The Speaker, Traci Chee

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Title:  The Speaker

Author: Traci Chee

Pages:  487 (hard bound copy)

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Aventure

Is this book part of a series?  Yes, book two of the Sea of Ink and Gold series.

Published: November 7th, 2017

Summary:

* Please note, you should read this series in order as it is like one continuous journey.*

On the run once again after getting away from the Guard, Sefia and Archer slip into the woods to lick their wounds.  Archer’s ability to speak and feel are coming back, which is both good and bad.  He is forced to relive the trauma with the Impressors and what he himself has done.  They find a way, together, to combat both their demons.  They fight Impressors and save other boys.  In the end, though, will this be redemption or curse?  For every life saved, a life could end.  For every battle fought, the blood lust grows higher.  There are days where that worries both Sefia and Archer.

In a gambit to save the boy she loves, Sefia takes matters into her own hands and makes a life altering decision to take herself out of the battle.  What will happen to Archer and the other boys without the sorceress?  Can she just let the book, which can tell future and past, go?  Or can they trust themselves to use it, force it to their will?

My thoughts:

First, let’s talk about how freaking gorgeous this book is.  I bought it in hard cover, a rarity for me, simply because I thought it was so gorgeous.  I am glad I did!  Not only is there a lovely map in the front pages, but the pages in themselves are cut in a way that is lovely and soft.  I don’t know if that makes sense…. When we switch to pages of the book there’s artifice here too, to make it look like it was copied from an old journal.  Each chapter also has a neat symbol or small illustration as well.  While all this would have been in ebook format as well, I feel like it was more meaningful for me in paper- I noticed it more.

I adored the character development shown for Archer, Sefia, and Tanin.  I also liked the new characters that came in.  The plot was fast moving and packed with adventure.  What I really loved here was that it linked seamlessly to the timeline of The Reader.  It wasn’t like it was two books, but the continuation of one long tale.  Not all series’ can make that happen and I admire that greatly.  As before, the premise caught me immediately.  It’s odd to think of a world where the written world can hold so much power as to be stricken from the world.  A book that can show past and future- and may even be able to try to direct a future it wishes?  This is a really amazing story line all together.  For me, this was a five star book with an extra star for creativity.  normal star rating normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating star-709689_960_720

On the adult content scale, Sefia and Archer’s relationship does become physical, but there isn’t a terrible amount of detail there so I don’t worry over much on sexual content.  There is a large amount of violence and language though.  While I would still give this to my niece without qualm, I am going to say this is for readers 13+.  I give it a seven.  Parental Guidance

The book is out.  Have you read it?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

Link to book:

Amazon

-Amber

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Wrap up for…. most of March

march for our lives

Hey guys!  So, my life has been pretty sedate.  I don’t really do anything but hang out with the husband/cats and go to work.  I do have some medical stuff going on, and a big decision to make, but for the most part I have felt tired but fantastic.  It seems I have hypothyroid, which could be the cause of some of my minor ailments.  I have been on meds for it about three weeks now and can see a vast improvement.  Mostly, though, I wanted to take this moment to speak about the recent marches.

Not everyone will agree with me on this, or really anything political.  I am okay with that.  I don’t usually get political on my blog because I have seen it get really heated and well, rude, to be honest.  I have to say a few things though, so I hope everyone will bear with me.

I am so very proud of some of the young people out there.  There are some strong, articulate and brave people heading the marches for better gun control and safety in schools.  I have heard very little of any acts of violence here, which I admire as violence has no place in a meaningful protest- a demand for change.  We have to use our voices, we have to be heard.  We also have to show at least the minimum degree of respect.  There is a story going around about a young man that wrote his congressman- in itself this is a brilliant idea.  In the letter he used inappropriate language, cursed at the congressman and told him to get off his ass.  Yes, many of us are thinking it, but actually saying it is something else entirely.  The story intimated that said congressman got the youth suspended.  Again, not sure if this is true… but it sounds like something that could happen.  We have to be sure we are being articulate, allowing for emotion, yes, but expressing ourselves in smart ways.

There is a book coming out in May 15th called How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation.  I preordered it last month as I believe it will be a very necessary piece for myself, my blog friends, and my niece who is in High School right now, going through all the emotions that teen years bring, along with the new political climate.  It is a group of essays, songs, illustrations and the like written by people who have been activists and fought their own campaigns.  If it is done well, and I firmly believe it will be, this could be a beacon of hope for our youths who are just now learning how to use their voices; and it could give good advice on how to do so in a smart and safe manner.

Let’s face it, we have had too many mass shootings.  At schools, definitely, but at night clubs, at music venues….. so many are saying that the school shootings are a bullying issue.  They aren’t wrong.  This is something I have always been passionate about, and something that has to be worked on.  Kids can be damn cruel.  We need to teach our young to behave better, to help and be kind.  At the same time it cannot be ignored that these bullies did not buy the kid a gun.  How did they get it?  How can we as Americans say that it is okay for them to have access to these types of weapons simply because they turned 18?  Seriously, I wasn’t a “responsible adult” until 24, and I still don’t always feel like one at 35!  That’s me, though, some are responsible gun enthusiast that take care to have their weapons locked up, away from young hands.  I don’t want to take away their rites.  I want stricter laws on buying, I want each weapon to have to be registered.  I want psych evals before purchase of freaking assault riffles.  I want classes on gun safety.  The life of my niece is worth so much more than the minor inconvenience this would cause.

Rant ended.  I love you guys.  Be safe.

Amber

The Woman In The Window, A. J. Finn

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Title: The Woman In The Window

Author: A. J. Finn

Pages: 448

Genre: Suspense, thriller

Is this part of a series?  No.

Published: January 23rd, 2018

 

Summary:

A recluse with agoraphobia, Anna Fox spends her days watching old movies, drinking way too much, and spying on her neighbors.  When the perfect family moves across the park, she can’t look away.  A father, mother and teen son; the Russells seem to have it all.  One night, though, Anna sees something that she shouldn’t… and it all unravels.  Misdirection, lies and deceit… she knows what she saw… or does she?  Is it possible too much wine and too many pills combined with old movies have created a crazy scenario?  How can she know- and who can she go to for help?  Is anyone else- is she- in danger?  And who is pulling the strings here?

My thoughts:

I loved this book for a lot of reasons.  Every time I felt like I knew where things were going, the story veered off leading me to somewhere new.  I had an inkling a few times about what was going on, but I didn’t want to believe it.  There were so many scenarios that could have fit!  The character development was amazing.  Even the characters I hated, like Anna and David, were intensely interesting and wonderfully multi-faceted.   I felt for Anna, having been a psychologist she wanted so badly to help others, to heal others even as she could not heal herself that she often went too far and did too much out of desire to be of assistance.  I also felt that her trauma and pain were well done.  For me, this was a four and a half star book, with an extra star for originality.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating2000px-Half_Star_Yellow.svgstar-709689_960_720

On the adult content scale, there is a high level of violence, language, and some sexual content.  This is definitely geared toward adults.  I give it an eight.  adult content rubber stamp

This was the March book from the Facebook book club I am a member of, Reading Between the Wines.  I can’t wait until April’s book!

The book is out now.  Have you read it?

Link to book:

Amazon

-Amber

All the Cat Junk….

I love Amazon- you can find literally anything there.  I find I rely on them more and more for any special things my fur-kids need.  Some went over really well…. and some not at all.  I thought I would share this year’s “cat junk” and let you know my thoughts on the items.  Yes, I know it isn’t book related, but hey, these girls have taken over my life they may as well come into the blog once in a while.  That said, here we go:

clippers

Cat nail clippers with angled blade:  Sassy’s previous owners had completely declawed her, which I don’t agree with; but it had obviously been a very long time since I needed clippers.  These seem to work fine and I wasn’t splitting nails or anything so I am going to give them a four star review here.  That said, Boo is turns into a Tasmanian Devil when I have these, so I just let Petsmart Grooming take care of that.  They have a lady named Debbie here (shout out to #kittygrandma) and she is amazing at these things.  Honestly this is less stressful for everyone.  Again, the clippers are fine, I just don’t want to hurt her.  normal star rating normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

2.  kitty car seatPowkoo Dog Car booster seat with clip on safety leash and zipper storage:  I have a love hate relationship with this thing.  Boo cannot stand the pet carrier and will ram her body against all sides and the gate to try to get out.  I had to find an alternate way to get her to vet/groomers.  has a long strap that goes around the back of a car seat (passenger front for me) and has a safety leash that hooks to part of her harness- not, sadly the actual circle as it is too big.  It keeps Boo mostly contained so that she can get as far as the arm rest between out seats but no farther.  The actual basket does not stay up very well, so I feel like that part is basically pointless unless your animal wants to stay in it…. and let’s be honest, no cat is going to WANT to stay there, they have to be trained and I gave up to easily.  4.5 stars for the safety leash, one for the actual basket.  Together I would say a solid three stars.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

 

 

kitty carrier

3. Invictus black oxford cat/dog sling in large:    This is how Boo gets into the groomer/vet. There is a small strap that links to her harness and you just set her into the plush, washable inside.  There is a zipper at the back to secure the opening more, though I do wish it zipped a bit further as she can still get her from paws out- she can’t go anywhere, but we still have power struggles sometimes.  Mostly, though, she just likes to hunker down and let me look crazy and I pet the outside of my messenger bag while talking to it.  For what it is, though, this is awesome.  Five stars!  I only worry about when the chubby thing gets too big for either that or the harness.   normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

4. Kong Easy Treat in Bacon & Cheese:  I know, not a cat treat, but my girls went nuts for it at

kongthe vet.  I only dole out a few grams and this can will last me a long time.  Boo gets this

 

with her dental treats (courtesy of Petsmart, comes in a forgettable blue bag) and maybe when I have to lock her up for a long time to take care of Sassy.  Being on the renal diet, Sassy’s food is prescription and I have to lock the other cat up or she’ll eat whatever is left in the bowl.   Now, the nozzel did not last two minutes- mostly because Boo tried to help herself when I was preoccupied and broke it- but I can still get stuff out.  Do not leave this unattended with a crazy animal.  Otherwise I would give this four stars.  The girls love it and I have to believe it’s better for them than cheese-wiz.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

Tomlyn

5.  Tomlyn Nutri-cal for cats:  The truth?  This is vial.  I got it to add to Sassy’s food before we knew she had kidney failure.  At the time she had an upper respiratory infection and was dropping weight.  All I could get her to eat was beef flavored baby food (yeah, I can be a pretty bad pet mom).  Warren was worried that it didn’t give her everything she needed thus we thought to use this gel as a nutritional supplement.   For one, it isn’t gel; it’s goo.  Thick, stinky, sticky goo that looks like primordial ooze.  My cats wouldn’t touch it, nor anything tainted with even a drop of it.  I can’t say as I blame them.  The only saving grace is I only wasted $5.  I am not giving this a single star as it does not merit one.

omegease

6.  Omegease: Omega rich fish oil.  This was to be added to whatever wet food Sassy got to give her extra omega 3,6,and 9.  It is liquid and smells like fish.  Boo likes it, Sassy accepts it so long as I don’t go too crazy.  Now that she eats mostly dry food I don’t find that I use it very often, but if your cat eats wet I highly recommend it.  Mixes easily, non messy pump, and keeps in the fridge for four months.  Five stars!  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

81GwnPrsMoL._SL1500_7.  Arm & Hammer advanced care dog/cat toothbrush and toothpaste kit:  Let’s be real… who knew you were supposed to brush your cat’s teeth?  Sassy’s are horrible and the vet talked to me about doing this.  That said, we bought this for Boo- Sassy is already having to get an IV of Saline most nights and I don’t want to upset her anymore.  Besides I feel like starting now would be a bit worthless.  #kittygrandma taught me how to brush (use the little brush and just apply the paste, don’t scrub like you would your own or you might make their gums bleed.  Grab them “like their mama would” and tilt back slightly so that they are imobile and open their mouth.  Spread from side to side and release.  No rinse).  The paste is beef flavor, so Boo likes it, but this does nothing for her cat breathe.  It also comes with a tiny brush that goes on your finger so that you can apply that way, but I didn’t even want to think about that.  My only complaint is that I wish it came with a case to keep the toothbrush clean.  As it is, I keep it in a zip lock bag and brush 2-3 times a week… you know, whenever I remember.  It is a five star product- highly recommended.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

 

Now then, let’s leave Amazon and talk about just a few of the other things we have gotten.

royal canin cat1.  I mentioned Sassy has Kidney disease?  This is the prescription food.  It is roughly $30 for a 6 lb. bag, but it is worth it.  After being put on this (once she figured out she would get nothing else to eat) Sassy has gained about a pound and a quarter back and is slowly getting back to her fighting weight.  We put out maybe a fourth cup at a time and she won’t even eat that much, she never had much appetite.  She does like this better than the wet food, though.  We feed her twice a day- more if we are home.  What she doesn’t eat goes into a zip lock bag with the bowl for the next meal.  Sold at petsmart, and actually cheaper than amazon.  Shocking.  I know there are people that make their own food, but I tried a mashed veg recipe and Sassy would not go for it- neither would Boo.  If you can afford it, go with this.  Five stars!  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

dental treat.png2.  This is Boo’s dental treats.  It says to give them 7-14 a day, but that seems like a lot especially since I also brush her teeth and plan to get them cleaned at the vet yearly.  She gets three treats at a time, usually only once a day unless she’s had a really bad day.  She loves these, and it does seem like the texture of them are designed well to do what it needs…. I guess we’ll find out at her next check-up!  As you can get a 13.5 oz jar with a good lid for under $7.00 I feel like this is a far better value than the Greenie brand that Boo didn’t care for.  Five stars!  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

3. kitty cuddle buddies:  Sassy tried to take one of Boo’s toys so I thought she needed one for her.  This

cuddle pas

opens at the bottom with velcro and has a microwaveable buckwheat pillow that you can heat so that your kitty’s stuffie is warm and comforting.  I feel like any sane cat would be gaga for this.  Mine were not.  The buckwheat has a scent making it something Sassy won’t accept, and Boo thinks the warmth is creepy.  Go figure.  I can’t in fairness give this one a star review because I honestly think it’s the

 

 

 

cats, not the product.

cat kick toys4. Cat kick toys: My Walmart has these in different birds.  We got Boo the Peacock.  It is almost as long as her torso and is filled with cat nip- plus it makes a crinkle sound and has feathers at both ends.  What’s not to love?  She messes with this thing forever- tackling it, throwing it, biting, hugging and dragging it around with her.  This is actually the one that Sassy tried to steal because she liked the sound and would rub her head against it.  Boo was confused, but very polite about it, relinquishing the toy.  We bought a chicken one too, so that they could both have one, but both seem to have decided to share the peacock.

Lastly, laser pointers.   Everyone knows what this looks like, I am not even going to put a pic.  Boo is gaga over these things.  She can’t help herself and Warren can wind her up running around for like half an hour.  She seems to know he controls the dot, she just doesn’t care.  I have started buying the 4-in-one pens from my local dollar tree in bulk because, why not?  We have one on each desk and Warren’s night stand as well as backups incase one breaks or gets lost.  You can’t beat it for a dollar!

Wow, this was longer than I thought it would be…. what do you guys get your fur-kids?

-Amber

 

I Was Anastasia, Ariel Lawhon

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Title: I Was Anastasia

Author: Ariel Lawhon

Pages:  240

Genre: historical fiction

Is this part of a series?  No.

Publish date:  March 27th, 2018

Summary (from Goodreads)

Countless others have rendered their verdict. Now it is your turn.

Russia, July 17, 1918 Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.

Germany, February 17, 1920 A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.

Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson.

As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened.

My thoughts:

Is she the last Romanov?  A confused, mentally ill woman?  An impostor?  This is for us to decide as she tells her story.  I loved the way our narrator presents herself.  I was charmed by her, worried for her; I felt all her pain.  At the same time I felt every happy memory.  This is a book of emotions, memory… a step back in time.  It isn’t kind, and it isn’t neat, her life wasn’t.  The character development was amazing, and the world building was perfect.

I will admit that there were times where it was hard for me to keep track of timelines.  The flow of the book is extremely choppy, like a woman skipping down memory lane.  There were times where I had to stop and ask myself if this or that had happened at the point in time I was visiting at the moment.  This took me out of the book several times, which was upsetting.  There were also several times where the book moved slowly, and I had to fight through it.   For all of that, this is still a four star book for me.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale, there is a high level of violence and language.  Trigger warning- there is talk of rape.    I would definitely say that this is an adult novel.  I give it a seven.  mature audience.

I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from Netgalley and Doubleday Books in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks!  pro_reader_120

The book comes out 3-27-18, be ready!

Link to the book:

Amazon

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The Book Jumper, Mechthild Glaser

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Title:  The forgotten Book

Author: Mechthild Glaser

Pages:  320

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Is this part of a series? No.

Published: January 20th, 2018

 

Summary:

After a trying summer vacation traveling with her mother and listening to the same lecture a dozen times, Emma is ready to be back at Stolzenburg.  The castle-turned-school has been home to her as her father is headmaster, and she just knows this is going to be her year.  She is going to fight for the post of Head girl, and take over the never -used West Wing for a hangout for her book club.  Who knows, maybe she’ll even work up the courage to talk to Frederick!  Yes, things are definitely going to go her way!

While cleaning the West Wing, She and her friends come across an old journal.  It looks like it started as a written account of the lives at the castle, and then the school as different people pick it up.  Some were dry, some were stories filled with fauns and words come to life.  When Emma begins to take over the journal she begins to notice something interesting.  What she writes comes to pass… though not always as she would wish.  Enter Darcy DeWinter, arrogant heir to the family that owned the castle and still retain certain rights.  Deciding these rights include the West Wing, he and Emma butt heads immediately.   As time goes by, though, she learns more about him and his past.  His sister disappeared from here four years ago, and he needs to find answers.  She can’t leave him, not when she might actually have Gina’s last words… Filled with magic, intrigue, and nods toward Austen, this is going to be an instant favorite for many.

My thoughts:

I fell madly in love with this author last year upon reading The Book Jumper, so when I saw she had another book it was an instant buy for me.  I immediately fell in love with the gorgeous cover, and was intrigued by the premise.  From the first chapter you get a good feel for Emma.  Loyal, sweet, a bit goofy and at times immature…. But insanely loveable.  I loved what she tried to do with the book, showing her care for others; and her need to make things right.  I rooted for her, this is a character that I connected with from the start-even when she did foolish things.

The premise of the book, a magic journal that can influence the future was interesting; as was the way she showed what would happen when different types of people had it.  It was an interesting, fast read that kept me enthralled to the last word.  A lot of people are liking this to Pride and Prejudice, I can say nothing of this as I haven’t read it.  The starting line of chapter one does nod to it, though (I know that much!).  I like the little surprise at the end, and I felt like the book was wrapped up well.  It left me feeling warm and entranced, like any good fantasy.  For me this was a five star book.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating

On the adult content scale there was some language and two side characters had a sexual relationship that never got talked about in any sort of detail- extremely mild and suitable for any age.  I give it a two.  General.svg

The book is out now!  Have you read it?  What are your thoughts?

Link to book:

Amazon

Also, here is a link to my review of her other book, The Book Jumper, Mechthild Glaser in case you’re interested in it.  I highly recommend both books!

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Fifty Fifty, James Patterson and Candice Fox

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Title: Fifty Fifty

Authors: James Patterson and Candice Fox

Pages: 377

Genre: detective, mystery, thriller

Is this part of a series?  Yes, book two of the Detective Harriet Blue books.  (Read the other book and the bookshot first).

Published:  February 19th, 2018

Summary:

Sam Blue is standing trial for the murder of three young women.  Harriet knows Sam could never have done this…. but she’s the only one.  An altercation gets her banned from the trial and sent out to Last Chance Valley to investigate a possible planned attack on the populace of 75.

On her first day a homemade bomb kills the retired sheriff.  With the help of the only cop in Last Chance Valley and a terrorist agent, she must find out who is behind all this before anyone else is hurt and the only clue is a diary found in an abandoned backpack.

While she is out there, her friend and partner Whitt is trying to keep tabs on the trial and keep Sam safe behind bars.  When he is attacked outside the courthouse one day, help comes in the form of Tox- a detective that has worked with Harriet in the past.  The two could not be more different…. but it may just be that together they can find the evidence needed to protect Sam for Harry’s sake.

My thoughts:

I have to say that this is not my favorite series from Patterson.  It is near the bottom of the list, in fact.  I keep reading because I keep hoping it will find it’s stride and get better, like the RED series did.  Sadly the way this book finished, this could be the last book for Harry’s series.  It would be a terrible wrap-up with far too many open ends…. but it’s happened in the past and I can’t find any chatter about another book.

I have mixed feelings about this book.  It is by far the best written of the series, but certain things were still far too predictable.  (Harry blows up and gets in trouble with her captain- gets shipped out to Middle of Nowhere, Australia…. yeah, that happened in a previous book for this series.  Bear in mind there are only two books and a novella here.)  Whitt, a character I was beginning to like, is given more of a casual role here and instead of getting to know him better as a character a lot of time is spent on his observations on Tox.  Tox is an interesting character too, and I love him for his loyalty to Harry…. but I prefer Whitt and was a bit saddened by his role here.  Harry is also a dilemma for me.  I need character growth- I want to watch them grow, root for them.  Harry hasn’t had too much of that since I first met her.  She did have an aha moment near the end of the stay in Last Chance Valley where I felt like maybe there was hope; but the way the book ended it could go either way and, as I said before, there is no talk of another book.

All of that aside, I did enjoy getting to know the villain of this piece, and the fact that the current victim was given a voice as well.  The book was fast paced and definitely action packed.   I liked the nods to the previous books and characters, and the moments where Harry showed her more caring side.  She is a protector, fierce and loyal.  I can get behind that… I just don’t always want her bashing heads and fighting her way through trouble.  For me, this is a three and a half star book.  If there is more I will read it, if only for closure.  normal star ratingnormal star ratingnormal star rating2000px-Half_Star_Yellow.svg

On the adult content scale, there is a lot of violence, cursing, and the occasional racial remarks.  Emphasis on violence.  There is also talk of child abuse of a sexual nature.  this could be a trigger.  I give it an eight.mature audience.

The book is out now.  Have you read it?

Link to book:

Amazon

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