The Toll by Neal Shusterman

GoodReads Summary:
It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.
In this pulse-pounding conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.
The Toll (Arc of a Scythe, #3)Review:
I honestly don’t even know where to start for this review. I loved this book so much. I was scared about two-thirds of the way through that so much was happening that the ending would be rushed, but that was not the case at all. Everything just came together for a perfect ending. What do I even say about this book?
There is so much going on in this story, so many pieces that need to come together. I’m beyond happy to be able to say that Neal brought these pieces together flawlessly. All the storylines slowly made their way toward one another and the suspense almost killed me. I was dying to know what was going on with the characters I wasn’t reading about, but I also couldn’t get enough of whoever I was currently reading about. I just couldn’t get enough period.
I loved Citra and the way her story played out. I loved seeing her fulfill the role that the Thunderhead shared with her. She was hugely influential and blew the lid off some very well-hidden information.
Then there’s Rowan, I really didn’t care about him in this book. He has captured the whole book and went from one group to another, being told what told to do and taken by someone else where they told him what to do too. I just didn’t care about any of it.
Greyson Tolliver was the second most interesting storyline. After becoming this hugely important symbol to the world, he’s realized that some things are not as important as he used to think. He’s made relationships and realized which ones he wants to keep and not. I think Greyson’s growth was the most significant and the most interesting.
My favorite parts of this book were the parts with Faraday on the islands. I was dying to get back to his parts to see what was going on in the blind spot. The suspense of only getting tiny bits of what was going on there killed me.
I am so impressed with Neal’s ability to create characters. Our villain, Goddard, was horrible and awful in every way, but I still found myself agreeing with some of his ideas. If I lived in this world, I think I could easily have been swayed to Goddard’s side of things even though he’s a horrible man.
Finally, Jerico. I think Jeri was my favorite character. They were just so casual in their gender fluidity and I loved it. I thought the way they identified was beautiful and poetic and exactly what the real world should be like. I loved the addition of Jeri to the story.
Overall, I loved this book and everything about it. They writing was incredible. The messages it sends and the conversations it invites are just such important ones. It brings up the morality of mortality. The conversation of what it means to take a life. Artificial intelligence and how much power they should have. I just loved this book and the entire series.

Quotes:

“We never know what choices will lead to defining moments in our lives.”

“It was not exactly circular logic. More like spiral. An accepted lie that spun in upon itself until truth and fiction disappeared into a singularity of who the hell cares, as long as I’m happy?”

“But the truth is, power for power’s sake is a consuming addiction. He would devour the world whole, and still be unsatisfied.”

“Important work often loses the spotlight to important people.”

“The tales we hear as children—the stories we then pass on—have happened, are happening, or will happen soon enough. If not, then the stories would not exist. They resonate in our hearts because they are true. Even the ones that begin as lies.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Favorite Graphic Novels of 2019

Heyyy, lovelies! Today’s list, as you can see from the title is my favorite graphic novels that I read in 2019. I read my first ever graphic novels this year, so this is a list I’ve never been able to make before. This list is in no particular order, just a list of the graphic novels I loved this year.

Bloom by Kevin Panetta & Savannah Ganucheau

This was so sweet and wholesome. I will love my bakery boys forever and ever.

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu

Witchy and gay. What more could a girl ask for?

Kaijumax Season One: Terror and Respect by Zander Cannon

I adored the monsters in this story. I recently bought the second volume and plan to pick it up in early 2020.

Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia & Gabriel Picolo

I loved the art and Raven’s backstory. I seriously cannot wait for the next book they come out with for Beast Boy.

Spell on Wheels by Kath Leth & Megan Levens

This was so fun. And perfect for the spooky season. I loved the friendship, the art, and the story.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

This one had my heart so full. I loved the art and the colors. The story was so sweet and wholesome and I loved everything about it.

Check, Please! Book 1: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu

Hockey is one of the things that brought my husband and I together in high school, so I love all things related to hockey. This was no different except my love was only amplified by Bitty’s love for baking pies.

The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, & Matt Wilson

This was an impulse buy when I was at my local comic store. I am so glad I did. I adored this. The twist on the Gods and the darkness were everything I never knew I needed.

The Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld & Alex Puvilland

I love Westerfeld in general. After hearing him talk about the process of writing this story, I wanted to read it. I’m glad I did becasue I loved it. The images and colors were stunning and the story was captivating and mysterious.

So, that’s all I have for you today. My 2019 favorites, graphic novel edition. Leave me a comment with your favorites from last year! I’m always looking for  new graphic novels to read, so please spam me with recommendations.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

GoodReads Summary:
Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.
Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.
All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.
As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.
Tweet CuteReview:
I loved literally everything about this book. Tweet Cute was so adorable and funny and heartwarming. I have to give a huge thank you to Meghan Harrington with Wednesday Books for reaching out to be a part of the blog tour for this book. I’m so happy to be a part of the team shouting about this book!
Pepper is a girl with tons of parental pressure. The pressure to help run her family’s corporate Twitter (even though they literally have an employee that’s supposed to do it) and get good grades on top of that at her elite prep school. She also runs a baking blog with her sister (so yes, I will be trying to make one of their creations for an installment of Books & Baking.) Her desserts sound so freaking yummy.
Then there’s Jack, living in his twin brother’s shadow. He spends his time either diving with the school’s team or working at his parent’s restaurant. So, when he sees that Big League Burger has released a new grilled cheese that even has the same name as the one his parent’s restaurant, Girl Cheesing, is known for, he tweets from the Girl Cheesing account. It’s the tweet that launches a twitter war between the two.
I loved the banter between the two twitters. But even more, I loved the banter between Pepper and Jack. I’m one million percent team PepperJack forever. I really appreciated that Pepper wasn’t really comfortable with the whole thing and acknowledged that to her mom, though her mom pressured her to continue tweeting anyway. I thought it was great that once Jack found out that it was Pepper on the other side of the Big League Burger tweets they made it into a fun sort of game.
There was so much I loved about this. The baking, the banter, and the realizations. The development of the characters as individuals was so well done. They learn more about themselves, they talk with their parents and learn more about them, and they develop together as well. I thought it was all just done so well. I will be shouting about this book from the rooftops for the foreseeable future. So, just do me a favor and read it as soon as it is released.

Quotes:

“But sometimes even shouting into a void feels better than just staring into it.”

“It’s weird, how you have no idea how far you’ve come until suddenly you can’t find your way back.”

“Do you ever feel like someone just took something from you?” Yes, I want to say. Sometimes it feels like it’s been four years of this place taking and taking, and I’m all out of pieces to give—like I don’t even know the shape of myself anymore.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez

GoodReads Summary:
Nia Imani is a woman out of place and outside of time. Decades of travel through the stars are condensed into mere months for her, though the years continue to march steadily onward for everyone she has ever known. Her friends and lovers have aged past her; all she has left is work. Alone and adrift, she lives only for the next paycheck, until the day she meets a mysterious boy, fallen from the sky.
A boy, broken by his past.
The scarred child does not speak, his only form of communication the beautiful and haunting music he plays on an old wooden flute. Captured by his songs and their strange, immediate connection, Nia decides to take the boy in. And over years of starlit travel, these two outsiders discover in each other the things they lack. For him, a home, a place of love and safety. For her, an anchor to the world outside of herself.
For both of them, a family.
But Nia is not the only one who wants the boy. The past hungers for him, and when it catches up, it threatens to tear this makeshift family apart.
The Vanished BirdsReview:
To start off this review I have to send a thank you in the direction of NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Now, to gather all my thoughts in one place regarding The Vanished Birds. This book was a pretty wild ride. As with most books, there were things I liked and things that I did not. Let’s start with what I liked.
I liked that the plot was brought back around to relate to the things introduced at the beginning of the story. I was about halfway through and wondering what the point of the first chapter or so, but it all came together in the end in a very skillful way. I also really adored the found family aspect of the story. There were a few different dynamics, but I eventually grew to love all of them. So much happens in this book that I’m really not even sure how to get into the details of it, so I’m just not going to. I think the characters were all very well developed and I cared about them all, even the terrible ones. Realistic and compelling characters is something the author did very well.
Now, I didn’t love that the beginning jumped around with all of the different people we need to meet. The book starts off with a, for lack of a better word, primitive society. We follow a boy as he grows into a man and then an elder of his community. We see him develop a relationship with someone who visits his people once every fifteen years. This part I really enjoyed, especially because it clearly related to the rest of the story. We meet the boy in these chapters and he is handed from the man we saw age to Nia, the space traveler. But then, suddenly the next chapter is about someone completely new and many years in the past. This transition was very jarring. It’s something I can appreciate now having finished the book and seeing how this was brought full circle with the rest of the story, but at the time I really didn’t care for it. This jarring transition happens again when we’re back with Nia and the boy, as they create a new space crew and the perspective becomes the writings of one of the new crew members. His writings are full of completely unneeded details that I really didn’t see how they furthered the story. I liked this character but several times found myself skimming to get back to the relevant parts. Despite these jarring transitions I found myself easily and very much invested in the characters and their adventures.
Overall. this wasn’t a perfect book, but it was one that I enjoyed. I found the characters likable and their mission exciting. I wouldn’t call it a quick read, but it was a story I devoured.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

WWW Wednesday

Hey, bookworms! It’s that day of the week again where we participate in the wonderful bookish post that was formerly hosted by Should be Reading and was recently taken over by Taking on a World of Words. To play along just answer three questions to give an update about what you’re currently reading, going to read next and have read recently. Feel free to leave your answers in the comments or link your post!

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What are you currently reading?

Amanda- The only book I’m currently in the middle of is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling.

Antonia- I’m still working on finishing The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.

What did you recently finish reading?

Amanda- Last night I finished Holding the Dream by Nora Roberts.

Antonia- Most recently I read The Rise of Magicks by Nora Roberts.

What do you think you will read next?

Amanda- I’m not totally sure what I’ll pick up next but I’m thinking it’ll be another ARC. I’ve been really good at catching up on my unread ones and I’d like to get it down to one or two instead of the six I have waiting on NetGalley.

Antonia- Next I still plan on reading Starsight by Brandon Sanderson.

Thanks for reading. Let us know what your W’s are this week in the comments!

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – 2019 Discoveries

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is top ten – Bookish discoveries I made in 2019

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I made many bookish discoveries this year. From audiobooks to BookTube, my reading life has changed for the better. This week though, I’ll be talking about five books I discovered through Book Twitter and five books I discovered through BookTube.

BookTube Books:

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro (via Blonde with a Book)

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman (via Princess of Paperback)

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig (via Aphrodite Reads)

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis (via Chelsea Dolling Reads)

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence (via Thoughts on Tomes)

Book Twitter Books:

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

Let’s Call it a Doomsday by Katie Henry

Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

These are just a handful of the incredible books I’ve discovered this year thanks to the wonderful creators on BookTube and the amazing friends I’ve made on book twitter. What bookish discoveries have you made in 2019? Let me know in the comments!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Sovereign Sacrifice by Elise Kova

GoodReads Summary:
Vi was supposed to be the perfect crown princess. Then, she abandoned her throne.
Vi was supposed to save the world as its Champion. Then, the world she loved vanished.
Now, all she knows is that she has deadly magic and brutal cunning and she’s ready to settle some scores.
Old loves and new allies tell her to play it safe. But Vi is done with caution. She has a chance to right ancient wrongs and this princess-turned-warrior isn’t turning back.
She’s ready to bring an end to the vortex of death the world is trapped in.
The magic, romance, and epic adventure continue in book four of Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles.
Sovereign Sacrifice (Air Awakens: Vortex Chronicles, #4)Review:
I wish Elise Kova was a more widely known author. She is honestly just incredible. I absolutely adored this latest installment of the Vortex Chronicles. The way Kova ties the events in this book to all of the previous stories has me in awe of her writing abilities.
I love Vi and the path she is trying to follow in this book. I’m not going to get into too many details because this is book four in a series (and also a sister series to another five-book series). But, the way that Vi handles herself and uses her magic is interesting and I really enjoyed her trying new things and working on changing the outcome of the world.
I wish there was more going on with Taavin. I know he’s in the story, but I felt like his parts were minimal and I’m not sure where his path is headed.
I absolutely adored meeting all of the characters I already know. I won’t say too much about this. But I think Vi being in a world I know from somewhere else was so much fun. Seeing what parts she played was beyond interesting.
Overall, I really cannot wait to read the final book in this series. I love all these characters. I love their goals and their adventures. I love their relationships. I loved this book very much a lot.

Quotes:

“The world was a puppet, and it was her job to pull the strings.”

“I don’t know what pain fuels your flames, but I can see you’re burning alive.”

“You keep looking back. Those decisions have been made and the ink in the history books is already dry. Keep your eyes forward.”

“She felt herself burning from the inside out with a fire she’d never known before. A fire that felt like it could light the whole world.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda