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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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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Book Review: Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22718701-rebel-mechanics
Synopsis (From GoodReads):
A sixteen-year-old governess becomes a spy in this alternative U.S. history where the British control with magic and the colonists rebel by inventing.

It’s 1888, and sixteen-year-old Verity Newton lands a job in New York as a governess to a wealthy leading family—but she quickly learns that the family has big secrets. Magisters have always ruled the colonies, but now an underground society of mechanics and engineers are developing non-magical sources of power via steam engines that they hope will help them gain freedom from British rule. The family Verity works for is magister—but it seems like the children's young guardian uncle is sympathetic to the rebel cause. As Verity falls for a charming rebel inventor and agrees to become a spy, she also becomes more and more enmeshed in the magister family’s life. She soon realizes she’s uniquely positioned to advance the cause—but to do so, she’ll have to reveal her own dangerous secret.


Review:
I was thrilled when I found out I won this book in a giveaway by Nori of  the blog ReadWriteLove24.  There have been many books in the past few years dealing with an alternate reality in which the existence of magic changes everything.  Most of these books are based in England (A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess, and the upcoming Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves are two that come to mind).  Rebel Mechanics, by Shanna Swendson, is set in an America that is still a colony of England.  The British are in control, mainly due to the fact that technology has not been allowed to develop.  Instead, colonists rely on magic that is controlled by the ruling class of British nobility.

What I Liked:

Characters: 
Verity is the main character.  She comes to New York in order to support herself as a governess.  I liked how determined she was to be self-reliant.  She makes the acquaintance of the rebel mechanics, seemingly by accident.  But was it happenstance, or something more calculated?  She does seem very trusting of all the new people in her life.  But I think this was completely in line with the fact that Verity has led a sheltered life.  As the novel progresses, Verity comes to see there are good people in both the nobility and the rebel cause.

Lord Henry Lyndon:
Henry is the young lord who is the guardian of the three children Verity is caring for.  At first, he seems like a bumbling bookworm, but there is much more to Henry.  Could he be one of the masked bandits who robbed Verity's train?  I see Matt Smith (Doctor Who #11), as this character.


While Henry is somewhat idealized as the member of nobility who wants a revolution, he is also still out of touch with the harsh realities of the working class in New York.  I thought he seemed like he wanted a democracy, but also didn't trust the masses to rule themselves.

Setting:
I loved the descriptions of New York.  The scenes of poverty felt like a Charles Dickens novel.  There were also great moments where old New York stands out, before some of the most famous landmarks were created.  

The idea that the industrial revolution would have been suppressed due to magic was a captivating one.  The year was supposed to be 1888, yet, steam engines and other inventions weren't part of the landscape.  I liked how everything was impacted from this lack of innovation.

What I Didn't Like:
Characters:
Rollo (Roland), Olive and Flora were the siblings that Verity is in charge of.  I didn't feel they were as well-developed as the other characters.  I was hoping the oldest girl, Flora, would have some secrets going on, and perhaps there are in coming books.  But in Rebel Mechanics, Flora is mostly a vapid teen.  The only interesting aspect of Flora is her awareness (and hostility) that there may be an attraction between Verity and Henry.  I hope these characters are brought to life more in the upcoming books.

Lack Of Tension:
While there is urgency in the book, I didn't feel enough was on the line for the main plot problem to be solved.  Yes, some people were in danger, but everything was solved too easily.  There was little sacrificed to achieve those goals.

I was also disappointed that there was no acknowledgement of any tension or jealousy when Henry and Alec finally meet.  

Overall, this was a fun book.  I hope the next books in the series will further explore the younger characters, and the impact of Verity's secret on her relationships with both Henry and the rebel Alec.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22718701-rebel-mechanics

https://www.amazon.com/Rebel-Mechanics-Fair-Love-Revolution-ebook/dp/B00R6DRX7M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1489878106&sr=8-1&keywords=rebel+mechanics+by+shanna+swendson
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/all-is-fair-in-love-and-revolution-shanna-swendson/1125379949?ean=9781250079947
https://www.bookdepository.com/Rebel-Mechanics/9781250079947


Rating:  





Release Date:  July 14th, 2015

Genre:  YA Fantasy (steampunk)

Source:  Won from ReadWriteLove24 (Thank you!)

Format:  Paperback

Recommendation: A promising start to this series.  Filled with an intriguing look at what America would be like without the Revolution or the Industrial Revolution. 


 

 
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Book Review: Hunted by Meagan Spooner

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24485589-hunted

Synopsis (From GoodReads):
Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?


Review:
I first found out about Hunted, by Meagan Spooner, from the author's newsletter (co-hosted by Aimee Kaufman).  A YA retelling of Beauty and The Beast, I was intrigued and put myself on my library's wait list.  Luckily, I was able to get an e-book version of it on it's release date of March 14th.  It is much deeper and more complex than anything Disney could come up with, and I devoured it quickly.

What I Liked:
Character:
Yeva is the main character, who's father's nickname for her is Beauty.  She loves is hunting with her father.  But, now that she is of marrying age, she is discouraged from hunting, and thrown in with women who seem most concerend with fashion, gossip, and catching a husband.  She feels alone, and wants more.  I loved that the book focused on more than Yeva wanting a mate who was more intellectual than the men that were around her village.  Yeva can't even articulate what it is she wants, she just knows it must lie in the forest...

I also enjoyed the character of Solmir, the man is courting Yeva (Gaston's counterpart, if you're keeping tabs).  He was not an uneducated thug, as in the Disney version.  He was actually quite kind and truly interested in Yeva's well-being.  He was everything any girl (but Yeva) could hope for, yet Yeva could only feel a sisterly love for him.  She wanted more...

The Beast is also much more complex than in the Disney version.  I loved how the book showed his dual nature fighting against each other.  Is he a man doomed to have animal instincts he can't control?  Or is he a beast cursed to have a conscience?  He is also not trying to get Yeva to fall in love with him!  She is a gifted hunter, and he needs a hunter to kill what has bewitched him.

Themes:
I found the themes in the book to be nuanced and have such depth.  The idea of everyone having more than one nature was astute.  No one is completely good or bad.  We also have more than one role in life:  woman, sister, lover, nurturer, provider.  We can be many things all at once.

There is also the theme of discontent throughout the novel.  Yeva doesn't want to live in the city, but when she gets to the country, she wants to live even further in the woods.  When she is there, she dreams of being reunited with her family, but even when this happens, she is not content.  Can she ever be happy?  Is "happy" a destination?  Do you get there, and suddenly you're happy?  This book goes in to all of that with the Beast as well.

Underlying flaws:
I think this book does a great job of addressing some of the troubling parts of the original story.  Many people have pointed out that the Belle character (Yeva) is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.  This is when you are kidnapped, but then come to identify too much with your captors.  Another way to look at it is from the standpoint of an abusive relationship.  Is Yeva in that type of situation?  Why would she want to save the Beast?  I liked that the story didn't shy away from these issues, but explored them instead.  

Overall, this was a very satisfying story!  It had suspense, fully developed characters, and fascinating themes.  I loved it!


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24485589-hunted
https://www.bookdepository.com/Hunted-Meagan-Spooner/9780062422286?ref=grid-viewhttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hunted-meagan-spooner/1123951207?ean=9780062422286

https://www.amazon.com/Hunted-Meagan-Spooner-ebook/dp/B01HBPP15U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1489876807&sr=8-1&keywords=hunted

Rating: 



Release Date:  March 14th, 2017

Genre:  YA Fantasy

Source: Public Library

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  A complex and thought-provoking retelling of Beauty and the Beast.  Absolutely gripping.




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Monday, March 20, 2017

Bay Area Book Events #39

Due to the enormous size of this list, I only show events about four weeks in advance.  The master calendar will continue to show all the events I can find that are listed on each bookstore's site.

Bookstores in this list may include:  
Barnes & Noble (various Bay Area Locations)
Book Passage (Corte Madera & San Francisco)
The Booksmith (San Francisco)
Books Inc. (various Bay Area Locations)
Pegasus Books (Berkeley & Oakland)
Hicklebee's Children's Books (San Jose)
A Great Good Place For Books (Oakland)
Kepler's Books (Menlo Park) 
Diesel, A Bookstore (Oakland)

I am attempting to make this a one stop place to find book signings in the San Francisco Bay Area! I will mostly focus on YA books, but I will also include some general fiction if I think it will be of interest.  I do not list non-fiction books (There are simply too many events of those to list).  I think this is an extensive list, but there is always the possibility that I missed an event (Hey, I'm human). If you think there is an event that I should include, please leave me a note in the comments section. Thanks.

All  book graphics have links to GoodReads so you can check them out.

As always, it is a good idea to call the store a day or two before to confirm that the scheduled event is still on.  I have learned that these events change constantly.



Tuesday, March 21st, at 6:00pm
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30201150-next-year-for-sure?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  Next year For Sure
Author:  Zoey Leigh Peterson
Location:  Book Passage (San Francisco)
Address: 1 Ferry Building, San Francisco
Tel:  (415) 835-1020

Wednesday, March 22nd, at 7:00pm

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30201150-next-year-for-sure?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  Next year For Sure
Author:  Zoey Leigh Peterson
Location:  A Great Good Place For Books
Address:  6120 LaSalle Avenue, Oakland
Tel:  (510) 339-8210
 
Wednesday, March 22nd, at 7:00pm
An Evening with Red Hen Press
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29872968-after-the-dam?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31812103-kinship-of-clover?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7044534-song-of-two-worlds?ac=1&from_search=true
 
 
 
Books:  Kinship Of Clover, Song Of Two Worlds, After The Dam
Authors: Alan Lightman, Ellen Meeropol, Amy Hassinger
Location:  Book Passage (Corte Madera) 
Address:  51 Tamal Vista Blve, Corte Madera
Tel:  (415) 927-0960 or (800) 999-7909

Wednesday, March 22nd, at 7:30pm
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30971707-all-grown-up?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  All Grown Up
Author:  Jami Attenberg
Location:  The Booksmith
Address:  1644 Haight Street, San Francisco
Tel:  (415) 863-8688

Thursday, March 23rd, at 7:00pm

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30295497-eat-the-sky-drink-the-ocean
Book:  Drink The Sky, Eat The Ocean
Author:  Kirsty Murray
Location:  Books Inc., Berkeley
Address: 1491 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley
Tel:  (510) 525-7777
Thursday, March 23rd, at 7:00pm
In Conversation with Jandy Nelson
 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20820994-i-ll-give-you-the-sun?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27835606-the-heartbeats-of-wing-jones?ac=1&from_search=true 
Book:  The Heartbeats Of Wing Jones
Author:  Katherine Webber
Book:  I'll Give You The Sun
Author:  Jandy Nelson
Location:  Books Inc., Opera Plaza
Address:  601 Van Ness Street, San Francisco
Tel:   (415) 776-1111
 
Thursday, March 23nd, at 7:30pm
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33350691-show-her-a-flower-a-bird-a-shadow?ac=1&from_search=true
Book: Show Her a Flower, A Bird, A Shadow
Author: Peg Alford Pursell
Location:  The Booksmith
Address:  1644 Haight Street, San Francisco
Tel:  (415) 863-8688
 

Friday, March 24th, at 12:00pm
Literary Luncheon
Registration required
Tickets $55 (Includes meal & signed book)
Book:  The Tea Girl Of Hummingbird Lane
Author: Lisa See
Location:  Book Passage (Corte Madera) 
Address:  51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera
Tel: (415) 927-0960 or (800) 999-7909

Saturday, March 25th, at 2:00pm
In Conversation with Ron Hansen
 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30414418-the-world-to-come?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  The World To Come
Author:  Jim Shepard
Location:  Kepler's Books
Address:  1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park
Tel: (650) 324-4321

Monday, March 27th, at 7:00pm
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29430752-small-admissions?from_search=true
Book:  Small Admissions
Author:  Amy Poeppel
Location:  A Great Good Place For Books
Address:  6120 LaSalle Avenue, Oakland
Tel:  (510) 339-8210

Monday, March 27th, at 7:30pm
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30414418-the-world-to-come?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  The World To Come
Author:  Jim Shepard
Location:  The Booksmith
Address:  1644 Haight Street, San Francisco
Tel: (415) 863-8688 

Tuesday, March 28th, at 7:30pm
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30754980-big-mushy-happy-lump?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  Big Mushy Happy Lump
Author:  Sarah Anderson
Location:  The Booksmith
Address:  1644 Haight Street, San Francisco
Tel: (415) 863-8688
 
Wednesday, March 29th, at 6:00pm
 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29430752-small-admissions?from_search=true
Book:  Small Admissions
Author:  Amy Poeppel
Location:  Book Passage (San Francisco)
Address:  1 Ferry Building, San Francisco
Tel: (415) 835-1020 
 
Wednesday, March 29th, at 7:00pm
Book:  All The News I Need
Author:  Joan Frank
Location:  Book Passage (Corte Madera)
Address:  51 Tamal Vista Blvd. Corte Madera
Tel: (415) 928-0960 or (800) 999-7909 
 
Wednesday, March 29th, at 7:00pm

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28449207-strange-the-dreamer?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  Strange The Dreamer
Author:  Laini Taylor
Location:  A Great Good Place For Books
Address:  6120 LaSalle Avenue, Oakland
Tel:  (510) 339-8210
 
Wednesday, March 29th, at 7:00pm
 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29939185-edgar-and-lucy?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  Edgar & Lucy
Author:  Victor Lodato
Location:  Books Inc., (Alameda)
Address:  1344 Park Street, Alameda
Tel: (510) 522-2226

Thursday, March 30th, at 6:00pm
 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29939185-edgar-and-lucy?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  Edgar & Lucy
Author:  Victor Lodato
Location:  Book Passage (San Francisco)
Address:  1 Ferry Building, San Francisco
Tel:  (415) 835-1020

Thursday, March 30th, at 7:00pm
 In Conversation with Jandy Nelson
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28449207-strange-the-dreamer?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  Strange The Dreamer
Author:  Laini Taylor
Location:  Kepler's Books
Address:  1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park
Tel:  (650) 324-4321
 
Thursday, March 30th, at 7:00pm
 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31287352-in-farleigh-field?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  In Farleigh Field
Author:  Rhys Bowen
Location:  Book Passage (Corte Madera)
Address:  51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera
Tel:  (415) 927-0960 or (800) 999-7909
 
Friday, March 31st, at 1:00pm
 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30754003-our-short-history?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  Our Short History
Author:  Lauren Grodstein
Location:  Book Passage (Corte Madera)
Address:  51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera
Tel:  (415) 927-0960 or (800) 999-7909
 
Friday March 31st at 6:00pm
 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30753683-the-good-at-heart?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  The Good At Heart
Author:  Ursula Werner
Location:  Book Passage (San Francisco)
Address:  1 Ferry Building, San Francisco
Tel: (415) 835-1020

Saturday, April 1st, at 4:00pm
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33928663-the-far-shore?from_search=true
Book:  The Far Shore
Author:  Paul Scheuring
Location:  Book Passage (Sausalito)
Address:  100 Bay Street, Sausalito
Tel:  (415)  339-1300
 
Sunday, April 2nd, at 3:00pm
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30316199-in-calabria?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  In Calabria
Author:  Peter S. Beagle
Location:  Diesel, A Bookstore
Address:  5433 College Avenue, Oakland
Tel: (510) 653-9965

Monday, April 3rd, at 7:00pm
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26804082-just-fly-away?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  Just Fly Away
Author:  Andrew McCarthy
Location:  Books Inc., Opera Plaza
Address:  601 Van Ness Street, San Francisco
Tel:   (415) 776-1111
 
Tuesday, April 4th, at 6:00pm
Book:  Royce Rolls
Author:  Margaret Stohl
Location:  Book Passage (San Francisco)
Address:  1 Ferry Building, San Francisco
Tel: (415) 835-1020 
 
Tuesday, April 4th at 7:00pm
Books Inc. Presents:
 
Tickets:  $26.87 includes a paperback copy of the book.  
Book:  All The Light We Cannot See
Author:  Anthony Doerr
Location:  Santa Clara Convention Center - Elizabeth Hangs Theater
Address:  5001 Great America Pkwy, Santa Clara
Tickets at:  http://anthonydoerr.bpt.me/
 
Tuesday, April 4th, at 7:00pm
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26804082-just-fly-away?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  Just Fly Away
Author:  Andrew McCarthy
Location:  Book Passage (Corte Madera)
Address:  51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera
Tel:  (415) 927-0960 or (800) 999-7909
 
Wednesday, April 5th, at 12:00pm
Literary Luncheon
Registration required
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25781157-the-nest?from_search=true
Tickets $55 (Includes meal & signed book)
Book:  The Nest
Author:  Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
Location:  Book Passage (Corte Madera)
Address:  51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera
Tel:  (415) 927-0960 or (800) 999-7909
 
Wednesday, April 5th, at 7:00pm
Book:  The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
Author:  Hannah Tinti
Location:  Book Passage (Corte Madera)
Address:  51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera
Tel:  (415) 927-0960 or (800) 999-7909
 
Wednesday, April 5th at 7:30pm
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30655763-in-this-grave-hour?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  In This Grave Hour
Author:  Jacqueline Winspear
Location:  Kepler's Books
Address:  1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park
Tel:  (650) 324-4321
 
Friday, April 7th, at 7:00pm
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25716626-breaking-wild?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  Breaking Wild
Author:  Diane Les Becquets
Location:  A Great Good Place For Books
Address:  6120 LaSalle Avenue, Oakland
Tel:  (510) 339-8210
 
 
Saturday, April 8th, at 4:00pm
Book:  Nicaragua Way
Author:  Nina Serrano
Location:  Book Passage (Sausalito)
Address:  100 Bay Street, Sausalito
Tel: (415) 339-1300
 
Sunday, April 9th, at 1:00pm 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30780283-white-tears?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  White Tears
Author:  Hari Kunzru
Location:  Book Passage (Corte Madera)
Address:  51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera
Tel:  (415) 927-0960 or (800) 999-7909
 
Sunday, April 9th, at 2:00pm
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30253091-shadowcaster?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  Shadowcaster
Author:  Cinda Williams Chima
Location:  Books Inc., Palo Alto  
Address 855 El Camino Real #74 , Palo Alto    
Tel: (650) 321-0600
 
Sunday, April 9th, at 3:00pm
Author Panel
Book:  Dispatches From Lesbian America
Authors:  Joan Annsfire, Terry Baum, Xequina Maria Berber, Giovanna Capone, Elana Dykewomon, Pippa Fleming, Lois Rita Helmbold, Bev Jo, Lenn Keller, Arielle Nye McKee, Francesca Roccaforte, Lolita Rogers, Barbara Ruth,and Cheela "Rome" Smith.
Location:  Books Inc., (Alameda)
Address:  1344 Park Street, Alameda
Tel:  (510) 522-2226 
 
Tuesday, April 11th, at 6:00pm
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29430702-containment?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  Containment
Author:  Hank Parker
Location:  Book Passage (San Francisco)
Address:  1 Ferry Building, San Francisco
Tel: (415) 835-1020
 
Wednesday, April 12th, at 7:00pm
Author Panel
Book:  Oakland Noir
Contributing Authors: Nick Petrulakis, Dorothy Lazard, Keri Miki-Lani Schroeder
Editors:  Jerry Thompson & Eddie Muller 
Location:  Diesel, A Bookstore
Address:  5433 College Avenue, Oakland
Tel: (510) 653-9965

Thursday, April 13th, at 7:00pm
Author Panel
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31944809-oakland-noir?ac=1&from_search=true
Book:  Oakland Noir
Contributing Author:  Nick Petrulakis
Editors:  Jerry Thompson & Eddie Muller
Location:  Books Inc., (Alameda)
Address:  1344 Park Street, Alameda
Tel:  (510) 522-2226 
 
Saturday, April 15th, at 4:00pm
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31394293-the-shadow-land?ac=1&from_search=true
 
Book:  The Shadow Land
Author:  Elizabeth Kostova
Location:  Book Passage (Corte Madera)
Address:  51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera
Tel:  (415) 927-0960 or (800) 999-7909
 
 
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2017 Reading Challenge

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

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


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