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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Thursday, June 22, 2017

ARC Review: Toward A Secret Sky by Heather MacLean

Please note:  I received an advance reader's copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
Shortly after 17-year-old Maren Hamilton is orphaned and sent to live with grandparents she’s never met in Scotland, she receives an encrypted journal from her dead mother that makes her and everyone around her a target. It confirms that her parents were employed by a secret, international organization that’s now intent on recruiting her. As Maren works to unravel the clues left behind by her mother, a murderous madness sweeps through the local population, terrorizing her small town. Maren must decide if she’ll continue her parents’ fight or stay behind to save her friends.

With the help of Gavin, an otherworldly mercenary she’s not supposed to fall in love with, and Graham, a charming aristocrat who is entranced with her, Maren races against the clock and around the country from palatial estates with twisted labyrinths to famous cathedrals with booby-trapped subterranean crypts to stay ahead of the enemy and find a cure. Along the way, she discovers the great truth of love: that laying down your life for another isn’t as hard as watching them sacrifice everything for you.

I am always thrilled to receive advanced readers copies of books, hoping I get to be one of the lucky few who steer others towards their next great read.  Unfortunately, once in a while, I have the unlucky task of writing a poor review.  I know how hard the author must have worked to get a book published, so this is not something I do lightly.  Toward A Secret Sky, by Heather MacLean, is just too full of cliches to be enjoyable, and has a main character who is so focused on a guy's attractiveness, that she seems blind to their faults.  Furthermore, there is a truly offense joke toward the end of the book that I found extremely hurtful.

You already know the formula: a suddenly orphaned girl finds out her parents worked for a secret organization that fights demons.  The girl meets a super hot guy who turns out is a warrior angel.   Will she get into all sorts of dangerous situations where he (or another guy) arrives out of nowhere to save her?  Will one of her new friends  betray her?  Will she and the angel fall in love?  I think you can guess the answers to all of these questions.

I found Maren to be extremely superficial when it came to boys.  Even though she knows Anders (another hot guy at school) is a jerk, she seems all to willing to give him a chance because, after all, he is a lord, and rich, and gorgeous.  She also doesn't seem to mind that Gavin is over 200 years old.  Doesn't she find it creepy that he's hitting on her?  Oh, no.  It's okay because he's a hottie.

Although Maren's grandparents did seem like very kind and loving people, it didn't seem to phase them that their son, and his wife (Maren's parents) were secret agents.  If they were so concerned for Maren's safety, I highly doubt they would be so nonchalant talking about it.

Troubling "Joke":
As if there weren't enough problems with this book, there is an extremely hurtful "joke" toward the end of the book. 
"I don't know, " he said.  "At least, I can't put my finger on it.  I adore you, you know, but there's something else.  Something special about you, Maren."
"Yeah, 'Special Ed'" I quipped.

What the heck?

As a special education teacher, I am seriously offended by this.  The students I work with are kind, hard-working, and incredibly brave.  They must face the world with challenges this character couldn't fathom.  Making this joke is why parents often refuse support services for their kids.  They don't want their child to have the 'Special Ed' label.  Why perpetuate this stigma?  This has no place in books, particularly from a main character the reader is supposed to admire.

I have contacted the publisher, and asked that they review this section of the book.  I really hope they listen and take this out of further editions.  It was unnecessary, and cruel.


Release Date:  April 4th, 2017

Genre:  YA Fantasy

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  ARC E-Book

Recommendation:  Even without the offensive line about 'special ed',  I would NOT recommend this book.  The characters were all stereotypes, and the plot was too predictable. 

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2019 Reading Challenge

2019 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 10 books toward her goal of 120 books.


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

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