Why Everyone Should Read Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen

Hey, lovelies! I’ve had this post idea on my list of ideas for what feels like forever. I’m here today to finally attempt it. I’m not sure how this post will do, but I’m excited to share some of the reasons that I adore the Dark Shores series. Just as a disclaimer, I will not be sharing anything that is a spoiler. I will be talking about all three published books in the series, but nothing with spoilers.

First off, a bit about this book and series. There are currently three published books in this series. Dark Shores, Dark Skies, and Gilded Serpent. I’ve read the first two books more than once. I also was lucky enough to read all three books when they were advanced copies. These books easily became favorites by the time I finished them. I gave all three books 5 stars and I don’t foresee that changing with the fourth and final book, Scorched Earth, which is coming December 2022.

Book Cover

“In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.
A SAILOR WITH A WILL OF IRON. Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences.
A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET. Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world.
A DANGEROUS QUEST. When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.”

A fun fact about this series: the first two books in this series can be read in two ways. The first book follows Teriana and Marcus. The second book follows Lydia and Killian. But both of these books are happening at the same time. So, you could start reading this series with either Dark Shores or Dark Skies before moving onto whichever you didn’t start with. I’ve never seen this done with any other books, so, I think that’s such an interesting thing about the series.

Book Cover

“A RUNAWAY WITH A HIDDEN PAST. Lydia is a scholar, but books are her downfall when she meddles in the plots of the most powerful man in the Celendor Empire. Her life in danger, she flees west to the far side of the Endless Seas and finds herself entangled in a foreign war where her burgeoning powers are sought by both sides.
A COMMANDER IN DISGRACE. Killian is Marked by the God of War, but his gifts fail him when the realm under the dominion of the Corrupter invades Mudamora. Disgraced, he swears his sword to the kingdom’s only hope: the crown princess. But the choice sees him caught up in a web of political intrigue that will put his oath – and his heart – to the test.
A KINGDOM UNDER SIEGE. With Mudamora falling beneath the armies of the Corrupter, Lydia and Killian strike a bargain to save those they love most—but it is a bargain with unintended and disastrous consequences. Truths are revealed, birthrights claimed, and loyalties questioned—all while a menace deadlier and more far-reaching than they realize sweeps across the world.”

I think you should read this series because if you don’t love Teriana and Marcus (which you absolutely will), then you will definitely love Lydia and Killian. Or the other way around. I think Teriana is my favorite character in the series with Killian as a close second. Teriana is essentially a princess. She’s the Maarin heir. I very easily fell in love with the Maarin culture and people. These people are the only ones that know about both the Celendor Empire and Mudamora. Seeing her internal battle of keeping the secrets of her people and saving the lives of her crew and mother was such an emotional journey.

Book Cover

“THEIR BATTLES ENDED IN VICTORY. Lydia returns to Mudaire to enter training at the healing temple. But instead of fighting to save lives, she’s convinced she is doing more harm than good. She delves into the history of the gods only to discover a truth that will change her life forever. His birthright as commander of the Royal Army is finally in his grasp, but Killian feels anything but victorious. Burdened by his past, he embraces the darker side of his mark—and in doing so, risks starting a war.
BUT THE WAR HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN. Having defeated the tyrant Urcon, Marcus struggles to form a lasting alliance with the Arinoquians. But he is plagued by the knowledge that there is a traitor among his friends, and it could cost him everything that he’s fought for. Torn between her growing allegiance to the Thirty-Seventh legion and her need to liberate her people, Teriana finds herself mired in a web of secrets. She embarks upon a path that will either save everyone she loves—or put them all in their graves.”

Killian is from Mudamora, so we learn most of what we know about their culture and people from him. We learn about the mythology of their gods (which is another one of my favorite things about this series.) Killian is Marked by the God of War. But things aren’t going so well for him. He’s disappointing his family. He’s letting the Corrupter win, or that’s what it feels like to him anyway. Killian is a character that feels as if every responsibility is on his shoulders. Everything is his burden to bare and no one else’s. I really liked that even though Killian was Marked by the God of War, he showed us that he was more than that. After losing an important battle, he’s assigned to guard the princess and it’s there that he shows his cleverness for politics. But once he’s living in the city, we also see how incredibly kind he is.

Book Cover

The covers for this series are absolutely incredible. I remember seeing Dark Shores and thinking ‘wow, what a beautiful cover’ and now we have one for book four (pictured to the right) which I didn’t know had been revealed. It literally took my breath away for a second when I first saw it. All four covers for this series are stunning. They just keep getting better and better. My library has the whole series, but I love the books and the covers so much that I had to buy physical copies for my bookshelves so that I could display them. I know I should talk more about the content of the series, but I just really had to mention my infatuation with these covers. Let me know what you think of them!

This is a fantasy series, but there is some excellent romance included. It’s a little obvious that the romantic interests are Teriana with Marcus and Lydia with Killian (though there are plot twists with Lydia and Killian that make it even better.) It took a bit longer for me to get invested in the romance between Teriana and Marcus because Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh legion. So, this was sort of a romance between a soldier and a prisoner of his government, which I didn’t always love. But once the 37th legion is out of the Celendor Empire, we really get to know them as people. They are more than unwilling soldiers trying to do their job. It was definitely easier to like Lydia and Killian together (I think they are my favorite couple from the series), but I did really love Teriana and Marcus by the end of the first book and again when we see them in book three.

If you’ve read this far, thank you for sticking with me and my love for these books. I want to mention that there isn’t yet a synopsis for the fourth book. But that cover, oh boy. I also want to mention the prequel book, Tarnished Empire. This is a full length novel that’s marked as Dark Shores 0.5, but on Jensen’s website, she’s said to read it before Gilded Serpent, but if you’re new to this series, you could start with this book as it’s set a few years before Dark Shores and follows Marcus. But you should read it before Gilded Serpent because it follows a character we meet in the third book.

Book Cover

“A siege is laid against the last resistance to the Senate’s rule. As the battle rages, a commander, a soldier, and a rebel will decide how far they are willing to go for victory.
THE COMMANDER. Marcus is forced to choose between destroying the rebel forces and liberating his legion. He must face the true cost of being a leader. And an oppressor.
THE SOLDIER. Agrippa sets his sights on glory to fill the deepening void within him. He discovers that the price of fame might not just be paid in blood, it might be paid by his heart.
THE REBEL. Silvara joins the rebel forces to fight against the legions who would see her family dead. While she dreams of being a warrior, she finds her sharpest weapon is seduction. But to defeat the Empire, she’ll have to betray the young man who now has her heart.
DEFIANCE IS TREASON. TREASON IS DEATH. Inspired by the harsh world of ancient Rome, readers are obsessed with this martial tale of fiery romance, friendship, and enmity. Told from three points of view, Tarnished Empire is filled with twists you’ll never see coming but will keep you turning the pages all night.
Tarnished Empire is set in the world of Danielle L. Jensen’s Dark Shores. But readers new to the world can begin here.”

I actually haven’t read Tarnished Empire yet because I found it after I’d already reread the first two books and read Gilded Serpent. I was in a bit of a reading slump at the time, so I saved it. I’m glad I did because now I can read it this fall. It says in the synopsis that it has three points of view, which is one of the other things I loved and wanted to talk about with the other books. Dark Shores and Dark Skies both follow two points of view. Teriana and Marcus for the first book. Lydia and Killian for the second book. But when we get to Gilded Serpent, we are following all four perspectives. I was excited about this but mildly worried that it would be too many. I’m happy to report that it absolutely wasn’t. The four perspectives worked really well for the third book, especially since the four characters hadn’t all come together yet. So, we get to see all the things that have to happen for them to finally come together toward the end of Gilded Serpent. I think there was enough build up and anticipation to keep me from getting bored with any one point of view. I’m very excited to read the final book with the four points of view, as well as, Tarnished Empire, which has three points of view.

Alright, that’s what I have for you all. Some of the reasons that I love this series. The world is fascinating. The romance is to die for. The characters are well developed and (mostly) easy to love. And I still can’t get over those covers. Please let me know your thoughts on this post. I’ve never done a ‘review’ like this before, so I’m interested to see what you all think of it! Have you read this series or any books by this author?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Summary:
She’s been the victim and the survivor…
Poppy never dreamed she would find the love she’s found with Prince Casteel. She wants to revel in her happiness but first they must free his brother and find hers. It’s a dangerous mission and one with far-reaching consequences neither dreamed of. Because Poppy is the Chosen, the Blessed. The true ruler of Atlantia. She carries the blood of the King of Gods within her. By right the crown and the kingdom are hers.
The enemy and the warrior…
Poppy has only ever wanted to control her own life, not the lives of others, but now she must choose to either forsake her birthright or seize the gilded crown and become the Queen of Flesh and Fire. But as the kingdoms’ dark sins and blood-drenched secrets finally unravel, a long-forgotten power rises to pose a genuine threat. And they will stop at nothing to ensure that the crown never sits upon Poppy’s head.
A lover and heartmate…
But the greatest threat to them and to Atlantia is what awaits in the far west, where the Queen of Blood and Ash has her own plans, ones she has waited hundreds of years to carry out. Poppy and Casteel must consider the impossible—travel to the Lands of the Gods and wake the King himself. And as shocking secrets and the harshest betrayals come to light, and enemies emerge to threaten everything Poppy and Casteel have fought for, they will discover just how far they are willing to go for their people—and each other.
And now she will become Queen… 

The ​Crown of Gilded Bones (Blood and Ash, #3)

Review:
The Crown of Gilded Bones is the third book in the From Blood and Ash series. If you’d like to read my reviews for the first two books, they’re linked here: From Blood and Ash review and A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire review. I’m going to start this review by saying that if you haven’t read the first two books and you plan to, eventually, maybe come back to this review after you’ve done that. I won’t be spoiling anything from The Crown of Gilded Bones, but I will probably be spoiling events from the first two books.
In this third installment of the series, we start right where book two left off. Poppy and Casteel have arrived in Atlantia. There is so much new information being thrown at Poppy. I really liked the way that Armentrout deals with this. Instead of info-dumping, Poppy sort of absorbs everything she’s hearing, maybe asks one or two questions, but saves most of her questions for when there’s actually time for her and Casteel or her and Kieran to sit down and talk about it all. Poppy is the rightful Queen of Atlantia. She has a choice to make whether or not to accept this responsibility. I liked that Poppy wasn’t forced to become the queen just because she is the rightful ruler by blood. Her choice isn’t taken away from her once again, it’s up to her to decide if she wants to be queen. I liked the interactions between Poppy and Casteel and Casteel’s parents. I liked that everything wasn’t just fine and dandy. There was conflict and conversation before being able to actually develop Poppy’s relationship with her mother and father-in-law.
The Wolven come into play often in this book. As Poppy is Queen by blood, the blood of a God, they are loyal to her. I loved this aspect of the story. She’s a little bit uncomfortable with it and her moments spending time with the Wolven definitely added some moments of levity to an action packed and otherwise serious story.  I liked meeting more of the Wolven and even the infamous Gianna. I think Poppy’s bond to the Wolven was a really interesting aspect of the story. She’s exploring what that bond entails (communicating telepathically??) and how it works.
This leads me into Poppy’s godly abilities. There isn’t anyone alive to teach Poppy how to use her abilities. She is a descendent of Nyktos, so she has power over life and death, but as she’s learning in this book, her powers are so much more than that. I really liked seeing Poppy explore her abilities and figure out what she can do and how to do it. I think that it’s another great way that Poppy gains control over her own life. She can do these incredible things, like healing people from the brink of death or the opposite. But she has to choose to learn how and choose to use her powers.
Now, the sex scenes in this book are to die for. There were so many specific sex scenes that I wanted to happen and Armentrout blessed us with them. And not at all surprising, these scenes were even better than what I’d hoped for. I think Armentrout is doing an incredible job showing sex as something natural and fluid thing. Poppy watches someone doing something, because Wolven are very open about their nudity and attraction, and then she tries it with Casteel. I think this is such a great part of the book. There is no shame when it comes to sex for any of the characters and I think that’s such an important thing. I think sex is today’s world can be considered such a taboo and sometimes shameful thing to talk about and I’m so glad that Armentrout only shows it in positive ways.
The world is also opening up so much more. We learn more about the history of the world and we visit new places in Atlantia as well as a secret new place. I think this world is such an interesting one. I have a feeling we will be seeing even more, as there was definitely some foreshadowing of places to come for the rest of the series. It’s here that I also want to mention all the answers we finally get. I was left with so many questions at the end of A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire and almost all of them were answered, though Armentrout certainly left me with an entirely new set of questions. It’s interesting because I had the questions I went into this book with answered but I finished the book and still have so many questions and yet I still feel satisfied with the answers I did get.
Poppy and Casteel are absolutely one of my favorite bookish couples. I think the development of their relationship is so incredibly done. They really are so well suited. Casteel gives Poppy the freedom of choice that she so desperately needs and Poppy gives Casteel the love and support that he needs. They both manage to know exactly what the other needs when they need it. And their sexual chemistry is nothing short of perfection. I loved that even in the most serious of moments, they are joking and being completely inappropriate with one another. It’s just so fitting for who their characters are and how they are together.
Overall, this series just keeps getting better and better. I was absolutely devastated by the events in the final 100 pages of this book and I will be anxiously awaiting book four to see how things play out. I can’t say that I’m not incredibly excited to see a rage filled Poppy take on Solis. It’s going to be glorious and there are so many new things and new information in play. I think the series will just continue to get better and better and I cannot wait.

Quotes:

“I would kill any and all who stood between Casteel and me because we deserved to be together. We deserved a future, a chance to explore each other’s secrets. To love one another. We deserved to simply…live. I would do anything to ensure that.”

“You are the foundation that helps me stand. You are my walls and my roof. My shelter. You are my home.”

“I’d spent the better part of my life clothed from chin to floor, and more than half of my face covered. I knew how to hide. I was only now learning how to be seen.”

“I do not want to be party to forcing you into yet another role you did not ask for nor desire. I will not replace the veil you loathed with a crown you hate. If you do not want to take the Crown, I will support you,” he swore, and the intensity in his words captured me. The irrevocable oath he was making. “And if you decide you want to take what is yours, claim the throne, I will set this entire kingdom on fire and watch it burn if that ensures that the crown sits on your head.”

“Bravery is a fleeting beast, isn’t it? Always there to get you into trouble, but quick to disappear once you’re where you want to be.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Beginner Science Fiction Recommendations

Hey, lovelies! I’ve recently had someone ask me what books would be good to introduce them into the science fiction genre. Sci-fi is my favorite genre, specifically dystopian stories, but I love science fiction in all the sub-genres. So, I thought that I would make a list of recommendations that I think would be good for anyone thinking of trying science fiction for the first time.

Dystopian

The Final Six (The Final Six, #1)

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir
This book follows two teens as they’re both selected to train in an astronaut program. Their mission is to make it to one of Jupiter’s moons and terraform it. The Earth is being ravaged by natural disasters and time is of the essence. But not all is as it seems with this mission. With The Final Six, you get teenage astronauts, training to go into outer space, but it takes place on an Earth that’s still mostly recognizable, so you won’t have to learn a whole new world or political system.

Internment by Samira Ahmed
This is set in a near future reality. It’s an extremely heartbreaking and emotional story. Muslim Americans are being taken from their homes and forced into internment camps. We follow Layla as her and her family are put through this. I really recommend the audiobook. I also recommend having a box of tissues nearby.

The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum
This one is perfect for beginners. It’s almost more of a romance than a sci-fi. But there is some stuff to do with astronauts and searching for radio signals. I adore the found family in this book. It will break your heart and the fill you back up with love.

The Last 8 (The Last 8, #1)

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl
I have another end of the world scenario for you, but this one is aliens. Eight teens think they are the last humans left on Earth. We get to see some of them traveling across a deserted country, not another person to see anywhere. This is set in a familiar Earth. The eight teens need to team up to save the world, but some of them seem more interested in hiding so they can survive rather than saving anything.

The Sound of Stars by Alisha Dow
Another alien take over story. This one is filled with a love for reading and music and other art. Humans are cooped up in ‘centers’ that are controlled by the aliens. But when MoRr1S finds Ellie’s illegal library, the two flee to a potential solution that may just save the Earth. At it’s heart, this story is a love letter to music and the arts. It was beautifully written and I highly recommend it.

Books Set in Space

The Martian by Andy Weir
If you haven’t seen the movie, or even if you have, you should read this book. The main character is trapped on Mars, alone, after his crew, thinking he’s dead, leaves him behind. We follow his journal entries as he devises a way to survive and tries to make it know that he is still alive. I liked the movie, but the book had a sense of humor that was lacking in the movie. Even though it’s a life or death survival story, Weir manages to make it funny.

The Disasters

The Disasters by M.K. England
You want a diverse space adventure filled with a found family that starts out hating you? This is what you’ve been looking for. These are not the Academy trained heroes that are wanted, but they’re the only ones left. I loved this book so much and I wish more people read it. I often compare it to Aurora Rising because what I wanted from that book is what I actually got from The Disasters.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown
This is pitched as Hunger Games in space. It definitely is that, but way more brutal. Everyone is classes via color. Red’s being the lowest rung. Our main character is a Red. He manages to disguise himself as a Gold and infiltrate their academy. This whole series is absolutely incredible. It’s violent and gory, but it’s all about fighting for a cause you believe in.

Superheroes

Renegades by Marissa Meyer
I think this series definitely could have been shorter, but I really enjoyed the audiobooks. I know many that really love this series. But I prefer my superheroes in movie format. I think there is a lot to love about this series and it’s not full of a super complicated world or abilities.

The Extraordinaries (The Extraordinaries, #1)

The Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune
This is one of my favorite superhero stories. The main character, Nick, has ADHD and the story is told as if we’re in his head. So, it’s a great representation of ADHD. It’s also queer and is filled with the main characters fan fiction. Please, if you like superhero movies and want to try a superhero book, start here.

Time Travel / Alternate Realities

Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen
Chen’s debut novel is full of time travel and creating a life when everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong. I really loved this book. I was expecting to enjoy it, but not nearly as much as I did. I think all of the twists and turns were surprising and unexpected. I found myself easily invested in the characters. This is definitely an underrated book. I never see anyone talking about it.

The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix
I found this one randomly at Target and I’m so glad that I let the cover convince me to buy it. This is a middle-grade story that follows three siblings whose mother has disappeared. They discover their mother is missing and further, they are actually from an alternate reality. But things in that reality are not very good. So, the kids ban together, along with a friend of theirs, and try to save their mom. I thought this was a really fun middle-grade story. It’s one that I don’t see talked about often, but I definitely recommend it.

The Space Between Worlds

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
This was one of my favorite read of 2020. I love this world and the science in this book. I would call it more of an intermediate science fiction story because it’s not really on a recognizable Earth. But I think the world building and the science isn’t so complex that it’s hard to figure out. The characters are diverse and some are a bit morally gray and I loved it.

Opposite of Always by Justin Reynolds
A story of love and being stuck in a time loop trying to change a future that’s already happened. I loved this book so much. It’s emotional with characters that you can’t help but root for. I love this story with my whole heart. It’s got tough topics, but it also highlights joy within tough times. The romance is absolutely beautiful and it still manages to be funny despite the heartbreak that the main character faces.

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
Sal and Gabi are some kids I’d really love to be friends with. They’re completely hilarious. Sal can make holes in the universe into other realities. This often comes in the form of accidentally pulling his Mami from other realities because in his reality, she’s dead. Sal also has diabetes. This story is so much fun. It’s full of adventure and kids just trying to save the world.

Other

The City We Became (Great Cities, #1)

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
What would happen if New York City came alive? Read this book and you will find out. It’s bizarre and I really loved it. The idea of a city becoming sentient is a fascinating one.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
This is a contemporary science fiction story, so it’s a bit of both. We get the modern day world as we know it, but also mysterious statues that may or may not be aliens. At least, they’re made from something that’s definitely not of the Earth.

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
Middlegame is a bit more intermediate, but it’s such an incredible story. It’s a story of magic (sort of) and twins that were separated at birth and given to two different adoptive families. Roger and Dodger manage to find their way to each other over and over again. I loved the complex sibling relationship that we focus on, but I also loved the fascinating alchemy that is also a big focus of the story.

Early Departures

Early Departures by Justin Reynolds
What would you do to have the chance to see a loved one again? If they died suddenly and you had the chance to bring them back for a month or more? Would you take it? Q’s mom does, and that’s what this story is. Q is brought back to life, but he doesn’t know that he ever died. There is a bit of a mystery as to why Q what chosen to be a part of the reanimation experiments. There’s also a mystery as to why Q and Jamal are no longer friends. Ultimately, this story is about two friends coming back together before it’s too late.

These are my recommendations for someone trying to get into science fiction for the first time. Every genre has sub-genres, so I did my best to give recommendations for each that I’ve read and enjoy. Some are a bit more sci-fi than others, but I definitely think there will be something for everyone on this list. Let me know if you’ve read or plan to read any of these!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

Summary:
Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she’s struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can’t seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.
The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre’s Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta’s orbit. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.
Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.
Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other’s arms.

A ​Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #4)

Review:
Okay, after finishing this 700+ page book, I have so many thoughts and feelings. But I think that I am going to write this review similarly to how I reviewed Kingdom of Ash. I am going to break this up into sections of things I liked and didn’t like. Then maybe a few overall thoughts. I want to start that I read this entire book within 24 hours. Once I started, I just could not put it down. I also want to say that I rated this book 4 stars. The things that I didn’t like are specifically what made me lower my rating. So, lets get into it!

What I Liked:

I loved Nesta. I would 100% die for her. I want her to turn her gaze on me and say terribly mean things. I want to sit with her, Gwyn, and Emerie and read in the House of Wind. I think her character growth was really well done. She’s full of anger and self-loathing, but we get to see her pull herself out of that with some help from the other characters.

The House of Wind was my favorite character. As much as I loved Nesta in this one, the House takes the cake for me. I couldn’t help but smile and feel comforted every time the House did or didn’t listen to Nesta. I also loved the why behind the House’s behavior.  

Gwym and Emerie are two women that, like Nesta, have been through some shit. But they don’t know all the details of Nesta’s past and they show her kindness when Nesta doesn’t feel like she deserves it. Seeing the blossoming friendship of these three was absolutely one of the best aspects of this story.

Along with the above point, I really liked that Nesta wasn’t just absorbed into the Inner Circle. She made her own friends, her own found family, her own inner circle. The love they had for one another was wholesome as fuck and I loved it.

The stairs. I feel like I have to mention the stairs. I don’t know who made 10k stairs to get into the House of Wind but it’s fucking illogical and I hate it. But I also couldn’t help but love what those stairs did for Nesta by the end of the book. They became more than the thing trapping her in the House of Wind. She made those stairs her bitch. She down them again and again, making more progress every time she tried. I think they were an interested outlet for her to not think, or to think, or to work out aggression. A friend said “Nest is the true stairmaster” and she’s damn right.

The worldbuilding was another thing I really enjoyed. We get to learn some new things about The Prison. We go back to the Middle and learn some history about that. We learn history about the creatures that were in power before they Fae. I thought all of this was done well and without just dumping new information on us.

Along with the worldbuilding, I was to specifically mention the Valkyrie. I loved the research that Gwyn was doing and how that research was incorporated into the girls’ training. I loved the idea and the history of the Valkyrie and I hope to see more about this.

Nesta’s backstory was filled in some. In the original trilogy, we learn about Nesta and Elain from Feyre’s perspective. But we don’t really learn much about what things were like before they were poor. With Nesta, we learn more about the Archeron’s mother and how horrible she was. I think this backstory for Nesta was so important to her character and really filled in details of why she behaved the way she has for so long.

I’m torn between liking and being disappointed by the fact that there wasn’t really a huge reconciliation between the three Archeron sisters. I liked that there wasn’t because that sort of forgiveness will take time to heal, time for them to figure out a new sort of relationship for them. But also, I just want everyone to love each other.

I also liked that while Feyre and Rhysand are obviously in this story, I feel like we got enough that the story didn’t feel like it was actually about them. (Aside from one thing that a friend pointed out which I will mention in the things that I didn’t like.) Their involvement in the story was mostly minimal, aside from a bit of pushing the plot forward. But these moments where they’re pushing the plot forward by giving orders and what not make sense because Nesta and Cassian are members of the Night Court, which makes Feyre and Rhysand their rulers. So, they obviously must follow the orders of their rulers.

I think the way that Maas showed Nesta struggling was done beautifully. At times, it was almost painful to read through the parts where Nesta is really struggling. At one point, her and Cassian are hiking through the woods and that scene had me sobbing for her. I think Nesta’s internal struggle was so powerful. Seeing her grow and work through all of those feelings was an honor.

Finally, Nesta and Cassian are the couple of my dreams. Maas really stepped up her game in terms of the sex scenes. I liked that they toyed with one another. I liked that at the same time, they were almost toying with themselves. They both were filled with so much lust for one another that they couldn’t control it. But despite that, they didn’t immediately have sex. The blowjob scene was excellent. There was build up to them finally having sex and I think that was done so well.

Things I Didn’t Like:

I didn’t like Rhysand. It breaks my heart to write that because I loved him with my whole heart in the first three books. But he was a bit reminiscent of Tamlin at times in this book and I really didn’t like it. There were medical concerns that he (and everyone else) kept from Feyre and that really upset me. The whole shield thing honestly just made me feel a little icky. I also think he was so horrible to Nesta for no good reason. He continues to be horrible even after he sees into her mind, experiences her trauma alongside her. I just didn’t like him and that was very upsetting.

The second thing I didn’t like had to do with the ending. Nesta does something to save someone and it was really reminiscent of another one of her characters. I didn’t like it in that book either. I’m trying not to spoil, so, I’ll just say that I didn’t think it was necessary for her to do this specific thing. I think the choice that Nesta made will have repercussions in the coming books and I’m interested to see what they are but mad about it still.

Nesta learned to train and all of that, but I feel like she never really learned about her magic. She’s filled with Silver Fire which means something but I feel like it was only briefly explained and we didn’t really get to delve into it. I sort of understand because Nesta didn’t want to use her magic. But she did lots of things she didn’t want to in this book. I would have liked to see a bit more exploration of her magic.

Now, I mentioned above about Feyre and Rhysand being involved in this book. I want to say that I didn’t like how they were essentially the only reason there was a plot. It makes sense because they’re the rulers. But I feel like it would have been better for Nesta to be doing all of the things she did for herself (after that initial push for her to train with Cassian and work in the library) but instead she only tried to scry again because Feyre and Rhysand needed her to. I feel like they were in control of everything Nesta did and I didn’t like that. The same friend that pointed this out also mentioned that it could be looked at like Nesta was doing this for her family, but at this point, Nesta didn’t give a shit about her family. She didn’t have the same motivations of protecting Elain because she felt like an outsider. So, I didn’t like that Feyre and Rhys were basically the reason that Nesta did most of the things that she did.

I also didn’t like how little we saw of Mor. Morrigan is one of my favorites and she was basically absent from this book with minimal explanation of what she was doing. I’m sure this was on purpose because I believe she’s getting her own book as well. But I need more Mor content in my life.

Overall Thoughts:

I enjoyed this book. I’ve been in a reading slump, so being able to devour this book in one day felt so good. But also, it made my reading slump worse because what the hell do I read after this that can compare? I think many people were disappointed that the plot in this book was minimal, but I actually liked that. I think it was a great way to build up to whatever is going to happen in the next books. I don’t know how I would place this in my order of favorites for the series, but I definitely would die for Nesta. I love her and understand her so much better after this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Underrated Black Authors Recommendations

Hi, lovelies! It’s the first day of February, which also means that it’s the first day of Black History Month. So, I thought I would stop by with some book recommendations of books written by black authors. Now, I’m going to preface by saying that I would recommend these books any time of year, so they are not specifically for Black History Month, but many people specifically read books by black authors in February. With that in mind, I wanted to share books and authors that I think are underrated so that they might get some of the attention that they rightly deserve. These are all books I don’t see recommended very often or at all.

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds

Reynolds is an author that I don’t see talked about or recommended very often, which is such a shame. His books are contemporary with a science fiction twist. I gave both of these books five stars and I hope you will too when you read them.

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe
Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe

Philippe is another author that I very rarely see recommended, but his books are so good. They talk about important things in a way that goes straight to the heart. I also had the pleasure of meeting him and talking to him at the NoVaTeen Book Festival a few years ago.

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum
The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum

So, I do see some people talking about Ancrum’s books, especially since her 2021 release is a Peter Pan thriller/retelling. But there are still so many people that haven’t read The Wicker King, which is just a damn shame. Ancrum writes characters that you can’t help but root for, even if you disagree with the choices they make.

Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh
I listened to the audiobook for this book toward the end of 2020 and the only reason I found this recommendation was because of #SciFiMonth. I have only ever seen one person talk about it and I think that should change. This is an incredible science fiction story filled with diversity of all kinds. I highly recommend this one.

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson
Johnson’s 2020 debut is a book that I have seen people say they want to read it, but they haven’t yet. I’m here to say that you should add this book to the top of your TBR list. This was one of my favorite books of 2020. I really hope that the people that have bought this one actually read it soon.

That’s all I have for you today. Eight books that I think more people should be talking about. I know that Blackathon is going on this month, but I’m not super familiar with all of the prompts, so hopefully these might fit for some (or any) of them because all of these books deserve more love. I do have quite a few books by black authors on my TBR shelf that I plan to read and will hopefully be able to add to this list after I read them. What are some underrated books by black authors would you recommend? Let me know in the comments!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Favorite Adult Books of 2020

Hello, lovelies! I’m here with my final age rage favorites list. Today will be my favorite adult books that I read in 2020 (not just 2020 releases). I would recommend these books to anyone. They are a variety of genres, but they’re all excellent books. I will have a few that were on my first list of my 10 favorite reads of 2020, so don’t be surprised if you think you’ve seen these on a list before. Let’s go!

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Seven Devils by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

That’s all I’ve got friends. Fifteen of my favorite adult books that I read in 2020. I already can’t wait to reread some of them in 2021. What adult books were your favorite last year?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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.