Blogmas Day Fifteen: Christmas Spirit Book Tag

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We found this book tag over at Words & Stitches. We did this tag last year and thought it was a super fun book tag for the time of year. It’s great to get into the holiday spirit. So, we decided to do it again! Feel free to participate, but don’t forget to tag back to Words & Stitches!

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer // A book you love, even though it’s not perfect

Amanda – The Art of Losing by Lizzie Mason

Antonia – Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Frosty the Snowman // A book that melts your heart

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

Antonia – A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

The Grinch // A book about a sympathetic villain

Amanda – Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Antonia – The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

The Christmas Prince // A guilty pleasure book

Amanda – I don’t like calling books ‘guilty pleasure’ but Nora Roberts can always get me out of a reading slump.

Antonia – I agree with Amanda but would probably choose Julia Quinn. They’re so silly but always make me laugh out loud.

Naughty List // Three books you can never forgive

Amanda –

I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi (because of the ending)
Starsight by Brandon Sanderson (also because of the ending)
Beartown by Fredrik Backman (for all the tears)

Antonia –

Ogre Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Earth’s End by Elise Kova
The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead

Nice List // Three books you can’t be mad at

Amanda –

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
The Disasters by M.K. England
Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Antonia –

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
Crown of Vengeance by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

Eggnog // A book you’re saving as a holiday treat

Amanda – The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand. It’s my only ‘Christmas book’ and I’m saving it for the last week before the holiday.

Antonia – Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

We tag you! Yes, you reading this! Feel free to play too!

Blogmas Book Review: The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

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GoodReads Review:
On the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…
Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.
When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?
The Devouring Gray (The Devouring Gray, #1)Review:
Can my review for this book just say, “I loved this book” five hundred times? I don’t know why I took so long to pick up The Devouring Gray. I started this late last night and couldn’t put it down until I reached the last page. I am so beyond excited for the sequel.
I would die for Violet and Harper. Violet’s story was full of grief. She’s lost her father and her sister and losing her sister is not something she’s handling well. She and her mom move back to the town her mom grew up in, but her mom doesn’t remember the truth about this small town, Four Paths. So, Violet has to figure it out alone. I admired her strength and courage. She’s thrown into an age-old battle between good and evil with barely any knowledge, but she, with the help of some new friends, manages to figure out her powers.
Harper is my favorite and I would die for her as well. Harper lost her hand in The Gray. She was performing her ritual when things went very wrong. But the secrets of what really happened that night is horrifying. I hated and loved learning the truth. Despite the things Harper has had to deal with, she powers through and helps take care of her many siblings. Harper is brave and stubborn and I loved her.
Then there’s Isaac, the fandom favorite. I loved him, but not as much as everyone else seems to. There’s something about his poor little damaged soul that just makes me want to give him a hug. He’s unflinchingly loyal, to a point that may be damaging him more. I really liked his new friendship with Violet. My two little damages babies becoming friends was so sweet.
Finally, there’s the Hawthorne siblings, Justin and May. At the beginning of the story, I hated one and loved the other, but by the end of the book, my feelings flipped. I loved the one I first hated and hated the one I first loved. Talk about mommy issues with these two. Their mother was a nightmare. She was horrible and drunk on her power, convinced she was doing the right thing for the town. But she has her kids trained to follow her orders without questions until Violet comes to town. Violet changes everything. I liked seeing Justin learn that there was more going on than what he first knew. I’m very interested to see how things develop with the siblings in the next book.
Overall, I’m obsessed with this book. I want to reread it again right now. I loved the characters. I loved the town. It was atmospheric and creepy. I loved the mystery and suspense. I loved the diversity of the characters, the friendships they made, and even the weird love square. We don’t know love triangles in this book, it’s a square of unrequited love, which made for lots of great drama. I loved everything about this book so please go read it right now.

Quotes:

“People could hurt each other without being monsters. And they could love each other without being saints.”

“This was hurt it would never understand. This was hurt made from love. And she immersed herself in grief, embraced it, the parts of her that had been so lost and broken, so long her enemy, were now her savior.”

“She thought about heroes, and villains, and legends, and monsters. And decided that whoever told the story was more powerful than all of them. Harper would never let someone else tell her story again.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

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GoodReads Summary:
Grace Mae knows madness.
She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.
When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.
In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.
A Madness So DiscreetReview:
After reading Heroine, McGinnis’ 2019 release, and absolutely loving it, I’ve been trying to make it through the rest of her books. A Madness So Discreet was…different, to say the least. I read in other reviews that it was supposed to be a conversation about madness and also the state of care for those with mental illnesses in the 1800s. But this book was actually pretty fucked up for lack of a better phrase.
I couldn’t help but love the main character, Grace. She as fiery and fierce despite the things she’d had to endure throughout her life. She was smart and clever and made the best of the horrible situation she’d found herself in. She was really the only reason I continued the story.
The doctor, Thornhollow, was odd but in the best ways. I liked that he saved Grace, even if he wasn’t the most personable sort. He was a bizarre character, but I liked him because of that. I especially liked his sister. She just added a bit more to the story that I really liked.
Overall, I’m going to keep this review short because I think I’m still sorting out my thoughts. I finished this book and all I could think to myself was, “What the actual F” I’m still not sure whether I even liked this book or not, so? I read it quickly. McGinnis has a way with words that makes me want more, even if I’m not super invested in the characters. I think my issue with this story was its darkness. I usually love things like that, but this story was all too real in the time period, even though it’s a fictional story, people suffered like this every day. And that’s not something I can enjoy.

Quotes:

“The darkness has long lived inside me, sown if not by my nature then by nurture.”

“I think we’re all quite mad. Some of us are just more discreet about it.”

“It’s a madness so discreet that it can walk the streets and be applauded in some circles, but it is madness nonetheless.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Day Fourteen: GoodReads Choice Awards

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Hello, lovelies! I thought it would be fun to do a final wrap up of the GoodReads Choice Awards winners and which ones were winners thanks to my vote. I’m only going to be including the categories that I voted in. Check out my last post about which books I still needed to read for the final round of voting.

Best Mystery/Thriller

My Vote: An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanenn

Winner: The Silent Patient by Alex Michalides

This is not overly suprising to me with all the hype that surrounded The Silent Patient. It also, sort of, makes me want  to move this book higher up on my TBR list.

Best Historical Fiction

My Vote: Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Winner: Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This is also not overly surprising to me. I’m glad it won. I adored the audiobook and voted for it in each round.

Fantasy

My Vote: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Winner: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Another one that’s not a surprise. There were so many great books for this category,  it was a hard choice to pick just one.

Romance

My Vote: Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Winner: Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

This one was so deserving of the win. I did really like some of the other books I read from this category, but I’m so glad RW&RB won.

Science Fiction

My Vote: This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

Winner: Recursion by Blake Crouch

The winner is one of the few books in this category that I didn’t read. I can’t say whether it deserved it, but I wish my vote won.

Graphic Novels & Comics

My Vote: Bloom by Kevin Panette & Savanah Ganucheau

Winner: Pumpkin Heads by Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks

Another non-surprise, Rainbow Rowell is such a beloved author. I personally don’t read her work, so I think any of the other books should have won.

Poetry

My Vote: Great Goddesses: Life Lessons from Myths and Monsters by Nikita Gil

Winner: Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

I love that Shout won. I have not read it yet, but it’s on my shelf. I definitely plan  to read it in 2020.

Debut Novel

My Vote: House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Winner: Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

I think it should be a rule that books can’t win more than one category to give the other books a more fair chance. RW&RB already won the Romance category and there were several other deserving books in the Debut Novel category.

Young Adult Fiction

My Vote: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Winner: Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry, & Tobias Iaconis

I’m sorry, but HOW did this book win? Wasn’t this written based off of the movie? This was rigged. I don’t understand how this could have won over any of the other books for Young Adult Fiction.

Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction

My Vote: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

Winner: The Wicked King by Holly Black

Is anyone surprised by this? No? Me neither.

Middle Grade & Children

My Vote: Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi

Winner: The Tyrant’s Tomb by Rick Riordan

Insert lack of surprise here. Uncle Rick is king. But I would have liked to see one of the more diverse stories by a newer author win.

So, that’s it lovelies, the 2019 GoodReads Choice Awards have finally come to an end. It was fun trying to read all of the books so that I could vote properly. Which books were you happy to see win?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Blogmas Book Review: The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

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GoodReads Summary:
In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel shares the unforgettable story of a young woman as she struggles to find strength in the aftermath of an assault.
Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.
What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.
Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.
The Way I Used to BeReview:
I really thought I was going to rate this book five stars when I first started it, but the longer I read it, the less I liked it. There were a lot of things I liked about this book though, so I’ll start with those.
Eden, though I’ve never experienced what she went through, was very relatable. I saw a lot of myself in her with her destructive behaviors, like smoking and drinking. I was a reckless teenager and did a lot of the same things she did. But Eden was mean. She was lashing out at anyone that showed her attention, anyone that was kind to her. It made her really unlikeable, but at the same time, with the things she went through her behavior was understandable.
I thought the writing was excellent. I also thought the characters and interactions were well done. The relationships between the characters were interesting too.
The thing that really bothered me was the pacing. This book follows Eden through all four years of high school. This was an interesting way to tell the story in theory, but for me personally, it made me feel like huge chunks of the story were missing. At the end of Sophomore year, it’s Christmas time and then suddenly it’s her junior year and the same in the transition between Junior and Senior year. It really bothered me. Also, when Senior year comes around things are obviously different. Eden has started calling her mom and dad by their names, which is not explained at all. The reader is just left to figure that out.
This was my biggest issue with the book. But aside from that, I really liked the characters, even Eden. The relationships and the disagreements were realistic and compelling. It was hard not to feel sorry for Eden, but it was equally hard not to want to yell at her for her behavior. This would have been a five star book for me had it not been for the bizarre pacing and time jumps.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Day Thirteen: Read 2019 Releases

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For today’s blogmas post I thought it would be interesting to talk about all of the 2019 new releases that I managed to read this year. It’s always a struggle to stay on top of those new books that come out each year so going over which ones we did read seems like a good way to highlight the accomplishment that is reading those new releases, especially since I read way more new releases this year than in previous years.

A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Shienmel
Robbergirl by S.T. Gibson
Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner
The Dysasters by P.C. & Kristen Cast
A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
The Trial of Lizzie Borden by Cara Robertson
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson
The Birds, The Bees, and You and Me by Olivia Hinebaugh
Deathcaster by Cinda Williams Chima
Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib
King of Fools by Amanda Foody
Again but Better by Christine Riccio
Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta
The Shadowglass by Rin Chupeco
Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi
Vortex Visions by Elise Kova
Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen
Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Bloom by Kevin Panetta & Savannah Ganucheau
Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
Girls of July by Alex Flinn
Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence
The Wicked King by Holly Black
Broken Throne by Victoria Aveyard
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins
Darkwood by Gabby Hutchinson Crouch
Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare & Welsey Chu
All Our Broken Pieces by L.D. Crichton
The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
Under Currents by Nora Roberts
Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare
Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Heroine by Mindy McGinnis
Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa
How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow
Call it What you Want by Brigid Kemmerer
100 Days of Sunlight by Abby Emmons
Chosen Champion by Elise Kova
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe
Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen
The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
Let’s Call it a Doomsday by Katie Henry
Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum
Wilder Girls by Rory Power
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
The Liars of Mariposa Island by Jennifer Mathieu
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
We Speak in Storms by Natalie Lund
A Question of Holmes by Brittany Cavallaro
Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro & Emily Henry
Rage by Cora Carmack
These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling
Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab
American Royals by Katharine McGee
The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
Meet Cute by Helena Hunting
The Toll by Neal Shusterman
Finale by Stephanie Garber
This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black
The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves
Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Well Met by Jen DeLuca
The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White
Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
The Rise of Magicks by Nora Roberts
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Starsight by Brandon Sanderson
I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi

 

These are all of the 2019 releases I’ve managed to read this year! I honestly didn’t think I’d read this many, so I’m rather impressed with myself. What 2019 releases did you read this year? Let me know in the comments!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Blogmas Book Review: Rogue by Julie Kagawa

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GoodReads Summary:
Deserter. Traitor. Rogue.
Ember Hill left the dragon organization Talon to take her chances with rebel dragon Cobalt and his crew of rogues. But Ember can’t forget the sacrifice made for her by the human boy who could have killed her—Garret Xavier Sebastian, a soldier of the dragonslaying Order of St. George, the boy who saved her from a Talon assassin, knowing that by doing so, he’d signed his own death warrant.
Determined to save Garret from execution, Ember must convince Cobalt to help her break into the Order’s headquarters. With assassins after them and Ember’s own brother helping Talon with the hunt, the rogues find an unexpected ally in Garret and a new perspective on the underground battle between Talon and St. George.
A reckoning is brewing and the secrets hidden by both sides are shocking and deadly. Soon Ember must decide: Should she retreat to fight another day…or start an all-out war?
Rogue (Talon, #2)Review:
I just am having a really hard time WANTING to read these books. I remember loving them when I first read them. But I’m just over it. Antonia said that they get really good in this book and the next one. While I didn’t hate Ember in this one as much as I did in the last one, I still didn’t love her for most of the book.
Ember is now a rogue dragon. But instead of helping Riley figure out who the mole in his system is or literally doing anything useful, she is determined to rescue Garret, who is going to die because he spared her life. I get that she loves him, and in any real situation I probably would do the same thing, but I just hate him. Aside from that, Ember does and experiences things that really affect her. It was nice to see her trying to work through these issues rather than just glossing over it like too many stories do.
I love Riley. He is the end game I want and if I don’t get it I’m going to be very upset with Julie. We get bits and pieces of his backstory and the events that led to him going rogue and I really enjoyed that. I just love Riley.
Garret is okay, I guess. I mostly just want him to go away. I don’t hate him only because he does anything in his abilities to protect Ember. I just wish Ember had never gotten involved with him.
Overall, Ember did grow and become less annoying in the second half of Rogue. I’m interested to see what the gang does next. I am going to do my best to finish this series, but if I’m not enjoying the next book I might just have to give up on it. There’s no shame in DNF’ing friends.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.