Blogtober Day Nineteen: Retelling Edition

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Hello, lovelies! There are so many good books to be read during the spooky season. So, all month long I’m coming to share some suggestions for all the different genres. Today’s genre is retellings. But, we’re going to talk about dark retellings, as is fitting for Spooktober. Books that are a little creepy or a bit horrifying, or maybe even scary. Let’s get into it!

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
This is the story of Cinderella’s step-sisters. Cinderella gets her happy ending, but what about the sisters that were so terrible to her?

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
For the Little Mermaid fans out there, here’s one that might give you some nightmares. Flesh-eating mermaids, murderous sirens, and a princess that steals the hearts of princes…by ripping them from their chests.

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
This Sherlock Holmes retelling was so different from what I expected. Dark and gritty, covering heavy topics while also providing a fun and suspenseful mystery. A must-read.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
The Twelve Dancing Princesses was one of my favorite fairytales when I was a kid. So, getting this retelling was a dream come true. It was dark and twisted and everything I wanted for the spooky season.

Beastly by Alex Flinn
This one is for those Beauty and the Beast lovers. While it’s not the darkest retelling on the list. There are witches and wintery goodness.

Darkwood by Gabby Hutchinson Crouch
I didn’t love this book. But I know others have. It’s a compilation of all the different fairytales, dark and full of adventure.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
I did not love this Snow White retelling, but I know others that have. The twist on the original story was a bit darker than I’d anticipated and I did enjoy the female/female romance.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
This novelization of the Norse myths was a fun read. I enjoyed seeing them from the understanding of the author.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Do I even need to say anything about this one?

What dark retellings did you love? Let me know in the comments any that I forgot or maybe haven’t read yet.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Blogtober Book Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

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GoodReads Summary:
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from acclaimed author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books, This Savage Song is a must-have for fans of Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, and Laini Taylor.
Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives. In This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab creates a gritty, seething metropolis, one worthy of being compared to Gotham and to the four versions of London in her critically acclaimed fantasy for adults, A Darker Shade of Magic. Her heroes will face monsters intent on destroying them from every side—including the monsters within.
This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, #1)Review:
This Savage Song was a wild ride. It was fast-paced and everything I never knew I wanted in a book. I went into the story with as little expectations as possible. I’m glad I did because I ended up really enjoying it. It would have been a five-star read aside from the questions I was left with.
Kate was everything I could have wanted in a kickass female main character. She doesn’t take shit from anyone and does whatever needs to be done to reach her goals. I loved everything about her. She’s smart and fierce. I am very interested in what she does in the next book.
Then there is August, poor sweet August. He’s one of the rarest of the monsters. But he fights his nature every day. He’s good at heart, despite what he really is. I was really intrigued by August. He’s complex with how he feels. He loves his siblings even though he knows they are not all there. He loves his mother and father, and really just wants to do whatever he can to help in the never-ending fight against the monsters.
Once Kate and August meet, things get exciting. Seeing them try to figure out how to trust one another was beyond interesting.
The only complaint I have is that I still have so many questions about the monsters. I’m still not totally sure how they are created. Are they a whole new being? Or are they the person that sinned turned monster? I’m eager to get into the next book and learn more.
Overall, I loved this book. The world was fascinating. The characters were complex and held my attention. There was so much more to this story that seems to be outside of my ability to articulate at the moment. But I loved it. That’s all.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

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GoodReads Summary:
On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer, days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement.
On the inside, within the walls of the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom.
Tying their two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries…
What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve—in this life or in another one?
In prose that sings from line to line, Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and of innocence, and of what happens when one is mistaken for the other.
The Walls Around UsReview:
I’ve been on a thriller/mystery kick for the spooky season. I’ve also been attempting to make a big dent in my physical TBR, so I’ve only been choosing books I bought a million years ago. This is one of those.
I was really interested in this book for the first half. It was mysterious and suspenseful, but also a little weird. I liked that it was weird. But by the end of the book, I still had no idea what had gone on. The characters were interesting and kept up the pace of the story pretty well. The characters were mostly well developed, and I enjoyed the few different perspectives the story was told through.
I’ve waited too long to write this review. So, I’m going to keep it short and sweet. I enjoyed most of this book. It was weird, I think in a good way. But it wasn’t anything that blew me away. A fun read for this time of year.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Eighteen: Audiobook Edition

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Hi, lovelies! Let’s talk about audiobooks. I know not everyone listens to them, but I thought Spooktober would be the perfect time to talk about some really well-done audiobooks that would be perfect for this time of year. I’ve listened to a fair share of them in the past year, some good, some bad, but today I’ll talk about the best of them.

Sadie by Courtney Summers
If you haven’t heard about this book, specifically the audiobook, you must live in a closet. This full-cast audiobook follows two storylines and I just could not stop listening. The story is just brought to life in this format.

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
I loved this book, no matter the format. The story was fascinating and full of mystery and adventure. The audiobook really brought the characters out.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
Kate Rudd is an incredible narrator. I loved this book physically, but even more so on audio. This is a must-read for the fall season.

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
With multiple narrators, this was another one that I just didn’t want to stop listening to until I got to the end. One of Us is Lying was also good on audio, but this one was better.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Though the narrator took a bit of getting used to, I really enjoyed the audiobooks for this one. It’s such an atmospheric story, and audio really enhanced that.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
A throwback for some YA paranormal, the audiobook was fun and slightly cheesy, there were sound effects and songs and I just had fun with it.

Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts
This mystery was a wild one. I cried in the first chapter and was trapped on the edge of my seat for the rest.

Let me your audiobook recommendations in the comments! I’m always looking for the next one to listen to. Have you read any of these?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Blogtober Day Seventeen: Thriller Edition

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Hi, lovelies! Let’s talk about the perfect genre for Spooktober: mystery/thrillers. I love me a good thriller as much as the next person, especially this time of year. So, today I’m going to share some of my favorites with you all. I won’t say too much about them, but if they’re on this list I think you should read them.

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl
I read this one on Halloween last year and it was the perfect book to read. It’s a psychological thriller and things get…weird.

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
The twists and turns in this one were so good that I even got my husband to read it, which says a lot.

The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes
This is sort of mystery/thriller combined with historical fiction. It was fast-paced and beyond intriguing.

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
I loved her first mystery, but this one was even better. Characters to love and a few different mysteries to keep things interesting.

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver
I loved this book. I totally did not see the end of it coming. I loved the characters and the atmosphere. It’s the perfect book for this time of year.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
I’m sure this is one that everyone has heard of by now. I read this for book club and it was a wild ride.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
I love this series and I will never stop shouting about it from the rooftops. It has all of the things I love, boarding school, complex characters, the perfect fall read.

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
This story told through flashbacks, is full of suspense and build up. I just wanted to know what the hell happened to Monday.

Sadie by Courtney Summers
Listen to the audiobook for this one, you won’t regret it. Two mysteries in one, as we follow Sadie on her journey.

The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich
A list of mysteries must always include the Stephanie Plum books. I love these fun mysteries. Plum Spooky would be the perfect one for October.

Under Currents by Nora Roberts
This is the newest of her novels. It did not disappoint. Her books never do. You could pick any of her mysteries and they would be perfect for this month.

Any of these books would be great choices for your Spooktober TBR list this month. Let me know what mystery/thrillers that I don’t have on the list that I should make sure to read this season!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Blogtober Book Review: Ogre Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

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GoodReads Summary: In this prequel to Ella Enchanted, which can stand on its own, young healer Evie is transformed into an ogre by the meddling fairy Lucinda. She’ll turn back only if someone proposes and she accepts!

Returning to the land and many of the characters from her beloved Newbery Honor–winning Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine has written a delightful tale about a clever and endearing heroine who is determined to defy expectations.

Evie is happiest when she is healing people, diagnosing symptoms, and prescribing medications, with the help of her devoted friend (and test subject) Wormy. So when Wormy unexpectedly proposes to her, she kindly turns him down; she has far too much to do to be marrying anyone. And besides, she simply isn’t in love with him.

But a certain meddling fairy named Lucinda has been listening in, and she doesn’t approve of Evie’s rejection. Suddenly, Evie finds herself transformed from a girl into a hideous, hungry ogre. Evie now has only sixty-two days to accept another proposal—or else be stuck as an ogre forever.

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Review: First off, thanks to Emily at Wunderkind PR for sending me a finished copy in exchange for an honest review. It’s not something I usually do, especially because I hardly write reviews anymore but I’ve loved Levine’s books in the past and I just had to say yes to this one.

Unfortunately, I ended up being really disappointed by the ending. I’m going to give some general thoughts first and then go into the things I had issues with at the end so anyone who wants to avoid spoilers can skip that part.

Overall I enjoyed the characters. Evie is smart and kind and I loved the fact that the main character is basically a monster for most of the book. Yes, she’s still human inside but her ogre side takes over sometimes. She finds herself suddenly thinking humans might taste pretty good and she frequently has to resist the urge to eat her friends. She’s constantly hungry and isn’t too picky about what she eats as long as it’s meat. She smells terrible and the other characters comment on it a lot. She’s angry all the time about tiny things. They’re such unique traits to give a heroine and I enjoyed watching how she deals with these obstacles to try to break the curse and even just survive. Evie is a strong, brave young woman and I liked getting to see her learn more about herself throughout this adventure.

I liked Wormy as well though he wasn’t there for a big chunk of the book. I would have liked to have seen more of him especially because the change he makes by the end seemed a little unrealistic but that’s probably because I wasn’t able to see him actually go through the change. He was just suddenly different when he comes back into the storyline later on.

Eleanor was probably my favorite character (another reason the ending made me so angry). She was fun, kind and the most amazing friend to Evie.

The fairy Lucinda is obviously very annoying. If you’ve read Ella Enchanted (or even seen the movie) you know she just buts into everyone’s business randomly and ruins their lives because she can. I think the most annoying part is that in her twisted mind she honestly thinks she’s helping people. I get that she’s super powerful but it still astounds me that no one even tries to do anything about her, they just sort of let it happen.

The plot was decent. It’s exactly what you expect from a story inspired by fairy tales. Now that I’m older I find I don’t have as much patience for how unrealistic stories like this can be. Don’t get me wrong, I love the magic and mythical creatures but wish the characters didn’t act so ridiculous sometimes. However, given that this book is middle-grade it’s kind of to be expected.

**Now is where I’ll talk about the spoilers for the ending so please stop reading if you want to be surprised.

I’m not sure why I expected anything different but when I first read the description for this book I was like, “Finally! A girl who doesn’t want to get married at fifteen. Who has a guy friend she doesn’t fall in love with. This is great!” Guess what happens by the end of the book? They have a long engagement (which was something they said at the beginning Lucinda wouldn’t let them do so I don’t understand what changed) but they’re still engaged at sixteen and married at eighteen which is something we seriously need to stop portraying in books and film. I’m so sick of this trope of girls falling in love with their best friend. Just because he loves her does not mean she has to reciprocate.

Eleanor’s fate is what upset me the most though. Before everyone finds out he’s the villain, Eleanor gets engaged to Sir Peter and, of course, Lucinda shows up. Her “gift” is basically that Eleanor can’t back out of marrying Peter which she obviously doesn’t mind at the time. However, once everyone found out he was a traitor I assumed they’d figure something out, most likely that the king would execute him for treason (yes it’s middle-grade but there were ogres literally eating people). Nope. They all agree that they’ll pardon him for poor Eleanor’s sake and send him off to be a travelling merchant. As though being married to someone she hates is in any way a good thing. The part that really got to me though is that in the epilogue she’s pregnant. Why was that necessary? Their baby is Ella from Ella Enchanted so she had to exist somehow but since Eleanor hates Peter I’m trying really hard not to imagine how that baby was made.

**End spoilers.

Long story short: sorry guys. I really wanted to like this book but the ending absolutely ruined it for me. I’ve liked Levine’s work in the past so if you enjoy middle-grade and fairytales you should still give it a try. Thanks for reading.

-Antonia.

Blogtober Day Sixteen: Amanda’s Gilmore Girls Readathon Wrap Up

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Hiii, lovelies! Today I’m here for a quick wrap up post for the Gilmore Girls Readathon! I mostly read everything that was not on my TBR list for this one. But, that’s alright. I still managed to complete all the challenges other than reading the group book (because I’ve already read it.) So, what did I read you ask? Let’s find out!

A book with a school setting in honor of Yale & Chilton

A Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro

A mother/daughter relationship in honor of our favorite mother/daughter duo ever

We Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund

Any book set in fall or winter in honor of beautiful Stars Hollow & Lorelei smelling snow

The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

A book with complicated love interests in honor of Rory, Dean, & Jess

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

A book by an Asian author or has Asian representation in honor of our favorite best friend, Lane

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki & Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

The next book in a series you haven’t finished yet in honor of A Year in the Life

Road to Oz by Eric Shanower & Skottie Young

A book with food on the cover or is a crucial part of the storyline in honor of Luke’s Cafe

Check, Please! Book One: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu

What books have you read so far this month? Did you read anything for the Gilmore Girls Readathon? Leave a comment and let me know!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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