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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

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Book Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34810320-sadie?ac=1&from_search=true
Synopsis( From Goodreads):
Sadie hasn't had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie's entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie's story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.


Review:
I picked this up from the library when I heard Sabaa Tahir recommend it on Instagram.  All I knew about it was the author raving about how she couldn't put it down.  I agree.  This mystery was a full of suspense and tension.  It was also a searing look at how addiction affects all members of a family.  I would also say that if you have triggers for child sexual abuse, you may want to steer clear of this novel.

What I Liked:
Narrative Style:
The book has an alternating narrative style with some chapters from the point of view of Sadie (the missing girl), and other chapters in the style of a journalist's podcast.  The reporter is trying to piece together how Sadie went missing, and where she might be.  This style showed enough of what was happening to fill out the story.  But there are still lots of information that neither narrator has access to.

Characters:
The characters fall into two categories, children and adults.  The tragedy of Sadie and her sister is difficult to read at times.  But the reader really gets an understanding of how children of addicts are forced into survival mode.  The older ones take care of the younger siblings, and even cover for their addicted parent.  The younger siblings never get just how much their parent has messed up.  In this book this dynamic leads to Sadie hating her mother, and Mattie resenting Sadie.

The adults are also covering up for the addict, making endless excuses for the mom's behavior.  I think it's because they just don't want to actually take responsibility for these kids.  And that's the tragedy.  If some adults stepped up, much of the kids' misery could have been avoided.

Story:
The story takes place a year after the death of Mattie, Sadie's younger sister.  The murder still hasn't been solved and now Sadie is missing.  We soon learn that Sadie has a good idea of who did this, and is seeking her own justice.

As the novel progresses, we learn about the parade of boyfriends the mother had in her home.  Each one has a story.  Could one of them had been abusing the girls?  Will the reporter be able to figure it all out?

Portrayal of Addiction:
This book is heartbreaking because it shows the terrible price that children of addicts pay.  They are so vulnerable to neglect and abuse.  The lingering effects can last a lifetime, or cut a young life short.  There is often mentions of this kind of situation in books.  But I can only think of one recent YA book (Girl in Pieces, by Kathleen Glasgow) that has ever presented such raw realism.


Trigger Warning:  Child sexual abuse, Violence, Drug addition.


Rating: 




Release Date:  September 4th, 2018

Author:  Courtney Summers

Publisher:  Wednesday Books

Genre:  YA Fiction

Page Length:  311 Pages

Source:  Public Library

Format:  E-Book


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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Stacking The Shelves #139 & Sunday Post #103






I am combining two great blog hops:  Stacking The Shelves (a Saturday feature by Team Tynga's Reviews), and Sunday Post (a Sunday feature by the Caffeinated Book Reviewer).  Both of these features give people a chance to post about what books they received and also an opportunity to catch a glimpse of what others are excited about.  I really enjoy seeing everyone's version of these features!   All book covers are linked to Goodreads, if you want to check them out.  If you enjoy my blog, please consider following me via Bloglovin, Networked Blogs, GFC, or by email subscription.  If you leave a comment and tell me you are a new follower, I will follow you back! 

On The Blog:


Tuesday:  ARC Review:  The Cambodian Curse by Gigi Pandian

Thursday:  Audio Book ARC Review:  A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs

In Real Life:
NaNoWriMo will be happening soon, and I am spending my time thinking about the novel I will write.  I think I have a solid idea, and am fleshing out the details.  I've also started using Scriviner (a writing software), and am taking some time to learn how to use it.  Even with all this preparation, I don't know if I will actually participate in NaNoWriMo.  Too much pressure!  But I will start the process.

New Books:

Riveted by Simon Teen:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30312855-the-last-magician?ac=1&from_search=true

Free Read!

For Review:

Edelweiss: 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25761057-firestarter?from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36222190-blackberry-and-wild-rose?ac=1&from_search=true


NetGalley:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves?ac=1&from_search=true

 That's it for this week.  Are you going to participate in NaNoWriMo?  Let me know in the comments.

 
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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Audio ARC Review: A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32943032-a-map-of-days?ac=1&from_search=true
Please Note:  I received an advance audio book of this novel from the publisher, Listening Library, in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
Having defeated the monstrous threat that nearly destroyed the peculiar world, Jacob Portman is back where his story began, in Florida. Except now Miss Peregrine, Emma, and their peculiar friends are with him, and doing their best to blend in. But carefree days of beach visits and normalling lessons are soon interrupted by a discovery—a subterranean bunker that belonged to Jacob’s grandfather, Abe.

Clues to Abe’s double-life as a peculiar operative start to emerge, secrets long hidden in plain sight. And Jacob begins to learn about the dangerous legacy he has inherited—truths that were part of him long before he walked into Miss Peregrine’s time loop.

Now, the stakes are higher than ever as Jacob and his friends are thrust into the untamed landscape of American peculiardom—a world with few ymbrynes, or rules—that none of them understand. New wonders, and dangers, await in this brilliant next chapter for Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children. Their story is again illustrated throughout by haunting vintage photographs, but with a striking addition for this all-new, multi-era American adventure—full color.


Review:
When the book, Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, came out, I was dazzled by the author's creativity.  How can someone look at vintage photographs and come up with such a rich story?  With the addition of A Map Of Days, the series now has four novels.  This one is an action-packed road trip, full of surprises and revelations.  I loved it!

Please Note:  One of the enormous pleasures of this book series is seeing the vintage photographs that adorn the print version of these books.  While I love the audio book version, I will also be buying the print version, in order to get the full experience of this story.

What I Liked:
Setting/Premise:
What would happen if Miss Peregrine's Peculiar children, stuck in the 1940's, were suddenly thrust into the present?  How would they react?  Would it be exciting, or upsetting?  I loved reading about all the various reactions of the characters to things such as television ("Why is everyone so rude?"), pizza delivery, and shopping malls.  It was really fun, but also eye-opening what we take for granted in our modern times.

I also enjoyed having the characters on an extended road trip through parts of America.  This gave the author many opportunities to introduce different characters, and aspects, of American culture.

Characters:
The story is narrated by Jacob, who has to consider the level of stress that modern life can have on people not used to the fast pace of our society.  He is also struggling with his grandfather Abe's legacy.  Was Abe a hero or a more complex person who had to make terrible choices?  Is Emma (Jacob's girlfriend) always going to compare him to Abe?

I also liked how the other Peculiar children grew.  Since they are no longer in the time loop, they are starting to age and truly become teenagers.  This brings on confusion, hormones, and defiance.  This manifests as resentment towards Miss Peregrine, and a willingness to take big risks.  

Story:
The story takes the teens from Jacob's home in Florida to a road trip that includes several time loops throughout America.  I love road trip books, so this was a really entertaining aspect of the book.

There was also an exploration of who Abe really was, and what other types of organizations were part of this universe.  While Europe has a society centered around Ymbrynes (caretakers such as Miss Pereegrine), American Peculiars are grouped into gangs.  I liked that the novel showed the issues with both arrangements.  In the European model, many Peculiars are fed up with not having a say in decisions.  Meanwhile in America,  Peculiars are mostly fending for themselves.  Being in a gang gives them a level of protection, but also forces them to work for leaders who could either be benevolent, or corrupt.

Narration: 
Kirby Heyborne gives an excellent performance with his narration of this book.  The many voices and accents must have been a challenge.  But he performs with such ease, I forgot this was only one person speaking.

What I Was Mixed About:
Setup:
Even though it's likely the reader has read the other books in the series, I still think the author has an obligation to summarize what happened, and re-introduce the characters.  Yes, this is a pet peeve of mine.  I just think it is unrealistic to assume a reader remembers all the details of a book that came out nearly two years ago!

Rating: 




Release Date:  October 2nd, 2018

Author:  Ransom Riggs

Audio Publisher:  Listening Library

Audio Length:  13 Hours, 54 Minutes

Narrator:  Kirby Heyborne

Print Publisher:  Dutton Books for Young Readers

Page Length:  496 Pages

Genre:  YA Fantasy

Source:  Listening Library

Format:  Audio Book

Recommendation:  A worthy addition to this series.  Full of new characters, and adventures.




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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

ARC Review: The Cambodian Curse and other Stories by Gigi Pandian

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40938559-the-cambodian-curse-and-other-stories?ac=1&from_search=true

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

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
A treasure trove of nine locked room mysteries from USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning author Gigi Pandian, all set in the Jaya Jones world.

Appearing here for the first time, novelette The Cambodian Curse:

When an ancient and supposedly cursed Cambodian sculpture disappears from an impenetrable museum, and the carving's owner is killed by an invisible assailant while a witness is a few feet away, historian Jaya Jones and her old nemesis Henry North team up to solve the baffling crime.

Stories included: "The Cambodian Curse," "The Hindi Houdini," "The Haunted Room," "The Library Ghost of Tanglewood Inn," "The Curse of Cloud Castle," "Tempest in a Teapot," "A Dark and Stormy Light," "The Shadow of the River," plus bonus novella Fool's Gold.


Review:
Over the past few years I have started to enjoy reading mysteries.  When I think of why I am starting to like this genre, author Gigi Pandian's writing may be the reason.  She is a master of what is known as the locked room (or puzzle) mystery.  This is a situation where a seemingly impossible crime occurs in a locked room with no way out.  This collection on short stories, all set in the world of Pandian's beloved mystery-solving historian Jaya Jones, is a fun sampling of this specific type of mystery.

What I Liked:
Characters:
Throughout the stories, two characters appear again and again:  Jaya Jones, and her magician friend Sanjay.  Jaya and Sanjay always seem to be where a murder has just occurred.  Using her wits, and historical knowledge, Jaya is always able to find the culprit.  Sanjay is also able to look outside the box at any situation to find clues that are hidden in plain sight.  I enjoyed learning more about these two characters through these short stories.

Settings:
The author is able to quickly establish various scenarios for each story.  In "The Library Ghost of Tanglewood Inn," we find our characters in a haunted house on a dark and stormy night.  One of the longest stories is called, "Fool's Gold", which takes place at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.  I got a kick out of location since this arts festival is happening as I write this, and I have been following it closely. 

Mysteries:
Before I read this book, I couldn't say why I enjoyed the mystery genre.  But the forward explaining what a puzzle mystery is helped me to understand why.  I like mysteries where the reader is given all the information needed to solve the case.  I hate it when the crime is solved with information that the reader can't possibly know.  But I also don't like it if the crime is too easy to figure out.  The author does a masterful job of hitting the right balance between the two.

What I Was Mixed About:
One of the stories was truly short in length, making it hard to feel like the characters were established before the crime was solved.  This only happened in once in the book.

Rating: 




Release Date:  October 16th, 2018

Author:  Gigi Pandian

Publisher:  Henery Press

Genre:  Mystery

Page Length:  270 Pages

Source:  Edelweiss

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  A fun collection of puzze mysteries, this is a must-read for fans of the character, Jaya Jones.
 
 
 
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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Stacking The Shelves #138 & Sunday Post #102





I am combining two great blog hops:  Stacking The Shelves (a Saturday feature by Team Tynga's Reviews), and Sunday Post (a Sunday feature by the Caffeinated Book Reviewer).  Both of these features give people a chance to post about what books they received and also an opportunity to catch a glimpse of what others are excited about.  I really enjoy seeing everyone's version of these features!   All book covers are linked to Goodreads, if you want to check them out.  If you enjoy my blog, please consider following me via Bloglovin, Networked Blogs, GFC, or by email subscription.  If you leave a comment and tell me you are a new follower, I will follow you back! 

On The Blog:

I only got one post in this week, but it was for a book that I really loved!  I am being more selective about what I blog about.  Part of the reason is that I don't have lots of time to devote to blogging.  But also, I only want to review books that I have a high interest in.

Tuesday:  Book Review:  Summer At The Garden Cafe by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

In Real Life:
I've started really being careful with what I eat with the goal of losing some weight.  I am doing this solely because I want to be healthy, not because I don't like the way I look.  But it's up to me if I want to be more healthy.  No one can do it for me.

New Books:
Public Library:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18667906-goodnight-june?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24586590-the-nature-of-the-beast?ac=1&from_search=true


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37486213-two-dark-reigns?ac=1&from_search=true


Purchased:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19561922-the-long-way-home?ac=1&from_search=true

Even though I had this on hold from my library, I couldn't wait (the next book in the series came up for me to borrow before this one!).  I really love narrator Ralph Cosham's narration of these audiobooks.

That's it for this week.  Have a great week of reading.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Book Review: Summer at the Garden Cafe by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35216442-summer-at-the-garden-caf?ac=1&from_search=true
Synopsis (From Goodreads):
A heart-warming story about secrets between four generations of women and the healing power of books, love and friendship.

The Garden Café, in the town of Lissbeg on Ireland's Finfarran Peninsula, is a place where plans are formed and secrets shared ...

But Jazz - still reeling from her father's disclosures about the truth of his marriage to her mother, Hanna - has more on her mind than the comings and goings at the café. Now isolated from friends and family and fixating on her new job at a local guesthouse, she's started to develop feelings for a man who is strictly off limits . . .

Meanwhile Hanna, Lissbeg's librarian, is unaware of the turmoil in her daughter's life - until her ex-husband Malcolm makes an appearance and she begins to wonder if the secrets she's carried for him might have harmed Jazz more than she'd realised.

As things heat up in Lissbeg, can the old book Hanna finds buried in her own clifftop garden help Jazz?


Review:
The Library At The Edge Of The World, by Felicity Hayes-McCoy, was one of the most enjoyable books I read last year.  I loved the sense of community and all the characters in the fictional Irish village of Finfarran.  Where the first book centered around a community crisis, it's sequel, Summer At the Garden Cafe, was more about individual relationships and some of the downsides of living in a town where everyone knows your business.

What I Liked:
Characters:
There are so many wonderful characters in this book.  I was particularly pleased with the introduction of two characters who are immigrants, Ameena Khan, and her mother Saira.  The author stayed away from stereotypes and made these characters very relatable.  We also see more of the older generation in the village.  The past is represented as well with diary entries from Maggie Casey, whom Hannah inherited her home from.


Story:
The novel is broken down into several smaller stories that spanned generations.  There is the young couple, Conor and Aideen, who are trying to see if they want to make a deeper commitment.  Divorced Hannah is still unsure about starting a relationship with Brian, but will her indecision drive him away?  Jazz, Hannah's daughter, is dealing with the aftermath of her car accident, and her growing attraction to a married man.   
The plot point I found most enjoyable was about Mary Casey, (Hannah's mother) and  Hannah's ex-mother-in-law, Louisa.  Both widowed, they both are trying to figure out how to restructure their lives.   

Themes:
While The Library At The Edge of The World, celebrates the upside of small town life, this book shows there are some downsides, as well.  News of arguments, ailments, and amorous adventures are spread faster than wildfire.  And in this little village, many of the older citizens are eager to chime in with advice. 

What I Was Mixed About:
While I liked the story, I wish there would have been a larger plot point that could have tied all the individual stories together.  As it was, I found the smaller stories a bit disjointed.

I also felt that it was a bit unrealistic that everyone (even the young people) wanted to live in such a small town.  I would think that there would be at least a few young adults who would feel stifled and be eager to venture forth and tackle the big city.
 

Rating: 





Release Date:  May 18th, 2017

Author:  Felicity Hayes-McCoy

Publisher:  Hachette Books

Genre:  General Fiction

Page Length:  400 Pages

Source:  Public Library

Format:  E-Book 

Recommendation:
A satisfying sequel to The Library At The Edge Of The World.  Full of small town drama.

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Saturday, October 6, 2018

Stacking The Shelves #137 & Sunday Post #101




I am combining two great blog hops:  Stacking The Shelves (a Saturday feature by Team Tynga's Reviews), and Sunday Post (a Sunday feature by the Caffeinated Book Reviewer).  Both of these features give people a chance to post about what books they received and also an opportunity to catch a glimpse of what others are excited about.  I really enjoy seeing everyone's version of these features!   All book covers are linked to Goodreads, if you want to check them out.  If you enjoy my blog, please consider following me via Bloglovin, Networked Blogs, GFC, or by email subscription.  If you leave a comment and tell me you are a new follower, I will follow you back! 

On The Blog:


Monday:  ARC Review: The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston

Tuesday: ARC Review:  The Spy With The Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

In Real Life:
I've been trying to eat healthier and get more sleep.  While I have lost weight by cutting out carbs, I don't know how sustainable eating no rice or pasta is for me.  But, my goal for this health journey is to prevent diabetes, so I am highly motivated to get my weight down.  But honestly, I am crabby right now!

Thankfully I acquired several wonderful books in the last two weeks to take my mind off of food.  I have gotten back into the joy of reading.

I've also been able to go to some wonderful outings with my friends and my daughter in the past two weeks.  Besides a fun book event, I also went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to see the Magritte exhibit.  It was so great to visit with a group of friends (and my teenager), and view stunning works of art. 


 

New Books:

Public Library:
 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17167084-how-the-light-gets-in?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34810320-sadie

For Review:

Netgalley:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40530049-the-last-year-of-the-war?ac=1&from_search=true
 
I'm really please that I was pre-approved for this book by one of my go-to historical fiction writers, Susan Meissner!
 
Listening Library:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32943032-a-map-of-days?ac=1&from_search=true

Bought:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26856502-vengefulhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40874032-vicious?ac=1&from_search=true

 I was so fortunate to attend a book event for Victoria Schwab!!!  I went the extra mile and bought her a travel sized bottle of whiskey and some dark chocolate, which she seemed to appreciate.  I read Vicious a long time ago (from the library) so I wanted to get both books and have her sign them.  




That's it for this week.  I hope you have a wonderful week of reading ahead.

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