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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, April 30, 2016

Stacking The Shelves #28

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  Go to their website for a complete list of all the participants.  Each week nearly 100 bloggers create a post showing what books they got each week.  It is really fun to see what books everyone is reading right now.

If you enjoy this blog, please subscribe!  I will follow back.  Just leave a comment so I know who to look for!

This marks the second week I have been able to go for a swim and some time in the hot tub this Friday evening!  What a great way to kick off the weekend.  I am so glad for this time off!  

 Read This Week:


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25819509-leonardhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23836855-illuminae


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29436000-the-demon-girl-s-song


All of these books were wonderful.  I think the audio book version of Illuminae was my favorite because it elicited such an emotional response.  I'm also excited because the authors of that book will be coming to my local Barnes & Noble for a talk!  

Bought:




There was a lot of self-imposed drama this week.  My copy of The Raven King was delayed, and I kind of freaked out over it.  I know it is just a book, but I ordered this in December, so it came as a shock that Amazon told me they didn't have the book on the day of it's release.  Really? I had to scramble and finally found a copy at my local Barnes & Noble, on Thursday.

The Star-Touched Queen, and The Rose & The Dagger were both pre-orders, so I was excited to open the box and see these lovelies in the flesh.  

From The Library:


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20983362-passenger?from_search=true&search_version=service

When it rains, it pours.  I have really been wanting to read this book, so I was on a long wait list.  Of course, this is the week that it became available.  I will be working pretty hard to read everything I get.

What did you get this week?  What books are you itching to read?  Let me know in the comments.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

ARC Review: The Last Thing I Remember by Deborah Bee

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28821606-the-last-thing-i-remember?from_search=true&search_version=service

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



Synopsis (From GoodReads):

For fans of Rubbernecker and Before I Go To Sleep, a tense thriller with a clever and original premise - and a devilish twist

Sarah is in a coma.

Her memory is gone - she doesn't know how she got there. And she doesn't know how she might get out.

But then she discovers that her injury wasn't an accident. And that the assailant hasn't been caught.

Unable to speak, see or move, Sarah must use every clue that she overhears to piece together her own past.

And work out who it is that keeps coming into her room.

A novel that grips from the very beginning and that will live long in the memory, The Last Thing I Remember is Deborah Bee's startling debut thriller.


Review: 

One of the things you should probably know about me is that I am an Anglophile.  I lived in England for 5 months when I was in college and have since adored all things British.  Any book set in England already has my good will from the get go.  Add to this an unusual format and premise and The Last Thing I Remember, by Deborah Bee, had me enthralled throughout.

A young woman is in a coma but can hear everything that is going on around her.  She must first figure out who she even is and how she wound up in this state.  This book plays on one of my biggest fears, being in a coma and possibly being declared brain-dead.  The young woman also wonders: who did this to her?  Was this a mugging or was someone trying to kill her?  There is so much to unravel in this story that I had to keep reading.

The book also explores assumptions about class in England.  The young woman, Sarah, is from a "posh" background and moves to a more working-class neighborhood.  There she meets teenager Beth, who is trying to survive a brutal high school environment.  Both of these characters have more in common than one would imagine.  Together they find ways to deal with the violence in their lives.  

I enjoyed how the book built up the suspense over how and why Sarah was injured.  Just when I thought I had it all figured out, a new element would appear that would make me second-guess myself.

If you read this for a book club, I think there will be lively discussion about the ending.  I think some will sympathize with what happened, while others will be outraged.  A good case could be made for either viewpoint.  This is why I enjoyed this book so much.

Rating: 



Release Date:  February 25th, 2016

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  E-book

Recommendation:  If you love mystery and suspense, you will really enjoy this book.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28821606-the-last-thing-i-remember?from_search=true&search_version=service
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-last-thing-i-remember-deborah-bee/1123324457?ean=9781785770197
http://www.amazon.com/Last-Thing-Remember-emotional-thriller-ebook/dp/B0196P0S4W?ie=UTF8&keywords=the%20last%20thing%20I%20remember&qid=1461904660&ref_=sr_1_3&sr=8-3



 

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

My Pentatonix Concert Experience

The Scene:  Berkeley, California on a blustery Sunday evening.

The Situation:  Ardis wins tickets from Star 101.3 FM and has brought teen daughter along.

The Concert:  Pentatonix (Amazing A Capella Group).

What went down:

Well, I love going to concerts, especially with my teen daughter, Jenny.  She is the only one in the family to appreciate live performances (Typical response from Hubby when I ask him to go:  "Why pay money and go someplace to hear what I can listen to on the radio for free?")

We won tickets on the Marcus & Sandy Morning Show on Star 101.3FM a few months ago.  After going in to San Francisco during spring break to pick up the tickets, we were eager to see this group live.



As we went to enter the theater, we asked where our seats were and found out they were on the infamous Lawn...  Of course, we did win these tickets, so I cannot complain, but I wish we understood sooner what was needed if you get the lawn seats.  This is on a very steep hill.  You need blankets, sturdy shoes, and nerves of steel to sit up there.  Here's the thing:  everyone is slipping and sliding down the hill as the evening goes on.  The people you thought you gave room to are suddenly right up against you and you need to gently remind them (again and again) to please scoot back (all the while trying hard not to do the same to the people below you).  Meanwhile the wind is howling, and people are spilling their beers as they try to find their blanket in the dark.  Fun times! As much as I loved the music, I will try to make sure we sit on actual seats the next time we go to that venue.

Anyways...

The concert itself was wonderful. 



This is an A Capella group so I was curious how they would keep everyone interested for an entire concert.  But I found the whole concert compelling.  These are five World Class musicians.  The artistry and talent on display was dazzling. One of the highlights was watching Kevin "K.O." Olusola perform on his nifty electric cello while simultaneously doing his beat box rhythms.  It was simply amazing!


              
Here's an example of what he did.  What was even more incredible in the performance I saw was that he was playing classical music and beatboxing all together.  So it was two different genres as well as two different types of performing. 

There were lots of video screens throughout the show to create a fun atmosphere on stage.  I was really impressed by the musical arrangements and to complex harmonies.  

Another highlight was when the group ask for (and got) complete silence as they went off-mike to perform one of their encore songs.  Over 8,000 people were dead quiet as they sang by candlelight.  It was beautiful, and again showed what accomplished musicians they are that you could hear them perfectly well from our nose-bleed section seats.

As the show finished, we went to our car and waited patiently for the traffic to die down enough for us to leave.  It took about 35 minutes, but it was fine because several people were blasting Pentatonix music and everyone was singing, and bopping, to the tunes.  

I love concert crowds.  These fun, spontaneous outbursts of joy are what make me want to attend concerts.  The people are what make a concert special.  Together, Pentatonix and the audience created a magical evening I will never forget.

What special concert memories do you have?  Let me know in the comments.
  

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Day of Frustration!

                    
                          
via GIPHY

It has been one of those days.  It started so promisingly...  I woke up, happy and secure in the knowledge that I had  pre-ordered The Raven King and that TODAY WAS THE DAY!!!  I would go to work, go home ,and find my little bundle of joy waiting for me at my doorstep.

Instead, I got a curious email from Amazon.  My order was delayed and did I want to continue the order?  There was no mention of when the order would be filled, but I assumed that it would be a day or so more, so I hit "yes".  I was a little disappointed, but I could wait a day, right?

A few minutes later, I got another email from Amazon. "Thank you for your order. It will be filled in 1-3 MONTHS."  This was my mature response (in my head):

                    



                  
via GIPHY
 I later learned that EVERYONE who pre-ordered from Amazon got burned.

Yes, I know that The Raven King is just a book, but I am heavily invested in this novel.  This is my favorite book series.  I first read them from borrowing them from the library, so I bought all the books in order to re-read them.  I passed (stupidly, as it turns out) on a chance to buy the autographed and doodled on version from Fountain Books because I felt I would get it faster from Amazon.  I even went on the Fountain Books website today and it is not guaranteed anymore because it is now not a pre-order.


                    
via GIPHY

Okay, (deep breaths) I feel slightly better now that I have had my rant and ordered the book from a nice, independent bookstore near where I work.   But my question remains...

Why Amazon, Why?


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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

ARC Review: A Robot In The Garden


Please Note:  I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This does not alter the opinions of this review in any way.

Synopsis (From NetGalley):

With all the charm and humour of THE ROSIE PROJECT and ABOUT A BOY mingled with the heart-swelling warmth of PADDINGTON BEAR MOVIE.

A story of the greatest friendship ever assembled.

Ben Chambers wakes up to find something rusty and lost underneath the willow tree in his garden. Refusing to throw it on the skip as his wife Amy advises, he takes it home.


Review:

The story of A Robot In The Garden, by Deborah Install, is set in England, in a time where having androids as servants is commonplace.  Robots are so old-fashioned that when Ben finds one in his garden, his wife is all for throwing it in the trash.  But Ben sees something in the robot that calls to him.  Why did it show up on his doorstep?  Who does it belong to?  What is it's purpose?  These questions really also apply to Ben as he is lost and depressed since the death of his parents three years ago.  So begins a wonderful road-trip novel that takes Ben and Tang (the name of his robot) on a quest to find it's maker.

I found this book to be charming and funny in only the way British humor can.  With a subtly that will sometimes make you scratch your head, this book also addresses racism (robotism?), traditional marriage roles, and modern relationships.  


What I liked:

Characters:

Amy:
Ben's wife, at first seems like a class A b#%tch.  I hated her at first.  But there are changes and growth to her character that I really loved.  

Ben:  
Ben seems to be socially inept, and susceptible to worrying about what others think of him.  He buys into the narrative that he can't do anything right.  But as the book progresses, he learns to understand how to care for (and about) others.  This gives him confidence and helps him tackle other parts of his life that have gone awry.  I loved Ben's growth and (later) his strength.

Road Trip:
I love a good road trip, and this one provided several wonderful interactions with colorful locals, misunderstandings, hookups, and revelations.  This part of the book was so much fun!


What I didn't like:

Stereotypes:

Okay, I may be a bit sensitive because of my nationality, but I thought the author made Americans to be stereotypical loud, obnoxious morons.  I suppose that is what most Europeans think when they picture Americans, but I thought the author missed an opportunity to expand on her theme of inclusiveness and acceptance.  This was only a minor flaw in this book.

If you want to read a fun, imaginative road trip book, I think you will really enjoy A Robot In The Garden.

Rating: 


Release Date:  May 1st, 2016

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  For those who love British humor, this will be a fun book to read.




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Monday, April 25, 2016

Monday Musts #15

Monday Musts is a weekly feature hosted by Jessica from Lovin' Los Libros.  Check out her webiste for the complete list of all the participants.

Happy Monday everyone!  I am actually writing this on Sunday afternoon, as I anxiously await our leaving for the Pentatonix Concert in Berkeley tonight!  Thankfully, it is not too far from where I live, but I will still be getting home late and I get up early on weekdays.  Here are my musts for Monday:

Must Read:




If you enjoy the kind of British humor one finds in Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, then you will love this quirky tale of a man mending his life through taking care of a wayward robot.  I will post a review of this book on the blog tomorrow. 

Must Listen:



I had already read the print book, but I heard lots of praise for the audio book.  I went through it quickly on a Saturday.  It has a full cast, and sound effects.  It is already a really moving book, but with the addition of the human (and not so human) voices, it has a poignancy that will break your heart.

Must See:


         

This is one of Prince's finest performances, from the 2007 Miami Super Bowl.  It encapsulates all the reasons why Prince was music royalty.  Thank you for your contribution to music.  You will be sorely missed.

What are your musts for Monday?  Let me know in the comments.

 
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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Stacking The Shelves #27

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  Each week, nearly 100 book bloggers share what books they received!  It is really fun to blog hop and see all the lovelies!  Go to Tynga's blog for the complete list of participants.

It's finally the weekend!  I have had an extremely busy and challenging week and I am so looking forward to doing a ton of reading this weekend in preparation for the release of the final book in The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater!  There are THREE major books coming out next Tuesday:  The Raven King, The Rose & The Dagger, by Renee Ahdieh, and The Star-Touched Queen, by Roshani Chokshi.  I am almost nervous to read these books!

With everything going on in my life, I am sorry to say that I only read ONE book this week.  I will be reading non-stop over the weekend (and over the next two weeks) to get all the new release goodness I can manage.

Read This Week:


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26067498-the-pursuit-of-pearls
I seem to read nothing but WWII inspired books lately!  This was very suspenseful & I will post a review of it next week.

Edelweiss:


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28593113-jack-death?from_new_nav=true&ac=1&from_search=true

I forgot that I downloaded this last week!  It seems weird and wonderful.

Blog Tour:


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26192915-outrun-the-moon?from_search=true&search_version=service
I'm really excited to read this book!

From Bloomsbury USA:


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25663599-the-gutsy-girl?from_new_nav=true&ac=1&from_search=true
This looks like a great book presented in a fun, visually exciting way.

Bought:



Yes!!!  I had to buy hardcovers of all three books.

Library:


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23395680-illuminae?from_new_nav=true&ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25819509-leonard?from_new_nav=true&ac=1&from_search=true

 Both of these are audiobooks.  I have already read Illuninae but I hear that the audiobook is also really well done. The book about Leonard Nemoy is by William Shatner.  I like to consume celebrity books by audio if only for the fact that the famous person is usually the one to perform it.  I think it really adds to these type of books.

What did you get this week?  Which books are you most excited to read?


 
 
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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Book Reviews: Two Bite-sized books that pack a punch!


I stumbled upon these two authors, Mark Gelineau and Joe King, at the Silicon Valley ComicCon a few weeks ago.  They had a table set up with about a dozen bite-sized mini books on display.  I got to chatting with them and decided to buy two of the books.  Honestly, I wasn't expecting much, but I thought the covers were really pretty and I wanted to support these guys.  Was I in for a surprise when I read them and was blown away!

Here are the descriptions from GoodReads:


A Reaper Of Stone:

A Lady is dead. Her noble line ended. And the King’s Reaper has come to reclaim her land and her home. In the marches of Aedaron, only one thing is for certain. All keeps of the old world must fall.

Elinor struggles to find her place in the new world. She once dreamed of great things. Of becoming a hero in the ways of the old world. But now she is a Reaper. And her duty is clear. Destroy the old. Herald the new.


Faith And Moonlight:

 Roan and Kay are orphans.

A fire destroys their old life, but they have one chance to enter the School of Faith. They are given one month to pass the entry trials, but as Roan excels and Kay fails, their devotion to each other is put to the test.

They swore they would face everything together, but when the stakes are losing the life they’ve always dreamed of, what will they do to stay together?

What won’t they do?


My Review:

Both books are related but emphasize different parts of the story.  I would say that each book is like a chapter in a regular novel.  In fact, if I were to criticize anything about this, I would say that the books are too short.  I wish each book was longer so I would be able to lose myself in this exciting universe!

Universe-building:

There are wonderful creatures and powerful forces at play in this world.  Giant monsters called rendworms stalk the open fields in A Reaper Of Stone.  Stray off a path, make too much noise and Bam!  You are dinner for these giant earthworms!  The mythology of this setting is that the first great warriors, called The Ascended, called on The Shepard of Tree and Stone and pledged themselves to serve.  They were rewarded and were able to draw on the power of the earth to become fierce combatants.  I thought all of these elements were fun and original.

Faith And Moonlight tells the story of two teens entering the Academy to become great warriors.  There are different schools that students are affiliated with (not unlike the school "house" system of Harry Potter).  But this school is all about becoming a powerful soldier.  So it is NOT cute in any way.  These kids are competitive and fight each other for respect.  

Kay and Roan must find a way to "pierce the veil", or tap in to the magic that only some will be able to do.  What if one can do it, but not the other?  Will Kay and Roan stick together or have to go their separate ways?  There is so much tension in this book as we see how hard it might be to expect life to go in one direction, only to see it take a different path.

I loved these two books, and will try and find copies of all of these books as soon as possible.

Rating: 



Release Dates:  
A Reaper Of Stone:  September 18th, 2015
Faith And Moonlight:  December 15th, 2015

Source:  Bought by me at Silicon Valley ComicCon

Format:  Paperback books

Recommendation:  This series will quickly become addictive if you are a fan of fantasy!  Find them and read them!  

Visit their website for more about their books:


A Reaper Of Stone:


https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=5973602932665851374#editor/target=post;postID=7262348076124644931
https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=5973602932665851374#editor/target=post;postID=7262348076124644931http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-reaper-of-stone-mark-gelineau/1123013365?ean=2940157883225


Faith And Moonlight:


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27856632-faith-and-moonlight?from_search=true&search_version=service
http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Moonlight-Mark-Gelineau-ebook/dp/B017TF4W48/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Faith And Moonlight appears to not be available on Barnes & Noble.

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Monday Musts #14

Monday Musts is a  weekly feature hosted by Jessica at Lovin' Los Libros.  Visit her blog to get a complete list of all the participants.


I had a super busy weekend and didn't really have time for reading.  I am in a bit of a slum since finishing Big Little Lies last Thursday.  I need to read something fun RIGHT NOW!

Must Read:


I think I might read the second book in this series, Northern Bites.  The first book was so much fun, and I think the next one will be too.

Must Listen:

      

I am becoming quite a fan of Elle King.  Her unique musical style and dynamic stage presence remind me of Janice Joplin.  This performance is really fun and energetic.

Must See:

         
Again, I'm feeling like I want fun entertainment right now.  Pitch Perfect 2 was so wonderful with great music and quirky characters.  Watch it when you want a lift.

That's it for me.  What are you excited to Read, Listen to, and See this week?  Let me know in the comments.


 
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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Stacking The Shelves #26


Stacking The Shelves is a weekly feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  Each week nearly 100 bloggers share what they are reading!  Go to Tynga's blog for the complete list

Happy Saturday!  I was back to work this week from Spring break.  Surprisingly, I got a lot of reading and blogging done, but I am so very tired.  The books I read this week were so fun, I think I've been running on about 5 hours of sleep per night!  I am NOT a morning person, but I still must get up at "stupid o'clock".  I hope you all had a productive week!

Read This Week:


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19486412-big-little-lies?from_search=true&search_version=servicehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24934065-rebel-of-the-sands?from_search=true&search_version=servicehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28821606-the-last-thing-i-remember?from_search=true&search_version=service

I enjoyed all three books this week, but I was really exited to read Rebel Of The Sands!  This book had great world-building, fun characters, and a nice bit of romance.  

NetGalley:


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22639535-holding-smoke?from_search=true&search_version=servicehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25267494-light?from_new_nav=true&ac=1&from_search=true

From Irish Banana's Book Tour:


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27064372-change-places-with-me?from_search=true&search_version=service
 When I got this in the mail, I got so excited!  I  was thinking I just randomly received this book (as I said, I have been super tired this week).  Then I looked through my emails, and realized I was signed up for this book tour with Hannah the "Irish Banana."  Honestly, I forgot I signed up for this book tour!  I guess I need more sleep...


How was your week?  Which books are you excited to read?  Let me know in the comments?



 

 



 
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Friday, April 15, 2016

Book Review: Rebel Of The Sands

Synopsis (From GoodReads):

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him...or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.


Review:

I have been an active blogger now, since July of last year and so I have watched to hype for Rebel Of The Sands by Alwyn Hamilton grow to a frenzy.  I was not fortunate enough to obtain an ARC of this coveted book, so I ordered it as soon as it was released.  I read it quickly and I can honestly say that it is as good as I anticipated.


                    
via GIPHY

What I Liked:

The Universe:

 I love fantasy books, so really enjoyed the new universe that Rebel Of The Sands created.  The setting seemed to be a mix of Arab landscapes and cultures mixed with the the American Industrial Age of the 1800's.  I enjoyed discovering how the society was structured and the various players vying for power.

The Characters:

Amani is the kind of self-made person I enjoy following.  She is a self-taught master gunslinger.  But what is interesting is that her skills are actually holding her back!  I don't want to give away any plot revelations, but I found this to be delightful.  I also appreciated that she was not another "chosen one".  I am so over that trope!  Instead, Amani must understand how she can fit into an already established group to achieve her dreams.  Amani is finding her "tribe", something that many people who are a little bit different must do. 

Jin is a bit of a cliche (the handsome stranger), but the book does a good job of not falling into the trap of love/hate at first sight.  Jin and Amani get to know each other as the book progresses.  Both characters test each other and there are several misunderstandings that they must overcome before they can possibly get together.

The Plot Twists:

Obviously, I do NOT want to give away any spoilers.  So I will just say that the story had some twists that I didn't see coming!  There were fun revelations, and surprising turns as the group goes through one adventure after another.

What I Didn't Like:

                 
via GIPHY

I thought the beginning of the story started out very slowly.  If I am eagerly awaiting a book, I try very hard to NOT read spoilers.  So I really didn't know any specifics about the novel going in.  As I started reading, I wasn't sure if I was reading a story about the American Old West, the Middle East, a fantasy novel, or what.  I wish the story could have started out with more of a bang to establish it's universe more quickly.

That is really the only criticism I have for this book!  With a debut such as this, Alwyn Hamilton will be an author I will eagerly follow in the years to come.

Rating: 


Release Date:  March 8th, 2016

Source:  Bought by me

Format:  Hardcover

Recommendation:  For lovers of YA fantasy, this is a creative, fun start to a series I think should be wildly successful.  

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24934065-rebel-of-the-sands?from_search=true&search_version=service
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rebel-of-the-sands-alwyn-hamilton/1122135385?ean=9780451477538
http://www.amazon.com/Rebel-Sands-Alwyn-Hamilton/dp/0451477537?ie=UTF8&keywords=rebel%20of%20the%20sands&qid=1460699871&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1


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MsArdychan has read 2 books toward her goal of 180 books.
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The Hummingbird's Daughter
Joseph Anton: A Memoir
The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris
The Help
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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!
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Hatchet
Scorpions


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