Amanda’s Favorite Audiobooks of 2020

Hi, lovelies! I read 85 audiobooks in 2020. Some of them were absolutely incredible and I knew I needed to make a separate list of favorite audiobooks so that I could share and recommend them to you all. Some of them may be on a list I’ve already posted or on one that’s coming later this month, but being on more than one of my lists is how you know it was just that good. Now, I am pretty pick about what kinds of audiobooks I like. I prefer narrators that do different voices for different characters. My favorite thing is full cast audiobooks. But I do sometimes find audiobooks that just have one narrator that does an incredible job telling the story. This list is a combination of those.

Mirage by Somaiya Daud

The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell & Katie Cotugno

Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

Internment by Samira Ahmed

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds

There we have it, friends. These are all of my favorite audiobooks that I listened to in 2020. Now, I did reread a few series via audio but I didn’t include those on here. What audiobooks did you listen to in 2020 that really blew you away?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Favorite Young Adult Books of 2020

Hey, lovelies! If you’re new here, welcome! We’re talking about my favorite books that I read in 2020 by age range. Today it’s young adult books that I read and really loved. There’s a whole mix of genres on this list that stuck with me for a variety of reasons. Now, in my last list I included some of the books that made my overall favorites list, but this one won’t. I have too many I want to add to this list so, check out my 10 favorites of 2020 to see the young adult titles not included on this list.

Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds

There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Rin Chupeco

Furyborn by Claire Legrand

The Fell of the Dark by Caleb Roehrig

Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell & Katie Cotugno

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

A Million Junes by Emily Henry

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig

There you have it, fifteen young adult books that I loved so much I had to make this list for them. What young adult books made your favorites list this year?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s 2020 Favorites: Blogging

Hello, lovelies! Today is a different sort of favorites list. I want to share some of my favorite posts that I wrote this year. I do mostly reviews, but I have a few posts from theme’d events that I am particularly proud of and I want to highlight them here today.

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
I’m proud of this review because I think I managed to get my thoughts down in a descriptive way that really showed how I felt about the book. This was one of my favorite books of 2020, so I’m happy that I was able to write a review that I am proud of.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
This was another favorite of last year and again I was able to accurately get my thoughts down. But for this one, there were so many smaller things that really made this book was it was and I feel like I was able to convey that in a way that would make sense to those that haven’t read it.

Kingsbane by Claire Legrand
This is the second book in the Empirium trilogy and I put the first book on my favorites list, but the second book was devastating and I literally wrote most of my review while I was still listening to the last hour or so of the book. I’m proud of it because I think I was really able to put my emotions into words and show how I was feeling about the book.

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
I’m adding this one to the list because I really think this book was incredible and I’m confident that I shared all of the reasons why in my review. There were so many things that made this book as excellent as it was and I feel like I shared all of them.

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher
I’m putting this one on the list because it opened me up to a genre I’d previously written off: Horror. I’ve read like three horror books in 2021 and it’s thanks to this book. I don’t know that I really was able to get all my feelings down on the page, but I think I did a great job of explaining the story and the ways it made me react.

If You Liked This, Then Read That (Blogtober)
I wanted to try new posts for Blogtober and Blogmas this year. I didn’t want to just recycle the same posts I did in 2019. So, this was one of the new things I came up with. This is obviously not a brand new concept, but it was something I’d never done before and I was excited to give it a try. I’m really proud of this post because I think I gave some really good recommendations based on similar books.

Favorite Tropes in Science Fiction (SciFi Month)
This was a new topic for me because I don’t usually talk about tropes (aside from pointing them out in book reviews) unless it’s a topic for Top Ten Tuesday. I am really proud of this post all around. It looks pleasing with how I formatted and set it up. I also am happy with all of the recommendations that I shared.

If You Liked This, Then Read That (SciFi Month)
I had so much fun with this sort of post when I did it for Blogtober that I was beyond excited to do it again for SciFi Month (science fiction is my favorite genre). Like my Blogtober post, I’m really proud of the comparisons and my recommendations. I got to share books I really love and compare them to other books that I really love so that hopefully new readers will love them too.

Books & Baking – The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh
Books & Baking is a newish feature on the blog, and I’ve definitely slacked a bit. But this was such a fun recipe to make that came from a book I really loved. I am really pleased about how this post looks. I think the pictures I took of my baked goods came out great. I always have fun with this blog feature and I really liked this one.

That’s all I have today friends. These are just a few posts that I wanted to highlight because I’m really proud of them. Let me know what you think!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Favorite Middle Grade Books of 2020

Hi, lovelies! As I said in my top ten favorite books of 2020 post (find that here), I’m going to have a few lists other than that one. Today’s list is my favorite middle-grade books that I read last year. These are not all only 2020 releases, just books I read in 2020. I cannot stop thinking about these books or they really touched me on an emotional level, which is why they’ve made this list. I do also want to mention that there may be repeats on this list from my first favorites post, but it’s just because I really loved them.

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

Closer to Nowhere by Ellen Hopkins

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

Tristan Strong Destroys the World by Kwame Mbalia

Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega

Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake

The Deceivers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Looking at this list, I realize I’ve mostly just read all of the books from the Rick Riordan Presents publishing imprint. I do not have a problem with that at all because they’re amazing books and I would shout about them from the rooftops if I could. So, go to your local library, borrow them from a friend, buy the ebooks, however you like to get books, get these and read them.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s 10 Favorite Books of 2020

Hello, lovelies! Today, as you can see from the title of this post, I am here to share with you all 10 of my favorite books that I read in 2020. I will be doing my favorites a bit differently than I did last year. Last year, I made a few lists of my favorite books organized by genre. This year, I’m going to make a few lists but they will be my favorites organized by age range. So, today’s post will be my top twenty favorite (but not in any specific order because I’m a creature filled with indecision), and then over the next few weeks I’ll have more posts with my favorite books for each age range (middle-grade, young adult, and adult) and maybe some based on format (like audiobooks and graphic novels). Let’s get into today’s post! I’ll be linking my reviews, if I have one, so feel free to click through and see my full (spoiler free!) review of my favorite books.

The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Mirage by Somaiya Daud

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand

These are my top ten favorite books of 2020. Now, these are not all 2020 releases, but I read them all in 2020. These are some of the books that I just can’t stop thinking about even though I read them forever ago. Also, these are by no means my only favorite books I read last year, which is why I have more lists coming for each age range that I read. What books were your favorites of 2020?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Three: National Poetry Day

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Hi, lovelies! Today is national poetry day. So, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite poems with you all.

“Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Fire and Ice has been my favorite poem for the longest time. There’s something about it that really just pleases me. Anything about the world ending really is my jam. Along with the rhymes and alliteration. I will adore this poem forever. I (also) hold with those who favor fire.

“A Tale of Two Sisters” by Nikita Gil

In the beginning, there was oblivion.
A vastness, and an abyss compromised
of darkness and nothingness.
…until there were two sisters.

One was made from interconnectedness
of all things, a precipice of stories,
a treasury of all things gone and things to come.
Her name was Cosmos.

The other was made from the tricorn
of darkness, black magic waiting to be born,
inkwells of feral power and rebel thoughts.
Her name was Chaos.

Before they had floated into the abyss,
as all celestial beings were left to do in the end,
their father told them to be a binary system,
to never let go of each other.

He warned them that together they could
build everything, but apart, nothing could exist.
So the two came together and imagined a tapestry
of moving, living stars that inhaled around each other.

They pictured impossible things like planets
that help thousands of different beings
and balls of fire to keep them warm
and whole atmospheres to help them breathe.

And this was how the love of two sisters
wrote the first ever eternal poem into magical
loving existence. A single poem
they christened, “The Uni-verse.’

I found Nikita Gil because of twitter. I am so glad that I did because her poetry is so great. This one, in particular, is just beautiful. I love the language she uses. The story of these sisters is one that has stuck with me.

“Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
I and my Annabel Lee—
With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we—
Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in Heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea—
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Of course, I had to include something from the wonderful and horrifying Poe. Annabel Lee has been another poem that’s stuck with me for years. There’s something wistful about it, but also dark. I thought it’d be perfect for a spooky addition for this post.

What are your favorite poems or poets? Leave a comment and let me know!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

GoodReads Summary:
In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.
In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.
Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.
Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.
The Ten Thousand Doors of JanuaryReview:
The Ten Thousand Doors of January might just end up being my favorite book of 2019. I got about 40% into the ARC for this one (Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!) and I just could not put it down. I stayed up entirely too late last night finishing this one.
The main character, January, is sheltered enough to have nice things and travel in style, but not so privileged that she doesn’t know that she is different. She is half black and half white. She thinks of herself as an in-between girl, which is more accurate than she realizes. I really liked January’s character. I sympathized with her when she was struggling and admired her when she was at her fiercest. She really made this story what it was. This book is told in a way that January is telling us a story after it has all happened. I really enjoyed the story being told this way because it felt like we were right alongside her on her adventures. She’s brave without being totally reckless. She’s smart without being annoying about it. She’s loving and loyal, while sometimes having doubts.
There was a handful of supporting characters. I really just loved them all. Samuel was sweet and determined to be a part of January’s life. I loved his perseverance and dedication to her. Then there’s Jane, who I adored also. Her story was a tough one and I just loved the way things were wrapped up for her. I loved that she’s kickass and tough, even though everyone seems to doubt her. Mr. Locke was someone I was unsure about for most of the book. I wanted to love him because he took January in and cared for her like she was his own daughter. But something just didn’t sit right with me about him. His backstory was fascinating. Finally, her father, Julian. I really wanted to love him despite his constantly leaving January for work. I’m a sucker for a good father/daughter relationship. Though this one wasn’t the best, the end result was so wholesome and heartwarming.
Overall, I adored everything about this book. I loved that we got two different stories within one. We get the backstory that January learned as we did. I thought this was a really interesting way to tell the story. The Ten Thousand Doors of January was everything I wanted and more. It was detailed, full of strong characters and adventure, and I just could not get enough. I will be raving about this book for the foreseeable future. Go get it, read it, and love it, so we can rave about it together.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Summary:
The boy king. The war hero. The prince with a demon curled inside his heart. Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. The people of Ravka don’t know what he endured in their bloody civil war and he intends to keep it that way. Yet with each day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built.
Zoya Nazyalensky has devoted her life to honoring her deadly talents and rebuilding the Grisha army. Despite their magical gifts, Zoya knows the Grisha cannot survive without Ravka as a place of sanctuary- and Ravka cannot survive a weakened king. Zoya will stop at nothing to help Nikolai secure the throne, but she also has new enemies to conquer in the battle to come.
Far north, Nina Zenik wages her own kind of war against the people who would see the Grisha wiped from the earth forever. Burdened by grief and a terrifying power, Nina must face the pain of her past if she has any hope of defeating the dangers that await her on the ice.
Ravka’s king. Ravka’s general. Ravka’s spy. They will journey past the boundaries of science and superstition, of magic and faith, and risk everything to save a broken nation. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried, and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.
King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1)Review:
I loved this book from the first page to the last. There are so many mixed reviews out there and I don’t understand how people didn’t like this. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I loved being back in this world. I loved being back with these characters. I have not a single bad word to say about King of Scars.

“You do not use it. You are it. The storm is in your bones.”

I adored getting to spend more time with these characters. Nina was, as always, fierce and fabulous. She was full of passion and a desire to fight for what’s right even if it’s hard. She doesn’t respect authority, probably from all her time in Ketterdam. I loved hearing her inner monologue, her mentions of our favorite Dregs and our dear, dear Mathias. I love Nina and all her sass and I can’t wait to see what happens with her next.

“All fuels burn differently. Some faster, some hotter. Hate is one kind of fuel. But hate that began as devotion? That makes another kind of flame.”

Then there’s the equally fierce but mostly terrifying Zoya. I seriously loved getting chapters from her perspective. This was something I wanted from the Shadow and Bone trilogy. Getting to see Zoya reflect on things from the past was really interesting. Additionally, her point of view opposite that of Nikolai was a perfect balance. She isn’t a pessimist perse, but she’s a voice of reason and keeps things based in reality. I really liked getting to know her better and I’m dying to know what she does next.

“Most of us can hide our greatest hurt and longings. It’s how we survive each day. We pretend the  pain isn’t there, that we are  made of scars instead of  wounds.”

Finally, the King of Scars, Nikolai. I adore him just as much as ever. I think his character gets only more interesting and complex the more we learn about him. I liked getting to learn about the darkness within him and his battles with keeping it at bay.

“Stop punishing yourself for being someone with a heart. You cannot protect yourself from suffering. To live is to grieve. You are not protecting yourself by shutting yourself off from the world.”

The world of the Grisha is one that draws me right in until the very last page and then never fails to leave me wanting more. I wanted to start the book from the beginning as soon as I was finished. The world building that Bardugo does is intricate and incredible. The Grishaverse is one of my favorite places to be and I love it even more with each visit I make.

“They would build a new world together. But first they had to  burn the old one down.”

Last to talk about is the plot. I hate to say it, but the twist in the final pages of King of Scars was a smidge predictable. I think this was the intention because it was heavily foreshadowed throughout the book. I don’t think this is a bad thing, just something that I thought I’d mention because I’m usually pretty back at predicting things. I thought the writing was compelling and just added that much more to the atmosphere of the story. I think the different perspectives are going to bring some interesting things to the next book and I just cannot wait to see what Leigh will come out with next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

Summary:
In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.
Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.
But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.
The Last Magician (The Last Magician, #1)Review:
I officially have a new favorite book. I won’t say favorite series until I read The Devil’s Thief, BUT, I completely adored The Last Magician. I’m sad that it’s been sitting unread on my shelf for so damn long.
I loved literally everything about this book. I cannot think of a single thing that I didn’t like. The magic system was intricate and interesting. I’m still not sure I totally get it but I’m excited to learn more about it in the second book. The writing was great. Not too simple but not filled with words I didn’t know attempting to sound smarter than necessary. The story was well paced. Nothing felt like it was dragging on or rushed to be wrapped up. The characters were well crafted and just incredible. I cared about them. They had me invested in their stories and I genuinely cared about what happened to them. There were parts that had me holding my breath in anticipation of what was going to happen. Other parts had me smiling to myself, or even swooning here and there. Things felt realistic with a modern girl going into the past where the culture was different. The difference in the times was mentioned and acknowledged.
I feel like I could go on and on and on. But I’m not going to do that. I’m going to tell you that if you like fantasy​ if you like historical fiction, or slow burn romance, or time travel or magic, or all of the above then you need to read this book. That is all. I need to go find out what happens in book two.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

GoodReads Summary:
Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.
Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.
Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.
The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.
Daisy Jones & The SixReview:
There were so many things I loved about Daisy Jones and the Six that I honestly don’t even know where to start. Taylor Jenkins Reid is so incredibly talented. I can only hope to be as skilled as she is one day. I listened to the audiobook for this story and I’m very glad I did. I’ll talk about that first. This audiobook was narrated by a full cast. Each character had its own narrator which is one of my favorite things. I adore audiobooks with full casts. Each narrator bought life and personality to their character. I loved the interview formatting of the story as well. Bringing up an event or time period and then letting each of the characters tell the story of that event the way they remembered it was so complex and captivating. Which brings me to one of the things that really fascinated me about this story. Because it was the memories of all seven of the band members, plus a few other characters, no one characters told the same story. They each told things they were they remembered so the experiences varied from character to character. I think that added so much complexity to the story. It really made you think about how no two people have the same memories or experiences of the same events. Another thing that Taylor Jenkins Reid does really well is writing a story that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until she’s finished. After reading this book, it was hard not to think that these were all real people and a totally true story. The fact that Reid can make me think, “wait this didn’t happen?” really just blows me away.
I’m not going to talk about each character because there were entirely too many and that would make this review way too long. The characters each had their own personality and their own voice which I appreciate. They were distinct and vibrant, each in their own ways. They all had different goals and motivations which really made for a great story. They brought such fun and excitement and life into the story. I think the character were really what made Daisy Jones and the Six was it was. The story was all about the characters and their experiences and their feelings. There wasn’t really a specific plot outside of following the band members and other miscellaneous people as they rose to fame and then eventually fell apart. I think this story was written beautifully. I loved the whole experience. I cannot wait to see what Taylor Jenkins Reid comes up with next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Deathcaster by Cinda Williams Chima

Summary:
A splintered allegiance.
Warrior Alyssa ana’Raisa would do anything to protect her home, the Fells, and her legacy, the Gray Wolf line. But as a prisoner of Empress Celestine, Lyss is forced to turn her fearsome talents as an army commander against her beloved homeland. Refusal would swiftly lead to her death, and her death would end the Gray Wolf line.
An ancient danger.
In Lyss’s absence, Fellsmarch Castle swarms with intrigue, deception, and a primordial threat. Destin Karn, a southern spymaster with a hidden agenda of his own, might be the queendom’s only hope of defeating the forces aligned against the Seven Realms…as well as the enemies within the castle.
The deadly cost of peace.
Master storyteller Cinda Williams Chima delivers spellbinding action, bittersweet reunions, and dazzling revelations in this indispensable conclusion to the Shattered Realms series.
Deathcaster (Shattered Realms, #4)Review:
I’m honestly a little sad to be writing this review. I cannot believe that this series has been concluded. After eight books and two series and more character deaths than I’d like to remember. I have loved the world of the Seven Realms for many years. They are the books that got me into loving fantasy as much as I do. (Read my review for the first series here.) So, I’m sad to see my time in this world come to an end (in terms of reading for the first time anyway). Okay, enough sadness. Time for the real review.

“She told me that love is not measured by the amount of time you spend together, it’s how that time is spent.”

No surprise here but I loved this book. Deathcaster was my most anticipated release of 2019 and I procrastinated reading it for an entire month because I didn’t want my time with these characters to be over. I still don’t feel like I got enough of their story. I loved this conclusion. I loved the way these characters ended their stories. I loved every single page.

“He said that all we can do is make the best decision  possible in that moment. Then move on. Because we can’t know how a different choice would play out, it makes no sense to beat ourselves up over what looks like a bad choice in retrospect.”

There are entirely to many characters to get into the details for each one of them. I love all of the characters that play a part in the chaos happening in the world. With princesses turned Queens, soldiers turned Kings, missing Princes reuniting with loved ones, pirates with powers, soldiers of all sorts, there really is not a dull moment in the almost 650 pages of this conclusion. I laughed, I cried, I squealed, I did all of the things. I have been on such a journey with Lyss, Ash, Hal, Destin, Evan, Talbot, Jenna, Lila, and so many others. I have loved them all, even the ones I have lost. I loved that each character had their own distinct personality, which I think is impressive with the large amount of characters. It’s a testament to Chima’s talent that each one of these people have their own personality and voice, they each play a vital part in this series. I do want to mention the dragons. I absolutely adored meeting more dragon’s after Cas. Cas raising the fledgling dragons was one of my favorite parts of Deathcaster. They were sassy and smart. They had me laughing every time they were on the page. I loved seeing the other characters learn about and interact with them.

“That’s how they get you-hope. That’s how they break you’re heart.”

The world of the Seven Realms is one that I will miss dearly and I will very likely revisit again before the end of this year. It has become such a well-loved story and I just cannot stop shouting about them from the rooftops about them. I think every lover of fantasy needs to read these books (starting with The Demon King). The world that Chima has built is incredibly intricate and complex. The history, the different cultures, the places we visit, its so in depth and fully envelops you into the story.

“I learned a long time ago  that it’s not our fault if our parents are monsters. We can’t take responsibility for that, or we’re twice damaged. All we can do is try to go forward in a different way.”

Overall, I loved this conclusion. I don’t know that it was my favorite of the Shattered Realms. I probably won’t be able to decide which is my favorite until I reread all of them together. But the characters that reunite. Winning the war on several different fronts. This book has everything I wanted. If you haven’t read these, you need to and that is all.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout

GoodReads Summary:
A single choice can change everything.
Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She’s ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications, and to maybe let her childhood best friend Sebastian know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be epic—one of opportunities and chances.
Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.
Now Lena isn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian might never forgive her for what happened.
For what she let happen.
With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when she and her friends’ entire existences have been redefined? How can she move on when tomorrow isn’t even guaranteed?
If There's No TomorrowReview:
I loved everything about this book. Jennifer Armentrout has done it again. I have not read a single book by this author that I didn’t love. I don’t know why I took so long to read this because it’s no secret that I love her books.

“Waiting is too risky. There’s no bad time to tell someone you love them.”

If There’s No Tomorrow is the book I didn’t know I needed. It’s actually pretty similar to the book that I am currently writing. This book tackles the hard topic of underage drinking as well as drinking and driving. This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart because of some personal experiences. I cried on and off for the last 60% of this story. It really hit me in the feels.

“One choice has altered the course of what  we were all supposed to become.”

We follow Lena as she’s going to school and dealing with the aftermath of her dad leaving, loving her best friend and not having those feelings returned, and summer ending. Then it happens. One night changes everything. The rest of the book we follow Lena as she’s trying to live with the aftermath. She’s dealing with loss and acceptance and feelings that she doesn’t know what to do with. I felt so hard for Lena because I have been where she was. I knew what this poor girl was going through. She made her own life harder, pushing away her loved ones and isolating herself. She’s so deep inside her own despair and turmoil of emotions that she let the rest of her life fall apart. Watching her pull herself out of the hole of depression was hard but rewarding. Seeing her talk to a therapist and open up to him and to her friends was the best part of this story. It was so good to see her do better for herself.

“What does waiting do? None  of us are promised a tomorrow. We learned that didn’t we? We don’t always get a later.”

I really loved the friend group that Lena was a part of. The four girls reminded me very much of my friends. I thought they were realistic and fun. But when things got hard, they were still realistic. They fought and some pushed away while others tried to pull closer. I really liked the friend group.

“Blame isn’t about making someone feel terrible about their actions, and it’s not about hurting the person’s feelings. Actions and inactions have consequences. If we did not accept 

Then there’s Sebastian. Lena’s next-door neighbor/best friend/secret love. I’m a total sucker for the friends to lovers trope. Probably because it’s my real life. I married my best friend. We are a real-life friends to lovers trope and it’s wonderful. So yes, it’s one of my favorites. It was so well done in this book. I loved Sebastian. He was an amazing friend to Lena, even when she pushed all her friends away. I really appreciated him because he was loyal and honest and pushed Lena to be the best version of herself.

“I’m not leaving. You can get mad. You can get upset, but I’m staying right here, becasue whether you realize it or not, you shouldn’t be alone. I’m not going anywhere.”

I overall adored everything about this book. The characters, the story, the writing. If There’s No Tomorrow will be going down as a new favorite book of mine. I definitely think this is a book that should be more talked about because it covers an important topic that sometimes gets over shadowed by the more hard-hitting books.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Air Awakens: The Complete Series by Elise Kova

GoodReads Summary:
Air Awakens
A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…
The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.
Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all–the Crown Prince Aldrik–she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.
Fire Falling
Soldier… Sorcerer… Savior… Who is Vhalla Yarl?
Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?
Earth’s End
A woman awoken in air, a soldier forged by fire, a weapon risen from blood.
Vhalla Yarl has made it to the warfront in the North. Forged by blood and fire, she has steeled her heart for the final battle of the Solaris Empire’s conquest. The choices before Vhalla are no longer servitude or freedom, they are servitude or death. The stakes have never been higher as the Emperor maintains his iron grip on her fate, holding everything Vhalla still has left to lose in the balance.
Water’s Wrath
Librarian turned sorcerer. Sorcerer turned hero. Hero turned puppet.
The Solaris Empire found victory in the North and, at the cost of her heart and her innocence, Vhalla Yarl has earned her freedom. But the true fight is only beginning as the secret forces that have been lurking in the shadows, tugging at the strings of Vhalla’s fate, finally come to light. Nowhere is safe, and Vhalla must tread carefully or else she’ll fall into the waiting arms of her greatest foe. Or former lover.
Crystal Crowned
Long live Solaris.
One bloodthirsty ruler has been overthrown by another, casting the shadow of death over the Solaris Empire. Vhalla Yarl stands upon the stage of fate, prepared to do battle one final time. Fragile alliances will be tested and new bonds will be formed as the world is reshaped. She fights as the champion of peace, but when the night is darkest will she be able to pay the price of a new dawn?
Air Awakens Complete Digital Boxed Set (Books 1-5):

Review:
I’m going to do this as a series review because I’m reading it on my Kindle as a ‘boxed set’ so it’s basically like one GIANT ebook. So I’m going to just write some brief thoughts I had during each book and then do an overall how I felt about the series kind of idea. Also! This is a reread for me. I read this series about a year ago and LOVED it. So I’m rereading it because when Antonia finally started it, I really wanted to revisit this world

Air Awakens

Some thoughts while reading:

I literally wrote on GoodReads, “UGH, what a way to end the first book.” Because it’s so so true. The ending is killer. I also wrote, “I LOVE Vhalla. She’s a timid turned fierce girl who just wanted to work in the library. I’m usually kind of over the whole ‘woah I’m magical’ trope, but Kova does it well. I love the magic system in this series. It’s unique and interesting.”

Some quotes:

“I’m simply learning where I’m meant to be.” It was the only response because it was the truth.”

“‘Fire needs air to live. Air fuels fire, stokes it, and makes it burn brighter and hotter than it ever could alone. But too much air will snuff it completely, just as too many flames will consume all the air. They are far greater than the sum of their parts together, but are equally as dangerous to each other’s existence.’”

“He’s a much better a person than I’ve heard people give him credit for. He’s worth a lot more than many of the people in this room, and it’s not just because of the crown on his head.” She looked back at the Emperor. “He wanted to help. If I am guilty of anything, it was putting him in a position where he felt compelled to do so.”

“She would cut it away. She would cut away the anger, the pain, and the frustration. She’d cut and cut until she was sculpted into something better, something stronger. They wanted to kill her, so this Vhalla would die, she resolved, and a new Vhalla would be born from her ashes.”

Fire Falling

Some thoughts while reading:

I LOVE Fritz, Larel, and Vhalla’s friendship. They make me laugh and keep me entertained. They’re likable and Kova really makes me care about them. They’re great friends to Vhalla even when she thinks she doesn’t deserve it. I love watching them each develop but also develop together as a group of friends.
Slow burn romance is always good. Though the hot and cold, back and forth because he has to put on a show for the world was slightly annoying. I love their romance anyway. It’s slow and satisfying following them as they get to know all the deep dark things about each other.
The Golden Guard, Prince Baldair’s guards, were funny and kind to Vhalla. I loved their scenes.
Less about the plot. More about story progression and character development. We’re following the characters as they travel with the army. But the characters are training to fight with fists and magic, learning more about each other and themselves.
WHY DID YOU DO THAT. HOW COULD HAVE LET THIS HAPPEN ELISE KOVA.
I’m not sure how but Kova has broken my heart and then in the last pages of Fire Falling, broken it AGAIN.

Some quotes:

“There was something severed and rough about her, something tainted and, yet, at the same time those jagged pieces were the makings of something fearsome. She’d wanted to become someone the Senate would fear. Why not shatter the sky?”

“Magic, she was discovering, was like poetry. Once you understood the logic, the meter, the rhyme behind it, you could embellish upon it and make it your own.”

“Even something very small can cast a large shadow when it is close to the sun.”
“Unfortunately for them, one couldn’t break what was already broken.”

“You’re not someone to live in darkness or sorrow.” Larel reclined on the bed, inviting Vhalla to do the same. “You’re a light that can shine brighter than even the sun.”

Earth’s End

Some thoughts while reading:

Already so much more action. We’re finally getting into the thick of it. Vhalla is so fierce and really coming into her powers. In the fighting scenes, it’s so clear how much she’s grown from the timid girl in the library until now.
A slight love triangle in a yicky kind of way.
The emperor is TRASH.
HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DO ME LIKE THIS ELISE KOVA TWO BOOKS IN A ROW.

Some quotes:

“I told you this would never be easy, I warned you. I begged you to spare my heart if you weren’t ready for this fight.”

“Truthfully, I think we both wanted the same thing: forgetfulness of the holes in our hearts left by other people.”

““I was raised in a world where I had thousands of friends, each one waiting for me on a shelf every day. While you practiced with the bow or sword, I read. The Imperial Library houses my confidants, and I spent nearly a decade hanging onto their every word. I know them well, and if you will stop questioning me, I will be so kind to impart their secrets to you.”

Water’s Wrath

Some thoughts while reading:

Vhalla what is you doing girllll?
Yaaas, Jax. He’s vulgar and entertaining but secretly a soft boy.
I’ll forever love Mohned for being a mentor to Vhalla. He did his best for her and I just love him.
I really love that Larel still plays her own special part in the story.
Vhalla’s “magic sight” is a little corny.
HOW DOES KOVA MAKE ME CRY IN EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE BOOKS SO FAR?! MY FRAGILE HEART CANT HANDLE THIS.
I like the northern princess, Sehra, she knows so much more than she’s letting on. I’m interested to see her role in the final book.

Some quotes:

“The fire burned too hot, and we didn’t notice until it consumed everything.”

“But never lose faith, never lose your beautiful heart. Don’t let them win, those wicked men and women who would do anything to cage you or kill you.”

“Love was bravery and-perhaps most importantly-forgiveness.”

“You can’t buy peace with war.”

Crystal Crowned

Some thoughts while reading:

How could you do this to Daniel? He got the short end of the stick again and again.
Even though the circumstances are pretty awful. I love the friend group (despite those that are missing). Jax is as vulgar as ever, Fritz is a cinnamon roll and I love him, Elecia is sassy and all sharp edges and Vhalla and Aldrik are perfect as usual. But all of them together is funny and sassy and full of love.
Vhalla seeing her childhood home and her father was so sweet and heartwarming. It was wonderful to see this sweet innocent moment amidst the chaos.
I really appreciate that Vhalla isn’t just suddenly good at leading. She’s learning from Aldrik. And while she does have people skills and good ideas, she still takes the time to watch him and learn from his example. She also doesn’t hesitate to ask questions when she’s unsure.
AGAIN WITH THE CRYING.

Some quotes:

“I crave peace, and I fear that I am a creature whose fate is written in bloodshed.”

“I suppose it’s a good thing I like books more than most people,” Vhalla muttered.

“You are trapped in a vortex. Time and again, you will repeat your fate dutifully. If we cannot change fate itself and save our world.”

“You have hopes that no one else would allow themselves to even dream of.”

“Every chance worth taking will make you a little scared. That means you’re taking a risk. And where there is risk, there is reward.”

“To kill a monster, you must become one yourself.”

Overall thoughts

I still adored this series. I still cried my eyes out at each of the heart-wrenching moments Kova wrote.
I really really enjoyed the seeds that Kova planted to lay the foundation for the next series (starting with Vortex Visions which I will be starting ASAP.)
I think the ending was perfect especially with what I said above. The fact that there’s another series and we’re going to see more of this world I think the way Crystal Crowned ended was excellent. It left me wanting more where I want to neglect all the other books I need to read and just go right to Vortex Visions.
Finally, I loved this series. I love these characters. The relationships are amazing. There is diversity and elemental magic and war and all of the things that make an incredible story. If you haven’t read these books please go do so now.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Summary:
Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world
Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall…and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely, #1)Review:
I loved this book. Brigid Kemmerer has done it again. She is certainly an auto buy author for me and the thought of waiting a year for A Heart so Fierce and Broken has me slowly withering away on the inside. There were so many things I loved about this book and really not a single thing that I didn’t like. The inside is just as beautiful as the cover of this baby.

“Not all scars can be seen, my lady.”

First, the story. I thought the time twist was interesting. The characters keep repeating the same season over and over in an attempt to break the curse. Next, the twist on the beast was also interesting. I liked that it wasn’t the traditional beast and was more of an actual terrifying monster. Beauty and the Beast has never been my favorite fairytale, but this was definitely one of my favorite twists on the classic story.

“The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but the are choices nonetheless.”

I really enjoyed the characters. We will start with Harper. She’s just trying to look out for her brother and help take care of her sick mother. She’s a fighter from the second that she’s introduced on the page. After being whisked away to Emberfall she basically does whatever she wants (and the complete opposite of what she’s told to do). She does her best to try to escape because she needs to get back to her brother. She proves again and again that her disability isn’t going to hold her back from anything. I thought she was sassy and funny. She also cared even when she didn’t need to and tried to stick up for people that couldn’t or wouldn’t fight for themselves, which is the whole reason she ended up in Emberfall in the first place. She didn’t let this stop her. She saved some villagers, proceeded to bring them food despite being told not to. She stole Rhen’s horse like five times (and I loved it more and more each time.) She sticks up for those that are vulnerable. (Enter Rhen.)

“This was  never a curse to be broken. This is a death sentence. The true curse has been the though that we might find escape.”

Rhen is standoffish, sassy, and almost even rude when he sees how headstrong Harper is. He tries to be nice to her, but quickly realizes his usual tricks aren’t going to work on her. I really enjoyed the hopelessness that Rhen felt in this book. His inner dialogue was one of my favorite parts of the story. He talks so lightly of all the different ways he’s tried to end the curse, some more extreme than others. My next favorite part was his character in general. He’s already done his growing. He’s learned from the countless previous seasons and the things that have happened in them. His character growth isn’t dependent upon Harper and I really enjoyed that. The story was only sort of about breaking Rhen’s curse, it more focuses on being a better person and Harper encouraging/inspiring him to do better for the people he’s supposed to be ruling over. She shows him that even if he’s not meant to break the curse, he can still be trying to take care of the people in his kingdom.

“It is not the moment of passing that is most important. It is all the moments that come before.”

Then there’s all the supporting characters I loved. Grey, the ever-loyal commander. I love the friendship that Harper formed with him. I like that they became fast friends despite Grey being the one to take her to Emberfall, because he tried to be her friend. He taught her things and played cards with her and they talked about everything. I enjoyed their friendship even though there were hints of a love triangle. Then there’s Freya, who was sweet and motherly and always there when Harper needed her. I thought she was so sweet. The final character I want to mention was Zo, Harper’s female guard. They become fast friends and Harper wants to share where she’s really from with her, but doesn’t. They make me laugh with the silly things Harper teaches Zo and I wish she had come into the story sooner. I can’t wait to see these girls interact more (hopefully) in the next book.

“Failure isn’t absolute.  Just because you couldn’t save everyone doesn’t mean you didn’t save anyone.”

Finally, I adored the combination of Emberfall, this fantasy world, meeting the real world of Washington, DC. I thought this was such an interesting idea, fantasy meshing with the real world. I would have liked to see a little bit more (maybe in the next book?) We really were just teased with it and then the ideas and knowledge that Harper brings into Emberfall. It definitely added something extra to the story and I adored this aspect of the story.

“I do not understand how she can fill me with such hope and fear simultaneously.”

Overall, this is a new favorite of mine. I loved every page. I loved the story, the characters, the world, even the cliffhanger. I read this almost five-hundred-page book in one sitting, which says a lot. I literally could not put it down. If you haven’t read this, I recommend it without a doubt.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

GoodReads Summary:
After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach.
Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.
As the big match approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.
Us Against You (Beartown, #2)Review:
This book is the sequel to Beartown, read my review for the first book here. I absolutely adored Beartown so when I saw there was a second one I knew I had to read it. It wasn’t as good as the first, but it was still very good. I only cried once as opposed to the several times I cried during the first book. Us Against You is just as important of a read as the first one, if not more. This book talks about many important and hard-hitting topics that are often talked around instead of about.

“Because sometimes hating one another is so easy it seems incomprehensible that we ever do anything else.”

There are many characters featured in these pages. Many from the first book and a few new ones. Theres no way for me to mention them all. Each character plays an important part in the story, whether they have positive or negative effects on the others. I think the mass number of players in Us Against You are a vital part of the messages that Backman is trying to get across.

“The truth about most people is as simple as it is unbearable: we rarely want what is best for everyone; we mostly want what’s best for ourselves.”

The book talks about so many things, but the most prevalent theme is violence. Violence is present in any society, in every person, but it takes action and hatred for violence to come to pass. I think it did an incredible job talking about all the different ways that people can become violent, that they can become full of hatred, that they can overcome these feelings. Another important topic discussed is family. There are several families we come to know and learn about. They’re all different, all going through their own problems. But in the face of real trauma and loss, they put aside their differences and feelings toward one another and help in whatever ways they can. I thought this story told of a really strong community brought together because of a shared love of hockey. With this shared love, they fight and cheer alongside one another despite personal issues. I really think Backman wrote an incredible story filled with so many important issues from surviving rape, sexuality, alcoholism, loss of a loved one, bullying, and surviving.

“Grief is a wild animal that drags us so far out into the darkness that we can’t imagine ever getting home again.”

The only complaint I have about Us Against You is that it’s kind of a long book to get through. It’s almost 500 pages filled with descriptions and explanations. There is a fair bit of telling, alongside the showing the story does have. It’s also filled with so many tough topics that it was harder to sit and binge read. The writing style is part of this, though I found myself enjoying the writing style. The author foreshadows, telling of things to come before they happen, while giving us hints of things that may happen in between and then actually telling us what happened. I thought this was a really creative way to tell the story and I think it added just that much more to the story. I definitely think Us Against You wouldn’t have been the same book had it been written differently.

“When guys are scared of the dark, they’re scared of ghosts and monsters, but when girls are scared of the dark, they’re scared of guys.”

Overall, I loved this book. There were a few parts that dragged, but I loved it anyway. It’s full of characters we love and characters we love to hate. We talk about hard hitting topics instead of shying away from them. It’ll make you laugh right before it breaks your heart. I definitely recommend these books to anyone that enjoyed reading about hard-hitting topics.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.