What’s Ashley Reading?: Blade of Secrets

Blade of Secrets by Tricia Levenseller

First line: I prefer metal to people, which is why the forge is my safe space.

Summary: Ziva, an eighteen-year-old female blacksmith, makes magical weapons in her forge. But one day she takes a commission from a powerful warlord. With this commission she makes the most deadly weapon ever. It has the power to bring nations to their knees. In order to keep it from the woman who wants to use it to take over the country she and her sister flee their home to find a way to destroy the weapon before it can be used.

My Thoughts: I have come to love Levenseller’s books. She writes such fun stories that have great characters. This one was the same. Her main character deals with social anxiety while also have a powerful gift and talent. It is great to see author’s bringing in characters that are not perfect. Everyone needs a hero that represents them.

The beginning of the story seemed to drag for me. It took a while for me to get invested in what was happening which was really disappointing because usually I am all in for the author’s stories. About halfway in I started loving the characters, enjoyed the possible romance and was waiting for some big twist to happen. But the end is what made it hard trying to decide how to rate this book. I loved the last 25% or so. Characters became more developed, secrets are revealed and a big battle happens. And of course a cliffhanger.

I will definitely read the next book.

FYI: This is the first book in a duology.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Clanlands

Clanlands by Sam Heughan & Graham McTavish

First line: Well, in The Beginning…there was a man in a kilt.

Summary: Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish, stars of the widely popular TV show Outlander set out on a trip around the Highlands of Scotland exploring the history, culture and landscape of this beautiful countryside. In their camper van they traverse the roads, lochs and pubs while sampling whiskey and traditional foods of the Highlanders.

My Thoughts: I highly recommend checking out the audiobook on CloudLibrary because I feel that this is what made the book much more interesting. Sam and Graham narrate the book. They recount times on set and with fellow cast members. They goof around and make fun of each other. I could tell that they really enjoy each other’s company and are good friends.

I learned a lot about the history of Scotland while reading this. As I listened I looked up the locations and people mentioned. It is astounding that there are homes older than our country. I could tell how proud they are to be Scottish.

I have always wanted to visit Scotland but I want to go even more after reading/watching Outlander. The land is beautiful and wild. The culture is rich and enduring. Much of my genealogy comes from Scotland. I want to experience the world my ancestors knew.

FYI: Find the audio book on CloudLibrary.

Book Review: The Light of Paris

The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown

First Line: I didn’t set out to lose myself.

Summary: Madeleine is a married woman who is bored and unhappy with her life.  Her husband is controls everything from the money to what she

is allowed to do with her day.  She loves to paint but he has made it clear that he does not think that this is something she should be spending her time doing.  When she goes home to visit her mother she finds her grandmother’s journals in a trunk in the attic.  Through the writings of a woman she barely knew she finds out more about herself and what she wants from life.

Margie is a young woman in 1924.  She was a debutante but remains unmarried making her practically an old maid.  When the chance to chaperone her younger cousin around Europe is presented she jumps at the chance to see the world before she settles into marriage with one of her father’s business partners.  But the trip doesn’t turn out as planned.  Her cousin ditches her in Paris leaving Margie with the question of what to do alone in Europe.  Rather than take her parents advice and return home she decides that Paris has more to offer her, even if it’s only for a little while.

Highlights: Paris!  It has been 11 years since I visited the City of Lights but I want to go again.  This book took me back to the 4 days I got to spend there in college.  The monuments, cathedrals and the food were magical!  I envy Margie the chance to live in this beautiful city.  I liked the flashbacks.  It made the story richer as you found out more about each woman.  I was able to connect with them and became invested in each of their lives.

Lowlights: Most of the story was very predictable.  I knew what was going to happen in most of the book but that is not always a bad thing.  It felt like a safe and comfortable read.

FYI: You will want to visit (or live) in Paris after this!