About


My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

Follow Me

Follow

Followers

Powered by Blogger.

Blog Archive

MsArdychan's bookshelf: read

I Owe You One
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Love, Hate & Other Filters
The Wartime Sisters
The Belles
The Gilded Wolves
Hey, Kiddo
Blackberry and Wild Rose
Queen of Air and Darkness
Firestarter
The Retribution of Mara Dyer
The Evolution of Mara Dyer


MsArdychan's favorite books »

Total Views

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

ARC Review: Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50089336-code-name-h-l-ne?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=TEssh2yGqW&rank=1

Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Told in interweaving timelines organized around the four code names Nancy used during the war, Code Name Hélène is a spellbinding and moving story of enduring love, remarkable sacrifice and unfaltering resolve that chronicles the true exploits of a woman who deserves to be a household name.

It is 1936 and Nancy Wake is an intrepid Australian expat living in Paris who has bluffed her way into a reporting job for Hearst newspaper. She is fighting to cover the disturbing reports of violence coming out of Vienna and Berlin when she meets the wealthy French industrialist Henri Fiocca. No sooner does Henri sweep Nancy off her feet and convince her to become Mrs. Fiocca than the Germans invade France and she takes yet another name: a code name.

As LUCIENNE CARLIER she smuggles people and documents across borders under the guise of an oblivious mistress. Soon enough the Gestapo hears of a female operative with a remarkable ability to evade capture, and Nancy earns a new nickname: THE WHITE MOUSE. But this one carries with it a five million franc bounty on her head. Forced to escape France and leave Henri behind for the safety of both of them, Nancy enters training with the Special Operations Executives, who transform her into Hélène. Finally, with mission in hand, Nancy is airdropped back into France as the deadly MADAM ANDRÉ. She soon becomes one of the most powerful leaders in the French Resistance, known for her ferocious wit, her signature red lipstick, and her ability to summon weapons straight from the Allied Forces. But no one can protect Nancy if the enemy finds out these four women are one and the same, and the closer to liberation France gets, the more exposed she--and the people she loves--will become.


Review:
Most of the historical fiction I have read about WWII has been about how women suffered while the men went off to battle.  But in Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon, it's a woman who flings herself into danger.  This would be exciting enough without realizing that this is based on a real-life bad-ass:  Australian born, Nancy Wake.  This is a must read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

What I Liked:
Historical Details:
I loved all the details of what life was like for a woman in occupied France.   From the hardships, to the small luxuries, I came to understand how Nancy lived.  

Also explored were also the ways it would have been tough to live as the sole woman in a large group of men during a war.  Beside the constant threat of sexual assault, there were other challenges that presented themselves.  How does one deal with menstruation, bathing, and relieving themselves?  What about clothing?  How does one command a group of men when most men thought women were weak and less intelligent?  Nancy handles all of these challenges and more.  

Characters:
Nancy was one of the most fascinating characters I have encountered in a long while.  She was a strong, independent woman at a time when that was frowned upon.  She demanded, and received the respect of her male colleagues.  But she wasn't perfect.  She seemed addicted to the thrill of doing dangerous work.  This put the people she loved at risk.

Henri, Nancy's husband, was more than what he seemed to be.  Outwardly, he was the typical Frenchman:  handsome, charming, and a ladies man.  But, as he became more and more intrigued by Nancy, we see he was capable of deep loyalty and love.  He also respected Nancy enough to never make the demands that most men would make of their wives at the time. 

Depiction of a Strong Marriage:
I loved Nancy and Henry's marriage.  They had an equal partnership, which would have been rare in the 1940's.  They respected and trusted each other.  And they showed their love for each other in lots of little ways.  For instance, I loved that Henri made a list of things he knew Nancy couldn't do, and then was determined to teach them to her.

Story:
The story had two timelines that will eventually converge.  One part deals with the final days of the war and Nancy's tremendous contributions to the success of the French Resistance.  The other part is what lead up to her involvement in the first place.  Both are fascinating and create a satisfying conclusion.

Couldn't Put It Down-ness: 
This was a thrilling read.  I have never heard of Nancy Wake, so I didn't know how this story would end.  Nancy's life was in danger throughout the story, and I was compelled to see if she makes it to the end of the war.  This made the pages fly by.  I didn't notice the length of the book, until it was finished.  Nancy was such an interesting, real life person, I wanted to keep reading even more about her!

WARNING:  There are depictions of  extreme war violence in this book (enough to cause nightmares)!

Rating: 




Release Date:  March 31st, 2020

Author:  Ariel Lawhon

Publisher:  Doubleday Books

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Page Length: 464 Pages

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  This book is a fitting tribute to Nancy Wake, who we all should know about!  If you like Historical Fiction, you will love this book.
SHARE ON: Share to Pinterest



Friday, March 27, 2020

Audio ARC Review: The King of Crows by Libba Bray

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25985242-the-king-of-crows

Please Note:  I receive an advance copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
After the horrifying explosion that claimed one of their own, the Diviners find themselves wanted by the US government, and on the brink of war with the King of Crows.

While Memphis and Isaiah run for their lives from the mysterious Shadow Men, Isaiah receives a startling vision of a girl, Sarah Beth Olson, who could shift the balance in their struggle for peace. Sarah Beth says she knows how to stop the King of Crows-but, she will need the Diviners' help to do it.

Elsewhere, Jericho has returned after his escape from Jake Marlowe's estate, where he has learned the shocking truth behind the King of Crow's plans. Now, the Diviners must travel to Bountiful, Nebraska, in hopes of joining forces with Sarah Beth and to stop the King of Crows and his army of the dead forever.

But as rumors of towns becoming ghost towns and the dead developing unprecedented powers begin to surface, all hope seems to be lost.

In this sweeping finale, The Diviners will be forced to confront their greatest fears and learn to rely on one another if they hope to save the nation, and world from catastrophe...


Review:
The supernatural series, The Diviners, by Libba Bray, has been a gothic horror delight.  Each book has been filled with exciting characters with a creepy story set in the Roaring Twenties.  This book, The King of Crows, is the grand finale.  As an audiobook, this book was a whopping 22 hours, 21 minutes!  Reading this book was a commitment, but one that was well worth it.

What I Liked:
Narration:
January LaVoy is an amazing narrator.  Her many voices for each character are so convincing, it's hard to remember that only one person is performing!

Setting:
Previous books in the series all focused on New York City during the Roaring Twenties.  The energy and excitement of the city fuels the story.  This book takes us into rural America during that time.  I enjoyed the contrast between the vibrancy of the city and the slower pace (and more modest lifestyle) of the smaller towns during that time.

Characters:
All the Diviners have strengths and challenges that play in to the story.  All of them must face their fears and shortfalls as they confront the King of Crows.  

One of the characters I really grew to like was Evie.  Evie, who in earlier books was rather shallow, matures in this story.  I liked that she started to think of other people's happiness rather than just her own.

Friendship:
I also loved that Theda and Evie become friends who can rely on each other.  I don't see too many friendships develop slowly in the course of a book series.  Usually friendships are either instantly deep or begin long before the book has even started.  But in this story, their characters share many small moments that add up to a true friendship.

Themes:
This story is full of moments that explore larger themes such as racism, immigration, and what being American means.  The characters realize their time is one on the precipice of change.  Can the freedoms America espouses really be for all, or only for the elite?

Story:
The story is full of foreboding as the group moves closer to the final confrontation with The King of Crows.  But before they ever get to him, they must evade the clutches of Jake Marlow, and his Shadow Men.  The suspense and situations where they must fight their way out, are exciting and harrowing. 

What I Was Mixed About:
Length of the Novel:
As much as I loved this book, it really should have been edited down.  There were long passages expounding on the injustices of America.  I think the author has a lot to say about America that is relevant to today.  But it created a tone that was out of sync with the rest of the series.

Rating: 




Release Date:  February 4th, 2020

Genre:  Gothic Horror/Historical Fiction

Author:  Libba Bray

Audiobook Publisher:  Listening Library

Audiobook Length:  22 hours, 21 minutes

Print Publisher:  Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Page Length:  560 Pages

Source:  Listening Library

Format I Used:  Audiobook

Recommendation:  If you can make the commitment of time, this is a rewarding finale to a creepy series. 
SHARE ON: Share to Pinterest
Tuesday, March 24, 2020

ARC Review: The Last Human by Zack Jordan

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45895112-the-last-human?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=xtIHOqaEg7&rank=1
Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Sarya is the civilized galaxy's worst nightmare: a Human.

Most days, Sarya doesn't feel like the most terrifying creature in the galaxy.

Most days, she's got other things on her mind. Like hiding her identity among the hundreds of alien species roaming the corridors of Watertower Station. Or making sure her adoptive mother doesn't casually eviscerate one of their neighbors. Again.

And most days, she can almost accept that she'll never know the truth--that she'll never know why humanity was deemed too dangerous to exist. Or whether she really is--impossibly--the lone survivor of a species destroyed a millennium ago.

That is, until an encounter with a bounty hunter and a miles-long kinetic projectile leaves her life and her perspective shattered.

Thrown into the universe at the helm of a stolen ship--with the dubious assistance of a rebellious spacesuit, an android death enthusiast on his sixtieth lifetime, and a ball of fluff with an IQ in the thousands--Sarya begins to uncover an impossible truth.

What if humanity's death and her own existence are simply two moves in a demented cosmic game, one played out by vast alien intellects? Stranger still, what if these mad gods are offering Sarya a seat at their table--and a second chance for humanity?

The Last Human is a sneakily brilliant, gleefully oddball space-opera debut--a masterful play on perspective, intelligence, and free will, wrapped in a rollicking journey through a strange and crowded galaxy.


Review:
How vast is the universe?  What would it be like to be the literal last human in existence?  These are the questions explored in the book, The Last Human, by Zack Jordan.  While I thought the world-building and characters were really fun and compelling, the book went off the rails at the middle and didn't really recover. 

What I Liked:
World-Building:
The author does a wonderful job of creating a reality with millions of different species.  I really enjoyed that each species was assigned an intelligence "tier", which determined what type of jobs someone could have and if they could become a Network citizen.  

The space station where Sarya lived also was really well thought out to account for all the different types of beings that would live and interact on it.  The architects in this story had to think about how a living space would accommodate so much variety.   
 
Characters:
Sarya:
Sarya is living a lie.  She is human, but must claim to be a different life form (because there hasn't been a human sighting in a thousand years).  She also has been adopted by a being from a completely different species.  Being so raised, she is an interesting mix of defiant, sulky human teen, and a Daughter of a killer hunter.  Sarya is tough, resilient, and heart-breakingly lonely.  I cheered for her every step of the way. 

Shenya The Widow:
Shenya The Widow seems to be a giant killer spider who has adopted Sarya (cool, right?).  It was so fascinating to see Shenya's point of view, from how repulsive Sarya looks to her, to her unique views on parenting.  This was a really memorable, and fun, character.

The Observer:
Our understanding of The Observer shifts several times over the course of the story.  At times, he is a kindly, helpful fellow.  Other times, his motives are less than clear.  This made him really fascinating.  You never knew what his motives were until the very end.

What I Was Mixed About:
Human Exceptionalism:
Of course we all see the human race as pretty awesome, right?  But why would the Human Race be put on such a pedestal among millions of species?  I didn't think the explanation that the author gave was very convincing.  Basically, it was supposed to be because we are just so darn independent!  We hate having an authority above us, and that is why we are so dangerous.  However, throughout human history authoritarian government systems have been the norm.  It's only in the last few hundred years that self-governance has even been attempted.  With that in mind, this argument just wasn't convincing.

What I Didn't Like:
Pacing:
This book is a rip roaring adventure...until it's not.  The story begins as a fast-paced chase with Sarya being pursued by several different species who want her dead.  This is fun.  But then, the action comes to a screeching halt, with the introduction of a long, philosophical exploration of sentience and the vastness of space.  This is not fun.

Confusing Plot:
This drawn-out study in how humans can't really comprehend the enormity of space is deliberately confusing.  Scenes stop abruptly, and then start up again with little explanation as to what just happened (several transitions read, "...and then Sarya's mind explodes").  The author may have done this to show how our puny minds can't possibly understand any of this, but it was frustrating and made me feel stupid.  

Plus, as I said earlier, it went on and on, dragging down the plot.  I think this could have been edited down and it would have gotten the point across.  It would have made for a much more enjoyable reading experience.

Rating: 




Release Date:  March 24th, 2020

Author:  Zack Jordan

Publisher: Del Rey Books

Genre:  Science Fiction

Pages:  448 Pages

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  An uneven, but interesting book.  I would read this from the library.
 
 
  
SHARE ON: Share to Pinterest
Monday, March 23, 2020

ARC Review: If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51213487-if-i-never-met-you

Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.

Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend...


Review:
Mhairi McFarlane is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors of contemporary fiction.  I loved Don't You Forget About Me, published in 2018.  Her newest novel, If I Never Met You is a fun, romantic novel with enjoyable characters, and a plot that made this a page-turner.  This is just what you need if you want a positive distraction in the coming months.

What I Liked:
Characters:
Laurie is coming off of a devastating life change.  Her long-time partner has left her and is having a baby with his new girlfriend!  After being blind sighted with such a betrayal, how can she regain your confidence?  I enjoyed how Laurie found her confidence, realizing that her ex-boyfriend may have not been such a great fit for her, after all.  She moves from questioning her judgement to understanding how much she tied her self worth to her partner.  This helps her to move on in a positive way.

There are other relationships in Laurie's life that also need some reflection, particularly with her parents.  The dynamics between them have some bearing on how she relates to men.  Sorting them out seems like a turning point in her life.  

Jaime begins the novel as a stereotypical womanizer.  He is unapologetic about keeping his relationships at a superficial level.  I liked that he was not some misunderstood damaged Peter Pan man-child.  

He also gradually wanted Laurie to respect him and found her assumptions of him irritating.  Could that be because they were accurate?

Fake Relationship Trope:
I enjoy the fake relationship device.  Both Laurie and Jamie had plausible reasons to need a fake partner.  As with all of these plot devices, this book relies on the two main characters falling for each other.  But I felt this was done slow enough that it was credible.  I also really liked that this occurred independent of Laurie getting her self-worth back.  

"Clean" romance:
Unlike many contemporary romance books, this didn't ever go into the "Mommy Porn" territory.  There were many sexy, romantic scenes, but we didn't get a play by play of the action.  Thank you, Mhairi!


What I Was Mixed About:
Pacing:
The book has a very slow beginning, not getting to the good stuff until about 25% into the novel.  While I liked how Laurie needs to analyze her breakup with Dan, it went on a little too long.  It also gave the book more serious tone than I was expecting.

But hang on.  When we get past the meet cute, things really start to pick up, and then I couldn't stop reading.  
 
Ending:
The ending was a bit rushed.  I wish that things were not quite so perfectly tied up at the end.  I would have been just as happy for a ending that was more nuanced.

Rating: 




Release Date:  March 24th, 2020

Author:  Mhairi McFarlane

Publisher:  William Morrow Paperbacks

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Page Length:  432 Pages

Source:  Edelweiss

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  A solid, clean romance.  Highly enjoyable.

 


SHARE ON: Share to Pinterest
Monday, March 16, 2020

ARC Review: Matzah Ball Surprise by Laura Brown

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45288506-matzah-ball-surprise

Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
This Passover is starting to feel like the ten plagues might be coming back to haunt them before the weekend is over...one hilarious misstep after the next.

Gaby Fineberg just wants to get through Passover Seder without her “well meaning” family playing matchmaker. She needs a date, just for one simple meal—that includes singing, the history of her forefathers, and not one bit of yeast. The hot guy at her gym would be perfect. He probably hates bread, anyway, with a body like that. But when she finally works up the nerve to ask him...he doesn’t hear a word she said.

Levi Miller is deaf and happily single. Initially, he doesn’t know why this beautiful woman is talking to him, but it’s clear she needs help—and suddenly so does he. In a very complicated situation, Levi finds a simple solution. Gaby will pretend to be his new girlfriend to bail him out, and he’ll return the favor. But he didn’t bargain for a family dinner quite like this one...


Review:
If you've been looking for a fun, sexy rom-com, look no further than Matzah Ball Surprise, by Laura Brown.  From the cover to the charming characters, this book was super fun to read.   A bonus is that one of the main characters is from an under-represented group, and is represented realistically, which makes this a wonderful novel.  This comes as no surprise, as the author is from this group.  I love that we get a novel about an under-represented group from someone actually from that community.  Diverse voices!!!

What I Liked:
Premise:
I enjoy the "fake" relationship trope so much.  There were strong reasons for both Gaby and Levi to want to present a fake partner.  Both had to do with family expectations and pressures.  This often become more intense during a holiday, and Passover was the perfect backdrop.
 
Characters:
Gaby and Levi are both very charming characters.  I love how the author delves into each character in a substantive way.  We get to understand how they normally relate to romantic partners, and why this new relationship is different.

Portrayal of Deafness:
The author's presentation of deafness and the deaf community is well done and accessible to non-deaf readers.  Laura Brown shows how gatherings might be a mixed bag when some people in your family can sign, and some cannot.  She also illustrates some of the assumptions hearing people have ("I thought you could read lips", one of Gaby's relatives tells Levi), and how insensitive this is. 

Story:
This was a fun story about a Passover weekend with family drama, humor, and sexy romance.  I liked that the author went through the entire ritual meal of Passover, with all it's meaning and symbolism,  As with any holiday, Gaby's family has a few of its own traditions and family dynamics that make their Passover dinner unique, but also universal.

What I was mixed about:
Insta-Romance:
I thought that the romance of Gaby and Levi was a bit rushed.  Even though I could see a strong attraction between the two, I wish the author didn't jump to saying they might love each other.  I would have been just as happy for the characters to be excited to keep learning more about each other by the end of the book.

Sex On The Page:
If you enjoy steamy sex, then you will love this book.  I have to say that a play by play of everything happening between the sheets is not my cup of tea.  But the scenes were well done, with several small moments that built up the sexual tension effectively.

Rating: 




Release Date:  March 16, 2020

Author:  Laura Brown

Publisher:  Entangles Lovestruck

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Page Length:  249 Pages

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  A fun, sexy book with a wonderful portrayal of under-represented voices.
SHARE ON: Share to Pinterest
Thursday, March 5, 2020

ARC Review: Lost Autumn by Mary-Rose MacColl

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46724292-lost-autumn
Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Australia, 1920. Seventeen-year-old Maddie Bright embarks on the voyage of a lifetime when she's chosen to serve on the cross-continent tour of His Royal Highness, the dashing Edward, Prince of Wales. Life on the royal train is luxurious beyond her dreams, and the glamorous, good-hearted friends she makes--with their romantic histories and rivalries--crack open her world. But glamour often hides all manner of sins.

Decades later, Maddie lives in a ramshackle house in Brisbane, whiling away the days with television news and her devoted, if drunken, next door neighbor. When a London journalist struggling with her own romantic entanglements begins asking Maddie questions about her relationship to the famous and reclusive author M.A. Bright, she's taken back to the glamorous days of the royal tour--and to the secrets she's kept for all of these years.


Review:
The magic of historical fiction is that it can take you to a time you never would have been able to experience first-hand.  Lost Autumn, by Mary-Rose MacColl, delves into three time periods:  1920, 1981, and 1997.  The drama that was Charles & Diana comes alive in this novel (I remember it well!).  But I was most struck by how vividly the book shows just how different life was in 1920.  This was such a compelling story I actually had to look up to see if M.A. Bright was a real person (sadly, no).  I was completely engrossed.

What I Liked:

Settings:
There are three distinct time periods in the book with the author finding the emotions in each moment.  While the main story happenes in 1920, 1981 shows us the beginnings of the Charles & Diana saga.  As someone who lived through that time, I can tell you that their marriage was a world-wide obsession!  When Diana tragically dies in 1997, it overshadows world events for weeks, as the spectacle of her funeral transpires.  I can well imagine the excitement of a Royal Visit in 1920 Australia must have produced.  The novel puts you right in the emotions of the times.

Historical Details:
The historical details are most on display when the story is in 1920.  One can tell the author did meticulous research on the exact itinerary of the Royal visit of the Prince of Wales, and all the protocols that were followed.    She also captures the mood of the country during this time.  This was just after the end of WWI, and the Spanish Flu epidemic.  People had not really recovered.  When the Royal Family sends Prince Edward, people desperately wanted him to truly see them.  And he did.  He really did listen to as many people as possible tell him about their lives, and losses.  It helped heal some of their grief. 

Characters:
Maddie was the heart of the story as she is present in all three time periods.  We see her at various stages of her life, from young and naive, to old and somewhat bitter.  And the story shows us why this occurred.  I loved her at every stage.  

Helen was also a wonderful character.  I loved seeing her friendship with Maddie grow.  She has already had some big disappointments in life, yet she is willing to find ways to carry on.

Prince Edward (David), was a picture of contradictions.  He was so caring and kind to the many people he met, yet also a petulant child when he didn't get his way.  And his treatment of women...  As we are learning more and more, those we idolize often fall far from our imaginations when it comes to ethics, and morals.

Story:
I enjoyed the structure of the story and how all three time periods finally fit together at the end of the book.  I also liked how the narrator drops little hints as to what will happen.  It compelled me to want to find out how these little mysteries were resolved. 

Trigger Warning for Sexual Assault!


Rating: 




Release Date:  March 3rd, 2020

Author:  Mary-Rose MacColl

Publisher:  G.P. Putman's Sons

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Page Length:  416 Pages

Source:  Edelweiss

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation: With vivid historical details, this is a story you won't want to put down!
SHARE ON: Share to Pinterest
Wednesday, March 4, 2020

ARC Review: Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46139175-be-not-far-from-me

Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
The world is not tame.

Ashley knows this truth deep in her bones, more at home with trees overhead than a roof. So when she goes hiking in the Smokies with her friends for a night of partying, the falling dark and creaking trees are second nature to her. But people are not tame either. And when Ashley catches her boyfriend with another girl, drunken rage sends her running into the night, stopped only by a nasty fall into a ravine. Morning brings the realization that she's alone - and far off trail. Lost in undisturbed forest and with nothing but the clothes on her back, Ashley must figure out how to survive despite the red streak of infection creeping up her leg.
  


Review:
I went camping a lot as a kid.  My parents were Girl Scout leaders and I have fond memories of learning all about the essentials to surviving in the woods.  It's been many years since I learned those lessons, so if I were lost in the woods, I am dubious as to whether or not I would remember anything useful.  

The protagonist in Be Not Far From Me, Ashley, had those lessons quite fresh in her mind, and yet even she struggles when she is separated from her friends on a camping trip.  This was a gripping, harrowing story.  But as much as I admired Ashley for her fortitude, it was a difficult novel to read.  



What I Liked:
 
Setting:
The tag line of the book is, "The world is not tame", and the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee certainly live up to this saying.  The author either must have spent time camping in these woods in order for her to have such vivid descriptions of the flora and fauna of the area.  Everything is potentially dangerous.  Rocks can crush you, sticks can impale you, animals can attack.  Add to this the quickly changing weather, and you have beautiful, yet treacherous surroundings

Characters:
I fount Ashley hard to appreciate at first.  Halfway into reading this book, I wrote in my notes that I didn't like Ashley.  This is because she is full of anger and lashes out at people with seemingly no regrets.  But this changes in the course of the novel.

As the book progresses, we learn much more about Ashley's challenging life, and why she would be so mad at the world.  This doesn't excuse some of her choices, but they become more understandable.  And she does begin to reflect on how she might behave if she lives through this.

As hard as her life is, Ashley does have some solid people supporting her.  Her friends, Kavita and Meredith are aware of how poor her family is, finding ways to share their food with her, but never make her feel awkward about it.

I was also really impressed with Ashley's dad.  Too often in books and movies, fathers are portrayed as deadbeats, and losers who care little for their children.  Even though her dad can't provide very well financially, he finds lots of ways to show her her cares.  He actually spends time with his daughter, doing free things like going to the library, and doing outdoor activities like hiking, hunting, fishing, and camping. 

It was such a refreshing portrait of a father trying to do his best in a hard situation.

Story:
I was captivated by this story of survival.  There were enough twists and turns in this book to make me wonder of Ashley actually would survive (and just how altered her future would be after) this ordeal.  

What I Was Mixed About:
 
Gory Details:
Yes, this is a story of survival, and of course things are going to get rough when you're main character is seriously injured.  But I felt the gruesome details just went on and on.  It's a compliment to the author that this book is so vivid, as I'm sure I'll have nightmares about what happens to poor Ashley!  But be warned:  if you are squeamish, this is a book you will want to avoid!


Rating: 




Release Date:  March 3rd, 2020

Author:  Mindy McGinnis

Publisher:  Katherine Tegan Books

Genre:  YA Contemporary Fiction 

Page Length:  240 pages

Source:  Edelweiss

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  A harrowing story of survival.  Very compelling but NOT for the squeamish!

SHARE ON: Share to Pinterest

Follow by Email

GoodReads

2020 Reading Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 2 books toward her goal of 120 books.
hide

Badges

80% 80% 100 Book Reviews 2016 NetGalley Challenge
clean sweep 2017

Popular Posts

Grab My Button

http://ponderingtheprose.blogspot.com
<a href=“http://ponderingtheprose.blogspot.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><img src="
http://ponderingtheprose.blogspot.com

Blogs I Follow

Search This Blog