Mundie Moms

Monday, September 2, 2013

Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney, Book Review

By: Daisy Whitney
Published by: Bloomsbury Childrens
To Be Released on: September 3rd, 2013
Source: arc from publisher at TLA '13
5 Stars: I Loved It!
Purchase it from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Julien is a romantic—he loves spending his free time at the museum poring over the great works of the Impressionists. But one night, a peach falls out of a Cezanne, Degas ballerinas dance across the floor, and Julien is not hallucinating.

The art is reacting to a curse that trapped a beautiful girl, Clio, in a painting forever. Julien has a chance to free Clio and he can't help but fall in love with her. But love is a curse in its own right. And soon paintings begin to bleed and disappear. Together Julien and Clio must save the world's greatest art . . . at the expense of the greatest love they've ever known.

Like a master painter herself, Daisy Whitney brings inordinate talent and ingenuity to this romantic, suspenseful, and sophisticated new novel. A beautifully decorated package makes it a must-own in print. 

I love it when a book blurs the lines between reality and the exciting "what if". Daisy Whitney has done just that with Starry Nights. Her story blends real life with something extraordinary, and unbelievable to create something that bloomed to life while reading her book. I love that when authors do that. While reading Starry Nights I began to feel not so weird for the times  I've stared at a painting secret;u waiting for something, anything to happen within it. Not to mention the times I have thought that if I just stare at it hard enough it just might come to life. Well seventeen year old Julien doesn't need to worry about wishing, or starring too hard at a painting for them to come to life. He has a gift that allows him to see them come to life all on their own.

I don't know what's more romantic, that the setting is in Paris, or the fact that Julien falls in love with the girl from the painting his mother's museum has finally secured. This painting isn't just any painting, and the girl isn't just any girl. The painting is the highly sought after The Girl in the Garden painted by Renoir, who was friends with Monet and also an admirer of the girl. The painting  disappeared after it was exhibited in 1885, and mystery surrounding it's disappearance and resurfacing was well told in this story. Julien this is huge. Not only does he need to make sure this painting stays protected, he has to keep the girl within the painting protected as well, and that won't be easy. I love how the painting and Julien's ability played such a large part of the story's suspense and magically elements. 

I LOVED the part of the story that gave me the history behind the painting, and discovering just who the girl, Clio is. Not only is her story intriguing, but it's filled with magic, romance, and some danger. Being a huge history fan, I loved the way that Daisy wove history into this story. She also created this beautiful bridge between reality and the possibility of the impossible. That comes in the form of Julien and his special abilities, and how the paintings come to life. The love story between Julien and Clio is just as beautiful as the painting she is from. The whole concept of muses, artists's abilities to protect their work, and being able to go inside a painting, and have it come to life were fascinating, and extraordinary to read about.

I got so wrapped up in Starry Nights, and I loved every moment I spent reading it. Every little detail about this story was explained. Normally I love reading about and watching the love interest's relationship grow, but my favorite part of this story deals with the paintings and their ability to come to life. Okay, well that and the time Julien and Clio spend inside a certain painting. Paris was the perfect setting for this book. I loved that unlike many YA books, this one that took place inside a museum, in France. I loved feeling like I was getting small glimpses into the city of romance, both from the past and present day. 

Starry Nights is about love, art, and the reality of the impossible. It's also a little more than that, and I enjoyed everything about it. From the characters, the romantic settings both in reality and in the paintings, to the story's that were hidden with each painting, everything about this book is brilliant. I love that it's also a story that is unlike any of the ones I've recently read. I know, I've said I love it more than a few times now, and I'm being a little vague on the details of what I loved about the book. There are so many little things that uncover bigger things in this story, and I don't want to spoil anything for readers. 

Starry Nights is the perfect blend of romance, suspense, intelligence, and beauty. I'd highly recommend picking up this clean cut, masterfully told story. 

The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler, Blog Tour & Guest Post: The Society of Psychical Research

Welcome to today's tour stop for Sonia Gensler's The Dark Between! Today I'm excited to have author Sonia on the blog to talk about her research for the book. First, here's a little bit about her newest release:

At the turn of the twentieth century, Spiritualism and séances are all the rage—even in the scholarly town of Cambridge, England. While mediums dupe the grief-stricken, a group of local fringe scientists seeks to bridge the gap to the spirit world by investigating the dark corners of the human mind.

Each running from a shadowed past, Kate, Asher, and Elsie take refuge within the walls of Summerfield College. But their peace is soon shattered by the discovery of a dead body nearby. Is this the work of a flesh-and-blood villain, or is something otherworldly at play? This unlikely trio must illuminate what the scientists have not, and open a window to secrets taken to the grave—or risk joining the spirit world themselves.

The Dark Between, a supernatural romance about the powers that lie in the shadows of the mind, is perfect for fans of Sarah Rees Brennan, Alyxandra Harvey, and Libba Bray.

The idea for The Dark Between
The idea for The Dark Between first came to me while I was researching my debut novel, The Revenant. I’d been doing a lot of reading about 19th century paranormal investigations, and by far the most fascinating book was Deborah Blum’s Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death.

This book introduced me to the founders of the Society for Psychical Research, which, according to the society’s website, was founded in 1882 to investigate “that large body of debatable phenomena designated by such terms as mesmeric, psychical and spiritualistic... in the same spirit of exact and unimpassioned enquiry which has enabled Science to solve so many problems”. Blum’s book brought these men and women to life for me, and I was captivated by their passion to investigate paranormal occurrences that the scientific community refused to take seriously.

The founders were so passionate about their cause that, inevitably, they found themselves in the midst of scrapes and scandals. Their lives were full of real drama, and many times I found myself wishing some cable channel would create a mini-series about them. My husband told me I should write the screenplay . . . and that’s when it hit me. I didn’t want to write about the founders—I wanted to write about their children. What would their lives be like? And what might happen if one of them was hiding an ability that the founders were desperately trying to document as real? That’s how The Dark Between was born. 

A medium demonstrates telekinesis to members of the SPR (photo from

Today's Code Word: PSYCHIC

The Giveaway:
Each stop on the blog tour is also revealing a code word that can be used to enter a contest on Sonia's website for a DARK BETWEEN prize pack, including a finished copy of the book. To enter the contest please go HERE.

Mundane Monday #191: City of Ashes

Happy Mundane Monday! I hope y'all have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day holiday today.

"I am not," Alec said, thought his teeth. "Just because you said dragon demons were extinct-"

"I said mostly extinct."

Alec jabbed a finger toward him. ?Mostly extinct," he said, his voice trembling with rage, "is NOT EXTINCT ENOUGH." 

"I see," said Jace. "I'll just have them change the entry in the demonology textbook from 'almost extinct' to 'not extinct enough for Alec. He prefers his monsters really, really extinct.' Will that make you happy?"

"Boys, boys," said Isabelle, who'd been examining her face in the elevator's mirrored wall. "Don't fight." She turned away from the glass with a sunny smile. "All right, so it was a little more action than we were excepting, but I thought it was fun."

Alec looked at her and shook his head. "How do you manage never to get mud on you?"

Isabelle shrugged philosophically. "I'm pure in heart. It repels the dirt." 

- City of Ashes page 2

Artwork SourceArtist

The Mortal Instruments Movie Monday #26: Republic Records's 10 Fun Facts About The Mortal Instruments Movie

Welcome to this week's edition of The Mortal Instruments Movie Monday. Today's feature is Republic Records's 10 Fun Facts About The Mortal Instruments Movie.

1. Hollywood studios were initially hesitant to produce a film version of The Mortal Instruments because the book features a female lead.
Several studios actually asked TMI author Cassandra Clare to allow them to make the lead character a male. However, she refused to agree to this change.

2. Author Cassandra Clare played a big role in the pre-production process of The Mortal Instruments.
Often times, Hollywood studios will change the plot of a book when they agree to put it on the silver screen. However, TMI fans will be happy to know that, because Clare played such a big part in the production of the movie, the film will adhere to the look and feel of the book very closely.

3. The same executive producer who worked on The Lord of the Rings movies is the executive producer of The Mortal Instruments.
Cassandra Clare was so impressed with what Robert Shaye did with The Lord of the Rings that she handpicked him to work on TMI as well.
4. The soundtrack for The Mortal Instruments features Demi Lovato, Colbie Caillat, and Ariana Grande.
The music for the film is good. Real good. so make sure you listen up while you’re watching it.

5. The director of The Mortal Instruments purposely shied away from using too much CGI or too many special effects in the film.
Rather than utilize CGI to make the “Downworld” in TMI feel real, Harald Zwart uses his characters to sell the idea of an alternate universe. During filming, Lily Collins—who plays lead character Clary Fray—explained. “What they’ve done with this project is really acknowledge the fact that it is such a fantasy world,” she said, “that if we don’t make it real in some way, you’re going to lose the audience in the CGI stuff.”

6. Lily Collins was a huge fan of The Mortal Instruments book series long before she agreed to play Clary Fray.
Collins didn’t accept the role of Fray simply for the paycheck that comes along with it. She accepted it because she’s a big fan of fantasy books and read the entire series long before she was cast as Clary Fray.

7. Many of the The Mortal Instruments actors were required to train extensively prior to shooting the movie so that they could perform the necessary stunts.
“[Director] Harald [Zwart] was like, ‘I don’t want any wires; I don’t want any wire work. I don’t want that. I want it to be very much if you’re going to do something, if you’re going to do a  flip, then you need to be able to do a flip,”” Jamie Campbell Bower, who plays Jace Wayland in the movie, said earlier this year. So Bower had to train hard to be ready to do all of his stunts. 

8. Jamie Campbell Bower wasn’t actually the producers’ first choice to play Jace Wayland.
The producers didn’t want Bower to play the role of Jace initially. But once they paired him with Lily Collins and had them read a scene together, their chemistry was undeniable.
9. Fans of The Mortal Instruments actually played a role designing a number of things that appear in the movie.
When the TMI crew was doing things like designing weapons and gear for the movie, they frequently looked at fan art on the Internet to get a better idea of what people thought things in the book looked like. They didn’t copy any ideas. But they did use the ideas as inspiration.

10. A sequel for City of Bones called City of Ashes (based on the second The Mortal Instruments book) will go into production next month and is scheduled be released next year.
You won’t have to wait another three years to see a second TMI movie! Once you get done watching the first one today, you’ll only have to wait about a year to see the sequel.

Middle Grade Monday: It's BACK!

Middle Grade Monday is back! It's been a long time since I did a middle grade monday feature, and I'm excited to get back to featuring MG books here on MMs. Here's a few of books that have recently been featured on Mundie Kids

By: Diane Zahler
Published by: Harper Collins Children
Released on: August 27th, 2013
5 Stars: I Loved It!
Purchase it from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads

The classic fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty is transformed into a dazzling new story of two sisters fighting a powerful curse by Diane Zahler, the acclaimed author of The Thirteenth Princess. Briskly paced and full of lush descriptions, readers who enjoy the work of Shannon Hale and Gail Carson Levine will be swept away by this spellbinding novel.

The daughters of Sleeping Beauty, Princesses Aurora and Luna, have grown up in a cliff-top palace by the sea, where they are carefully protected by their parents. No one visits, the girls cannot stray beyond the castle walls, and all sharp objects are forbidden here.

But accidents will happen—particularly when an old curse still has power. Soon, in spite of all precautions, Aurora is struggling not to slip into an enchanted sleep.

Frantic, the princesses accept the help of a young fisherman named Symon and embark on a daring ocean voyage to find their aunt—a fairy who may be able to break the spell. From fearsome beasts to raging storms, many dangers befall them, yet they must not give up . . . for if Aurora sleeps, she will not wake for one hundred years.

I simply adore Diane's fairytale retellings. What Diane does in Sleeping Beauty's Daughters is brilliant. I love how she's able to take a beloved fairytale and not only give is spin, but include some mythology into her story. This makes for a read that fans both young and older alike can enjoy. Instead of this story centering on Sleeping Beauty herself, we get to see that the sleeping curse started long before Princess Aurora was ever born. This curse dates back to when her mother, the now Queen, was a baby. 

Read my entire review here

Olivia Stellatella is having a rough year.
Her mother left, her neglectful father — the maestro of a failing orchestra — has moved her and her grandmother into his dark, broken-down concert hall to save money, and her only friend is Igor, an ornery stray cat.
Just when she thinks life couldn’t get any weirder, she meets four ghosts who haunt the hall. They need Olivia’s help — if the hall is torn down, they’ll be stuck as ghosts forever, never able to move on.
Olivia has to do the impossible for her shadowy new friends: Save the concert hall. But helping the dead has powerful consequences for the living . . . and soon it’s not just the concert hall that needs saving.

Don't miss my blog tour post featuring an interview with Olivia and Henry and enter to win a copy of The Year of Shadows HERE

By: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Published by: Random House Kids
Released on: October 9th, 2012
Ages: All
Purchase from: Random House | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s daughter, Dr. Bernice A. King: “My father’s dream continues to live on from generation to generation, and this beautiful and powerful illustrated edition of his world-changing "I Have a Dream" speech brings his inspiring message of freedom, equality, and peace to the youngest among us—those who will one day carry his dream forward for everyone.”

On August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Martin Luther King gave one of the most powerful and memorable speeches in our nation's history. His words, paired with Caldecott Honor winner Kadir Nelson's magnificent paintings, make for a picture book certain to be treasured by children and adults alike. The themes of equality and freedom for all are not only relevant today, 50 years later, but also provide young readers with an important introduction to our nation's past.
You can read my review and special feature for my review post here

Check back next week for more exciting Middle Grade reads!