before the release date to read it. At least my review is going up just a day before the release date so you don’t have to wait long to get your hands on this great book!

The Falconer is the full monty for me. Kickass heroine, historical fiction, snarkiness, swoon worthy guys, steampunk goodies, and chock full of Scottish faery lore. Plus it takes place in one of my favourite cities EVAR. Not just ever, completely favourite EVAR. I absolutely love Edinburgh. I could rant and rave about my love for Edinburgh for ages.

The Falconer opens a little over a year after our heroine Aileana’s mother was murdered in front of her by a faery. She had long believed the tales of the fae to be false, but finds herself thrust into the middle of a long struggle between the fae and humans. She also reenters society surrounded by the gossip that she is the one who murdered her mother.  A lot to handle for a prim and proper Victorian debutante.

I think Elizabeth did a fantastic job on character growth with Aileana. She shows growth on two fronts. The Falconer is in first person, so we get to see Aileana’s inner monologue comparing herself past and present. We also get to see how she grows once she realises what she was born to be – the Falconer. There is a large emphasis on character development and I absolutely love it. I love when an author takes equal care of fleshing out a character as well as having an ever deepening intriguing plot. I love human characters who drive the plot as much as the plot can move itself.

Along with a kickass main character, she is supported by strong secondary characters. Since we are limited to seeing them through Aileana’s eyes, we only get to see so much of their development, but they are fleshed out magnificently. Best friend Charlotte struggles with her beliefs as they’re surrounded by rumours and she also has everything she thinks she knows is true shattered. I can’t wait to see what her involvement will be in two. She has plenty room to grow. Kiaran is one surprise after another. My feelings for him mirrored Aileana’s (which probably results from interpreting it through her perspective). I laughed, I growled, I gasped, I teared up. I’m so excited to see where the action picks up in two!

Derrick is a bit of comic relief, or so it feels to me. I adored Derrick even when Aileana got rather annoyed with him. I’m hoping with him we will get to see more pixie action in two!

I loved the grounding effect Gavin had on Aileana. I think they are well suited together. Despite being an important character, I feel like he didn’t fully reach his potential. I think this means he will have plenty of growth in two. I have a feeling he will play a much larger role as well. I’m excited about that!

The world building was truly spectacular. Having been to Edinburgh, it was easy for me to visualise exactly where the action was going down, but the way Elizabeth paints the picture, it’s easy to see Edinburgh the way she wants you to see it. I loved the addition of steampunk. I haven’t read much steampunk, but this was easy technology to understand. It also added depth to the story.

It was fascinating and eerie to read the ending battle scene as a full moon and total eclipse was about to occur. Haha. The eclipse plays a huge role in the ending cliffhanger and I think having one happen while I read it added a lot to my experience.

I will have to admit to not knowing as much faery lore of my ancestral home as I would like (I plan on rectifying this soon thanks to The Falconer!). I really enjoyed getting to see how faeries were shown to be like humans in that not all are strictly good or bad. Don’t make the mistake of thinking they are human though! It is a struggle for Aileana to remember that. While being a faery lore novel, I feel that the interaction between the fae and Aileana is nothing to what it will be in book two after the action building and cliffhanger ending!

The action scenes were executed beautifully. I’m never a fan of cliffhangers in a new series because I hate waiting for the next installment. Let me tell you how this one hit me — I’m totally ordering the UK version of two so I don’t have to wait as long to see what happens! The action kept building through the whole book and by the end, I was squirming in my seat because I couldn’t be still because it felt like I was there. Elizabeth did such an incredible job.I definitely think she’s one of my new favourite authors! I highly recommend this fantastic debut series if you are a fan of historical fiction, steampunk fiction, or faery lore.

About the author

 

Elizabeth May currently resides in Edinburgh, Scotland, with her husband. THE FALCONER is her début novel.

For more information, follow her on Twitter @_ElizabethMay or visit her website www.elizabethmaywrites.com

 

 

*ARC Review* These Broken Stars by Aime Kaufman and Megan Spooner March 10, 2014

Rating: 4 stars
Pub date:
10 December2013
Publisher:
Disney Hyperion
Genre:
Young Adult Fiction, Sci-Fi, Romance
Format:
ARC borrowed from Mary, audiobook via library
Status:
Book one of the Starbound series

******AS ALWAYS WITH MY REVIEWS THERE MAY BE MILD SPOILERS******

Summary:

It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

A timeless love story, THESE BROKEN STARS sets into motion a sweeping science fiction series of companion novels. The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

My thoughts:

Though part of my reading was done by reading an ARC, it was a borrowed copy from the lovely Mary (Mary Had a Little Book Blog) and not directly from Disney Hyperion. I also did part of my reading listening to the spectacularly done audiobook.

I had wanted to read TBS since I first heard about it last summer when I started blogging, but as a newbie blogger, I didn’t stand a chance. I resigned myself to wait and snag a copy from the library. Lovely Mary to the rescue! She surprised me by shipping her copy to me (I have the best friends ever!) After finishing Under the Never Sky in a binge series read, I was at a loss on what to read next. Mary appealed to the Army wife, military loving part of me and suggested I fall in love with soldier Tarver. I’m glad she did.

I really enjoyed the dual first person point of view. It really fit for this novel. In a survival situation, it was nice to be able to see what was going on in both Lilac’s and Tarver’s minds. I used to be very against multiple points of view, but after reading several well done multi views, I’ve been persuaded to at least give them a chance. On paper, the voices are wonderful and seamless transitions. The audio? Even. Better. It was so great. ********I think I enjoyed the audiobook better than reading the physical book. That NEVER happens!*********

Now, while I enjoyed this novel, it didn’t blow me out of the water like I was hoping. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a fantastic read. I just wasn’t completely overwhelmed by the amazingness. Maybe if I’d listened to the whole thing it might’ve hit the mark. Maybe not. There were a few spots that were very predictable and that always docks points in my book.

Since it was a shipwreck on a seemlingly abandoned, unoccupied planet, it gave Aime and Megan PLENTY of leg room to develop Lilac and Tarver individually, as a survival pair, and as a couple. It also gave them plenty of room for world building. In the vast expanse of the universe, anything is possible. I was really impressed with the dynamic levels that were cultivated and expanded on characters and world building.

As with a favourite couple of mine – Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy, first impressions aren’t necessarily true. Tarver likes to come off as a simple soldier from a simple background who was thrust into greatness. Only part of that is the case. Lilac, as the only child of the richest man of the universe comes off as a spoiled little rich girl. Though she is pampered and very rich, Lilac is so much more than that.

Through their time on the not so abandoned planet, they learn that there is a deeper level to each person. First comes friendship, then comes love. I let out a huge sigh of relief that there was no insta-love in this situation. I may have bailed if that had been the case. I really enjoyed their relationship development and I’m looking forward to seeing more in the rest of the series. Now, the following books are companions, so it’s not guaranteed that they’ll be in them much, but if they are, it will be good to see them!

While this was an entertaining story, it wasn’t one that demanded to be read in one sitting. It’s very much a story that CAN be read in one sitting. Don’t think I’m knocking it any. It just wasn’t a heart racing, MUST READ THIS NOW type of flow. It was one that is able to be devoured but also savoured. It gives you a lot to think about. Not being a time demanding read was nice. With two young kids, it’s hard to read demanding books. This one worked nicely with the demands of mamahood and reviewer life. I recommend this to sci-fi and romance lovers. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel. Again, the sequel is a companion, not a true story continuing sequel. Many thanks to Disney Hyperion for giving the ARC to Mary so she was able to share it with me!

About the authors

Amie Kaufman is the co-author of These Broken Stars, the first in the Starbound trilogy, and Illuminae, the first in a new series starting in 2015. She writes science fiction and fantasy for teens, and her favourite procrastination techniques involve chocolate, baking, sailing, excellent books and TV, plotting and executing overseas travel, and napping.

 

She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, their rescue dog, and her considerable library. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.

 

Meagan Spooner grew up reading and writing every spare moment of the day, while dreaming about life as an archaeologist, a marine biologist, an astronaut. She graduated from Hamilton College in New York with a degree in playwriting, and has spent several years since then living in Australia. She’s traveled with her family all over the world to places like Egypt, South Africa, the Arctic, Greece, Antarctica, and the Galapagos, and there’s a bit of every trip in every story she writes.

She currently lives and writes in Northern Virginia, but the siren call of travel is hard to resist, and there’s no telling how long she’ll stay there.

 

 

In her spare time she plays guitar, plays video games, plays with her cat, and reads.

 

 

 
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