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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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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Stacking The Shelves #16

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  Check out their webiste for a complete list of all the participating blogs .


Happy Weekend, everyone!  I've been sick most of the week, so I rested up...and read a lot of books.  I still feel really pressured to hurry up and read certain books, so I am re-thinking my approach to deciding what I will read.  I hope to have a better strategy in place by next month and that it will lead to less stress for me in the future.  My favorite read of the week is (of course) Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas.  I love this series so much!  What was your favorite book of the week? Let me know in the comments.

If you want to find out more about a title, just click on the picture and it will open a link to the information page on GoodReads.


Read This Week:


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17167166-crown-of-midnight
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23358109-black-widowhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17167166-crown-of-midnight
































Acquired From NetGalley:



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21979832-the-girl-from-everywhere?from_search=true&search_version=service


Borrowed from a Friend:


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21853621-the-nightingale?from_search=true&search_version=service

Bought By Me:


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25467698-the-love-that-split-the-world?from_search=true&search_version=service

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Book Review: Black Widow Forever Red

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23358109-black-widow





Synopsis (From GoodReads):

Natasha Romanoff is one of the world’s most lethal assassins. Trained from a young age in the arts of death and deception, Natasha was given the title of Black Widow by Ivan Somodorov, her brutal teacher at the Red Room, Moscow’s infamous academy for operatives.

Ava Orlova is just trying to fit in as an average Brooklyn teenager, but her life has been anything but average.The daughter of a missing Russian quantum physicist, Ava was once subjected to a series of ruthless military experiments—until she was rescued by Black Widow and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D. protection. Ava has always longed to reconnect with her mysterious savior, but Black Widow isn’t really the big sister type.

Until now.

When children all over Eastern Europe begin to go missing, and rumors of smuggled Red Room tech light up the dark net, Natasha suspects her old teacher has returned—and that Ava Orlova might be the only one who can stop him. To defeat the madman who threatens their future, Natasha and Ava must unravel their pasts. Only then will they discover the truth about the dark-eyed boy with an hourglass tattoo who haunts Ava’s dreams…


Review:

I was very excited when I found out that author Margaret Stohl was tapped to write Black Widow Forever Red.  I am a big fan of the series she writes with Kami Garcia, Beautiful Creatures.  I was also just happy that Natasha Romanoff was finally getting her own story!  I can only hope a Black Widow movie is as exciting as this book!  It was a fun ride.

If you are a fan of The Avengers movies, you will know a little bit of the backstory of the Black Widow.  Trained as a child by the KGB to be the ultimate killing machine, Natasha Romanoff is deadly, efficient, and alone.  She has been raised to be completely self-reliant, with no family to tie her down.  But all that changes when she rescues young Ava Orlova.  Ava has been brutalized  by the same KGB mastermind, Ivan The Strange, as Natasha.  They have had so many of the same experiences that Ava feels Natasha could be like a big sister.  Natasha saves Ava, but then disappears from her life.

What I loved:

I think it was fascinating to learn more about Natasha and how she operates in the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization.  I enjoyed the technology and all the cool abilities that Natasha has.  I also enjoyed the layers of intrigue that are revealed in the story.  I am being deliberately vague about some of this so as to not give anything away.  But I will say there are some impressive ways people go undercover in this book!  

Another fun aspect of the story is when Tony Stark shows up!  Every scene he is in is a delight.  He is such a fun character that I couldn't wait to see what Tony does next.  

What I didn't love:

Some of the premises of the book are based on the overall Big Bad project that Ivan the Strange makes being plausible, and it just isn't.  Okay, yes, this is a superhero book, but I wish some of the technology would have been more realistic.  Just because a character can access someone's memories does not mean they would have the muscle memory to perform stunts that would take someone years to perfect.  While it makes for a fun fantasy (look, I can now do super-spy acrobatics!), it takes us out of the action by how ridiculous it is.

But, if truth be told, I did find this story to be a fun spy thriller.  I enjoyed the format: each chapter begins with a transcript of a death investigation.  You know by that, alone, someone is not going to make it out alive.  This increases the tension throughout the book as the plot is revealed.  If you enjoy action, and mystery, you will love Black Widow Forever RedBut, check your sense of reality at the door.

Rating: 



 
Release Date:  October 13, 2015

Format:  Hardcover

Source: Bought for myself

Recommendation:  For fans of The Avengers and of spy thrillers, this is a winner.

Would I read more from this author?  Yes.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

ARC Review: I'll See You In Paris


Please note:  I received an E-book copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This in no way influenced by opinion of this book.


Synopsis (From GoodReads):

After losing her fiancĂ© in the Vietnam War, nineteen-year-old Laurel Haley takes a job in England, hoping the distance will mend her shattered heart. Laurel expects the pain might lessen but does not foresee the beguiling man she meets or that they’ll go to Paris, where the city’s magic will take over and alter everything Laurel believes about love.

Thirty years later, Laurel’s daughter Annie is newly engaged and an old question resurfaces: who is Annie’s father and what happened to him? Laurel has always been vague about the details and Annie’s told herself it doesn’t matter. But with her impending marriage, Annie has to know everything. Why won’t Laurel tell her the truth?

The key to unlocking Laurel’s secrets starts with a mysterious book about an infamous woman known as the Duchess of Marlborough. Annie’s quest to understand the Duchess, and therefore her own history, takes her from a charming hamlet in the English countryside, to a decaying estate kept behind barbed wire, and ultimately to Paris where answers will be found at last.



Review: 

 The historical fiction book, I'll See You In Paris, by Michelle Gable, primarily focuses on the later years of real-life eccentric American Gladys Deacon.  Once the Duchess of Marlborough in the 1920's, she seems to turn away from wealth and privilege and become a recluse, living out her life in squalor in the English countryside.  The story begins as a young woman, Laurel, is hired by the family to be her companion.  Later a writer, fascinated by Gladys, enters their lives and is determined to write her biography.

 This is a difficult review for me to write.  The enjoyment of this novel is predicated on the assumption that we are enthralled by Gladys' story, but I was not.  I lived in Cambridge for 5 months in college and even visited Blenheim Castle.  But, even with my intense love for England, I did not find her story to be very exciting.  Apparently one is supposed to be impressed that Gladys was great friends with the French writer Marcel Proust. Since I think most people (myself included) are not well-versed in his books, this just comes off as pretentious.  The book gives hints that Gladys will spill juicy stories of Proust and Edith Wharton (who she claimed to be best friends with) and then fails to follow through.  If her younger years were so interesting, why not make that the focus of the book?  Instead, we are treated to the erratic behavior of an older woman who may be mentally ill.  What created the change from a socialite to a hermit?  The book doesn't really explore that aspect of the story, which is a shame.  Now that would have made a great book.

If you do already find the life of Gladys Deacon to be treasure trove of mystery and intrigue, you very well may enjoy this book.  But for me, I found it to be a frustrating tease.

Rating: 
 


Release Date:  February 9th, 2016

Source:  ARC from NetGalley

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  If you want to read about Gladys Deacon, find a biography on her instead of this historical fiction.

Would I read other books from this author?  No.














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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Monday Musts #3

This is a weekly meme created by Jessica at the blog Lovin' Los Libros.  check out her blog for a list of other participating blogs!

Happy Monday everyone! It's a teacher work day so we have the day off!!!  I plan to spend today reading and writing blog posts (and getting over a cold).  There are lots of new television shows starting up and I am enjoying getting to start shows from the beginning of it's run.  Here are some musts for today:


Must Read:

This book comes out on Tuesday, January 26th, and it is a lot of fun.  Party Mystery, Horror, and Teen Angst, this novel is creepy fun!  For more, please visit my review of this book here.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22663629-shallow-graves



Must Listen:

This singer is finally making a splash and now her single Here is number four on the Billboard's Hot 100.

       


Must See:

 This is the new superhero show on the CW and it starts Arthur Darvill (Rory from Doctor Who!!!).  I watched it last Thursday and it was a fun show.  I think it may take some time for the show to hit it's stride, but I am willing to watch it and see how it develops.

                 


What are your Must Read, Listen, and See for the week?  Let me know in the comments or post a link on the  Lovin' Los Libros blog.  Have a great week. 

 
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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Stacking The Shelves #15


Stacking The Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  Please click on the link to see all the other participating blogs.


Wow, this week went by quickly thanks to only having a four day work week.  Here is sunny California it has rained nonstop!  But I am so glad for the downpours because water rationing is a real bummer.  How was your week?


Read This Week:


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22011880-the-songbird-s-overture?from_search=true&search_version=service
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22663629-shallow-graves?from_search=true&search_version=servicehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25734207-the-last-days-of-magic?from_search=true&search_version=service

Bought by Me:



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18692431-everything-everything?from_search=true&search_version=servicehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23830990-the-rest-of-us-just-live-here



Acquired from NetGalley:


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25614524-the-arrangement?from_search=true&search_version=servicehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26310387-avonelle-s-gift?from_search=true&search_version=servicehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27173063-a-robot-in-the-garden

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26118377-the-lie-tree
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Thursday, January 21, 2016

ARC Review: Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22663629-shallow-graves?from_search=true&search_version=service

Please note:  I won an ARC copy of this book from YA Highway.  This does not influence my opinions in this review. 


Synopsis (from GoodReads):

When seventeen-year-old Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow grave one year after her death, she doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past. In life, Breezy was always drawn to the elegance of the universe and the mystery of the stars. Now she must set out to find answers and discover what is to become of her in the gritty, dangerous world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she finds is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.

Review:

When I started reading Shallow Graves, by Kali Wallace, I didn't know what to expect.  I had won the book in a giveaway which I entered because (being honest here) the book cover piqued my interest.  Was this a murder mystery?  A supernatural fantasy?  A Gothic horror?  Well the answer is it is all three!  What a treat it was to read!

The story centers around a girl named Breezy who wakes up in a shallow grave.  She is disoriented and panicky.  And there is a man digging her out, saying creepy things.  What the Hell?

I don't like it to put spoilers in reviews, so will not say too much about the specifics of the story.  But I will tell you what I loved about this book:

The Angst:

Breezy wakes up a year after her death and has come to the realization that everything has changed for her, and that her loved ones have moved on.  She feels free, yet stagnant at the same time.  What is she supposed to do with her "life"? Why is she still able to move around?  What is she?  In many ways, these are questions all teens ask of themselves as they try to break free of others' expectations and begin to forge their own identity as adults.  Breezy must come to terms with an existence that is far different from the one she had been planning.  This is so heartbreaking.

The Mood:

The book is very much a horror novel as there are truly terrifying scenes of dread and violence as Breezy is pursued by people wishing to exploit her.  Hitchhiking across the U.S., Breezy encounters every person's nightmares from creepy rides to evangelical preachers who want to "save" her.  The paranoia she develops is understandable as she doesn't know who she can trust.  

The Story:

Breezy's journey is one of finding out where she fits into the world.  She has many people (primarily men) trying to tell her what she is and how she is supposed to react.  People see her own uncertainty and seize on it to try and use her for their own means.  As Breezy tries to sort out what it means to exist, she must confront an ancient evil to find answers to who (or what) she is. 

Overall,  I really enjoyed Shallow Graves.  It had complex characters, mystery (How did she die, anyway?), and all out horror.  I found many of the scenes touching as she tries to understand life, death, and everything in between.

Rating: 



Release Date: January 26th, 2016

 Source:  Giveaway from YA Highway (author website).

Format:  Paperback

Recommendation:  For horror & mystery fans, this is a creepy, poignant story of loss, and struggle and acceptance.

Would I read more from this author:  Yes!


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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

One Lovely Blogger Award


I was so happy that The Hermit Librarian tagged me for this award!  I am still a newby to blogging (less than a year!), so I am always thankful when anyone reads my blog, much less points it out to others! 


Here are the rules:


1.  You must thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
2.  You must list the rules and display the award.
3.  You must add 7 facts about yourself.
4.  You must nominate 5 other bloggers and comment on one of their posts to let them know they have been nominated.

Here are 7 facts about me:


1. I used to be a professional singer when I was in high school.
2.  I am such an obsessed fan of Buffy The Vampire Slayer that I actually went to a Buffy convention and got autographs of most of the actors!
3.  I lived in Japan for 3 years.
4.  I am a total night owl, but now I have to go to bed early to wake up at (what I call) Stupid o'clock in the morning.
5.   I love my job working with kids.
6.  Since starting this blog, I have gained confidence and feel better about myself.
7.  I have been Cancer-free for four years.

Tagging:

1.  Majanka @ I Heart Reading

2.  Jessica @ A Great Read

3.  Grace @ Books of Love

4.  Alicia @ A Kernal of Nonsense

5.  Lisa @ Lisa Loves Literature


 

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Monday Musts #2




This is a weekly meme created by Jessica of Lovin' Los Libros.  Go to her site and get on the linky link and see other participants' Monday Musts!


It's Monday and we have the day off to reflect on the impact of Martin Luther King Jr. on our country.  I was just a small child in the 60's, so I have no actual memory of him.  I think it is hard for people now to think of someone in this day and age being able to inspire and organize others to peacefully change our country for the better.  Perhaps, one day, we will see new leaders emerge that will help mold the world into a more equal and fair society.

Last week was finals for one of my kids, and now my other high school student has finals this week.  The stress level these teens face is enormous!  I have a hard time watching my kids struggle.  I see how hard they work and how frustrating it is to have too much to do. 

Here are my musts for this Monday:


Must Read:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24647866-the-possibility-of-now?from_search=true&search_version=serviceThis is an amazing book by Kim Culbertson, about student stress.  I have reviewed it on my blog, and am part of a street team for it.  But it really touched me.  I read it at a time of seeing how much pressure my kids have been under to be super students.  It is about a teen who cracks under the pressure to be perfect.  It is a smart, fun read.  There is a giveaway going on here.


Must Listen:



        

This song, Stressed Out by 21 Pilots, could be my kid's theme song! It perfectly embodies Finals week.

Must See: 

Race To Nowhere

             

This is a documentary about student stress that won a bunch of awards.  I think it is thought-provoking and I hope more people see it.

What are your Musts for Monday

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bring back Dead Week!



First of all, I need to tell you: I am not a student.  But I am the parent of two high school kids.  Maybe it's because one of my kids is struggling and one of them is very conscientious, but it seems the stress teens have with finals is at an all time high!

When I was a student (a million years ago, to be sure), the week before finals was considered "Dead Week".  Teachers were not allowed to give homework or teach anything new.  It was supposed to be a week of study and review.  Fast forward to now and it is a whirlwind of group projects, last minute tests, and teachers trying to make up for lost time.

This past week, my Freshman student had three group projects and two major tests.  This kid did NOT wait until the last minute to do their assignments, these were projects that were just assigned.  Trying to work with three sets of groups and studying for two tests meant my kid got, at most, 4 hours of sleep per night.  This is too much for a teen.

Talking to other parents today, we are all saying the same thing:  Enough!!!  Schools say they want to reduce student stress.   But when push comes to shove, letting teachers load students up with major assignments at the end of the semester shows that they just don't get it.

Bring back "Dead Week"!!!  If high schools really want to help reduce student stress, they will not just "talk the talk", but will "walk the walk".  It's time for parents to demand an end to this madness.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24647866-the-possibility-of-now?ac=1&from_search=1
 There is a fantastic book by author Kim Culbertson called The Possibility of Now about a student who has a meltdown during Finals.  It is entertaining and thought-provoking.  My review of  this book is here.  I think it resonated with me so much because of seeing what my sweet kid is going through at their high-performing high school.  Is is worth it?

Why are we so obsessed with getting perfect grades?  When did the teen years become this demanding?  I know that some of the traditional rites of passage for teens are gone.  There simply isn't time for students to have part-time jobs, or even to learn to drive.  

The typical homework load of high school students is over 3 hours per night.  Researchers at Duke University say that the maximum amount of homework per night should be topped off at 2 hours.  Excessive homework leads to not only stress, but also physical problems.  You can read a great article from the New York Times about the negative effects of heavy homework loads here.  

What do you think?  Are you a stressed out student?  I would love to hear what students and parents are thinking about this.





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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Stacking The Shelves #14

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  Please go there to see a link to all the other participating blogs.  

This has been an incredibly stressful week trying to be supportive of my teen's finals and end of semester projects.  Luckily, I have had all kinds of books to read, review, and acquire to distract me!  

Read this week:




Received from my friend: 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2804776-one-fifth-avenue?ac=1&from_search=1https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8663186-the-invisible-mountainhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18302455-the-circle?from_search=true&search_version=service
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6948436-little-bee?ac=1&from_search=1https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40191.Chasing_Cezanne?from_search=true&search_version=servicehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/158742.The_Living

 

 Obtained from NetGalley:

 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23492619-multiple-listings?from_search=true&search_version=service


Obtained from Edelweiss:

(I can't believe I finally got an approval from them!!!)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27161195-the-fifth-avenue-artists-society?ac=1&from_search=1

What books did you get this week?  Which one(s) are you excited to read?  Let me know in the comments.

 
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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Review of Shadowhunters


The day has come at last!!!  I have watched the creation of this show via Twitter and the Shadowhunters TV Website, from casting, location photos, and costumes, to the set visits with author Cassandra Clare.  I was already a total fan!  Now I get to delve in to the first episode and really discuss it.

The first episode is the set up for the whole series.  It introduces the characters and lets us see a glimpse of this universe.  I watched the show with my "Mundane" husband.  Of course, I know the story backwards and forwards.  But I wanted to see if the storytelling would make sense to him.     So, I quizzed him after the show.  I think he was a bit puzzled trying to sort out the various groups and so he isn't sure if he liked it Shadowhunters or not.  I, however, unabashedly loved it!!!
                        
via GIPHY
 

What I liked: 

Characters:

  • Jocelyn was such a bad-ass fighter!  I loved that she kicked butt and she got a chance to show she was a true Shadowhunter.  
  • Simon was adorable and you could see there was great chemistry between him and Clary.  I loved Simon's reactions when he couldn't see who Clary was talking to.  So funny!
  • Isabelle was as stunning as I imagined her from the books.  I thought her outfits were really amazing and I liked her interactions with Clary.
  • Jace was arrogant, bossy, handsome, and very funny.  "What?  No thank you for saving your life?"  Again, he is just as I thought he would be from the novels.
  • Clary was so sweet and cute!  I loved her rapport with Simon and how she only needed a look to shoot Jace down.  

Special Effects:

  • I was worried that the effects would be cheesy but overall I was impressed.
  • I thought the glowing green demon eyes were a particularly nice touch and it helped the audience figure out who was a demon and who was not.
  • I also enjoyed the runes on the shadowhunters.  I liked that they seemed like they were formed with blood, and were not tattoos.

 Dialogue:

  • Some of the lines were priceless, especially if you are a fan of the books!
  • I had a big smile on my face as Clary lamented, "My life couldn't be more mundane."
  • All the times Simon references how strange Clary is behaving, "Do we have a Meth problem, Clary?"

            via GIPHY

 What I didn't like:

  •  Clary's reactions were sometimes over the top.  Perhaps it was the dialogue from that scene that made it seem overly dramatic, but I felt Clary's reaction was overdone in the scene where she goes through the portal and leaves her mom.  I DO love the actress.  I loved the tears and most of the times where she was terrified.  The chemistry between her and the other characters was great.  I just wish the director had dialed it down a notch in that one scene.
  • We didn't get to see much of Alec!  I think he had about five lines in the entire episode.  I know this will change in upcoming shows, but I was disappointed that there wasn't a bigger introduction.
Overall, I think that this show is off to a great start and I look forward to watching it again every Tuesday at 9pm on the Freeform channel. 

                   
via GIPHY
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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Book Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21414439-truthwitch?from_search=true&search_version=service




Synopsis (From GoodReads):

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.


Review:

I am very active on Twitter, participating in lots of book chats each month.  Around four months ago, I started hearing about this book.  It seemed as though everyone but me had an ARC of Truthwitch and was raving about it.  To top it off,  special Truthwitch chats popped up where people got to decide which clan they would belong to, and fangirl about the book.


                       
via GIPHY


Yes, I was a bit jealous!  I suppose I could have joined in without having read the book first but, I would have looked very foolish, and I hate spoilers.  So, I waited...

                        
via GIPHY

Fast forward to January 5th and the day it is released, Truthwitch miraculously shows up on my doorstep (Thanks to Pre-ordering).  
                        







                        
via GIPHY

  What I loved about it:

The Friendships:

Safi and Iseult:

Two best friends who know each other so well they know what the other is thinking.  These two women have been through thick and thin since they were twelve years old.  They are Threadsisters who's lives are intertwined so completely they would sacrifice everything for each other.

Merik and Kullen:

Friends for life, these two also understand each other perfectly.  They expect the best out of each other.   In order to ensure the well-being of their country, they will do whatever it takes.

The Political Intrigue:

The Great War tore the world apart until the truce was signed with the understanding that it would be re-negotiated in twenty years.  That time's almost up and the political maneuvering has just begun.   With kings, emperors, princes, and other nobility jockeying about for leverage, having a truthwitch in your corner would be a big advantage, right? 

So begins a complex dance of lies, political marriages, contracts, and betrayals that kept me guessing throughout the book.   

The Universe:

The world of Truthwitch is one of magic where different kinds of witches have control over various types of elements.  There are ironwitches, windwitches, firewitches, and countless more kinds to be discovered in forthcoming books.  The possibilities are endless.  There is also a intricate mythology that is only partly explained in this book.  I look forward to learning more about the Origin Wells, the Carawen monks, The Puppeteer, The Raider King...  There are so many exciting elements to this world and I can't wait to learn more.

What I was mixed about:

The Romance:

I was kind of rooting for a certain pair of women to be more than friends.  I thought I saw clues to this in the first few chapters, but it didn't pan out.  This didn't ruin the book for me, but I thought "Wow, wouldn't this be great!".  Instead the book followed a more traditional (and predictable) path where two people who hate each other wind up falling in love.  I think the book did need that strong motivator for much of the plot to work.  But wouldn't it be great if a major YA novel had taken a risk and made a female love story as a given part of the plot (and not some surprising twist)?  Maybe in the next book...

What I hated about it:


Nothing!

Rating:  



Release Date:  January 5th, 2016

Source:  Bought by me

Format:  Hardcover

Recommendation:  A fun fantasy adventure.  This book exceeded my already high expectations.  It is worth purchasing right now!!!

Would I read more from this author?  YES!!!

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Monday Musts #1

Happy Monday!  I am participating in a new weekly meme hosted by Jessica from Lovin' Los Libros.  Check out her fun blog as she talks about books, music, television and so much more!

 This Week's Musts:

 

Must Read:

If you read book blogs, are on Twitter, or basically live on the planet earth, you will have heard about this book.  I started reading it this week and I can honestly say it is worth all the hype.  With lots of action, adventure, and a fascinating new universe to explore, this book has it all.  If you enjoy books like Six of Crows, you will love this book.  

 Must Listen:

 

If you know me, it is no secret that I love everything Adele does.  When We Were Young is the second single released from her album 25.  This seems like it was written for an older singer, yet it hits all the right notes of regret and longing.

Must See: 


        

I am so excited for this show!  This is based on the Mortal Instruments novels by Cassandra Clare.  I think the casting looks close to perfect.  The trailers show great chemistry between the principles and lots of humor too.  Yes, the special effects look a little cheesy, but if it's a hit, I think the network will pump more money into this show and up the quality of the special effects in season two.  Make sure and watch it on Tuesday, January 12 at 9pm on the Freeform Channel (formerly known as ABC Family).

Now for the Blog Hop!

 

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Book Review: The Heir by Kiera Cass






Synopsis (From GoodReads):

Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she'd put off marriage for as long as possible.

But a princess's life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can't escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests.

Eadlyn doesn't expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn's heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn't as impossible as she's always thought.


Review:

I am going to try something different in this review.  I will try the Like/Dislike format.  I am inspired to try this from the blog Bookishness And Tea.  I've never tried this method, so please let me know what you think of this style in the comments.


This is a perfect book to try a Like/Dislike review style since I think I had a Love/Hate experience reading this book!  

I was looking forward to reading this book.  The Heir is the fourth book in The Selection series by Kiera Cass.  It is set 20 years after The One left off, where the winner of the selection marries Prince Maxon.  Now their daughter will participate in a Selection (kind of like The Bachelorette).  She will get to choose among 35 young men to become her Prince Consort.  I went in hoping for a fun read.

What I liked:

The Fashion:  

                 
via GIPHY

While I personally am not going to wear a ballgown any time soon, I love books where the clothes are a part of the story.  I loved that  Princess Eadlyn designed her own clothes and it was a very personal, creative thing for her.


 The Selected:  


              
via GIPHY


The guys that Princess Eadlyn gets to interact with include a wide range of personalities.  There were guys who were upfront about how they wanted the cushy lifestyle of royalty, guys who had a temper, guys who were competitive.  I think the author worked hard to show a lot of great candidates (and some bad apples, too).  You know Eadlyn will have a tough time choosing.

Eadlyn's Conflict: 

                     
via GIPHY
I liked how the book addressed a big issue for me.  How could an independent young woman agree to the whole selection in the first place?  Eadlyn is only eighteen and I don't think many women her age are eager to get married.  I liked that she had many conflicting emotions about the whole thing.  She doesn't like being used by her parents as a distraction from social unrest in her country.  But some of those boys are intriguing...

                                              What I didn't like:

Princess Eadlyn:


                    
via GIPHY

It's hard to like a book when the main character is a spoiled brat.  I really didn't like that Eadlyn was thoughtless toward her maid.  I don't recall her ever saying "please" or "thank you" to her.  She also thought she was better than everyone else.  She loved to remind everyone that she is THE PRINCESS!!!  She wanted to been seen as strong, but she was so preoccupied her own self-importance that she pushed everyone else away.  It surprised me that she would be like this, given her parents' personalities.  I also felt like the author deliberately made her clueless as to others feelings so that in the next books, she will learn to be nicer.  But if I can't root for the main character now, I may not stick around to read the next book!

The lack of substance:


                    
via GIPHY
 
In The Selection there were many tests that the group had to perform such as how would they address problems in the nation.  Why didn't the selected have some tasks to perform?  All the guys did was go on staged dates with Eadlyn.  No wonder she couldn't get too excited about most of the guys.  She had no way to get to know them or understand what was important to them.  I know they emphasized that Eadlyn, alone, would be running the country.  But one of the reasons I enjoyed The Selection was because Prince Maxon valued a partner who would face the country's problems with him.   Eadlyn just dismisses the possibility that anyone else could have a meaningful contribution.  I find that unrealistic and condescending.


The Ending:


                      
via GIPHY

Okay, I do not believe in putting spoilers in reviews, so I will word this carefully.  The ending was ridiculous!  The "crisis" the author created was so unbelievable that I actually became incredulous and my daughter asked if I was okay! 

There were so many ways to end this.  Couldn't Eadlyn have kissed one boy and one that she cared about got jealous and threatened to leave?  What if the national crisis became worse?  What if a war broke out?  Anything would have been better than this ending.

Overall, I was very disappointed with this book. 

Rating: 



 
Source:  Borrowed from the Library
Format:  Hardcover book
Recommendation:  If you loved The Selection, it may be worth it to read this book.  Otherwise I would skip it.
Will I read more from this author?  I will read other books from Kiera Cass, but not from this series.  I think it is done.












 

 

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2017 Reading Challenge

MsArdychan has read 2 books toward her goal of 180 books.
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MsArdychan's bookshelf: read

The Hummingbird's Daughter
Joseph Anton: A Memoir
The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris
The Help
The Fry Chronicles
A Clash of Kings
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
A Game of Thrones
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
Mockingjay
The Giver
Savvy
The Red Pyramid
Anne of Green Gables
The Complete Novels
Slam!
Slam
Hatchet
Scorpions


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