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


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Friday, May 31, 2019

ARC Review: The Soul of Power by Callie Bates

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41859821-the-soul-of-power?ac=1&from_search=true
Please Note:  I received an advance 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):
Sophy Dunbarron--the illegitimate daughter of a king who never was--has always felt like an impostor. Separated from her birth mother, raised by parents mourning the loss of their true daughter, and unacknowledged by her father, Sophy desires only a place and a family to call her own. But fate has other ideas. Caught up in Elanna Valtai's revolution, Sophy has become the reigning monarch of a once-divided country--a role she has been groomed her whole life to fill.

But as she quickly discovers, wearing a crown is quite a different thing from keeping a crown. With an influx of magic-bearing refugees pouring across the border, resources already thinned by war are stretched to the breaking point. Half the nobility in her court want her deposed, and the other half question her every decision. And every third person seems to be spontaneously manifesting magical powers.

When Elanna is captured and taken to Paladis, Sophy's last ally seems to have vanished. Now it is up to her alone to navigate a political maze that becomes more complex and thorny by the day. And worse, Sophy is hiding a huge secret--one that could destroy her tenuous hold on the crown forever.


Review:
I have really loved The Waking Land series, by Callie Bates.  It has been so imaginative and fun.  Plus, this series had the most unusual narrative structure!  Each of the three books focuses on one particular character in the story.  I have never seen a series organized in this way.  The Soul of Power, the final book, is a fine ending to this series. 

What I Liked:
Setting:
With the third book, the setting is pretty familiar to the reader by now.  But the world-building continues with even more types of magical abilities being shown.  I love that many more people have magic, some even as powerful as Elanna.

There is also much more about the treatment of women and refugees in this society.  I couldn't help but see the parallels between this book and real life.  I love that!

Characters:
Sophy is the main focus in The Soul of Power, and she is a far more complex character than I originally thought.

But Sophy also has personal issues to resolve.  Will she marry Allister, her lover, or use a marriage to seal a political alliance?  Or does she even need to marry?  The issue of marriage illustrates how women are treated in this world's society.  Misogyny is alive and well in this world.  Seeing women have magic, or any sort of power, is a threat to many of the men.  

Sophy also must confront her parentage.  As her parents were not married, and her mother seemed more interested in leading a rebellion than in being a parent, Sophy felt like a cast-off.  But can she understand that her self-worth should not be tied to anything her parents did?

Story:
While the other books focused on Elanna (The Waking Lands), and Jahan (The Memory of Fire), The Soul of Power is Sophy's story.   This is definitely a case of "be careful what you wish for"!  Now that she is finally the queen, Sophy realizes governing is harder than it seems.  Navigating the various factions vying for power is no easy task, no matter how prepared one seems.  For anyone who has started a new job, you will be able to relate to Sophy's frustration and anxiety.

Sophy's story runs parallel to the action in book two, The Memory of Fire.  So it would be important for the reader to have read The Memory of Fire just before starting book three.

I also love all the political intrigue and betrayals in this book.  Although she knows that she is unpopular as the new queen, Sophy is not prepared for how much opposition there is to her reign.  Noblemen who are used to getting kickbacks find ways to force Sophy to appoint their allies to key positions.  There are several plots to her life, putting her friends in danger, as well.

Series Ending:
After all the buildup of Sophy's story, the real fun begins when she is finally reunited with Elanna and Jahan.  You'd think it would all be smooth sailing once these characters finally find each other.  But the jealousy between Elanna and Sophy finally comes to a head.

There is plenty of action as the final battle for the crown gets underway.  I loved how each character's strengths are highlighted in the ending.  Of course, there are also sacrifices that must be made.  No good story is without them.  I liked that some of Sophy's choices come with a price.  This makes the ending more complex and satisfying. 

What I Was Mixed About:
While I love all the plots and close calls Sophy has, I think this went on a few times too many.  What's that saying, "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me"?  Were there three, or four, attempts on her life?  I lost count after a while.  I know this serves the plot by creating confrontations between Sophy and certain characters, but this device became tiresome after a while. Don't you think Sophy would be more wary of isolated meetings after the first ambush?

Reading Note:  This isn't a criticism of the series, but you really need to read the other two books, The Waking Land, and The Memory of Fire, fairly soon before you read the final book.  The stories are so closely tied together, that it would be difficult to follow the action if you haven't recently read those books first.

Rating: 




Release Date:  June 4th, 2019

Author:  Callie Bates

Publisher:  Del Rey Books

Genre:  YA Fantasy

Page Length:  480 Pages

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  A worthy end for an exciting series.  But read (or reread) the other books first.

 
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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Book Review: The Memory of Fire by Callie Bates

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36330575-the-memory-of-fire
Synopsis (From Goodreads):
The land has awoken, and news of magic's rebirth has traveled across the sea. Jahan, a daring noble who has been concealing his powers, is finally ready to stop hiding. Now he returns to the imperial capital, where the use of magic carries a death sentence. There, he must face his dark past, learn to embrace his gifts, and prevent an all-out war across the kingdoms.

Review:
The Waking Land, by Callie Bates, was one of my favorite books of 2017.  I don't know how I missed reading the next book, The Memory of Fire when it came out last year, but it was equally amazing!  Set in a magical world with lots of royal intrigue, the fun characters, story, and ending make this book a winner.

What I Liked:
Setting:
There are lots of books with magic in them, but this world is one of a kind.  Elanna, the Caveadear, can literally make the trees walk with her magic that is tied to the land!  Jahan has a different sort of magic where he can move between walls, and start fires.  I loved the fact that, although many people had magic, they all manifested it differently.  This made the story so much more complex.

Also, the different kingdoms, with their varying values and prejudices, made the conflicts all the more realistic. Eren and Caeris, where magic once flourished have been overshadowed by the much larger empire of Paladis, where magic as seen as an abomination.  Well, the biggest country makes the rules, so people with magic are in hiding (you don't want to know what happens to sorcerers in Paladis!).  I couldn't help but feel the analogy between this fantasy world, and real-life world powers who assert their control over smaller nations.

Characters:
Jahan is the main focus of this book.  Normally, I am more drawn to the female characters in these type of books.  But the author really shows us Jahan's turmoil and struggles.  His backstory is a heart-breaker.

Jahan must really reconcile that he hid his magic while others were being killed for their magical abilities.  Was he brave to use his talents secretly to help others, or cowardly to not come forward and help even more?  There are no easy answers in this book.

Jahan's family dynamic is so twisted, that it was no wonder he was a troubled soul.  So many people used him, rather than protected him as a child, that it was no wonder that he had a difficult time with friendships and love.

Story:
The Waking Land was centered around Elanna, but The Memory of Fire is completely about Jahan.  Elanna is a very minor character in this book.  While I was annoyed at first, because I wanted to learn even more about Elanna, I now get it (book three will be about Sophy).  This narrative choice makes each book very focused on the main character, without the pressure to keep Elanna in every scene.  This really could have been a VERY large book with all three novels being parts I, II, and III.  But I see the wisdom in breaking them into separate novels.  All three books together are 1244 pages long!

Ending:
I really loved the ending of this book.  One of my pet peeves with series is that usually book two is just one drawn out cliff-hanger!  Not so with The Memory of Fire.  The significant plot points are definitely resolved, but we know more is waiting for us.  This was very satisfying for me as a reader.

Rating: 




Release Date:  June 5th, 2019

Author:  Callie Bates

Publisher:  Del Rey Publishing

Genre:  YA Fantasy

Page Length:  464 Pages

Source:  Public Library

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  With an exciting story set in a world of magic, The Memory of Fire was a page-turner!  I loved it.

 
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Sunday, May 26, 2019

Book Review: Finale by Stephanie Garber

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40381392-finale?ac=1&from_search=true
Synopsis (From Goodreads):
A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end…


Review:
I first heard about the Caraval books when I read an advance copy of the first book in 2017.  I loved how creative and romantic the novel was.  The subsequent books have been equally exciting.  Finale is a wonderful ending to the story.  I loved learning much more about the Fates, and Paloma (the sister's mother).  And there is plenty of romance, and sacrifice to make this book a page-turner.

What I Liked:
Setting:
The Meridian Empire is a land filled with magic.  Magical beings are inspired by tarot cards (known as the Deck of Destiny).  As these creatures are released after being imprisoned inside the deck, they start to wreak havoc in the kingdom.  This is a vehicle for the author to show who the many different Fates are and what they represent.  I found this so creative!

Fashion:
Clothes play an important role in this book.  There are magical dresses that reflect the mood of the person who wears it.  And even without magical outfits, the descriptions of clothing are so detailed that they show significant aspects about each character.  I found this so creative and fun! 

Characters:
We get to know even more about two of the fates:  Jacks (The Prince of Hearts), and Legend.  They are in a tug of war with Tella caught in the middle!  Fates aren't supposed to be able to love.  They can only feel lust, and obsession.  She has been told that if a Fate does begins to love a human, they will lose their immortality.  If Tella really wants either Jacks or Legend to love her, she is dooming them to become mortal.  I liked how each of these characters must decide what cost they are willing to pay in order to find that connection with another person.

I also liked getting to know more about Paloma, Scarlet's and Tella's mother.  It's always difficult to see our parents as complicated, real people.  The previous books paint Paloma as a selfish, irresponsible parent.  She is still selfish and irresponsible, but the sisters learn she has many good qualities as well.  She is neither all good or all bad.    

Love Triangle:
What an epic love triangle between Legend, Tella, and Jacks.  Tella is really torn between both men.  But since they are Fates, can either of them ever truly love her back?  Tella can't tell what their feelings are for her.  Do either of them really care about her, or are they just obsessed with winning her favor?  When she finally does decide who she loves, can she really doom them to mortality (and death)?

What I Was Mixed About:
As much as I love this book, some of the tasks the characters have to do are somewhat futile.  A big part of the story has the sisters trying to find a magical object.  They must also do something dangerous to open it.  But, after all the effort to get these items, it is not really used to advance the plot.  What was the point of all those sacrifices?  This should have been a huge part of how the main plot points are resolved.

Rating: 





Release Date:  May 7th, 2019

Author:  Stephanie Garber

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Genre:  YA Fantasy

Page Length:  496 Pages

Source:  Public Library

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  A worthy finish to an imaginative, romantic adventure series.  Definitely read the other two books first.





 
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Saturday, May 25, 2019

StackingThe Shelves #149 & Sunday Post # 113



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!


What's happening on the Blog:

This past week, I reviewed one wonderful book, and a problematic one.  I don't enjoy writing negative reviews, but I felt Kingsbane, by Claire Legrand to be quiet disturbing.  This was a total bummer because I really liked the first book in the series, Furyborn.  I think some authors want to be edgy in order to gain attention.  But the explicit sex scenes and psychological mind games did not add to the story at all.

Click on the images below for my reviews:

https://ponderingtheprose.blogspot.com/2019/05/book-review-dark-shores-by-danielle-l.htmlhttps://ponderingtheprose.blogspot.com/2019/05/audio-arc-review-kingsbane-by-claire.html

What's happening in "Real Life":

The end of the school year is fast approaching, and we are starting all the end of year activities.  We attended a final Pops concert for many of our daughter's friends.  This weekend is Senior Ball (Prom), and then a whole host of school activities next week, including Senior Awards Night.  Lots of high emotion and happy tears!

New Books:
Public Library:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36362244-happily-and-madly?ac=1&from_search=true
For Review:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34109621-don-t-you-forget-about-me?from_search=true

That's it for this week.  Have a great weekend.
 
 
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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Book Review: Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41438037-dark-shores?ac=1&from_search=true
Synopsis (From Goodreads):
In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.

A PIRATE WITH A WILL OF IRON

Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences.

A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET

Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world.

A DANGEROUS QUEST

When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.


Review:
Author Danielle L. Jensen has another fun, entertaining novel on her hands with Dark Shores.  With a kick-ass female pirate as the main character, and a universe inspired by the Roman Empire, this novel is a fantastic action adventure story that explores the complexities of imperialism.  Would you sell out your people to protect the ones you love?  Are invading soldiers any freer than those they conquer?  This was a page-turner!

What I Liked:

World-building:
Both the worlds of the East and the West were fascinating, and fun.  In the East the world is definitely inspired by the Roman Empire.  There is a complex system of government in place, as well as a society hell-bent on conquest.  In the West, where gods and demi-gods still roam, an equally intricate society has evolved.  I loved the magic inherent to the West, as well as the societies the legion must deal with.

Diversity:
It was refreshing to not see a default white European description of the appearance of any of the characters.
The main character, Teriana is a curvy woman of color with long black braids.  In fact, characters come in all descriptions in this book.  Besides many different skin colors, there are several gay characters, and people who are (gasp) older than teenagers!  This diversity is exactly what one would see in a vast empire.

Characters:
I really liked Teriana.  She is a person grappling with enormous guilt for cooperating with an invading enemy. She certainly has her reasons.  But things get even more complicated when she starts to fall for Marcus, the commanding officer of the Legion assigned to conquer the West.  Her religion also plays a role in her feelings.  Has her soul been damned for helping the East meet West?

Marcus is the commander of the Roman Empire-inspired Legion.  Over the course of his career, he has killed and enslaved thousands of people.  But did he have any choice in the matter?  He will do whatever it takes to protect his family, and his men, from danger.  His nightmares are just one indication of the gnawing anguish he feels over the atrocities he has committed in the name of the Empire.

Romance:
With so much angst in common, is it any wonder that Teriana and Marcus will fall in love?  Although it is inevitable, I like that they are not instantly in love.  Both have misconceptions about each other, plus must overcome the inherent power dynamic between warrior and prisoner.    


Themes:
One of the things I love about fantasy novels is that the genre allows for deeper discussions that relate to "real life".  This book has so much to say about how nations force their ideas on other cultures.  The real world is struggling with questions of how we value people who have different traditions and values than ourselves.

Ending:
Often with books in a series, nothing is wrapped up in the ending.  It's just a massive cliffhanger.  This can be so frustrating for the reader.  The main plot points are resolved by the ending of the book, but there is also a small cliffhanger. That's fine.  I loved how the characters point out what some of their future issues will be.  Rather than balking at this, it made me excited for the future books in this universe!

  

Rating: 




Release Date:  May 7th, 2019

Author:  Danielle L. Jensen

Publisher:  Tor Teen

Genre:  YA Fantasy

Page Length:  368 Pages

Source:  Public Library

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  If you enjoy action, adventure, and fantasy, you will love this book!

 

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Audio ARC Review: Kingsbane by Claire Legrand

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40523458-kingsbane?ac=1&from_search=true
Please Note:  I received an advance audio copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller Furyborn, two queens, separated by a thousand years, connected by secrets and lies, must continue their fight amid deadly plots and unthinkable betrayals that will test their strength—and their hearts.

Rielle Dardenne has been anointed Sun Queen, but her trials are far from over. The Gate keeping the angels at bay is falling. To repair it, Rielle must collect the seven hidden castings of the saints. Meanwhile, to help her prince and love Audric protect Celdaria, Rielle must spy on the angel Corien—but his promises of freedom and power may prove too tempting to resist.

Centuries later, Eliana Ferracora grapples with her new reality: She is the Sun Queen, humanity's long-awaited savior. But fear of corruption—fear of becoming another Rielle—keeps Eliana's power dangerous and unpredictable. Hunted by all, racing against time to save her dying friend Navi, Eliana must decide how to wear a crown she never wanted—by embracing her mother's power, or rejecting it forever.


Review:
Furyborn, by Claire Legrand, was one of my favorite books of last year.  I enjoyed the imaginative world the author created, along with the complex characters.  When I learned the new book, Kingsbane, was out (and narrated by one of my favorite voice actors, Fiona Hardingham), I eagerly wanted to review it.  While I still liked the world in which it took place, I have very mixed feelings about this book.  The characters changed drastically, and the story took some very strange (and kinky) turns.
  

What I Liked:
World-Building:
As with the first book, the world-building was excellent.  The author must have created volumes of backstory and mythology in order to make such a rich environment.  Each nation has a different religion centering on one of the seven "saints".  There are traditions in clothing, food, and customs.  Not to mention that the two stories take place one-thousand years apart, so some things like language and innovations had to evolve.

Narration:
As always, Fiona Hardingham does a terrific job of narrating the story.  Her many distinct male and female characterizations make the story easy to follow, and very entertaining.

Magic:
Rielle and Eliana aren't the only ones who possess magic.  There are angels who can possess people, and others who can create threads of time that can be used in all sorts of ways.  

There were also those who didn't have any magic, who were fearful of those who did.  This made for a lot of tension which some seeking power used to create unrest in the cities.

Characters:
Strangely, I connected more with the male characters than the female ones.  Audric, Rielle's long-suffering lover, is a man blinded by his affection for her.  He refuses to see how dangerous she is becoming.  Simon, who is in the later story with Eliana, is also a tragic character.  He is a man in the wrong time period.  Everyone he knows is long dead.  His sole purpose is to keep Eliana safe and help her realize she has magical powers.  What a lonely existence. 

What I Was Mixed About:
Story:
Okay, the angels are about to break down The Gate that would let them back on Earth, and cause the end of the world.  Rielle (The Chosen One) needs to find the artifacts of the seven saints in order to repair The Gate.  Several religious orders know where they are.  Time is of the essence.  What should they do?

    A: Hand the artifacts over to Rielle.

Or

     B: Make Rielle go through tests to "prove" she is worthy before giving her the artifacts.



                
via GIPHY


I guess just giving her the artifacts would be too easy, but I thought it was completely unnecessary to put her though a bunch of trials, when they would need to give her the items anyway.  Couldn't the author have just made the journey to each artifact the challenge?

What I Didn't Like:
Characters:
There is one aspect of both Rielle and Eliana that I found disturbing.  When either of the characters become anxious, they turn to sex to distract themselves.  This happened several times with several partners!  While I don't have a problem with people having sex, I did feel that Rielle and Eliana selfishly used some of their partners.  Rielle, in particular, jumps into these encounters without any thought to the feelings of her long-term partner, Audric.  Although he is pretty liberal sexually, I think Audric would be very hurt by how freely Rielle jumps at the chance to get busy with others.

Sex Scenes:
This book has some very explicit and disturbing sex scenes in it.  Considering the novel is being marketed as a YA, I thought they were extremely inappropriate.  One encounter, in particular, was violent and psychologically creepy.  Plus, I didn't see the need for them.  How do any of these moments relate to the story?

Trigger Warning for Sexual Violence


Rating: 




Release Date:  May 21st, 2019

Author:  Claire Legrand

Audio Publisher:  Listening Library

Audio Length: 22 hrs, 26 min 
 
Narrator:  Fiona Hardingham

Print Publisher:  Sourcebooks Fire

Page Length: 608 Pages

Genre:  YA Fantasy

Source:  Publisher

Format:  Audio Book

Recommendation: This did not live up to the expectations I had from the strong first book.  Read it only if you simply must know what happens after Furyborn.

 
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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Stacking The Shelves #148 & Sunday Post #112



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:
This week, I did a mini review of the audiobook version of Aurora Rising!  I has a full cast and was simply wonderful!  I also posted a review for another audiobook called Field Notes On Love.  This was a sweet YA RomCom.  click on the book covers to see my reviews:

https://ponderingtheprose.blogspot.com/2019/05/audio-arc-mini-review-aurora-rising-by.htmlhttps://ponderingtheprose.blogspot.com/2019/05/audio-arc-review-field-notes-on-love-by.html

In Real Life:
It's been another busy week as we prepare for the end of the school year. My two sons in college are having finals next week.  And my daughter is gearing up for Senior activities in the last few weeks of school.  Most of her actual school work is complete, so now it's time for fun:  Field Trips, Senior Ball, an awards ceremony, and so much more.  

School is winding down for me as well, as our class gets ready for 3rd grade!  I think we are all in need of some time off.  If only the weather would cooperate!

New Books:

Public Library:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36492488-we-hunt-the-flame?ac=1&from_search=true
  
 Purchased:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43204703-a-curse-so-dark-and-lonely?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45015644-the-transatlantic-book-club?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40515052-harley-merlin-and-the-secret-coven?ac=1&from_search=true


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31145133-i-believe-in-a-thing-called-love?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42262826-meet-clara-andrews?ac=1&from_search=true

The Transatlantic Book Club is by an Irish author I just love named Felicity Hayes McCoy.  I had to order in from Book Depository, and I am so excited to read it!  All the other books are Kindle deals I saw this week.  Was I on a book buying ban???  Whoops!
 
For Review:
NetGalley:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43155204-all-the-flowers-in-paris?ac=1&from_search=true

Edelweiss:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42647003-the-chelsea-girls?ac=1&from_search=true

Lastly:
Has anyone made the switch from Blogger to Wordpress?  How difficult was it?   I want to start exploring a transition as there seem to be so many issue with blogger.  But I'm concerned I will lose lots of follower!  Any tips would sure help.  


Thanks and have a super week!
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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Audio ARC Review: Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43601774-field-notes-on-love?ac=1&from_search=true
Please Note:  I received an advance audio copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
Having just been dumped by his girlfriend, British-born Hugo is still determined to take his last-hurrah-before-college train trip across the United States. One snag: the companion ticket is already booked under the name of his ex, Margaret Campbell. Nontransferable, no exceptions.

Enter the new Margaret C. (Mae for short), an aspiring filmmaker with big dreams. After finding Hugo's spare ticket offer online, she's convinced it's the perfect opportunity to expand her horizons.

When the two meet, the attraction is undeniable, and both find more than they bargained for. As Mae pushes Hugo to explore his dreams for his future, he'll encourage her to channel a new, vulnerable side of her art. But when life off the train threatens the bubble they've created for themselves, will they manage to keep their love on track?


Review:
YA books often have rather contrived premises, and Field Notes On Love, by Jennifer E. Smith has a doozy!  A boy from England is going on a cross-country trip of America but all his reservations are in the name of his ex-girlfriend.  What can he do?  He must find a person with the exact same name willing to take the trip with him.  Silly premise aside, I found this book to be very sweet and romantic.  I loved the characters, and their families, and the many ruminations on Love.  This was a fun book.

What I Liked:
Setting:
I love books about long trips, as travel can bring out the best, and worst, in people.  A cross-country train trip was a perfect way for the characters to get to know each other, and interact with many different people and places.

Narrators:
Anthony Mark Barrow & Karissa Vacker do a wonderful job inhabiting all the characters.  I enjoyed the cute British accent that the male narrator brought to the mix, as well as his American accent.  It was done well enough that I couldn't tell if Anthony Mark Barrow was actually British or American.  Karissa Vacker also does a good job of portraying May.  This character could easily come off as annoying, but May seems like a very smart, but lonely, kid. 

Characters:
I enjoyed Hugo and his five siblings.  He is one in a group of sextuplets, and is finding it hard to be his own person.  This is especially hard when everyone around them wants to use them for advertising.  He even has a scholarship to go to college, but only if all his siblings go to the same school.

I liked that while he wanted some space from his sibs, he also had great affection for them.  The group chats in the book were a smart way to show the back and forth that goes on between teens.  It's also smart because group chats are THE WAY teens talk with each other.

Hugo, himself, was very sweet and romantic.   I liked that he didn't want to jeopardize his siblings scholarship.  In that, he was a very selfless character.  He also was very cute with May.  I could totally understand why she would fall for him.

May also is a fun character.  She is devastated not to get into the college program of her dreams and can't understand why.  As the parent of a Senior in high school, I get how difficult rejections from colleges can be.  Often, there is no rhyme or reason to it.  But I like that May tries to improve her film-making skills, rather than blame the admissions committee.

Ending:
I liked that there was not a tidy ending to this book.  As silly as the premise was, the author kept the ending pretty realistic.  It also didn't provide all the answers (could there be a book two in the works?).  I think the transition between high school and college is an unpredictable moment in a teen's life.  It's a moment when our dreams meet real life.  Some of our dreams do come true, but parts of it may look different from what we imagined.  This is what I liked about the ending, and message, of this book.


What I Was Mixed About:
Premise:
This premise, that Hugo must find a girl with the same name as his ex in order to take this trip, is ridiculous.  I also found some of the plot twists about his college scholarship to be contrived.  Every teen wants a different college experience.  Why would all of his siblings be okay with having to attend the same college, even if it was free?  What if the school didn't offer the programs that they wanted?  Why would his parents agree to this?


Rating: 



Release Date:  March 5th, 2019

Genre:  YA Contemporary

Author:  Jennifer E. Smith

Audio Publisher:  Listening Library

Audio Length:  8 hours, 23 minutes
  
Narrators:  Anthony Mark Barrow & Karissa Vacker 

Print Publisher:  Delacorte Press

Page Length:  271 Pages

Source:  Publisher

Format:  Audiobook

Recommendation: If you can get past all of the silliness of the premise, I think you will enjoy this very fun book.
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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Audio ARC Mini Review: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30075662-aurora-rising?ac=1&from_search=true
Please Note:  I received an advance audio version of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They're not the heroes we deserve. They're just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.


Review:
I have been a lucky blogger of late.  First, I was able to get a hold of the publicist for Jay Kristoff and was granted an E-book ARC of Aurora Rising.  Then, just before publication, I was able to get an audio ARC for the same book From Random House!  There was simply no way I could listen to the book quick enough to review it by publication day, so I posted my review for the printed book.  Here is a link:


Spoiler Alert:  I loved it! 

So this mini review is only my thoughts on the audio book production.

What I Liked:
Full Cast Production:
As with all of their books, the audio book of Aurora Rising had a full cast.  I loved that each point of view chapter was portrayed by different voice actors.  And there were plenty of sound effects to create the experience of listening to an old radio show.

Varying Accents:
Cat has the most amazing Australian accent in this book!  Given that the authors are Australian, this was awesome.  It was also fun to hear each of the different voice actors attempt Cat's sound (with varying degrees of success).  As always, Steve West's lovely British accent was swoony!  


Rating: 




Release Date:  May 7th. 2019

Authors:  Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Audio Publisher: Listening Library

Audio Length:  14 Hours, 5 Minutes

Genre:  Science Fiction

Format:  Audio Book

Source:  Publisher

Recommendation:  Even if you have already read Aurora Rising, check out the audio book.  It is so fun to listen to, and brings an added depth to the story.     
 
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Saturday, May 11, 2019

Stacking The Shelves #147 & Sunday Post #111



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!


In Real Life: 
The time seems to be flying by as we prepare for my daughter's graduation.  SHE is doing great, with her two AP classes essentially finished.  I am starting to realize I have so much to do!  But I am really happy for her.  She and her friends have worked so hard.

On The Blog:
I was really fortunate to have received an e-book ARC, and an audio ARC of Aurora Rising, by the dynamic duo of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.  As expected, I loved it!    I also reviewed a historical fiction called Blackberry and Wild Rose by Sonia Velton.  So good.  Click on the covers to see my reviews:

https://ponderingtheprose.blogspot.com/2019/05/arc-review-blackberry-and-wild-rose-by.htmlhttps://ponderingtheprose.blogspot.com/2019/05/arc-review-blackberry-and-wild-rose-by.html

New Books:
I actually bought some books this week!  I have found Book Outlet to have really great pricing, and the quality of the books (overstocks and returns from stores) to be fine.  Here's what I got (spending about $40!):

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29430049-paris-for-one-and-other-stories?from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18140586-here-s-looking-at-you?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25165389-the-secret-of-a-heart-note?from_search=true



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36949995-the-boneless-mercies?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16085457-shadow-scale?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36373481-the-death-of-mrs-westaway?ac=1&from_search=true



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29939390-windwitch?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28504574-the-dollhouse?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35481848-sightwitch



 Public Library:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41438037-dark-shores?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35553692-circle-of-shadows?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40381392-finale?ac=1&from_search=true


As usual, all these wonderful books came in all at once!  Now I'm scrambling to read as fast as possible.  But what a dilemma!  So many wonderful books.

For all the Moms out there, have a great Mother's Day (hopefully relaxing with a book!).
             
via GIPHY

 
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