Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Summary:
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)Review:
I’ve been rereading so many of the books I’ve read and loved over the years, but don’t remember every detail about. Six of Crows is one of those. I haven’t read this duology since the second book came out in 2016. I thought now would be the perfect time to reread these books before I got my hands on King of Scars at the end of January.

“When everyone knows you’re a monster, you needn’t waste time doing every  monstrous thing.”

Rereading this book was exciting and wonderful. I loved being back inside this world with these characters. Ketterdam is one of my favorite fictional worlds. It’s. complex and dark, filled with corners you really should stay out of and all the scheming you could imagine. I love the world of Grisha. It has the ability to suck me in, chew me up, and spit me out at the final page. I was so engrossed in this story that I didn’t want to put it down. I spent several nights staying up later than I should to read more pages.

“The water hears and understands. The ice does not forgive.”

The characters were equally as good as the setting. They were complex and dark, each with their own story to tell. Kaz Brekker, our fearless leader, has such an interesting backstory. Dark and gritty, he does whatever he needs in order to reach his goals. Getting to learn his backstory definitely humanized him as the story went on. He wants everyone to think he’s the big bad, but he cares more than he’s willing to admit.

“Better terrible truths than kind lies.”

Inej, the Wraith, is another character that will do what she needs to as long as it brings her closer to her goals. Sold into slavery, then into the Dregs, she does what she must to survive while trying to keep her conscious clear, not always successfully. She sees the best in her friends even when they don’t deserve it. Nina is probably my favorite though. She’s sassy and fierce, loyal and caring. She doesn’t take anyone’s shit and she stands up for what she believes in. I’m so excited to see where Nina’s story goes in King of Scars.
Jesper was the comedic relief of the group. He turns everything into a joke because he can’t stop and take time to think about what his life has become. He is impulsive and it’s not always a good thing. Then there’s Wylan, sweet and soft Wylan. A merchant’s son, he joins the Dregs to escape a life that seems better than it is. He’s constantly trying to prove himself and that he is worthy to be a part of the team. I think he’s my favorite. I love a good soft boy. Then there’s Matthias, the opposite of a soft boy. He’s full of nothing but conflict and a need for revenge. I think Matthias has the best character arc and development. He’s fighting to decide between the girl he’s grown to care for and the things he’s always known and believed in.

“Greed may do your bidding, but death serves no man.”

These characters all together create the most interesting and conflicted squad, which makes for interesting times as they sail to another country to kidnap someone, a mission that is very likely to fail. All of the different personalities combining in the adventures they go on is guaranteed to be a good time full of laughs, danger, and maybe even a little death. This is still one of my favorite books. It’s just so good. Leigh Bardugo will forever be my Queen. If you haven’t read this book yet, what are you waiting for?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

Summary:
Rev has managed. to keep the demons of his past at bay…until he. gets a letter from the abusive father he hasn’t seen in years, and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.
Emma. has only one escape from her parents’ fighting: the computer game she built from scratch…until an online troll’s harassment causes her to fear for her safety.
When Rev and Emma cross paths one night, they’re both longing to confide in someone-to share the weight of their worries. They connect instantly and deeply, vowing to help each other no matter what. But soon Rev’s and Emma’s secrets threaten to crush them, and they’ll need more than a promise to find their way out. In an achingly beautiful story from the author of Letters to the Lost, two teens find the courage to lift the burden of their scars-old and new.
Review:
Brigid Kemmerer has done it again. I adored this story. Rev and Emma pulled me, chewed me up, and spit me out. Their wonderfully developed characters with interesting and complex stories.
Rev has a complicated past, and not in a good way. I knew I wanted to know more about him when I met him in Letters to the Lost. I’m so happy that he got his own book. We really learn about what goes on in Rev’s mind. We learn his fears and doubts and the things he does to try to combat them. I loved the relationships with his family. I thought it was really interesting to learn about Kristin and Geoff adopting Rev and all the other kids that they’ve fostered over the years. The love they have for Rev was so heartwarming and wonderful to read about. I also really enjoyed seeing more of Declan. I thought it was interesting to see the other side of their relationship. I thought Rev was a strong, courageous character that faced his demons down and stayed true to himself.
Emma was stubborn. Sometimes to the point of annoyance. She gets herself into trouble because of the typical ‘not sharing information’ trope where she could have solved all her problems by telling someone the truth. She was shitty to her friends and didn’t appreciate the things she had in her life. Despite all of this, I couldn’t help but like her. By the end of the book, she knew she’s been an ass and start making amends with those she’s treated poorly. She had great growth and I really appreciated that. I also liked that she’s a gamer. It’s not that common of a hobby for girls and the fact that she created her own game is just fascinating.
Overall, I loved this book. It was heartwarming and heart wrenching at the. same time. I’m so invested in these characters I’d die for another book. I have information from a little birdie that there is potential for Matthew (Rev’s foster brother) to get his own book and I would flip. Kemmerer is officially an auto-buy author for me and I cannot wait to read her newest book A Curse So Dark and Lonely.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Sadie by Courtney Summers

Summary:
When popular radio personality West McCray receives a desperate phone call from a stranger imploring him to find nineteen-year-old runaway Sadie Hunter, he’s not convinced there’s a story there; girls go missing all the time. But as soon as West’s boss discovers Sadie fled home after the brutal murder of her little sister, Mattie, he sees the makings of something big and orders West to the small town of Cold Creek, Colorado, to uncover what happened.
Sadie has no idea that her story will soon become the subject of a blockbuster podcast. She just wants revenge. Armed with a switchblade, Sadie follows a meager set of clues hoping they’ll lead to the man who took Mattie’s life because she’s determined to make him pay for it with his own. But as West traces her journey to the darkest, most dangerous corners of big cities and small towns, a deeply unsettling mystery begins to unfold-one that’s bigger than them both. Can he find Sadie before it’s too late?
Alternating between Sadie’s unflinching voice as she hunts the killer and the podcast transcripts tracking the clues she’s left behind, Sadie, is a breathless thriller about the lengths we go to protect the ones we love and the high price we pay when we can’t. It will haunt you long after you reach the final page.
Review:
After hearing the endless hype for Sadie, I finally bought the book when it was on sale for black Friday. Shortly after buying it, my library informed me that they went ahead and bought the audiobook at my request. So, this led me to wait for the audiobook to be available instead of reading the physical book because I have heard nothing but good things about the audiobook. None of those things I heard were wrong. The audiobook and the story were so so much more than I ever expected.
This story follows two alternating perspectives. The first we follow is Sadie. We follow Sadie as she’s trying to deal with losing her sister, the one person she lived for. Sadie spent her life doing everything for Mattie. Taking care of her sister was her life’s purpose. I think I really related to Sadie because my own mother is one that struggles with addiction and wasn’t around for much of my life. So I know how Sadie feels toward her mother and I could understand those feelings. I cannot imagine what it wo0uld be like to lose a sibling like she did, in such a gruesome manner. I would be inconsolable and would likely attempt revenge, just like Sadie. Following Sadie on this mission was hard because it took Sadie to some dark places both physically and mentally. She had some dark thoughts, including but not limited to murder. I think that was one of the things I liked about this book. It was a mystery/thriller but the darker themes within it really made it just that much more exciting.
The second perspective we follow is West McCray who is a reporter, I think. I thought this was a very interesting way to tell this story. His chapters were so perfectly placed. Every time we switched away from Sadie it was always at the perfect place to just add that much more suspense. I really liked that we get to see into the process of West making the podcast instead of just the podcast episodes. I thought it was cool that we got to see how Sadie’s story was affecting West and the impact this project was having on him. I also really enjoyed the interview parts of the story that were included in the podcast. I feel like they really allowed the reader more insight into all the different pieces of the story.
I think my favorite part was the parallels in the storytelling. What I mean by this is that one chapter will be following Sadie going to a specific place or telling us about something and the next chapter will be the podcast where West is learning about the same things. I thought it was really interesting to see how Sadie saw or thought things and then seeing those same things from the perspective of another.
Finally, I have to mention the audiobook. It was freaking amazing. I absolutely adore audiobooks that are read by a cast of narrators. I think they make the story experience so much better and they’re my favorite kind of audiobooks. I actually waited to read this book despite owning the physical copy so that I could experience the audiobook because I’ve heard such good things. I was not disappointed in the least. I think this is even more important because the one thing I never see mentioned in the reviews I’ve seen is that Sadie has a serious stutter. I don’t know how that is portrayed in the book, but the audiobook you heard the stutter and felt the anxiety and anger that Sadie felt about it. I think the narrators for this story were absolutely incredible. They drew me into this book and spit me out in the last pages all used up and emotionally ruined.
If you haven’t read this book, you need to. If you’re not reading this book because of all the hype, don’t be silly.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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How She Died, How I Lived by Mary Crockett

Summary:
On a warm, listless summer afternoon, Kyle Paxson sent five texts to a few chosen classmates. None of the girls responded-except one. Jamie was the only girl nice enough to give Kyle the time. And that night, deliberately and brutally, he killed her.
On the eve of Kyle’s sentencing a year later, all the other “chosen ones” are coping in various ways. But our narrator is full of questions, stuck somewhere between the horrifying past and the unknown future as she tries to piece together why she gets to live, while Jamie is dead.
Now she finds herself drawn to Charlie, Jamie’s boyfriend-knowing all the while that their relationship will always be haunted by the what-ifs and why-nots. Is hope possible in the face of such violence? Is forgiveness? How do you go on living when you know it could have been you instead?
Review:
This was an impulse buy for me after my twinny, Alana, recommended it to me. She better keeps the recommendations coming because I gave five stars to the two books that I’ve read recently at her suggestion.

“But love and stupidity kind of go together, don’t they?”

How She Died, How I Lived was incredible. It was thought-provoking and hard-hitting and I just couldn’t put it down. This is a story that follows the main character as she’s dealing with survivors’ guilt and all of the feelings that come with knowing that she was almost the girl that got murdered. Being one of five girls that Kyle texted that day, it could have been any one of them that was killed. Our main character battles with the fact that she is still alive and Jamie is not. I really thought this was a powerful story because the things that she felt were so raw and real and parts of it were almost hard to read.

“You asked us to write about death. I want to write about love. They’re not the same, but the link us together in the same way. Death and love. They both wrap us up in their cords, and they don’t let go.”

I’m having a hard time thinking of what I want to say about this story aside from it being a good book because it was so much more than that. This story was thought-provoking with the idea that anyone can die at any time. It also really brings attention to justice and what that really means, specifically in regards to the death penalty. I was blown away by the final pages.

“This world. This preposterously beautiful world. You’d think we could live in it without killing each other.”

The characters were great. I think my favorite part of this story was the relationship between the main character and her best friend, another girl that Kyle texted that day, Lindsey. I really liked that these two girls became friends and are helping one another deal with their feelings about their shared experiences. I loved that they held one another up when they needed it, but they also weren’t afraid to call the other out on their shit. Their friendship was one that reminded me of some of my friends and I really enjoyed it.

“Our grief is our signature, with everyone dotting the i in their own special way.”

The romance in this book was the one thing I wasn’t really sure about. It ended up growing on me, but I didn’t like it at first. The main character ends up involved with Charlie, the boyfriend of the girl that Kyle killed. I thought it was just a little weird because it had only been a year since Jamie was killed, along with the upcoming trial bringing up all the emotions once again. I still don’t think it’s a relationship that will last, but it definitely grew on me. By the end of the book, I was okay with it because they can hold each other up when they need it, but also because they did their fair share of arguing about different opinions. Their differing opinions is where most of the thought-provoking ideas were brought up because they seemed to have the opposite opinions on quite a few things that really just made you think.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Taylor continues. “It was written in the stars.”

Overall, I loved How She Died, How I Lived. I wanted to read it again from the beginning as soon as I finished it. I definitely think this is a story that needs more attention. So if you haven’t read it, please go do so now.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Summary:
Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can her beloved brother really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn’t help that things have been strained with her best friend and ex-girlfriend, Charlie.
As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits into her future and how to move forward.
Confronting difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault, Girl Made of Stars is a timely, emotionally gripping novel that shines a light on the story of a survivor with sensitivity and hope.
Review:
My wonderful twinny, Alana, got me this book for Christmas off my wish list. Its one that I’ve heard nothing but great things about and I’ve been super excited to get to it. With the start of Contemporary January, I knew this book was at the top of my list. This was my first read of 2019 and I’m so glad for that. I could not put it down one I started. I read 180 pages in my first sitting and then read the rest in the car while I was traveling the next day.

“It’s as though the stars are breaking apart in the sky, nothing but dark underneath.”

Girl Made of Stars was hard hitting but realistic. This wasn’t a story about how rape is a thing that happens, but those that do wrong get what they deserve. This was a story for all those that have had these experiences with no closure. And I loved it. I thought it was an excellent story with characters you can really feel for.

“Secrets are safe in here. It’s our own little world, just you and me.”

Mara, the main character, was someone I could really get behind. I tried to imagine how I would feel is my brother had done something like this, let alone to one of my best friends, and what I would do. It really made me relate and care for Mara. She’s not the one that did anything wrong here, but she’s still basically being punished for her brother’s wrong doing whether she sides with her brother or her best friend. I loved Mara. I loved that she stood up for what she knew to be right, even though it was hard. I really loved how she grew and changed.

“How can I believe either one of them? How can I not believe them?”

I loved all the supporting characters too. They were interesting and compelling and I cared about them, even Owen (the brother). We don’t just go into the story knowing he’s done something wrong. We see him and like him, and then are dumped on with this horrible thing he’s done. Alex was Owen’s best friend, but he and Mara grew closer with all of the events in the book and I thought that was a nice touch. The two people that were not actually involved, but were still affected by this coming together was a beautiful thing to me. A new friendship coming out of such a horrible thing. Hannah was just, ugh. I was so proud of Hannah. She was so strong and held her head high and didn’t let anyone bring her down. Even after everything she’s going through, she sticks by Mara. I really appreciated that. There was one instance with them, the first time Mara sees Hannah after it all happens that has me in complete tears. I cannot imagine being in either of their shoes and I just have so much respect for them both.

“Freedom. Release. A sort of falling apart that felt like letting go.”

Then there’s Charlie. I liked her because she was new to me. She’s complex and interesting. She tries to please everyone despite being sure about who she is. There were parts where I was very frustrated with Charlie and Mara. I just wanted them to get over their drama and be there for one another. The fact that they dated brought a really unique dynamic to their friendship. They are figuring out how to still be the best friends they always were while also trying to deal with their breakup. It was an intriguing addition to the story where they are both trying to deal with their own shit while also help one another and Hannah.

“Eventually, Sister Twin realized that she has to tell her story. Because that story was hers. Because she was worth the telling.”

Overall, I really loved this book. It made me cry again and again. This is such an important story and I think everyone needs to read it. It talks about something that people don’t want to talk about, but it needs to be.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins

Summary:
A gun is sold in the classifieds, bought
by a teenage for protection.
One week will bring six teens in Tuscon, Arizona,
into close contact in a town wrought with
political and personal tensions.
One person will shoot.
Someone will die.
Review:
Ellen Hopkins is an auto-buy author of mine. I own every one of her books and I will always buy them as they come out. She’s an author I’m constantly recommending. She’s a favorite for sure. So, when I saw that she was coming out with People Kill People in 2018. A book about gun violence in a time that this is such a relevant issue, I knew I’d love it. No surprise here that I, in fact, loved it. It was captivating and hard-hitting and relevant.

“See I’ve got this theory.
Given the right circumstances,
any person could kill someone.
Even you.”

The idea behind the story is as the title states, People Kill People. This story has an interesting narrator that follows a few different characters, each with very different life experiences and viewpoints. I think this story could not have been any better. We followed a diverse cast of characters. All of the characters meeting or having to do with one another in various ways. I will forever be in awe of the way that Hopkins weaves all of her character’s paths through one another in ways that always surprise you.

“Trust is important. Relationships can’t survive without it.”

I loved the characters. She found a way to make them relatable, even the ones that are so obviously in the wrong morally. She takes the serious issue of gun violence and shows how it can affect anyone from any culture with any political or personal viewpoints. The diversity of the characters in this book are what really makes it relevant. With one character that believes firmly in the white supremacy movement and several others that are actively protesting and supporting immigration issues, both male and female characters. It’s very telling to the fact that violence, gun violence, in particular, can touch so many different people.

“No such thing as happy endings. Everyone winds up the same way.”

I don’t really want to go too much into detail about the things that happen because I don’t want to spoil any parts of the story for those of you that may pick this book up. I think it’s important to go into this story not knowing a whole lot about it. The synopsis itself is pretty vague and it’s better that way. I also think it was so important for this story to take place in Arizona. The gun laws in Arizona are some of the more relaxed laws in the US so the things that take place really couldn’t have happened the way that they did if it had been written in another state.

“Revolutionaries are rare,
a breed apart from mundane
thinkers, and when they rise,
the world trembles
at their feet.

The final thing I want to mention is that Ellen Hopkins mentions​ at the beginning of the book before the story start that she grew up around guns. She has a healthy respect for guns and the Second Amendment. With this, I think she was the perfect person to write this story. She is writing about a political issue that needs to be discussed​ but doesn’t take the story to any extremes (whether extremely left or right.) I feel that she was the right voice to tell this story because she knows what she’s talking about.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.​

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Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Summary:
Spensa’s world has been under attack for decades. Now pilots are the heroes of what’s left of the human race, and becoming one has always been Spensa’s dream. Since she was a little girl, she has imagined soaring skyward and proving her bravery. But her fate is intertwined with her father’s-a pilot himself who was killed years ago when he abruptly deserted his team, leaving Spensa the daughter of a coward, her chances of attending Flight School slim to none.
No one will let Spensa forget what her father did, yet fate works in mysterious ways. Flight school might be a long shot, but she is determined to fly. And an accidental discovery in a long-forgotten cavern might just provide her with a way to claim the stars.
Review:
It feels like I finished this book forever ago, but it was only last week. I haven’t been able to sit down and write this review until now. It’s a busy time of year, but also, I just haven’t known what to say about this masterpiece that is a YA science fiction novel. Brandon Sanderson is a very widely known and well-loved author. It’s a name I’ve heard time and time again the longer I’ve been involved in the bookish community. So, when I? saw this book at Barnes and Nobel, I thought I’d give it a try. I found a beautiful signed copy and the synopsis sounded interesting enough. I put off reading it for almost two entire months. Until I saw that one of my friends on Twitter had bought it and several other friends replied that they owned the book too but hadn’t read it yet. This is when I popped in and said, “Buddy read anyone?” So, a huge thank you to Alana @ The Bookish Chick, Rae @ Thrifty Bibliophile, & Steph @ Books in the Skye for choosing to buddy read this book with me. It was my first ever buddy read and I had so much fun reading together and discussing this story as we made our way through the pages. I’m so happy to have found you guys as friends and I’m excited for more buddy reads in the future.

“Claim the stars, Spensa.”

Now to talk about the book. I loved it. I really just absolutely loved it. I feel like this is a case of having nothing to say about a story other than, “I loved it, it was so good. Please read it now.” Because I’m really not sure what else to add. So I’ll be basic and talk about basic story concepts.

“Is anything fair?” He smiled. “Death is. He treats us all the same.”

The characters were great. Spensa was entertaining, slightly annoying, relatable, and an interesting perspective. I think she was a great voice for this story. She had something to prove and though she doubted herself at times, she wasn’t going to give up.
I loved all the other kids in her flight school class. They all just added unique and distinct personalities to the story. I grew to love the characters I hated at first and I think that says so much about an author’s storytelling skill. Jerkface is the one I grew to love. He’s so complex and interesting. I’m happy to say that Spensa quickly learns that there’s more to him than she thought.

“So willing to seize the stars with one hand and shove them in your pocket.”

I think my favorite character is tied between Kimmalyn and M-Bot. Kimmalyn is funny and sassy and I found myself laughing out loud at her parts of the story. The same goes for M-Bot though. I’m a totally sucker for anything related to artificial intelligence, so the minute M-Bot popped into the story, I knew he was going to be one of my favorite parts. There’s just something about technology trying to understand the complexity of human emotion that I really enjoy. M-Bot ended up really hitting me in the feels which pleasantly surprised me.

“I’d let you read the seven thousand pages I wrote, but I am programmed to avoid making humans feel inferior for their incredible weirdness.”

The setting was also incredible. I love space, so it’s not really a surprise that I liked the world this takes place in. Though I’m dying to get the second book that won’t be released until November of 2019 so that I can learn more about the world. I’m wondering how much we’re going to learn about the world that Spensa lives on. There are other communities that are lightly talked about, but I want to know more. I also can’t wait to learn more about outer space around the planet they live on.

“It’s not your fault you’re a bloodthirsty ball of aggression and destruction.”

The story progresses nicely. I love books that take place in school settings. I genuinely enjoy getting to see characters learn their skill rather than just seeing them know everything already. I think it makes the characters more well-rounded. Getting to see them before they think they know everything is always fun. I think Skyward was full of excellent world building. It created so much suspense and anticipation for the next book. I’m interested to see how these characters are going to behave and grow now that they are no longer students and with all of the new information they’ve learned about their enemies.

“It can appreciate things at a million times per second. So you could say your comment is likely the single most appreciated thing you’ve ever done.”

Overall, this is one of my favorite reads of 2018. I think you should all give this book a try. Brandon Sanderson wrote an incredible story that was entertaining and full of characters that I’m now fully invested in. I actually already ordered some of his other books so I can see if I enjoy his adult novels as much as this one. So, if you’re the opposite of me and you’ve read his other series, give this one a try for sure!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Summary:
Caden Bosch is on a ship that’s headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Mariana’s Trench.
Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.
Caden Bosch is designated the ship’s artist in residence, to document the journey with images.
Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by thee thoughts in his head.
Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.
Caden Bosch is torn.
A captivating and powerful novel that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deepis a heartfelt tour de force by one of today’s most admired writers for teens.
Review:
I was unsure about this book at first. Honestly, it took me about a week before actually getting further than ten pages into it and that was mostly thanks to the audiobook. I ended up listening to the audio from my library because I really wanted to get into the story. Also because I was doing my Christmas baking and I needed an audiobook to listen to. The audiobook sucked me in so quickly. The narrator did everything right in this story.

“The things I feel cannot be put into words, or if they can bem the words are in no language anyone can understand. My emotions are talking in tongues. Joy spins into anger spins into fear them into amused irony, like leaping from a plane, arms wide, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can fly, then discovering you can’t, and not only don’t you have a parachute, but you don’t have any clothes on, and the people below all have binoculars and are laughing as you plummet to a highly embarassing doom.”

I had a hard time with this book in the beginning because I couldn’t tell what was actually going on. I didn’t know if Caden was actually on a ship or if that was a metaphor for something or what the hell was going on. After a while, I figured out what was going on and I think this confusion was likely intentional.

“We always look for the signs we missed when something does wrong. We become like detectives trying to solve a murder, because maybe if we uncover the clues, it gives us some control. Sure, we can’t change what happened, but if we can string together enough clues, we can prove that whtever nightmare has befallen us, we could have stopped it, if only we had been smart enough. I suppose it is better to believe that all the clues in the world wouldn’t have changes a thing.” 

Challenger Deep was honestly such an incredible story once I figured out what was going on. Once I realized what the story was actually about. It was really hard hitting. The things Caden feels and experiences and thinks were just so powerful. I’m definitely still reeling from the last hour or so of the audiobook. I went back and forth between the audio and the book.

“We are, however, creatures of containment. We want all things in life packed into boxes that we can label. But just because we have the ability to label is, doesn’t mean we really know what’s in the box.”

I really am not even sure how to form my thoughts about this book into real sentences. I think this was such an important story that everyone should read. This talks about mental illness in such a raw and interesting way. This was made even more powerful when I learned that this story was widely based on Neal’s experience with his son. To the point where his son’s artwork is inserted into the pages periodically.

“Dead kids are put on pedestals, but mentally ill kids get hidden under the rug.”

I just think everyone should read this book and that is all, goodbye.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Blogmas Book Review – Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Summary:
Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans–except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay–no matter what the personal cost.
Review:
Mockingjay once again destroyed my soul. I knew what was coming for the most part, there were certain events that I had forgotten about, and even the parts I remembered destroyed my soul.
The conclusion to The Hunger Games trilogy was thrilling and exciting and absolutely crazy. I almost don’t even know what to say about it. I loved all the characters. Finnick, Gale, Haymitch, the whole gang is entertaining, while also breaking my heart.
The trauma that these characters have endured during the war that’s going on, is just awful. I liked how the characters really experienced things though. They didn’t just get over the trauma and torture they’ve been put through. They are recovering, in whatever ways work for them. This made it all the more realistic.
Katniss was really just a hot mess in this book and it only got worse. The things she lost, the people she loved, she endured more than one person should ever have to. And on top of this, the one person that’s been with her through this story has been turned against her. It was so sad to watch her struggle with this. Peeta gets the worst of it, honestly. It felt awful to know what Peeta was being put through by the Capitol. All to get to Katniss.
I was pretty happy with the ending. It’s exactly what Katniss wanted. It leaves us with a sense of putting the world back together, though she is mostly just trying to put herself back together. After so much loss, fighting, and persevering through the hardest times of her lives, she needs time to put the pieces of herself back together. She needs time to figure out how she is going to move forward and live her life.
I love this series and I always will. It will live forever as one of my favorite series. If you haven’t read this series you definitely need to stop reading this and go pick up The Hunger Games and get your heart broken, too. I’m going to go binge watch the movies now!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Just click the image of the book cover! As Amazon Affiliates we will get a percentage of any purchase, feel free to support us.

Blogmas Book Review – Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

Summary:
The Final Battle is here.
Aelin Galathynius has vowed to save her people-but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. The knowledge that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, but her resolve is unraveling with each passing day…
With Aelin captured, friends and allies are scattered to different fates. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever. As destinies weave together, at last, all must fight is Erilea is to have any hope of salvation.
Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an explosive conclusion as Aelin fights to save herself-and the promise of a better world.
Review:

If you’re looking for a series to completely and utterly destroy your soul, look no further. This conclusion to the Throne of Glass series was one of the most emotional rollercoasters I’ve ever ridden. This 900+ page BRICK had me laughing, crying, yelling, whirling through all of the emotions ever. I honestly am not even sure how I’m going to write this review. I think I’m just going to keep it short and to the point. There were things I liked, things I loved and things I didn’t like.

Things I liked:

The alternating perspectives. I liked getting to see everything that was happening all over the world. All of the pieces we’d seen put in motion were coming together little by little and it was great. I’m a huge fan of having multiple perspectives in fantasy stories. While many thought it was too many perspectives, I liked it. I liked following the story from all the different characters I’ve come to love so much.

The pacing. I think the story was paced in a realistic way. All too often crazy things happen in stories and somehow it all takes place in one day or week. Months have gone by since the ending of Empire of Storms/ Tower of Dawn and many more go by before the ending of the book. I liked this because it’s realistic and makes sense. It takes time for armies to move across oceans and continents. Wars aren’t won or lost overnight.

Things I loved:

Aelin, the whole time. She was strong when she needed to stay strong and she broke down when it was (mostly) a good time for her to lose her shit. And yes, it was absolutely heartbreaking seeing her lose her shit in the way that she did. I loved that she was suffering from PTSD and sorting through her emotions and mostly just kind of trying to keep her shit together. This was realistic and it’s (thankfully) becoming more common to talk about and show the characters dealing with their trauma instead of just suddenly being okay again. Aelin has grown so much throughout this series. It was interesting seeing her (mostly) fully developed character making the tough decisions, doing what’s best not for herself but for her kingdom.

Fenrys. I loved getting to know him further. I adored his relationship with Aelin. They supported one another through their own versions of the same trauma. We see him go through some really hard shit at the same time that Aelin is going through her own really hard shit, but they do their best to support one another through it in whatever way they can. They also support each other after they’ve escaped because they know what happened and don’t need to talk about it to support the other.

Rowan was another character that I love. It was almost just as hard to see him dealing with losing Aelin than it was to see Aelin going through what Maeve did to her. After they find one another again I liked that he didn’t push her. He knows she’s been through something unimaginable and he gives her space to process but makes sure she knows that he’s here when she’s ready.

Dorian was an actual savage. He’s changed probably the most in these books. He was a (mostly) carefree Prince that slept with girls and did whatever he wanted to in the first book and now he’s a King with the weight of the world on his shoulders. He really goes above and beyond to do his part in this book. I’m happy we got so many Dorian chapters. There were definitely a few places that had me yelling at him. (Or texting The Bookish Chick saying shit like, “EW DORIAN,” and “OH SHIT DORIAN. SLICK AF.”) But I loved Dorian the most in this final book.

Things I didn’t like:

Okay, I’m going to try to be intentionally super vague because I don’t want to give too much away about specific events. There were several characters that cared for another in previous books and still love them, but due to one action or choice made by the one, they love there is conflict. There is more than one character that tells their love interest that they’ve done something unforgivable, ending their fledgling relationship. This happened with more than one couple. Various characters are harsh and mean, sometimes too harsh in my opinion, to their love interest until said love interest finds themselves in serious danger. Suddenly the characters realize that the unforgivable action might actually be forgivable because they actually do still love their love interest. I hope this makes sense. It likely will to those that have already finished reading Kingdom of Ash, but I’m sorry if it’s confusing. I didn’t like this because it seemed like a cop-out. the character that did something wrong didn’t earn trust back, they did nothing to deserve forgiveness. It was a fast way to have some resolution before the big climax before the end of the book.

I also am very very sad to say that I didn’t like Aedion in this final book. He was mostly an asshole until close to the end of the story and I didn’t like his chapters. I liked him a little bit by the end, but only because of his actions during the war. Honestly, I’m super salty that I didn’t like him so I don’t even want to talk about it anymore.

The really really heartbreaking parts. They were horrible. I can understand some heartbreak that has a point. Like, sure destroy me, but do it with a purpose. The heartbreak that occurred in this book I feel was weak. I’m not sure how to explain why without spoilers so I’m not going to. I’m just going to say that I think what Sarah did to us was NOT needed and could have been avoided.

Finally, I didn’t like the very end. Again, I’m going to be vague so I don’t give too much away. There wasn’t anything wrong with the ending perse. I just would have preferred an epilogue with a ‘ten years later’ kind of idea. I want to know where our characters end up instead of the ending we were left with. It was an okay ending, left us with a sense of everyone getting ready to heal themselves and rebuild the world, but I’m a girl that wants a ‘ten years later’ blurb.

So overall, I loved this book. As I mentioned above, it a 900+ page BRICK and I somehow read it in TWO DAYS. I FLEW through the story. I just couldn’t get enough. Because I put off reading this conclusion for a month when I finally decided I was ready for Sarah to destroy my soul I just couldn’t stop reading until I was completely deceased. Part of me is really glad this series is finally over, so these characters can come to a close but also so Sarah can write other things and destroy us in other ways. But I’m sad because my journey with these characters that I’ve become so invested in and grew to love so much (even the ones I didn’t love) is really actually finally coming to an end.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda

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Blogmas Book Review – Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

GoodReads Summary:
Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.
Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.
In Catching Fire, the second novel in the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before…and surprising readers at every turn.
Review:
I feel like I have nothing new to say in this review. I continued listening to the audio for Catching Fire and it was amazing. I loved the narrator. She did an excellent job telling this story, giving it life. I was hooked, listening at every free moment.
I love the characters. Katniss, Gale, Peeta, Haymitch, Prim. I enjoyed getting to know all the older victors and seeing them come together to start a revolution.
The plot twists were just so good. I knew they were coming but they still surprised me. That’s how you know it’s a good book, when you’ve read it so many times but it still surprises you.
Check out my review for The Hunger Games here for more of my thoughts on these characters.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Just click the image of the book cover! As Amazon Affiliates we will get a percentage of any purchase, feel free to support us.

24Hour Read-A-Thon Review – The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody

Summary:
Ryn has one unread text message on her phone. And it’s been there for almost a year.
She hasn’t tried to read it. She can’t. She won’t. Because that one message is the last thing her best friend ever said to her before she died.
But as Ryn finds herself trapped in the Denver International Airport on New Year’s Eve, thanks to a never-ending blizzard on the one-year anniversary of her best friend’s death, fate literally runs into her. And his name is Xander.
When the two accidentally swap phones, Ryn and Xander are thrust into the chaos of an unforgettable all-night adventure-filled with charming and mysterious strangers, a secret New Year’s Eve bash, and a possible Illuminati conspiracy hidden within the airport. But as the bizarre night continues, all Ryn can think about is that one unread text message. It follows her wherever she goes because Ryn can’t get her brilliantly wild and free-spirited best friend out of her head.
Ryn can’t move on.
But tonight, for the first time ever, she’s trying. And maybe that’s a start.
As moving as it is funny, The Chaos of Standing Still is a heartwarming story about the earth-shattering challenges life throws at us-and the unexpected strangers who help us along the way.
Review:
I’m so happy I saved this for my 24-hour Christmas read-a-thon! I flew through this st0ry, finishing it in just a few hours. I loved it. This was a beautifully written story about a girl figuring out how to deal with the loss of her best friend. I think this story really resonated with me because I have experienced the loss of close friends.

“Grief isn’t an active emotion. It’s not something you do. It’s something that happens to you. It’s 100 percent passive. It’s a tornado that rips your house from the ground, right off its foundation, twisting it around and around, before dropping it haphazardly back down to the earth.” 

I absolutely loved our main character, Ryn. She knew she probably wasn’t handling her grief the right way, the best way, but grief and loss aren’t always logical. She did her best to pick herself up and get through each day. She knew she had issues and knew that she wasn’t ready to work through them. The things she was feeling were real and relatable and things I have felt when I was dealing with similar loss. Though I’ve never felt the survivors guilt that she’s dealing with, she was a character I really got behind. I think she grew so much through her experiences in The Chaos of Standing Still.

“But as scientists, you also need to know when to let go and accept the fact that sometimes there are no answers.”

I also loved Xander. He was perfect for pushing Ryn out of her comfort zone a little bit at a time until she was doing things she didn’t know she wanted to do. He did this all while dealing with his own issues. I liked that the two figured out how to help one another while also helping themselves. I also loved that all of this happened in one night. Stuck overnight, snowed in at an airport, this was the perfect setting for the hijinks and craziness these two found themselves and got themselves into.

“Grief changes the way you see things forever. Becasue it changes you forever.”

I really enjoyed everything about this book. I was entertained and laughing out loud often. There were thought-provoking parts, full of insight on loss and grief. I thought this was an incredible story with excellent characters, character development, and the perfect setting. I loved all of the side characters that added just that much more to the story. They tell a story of the effects of meeting the right people at the right time can have. I wish I could start this over from the beginning and read it again.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Just click the image of the book cover! As Amazon Affiliates we will get a percentage of any purchase, feel free to support us.

Blogmas Book Review – Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

Summary:
Chaol Westfall and Nesryn Faliq have arrived in the shining city of Antica to forge an alliance with the Khagan of the Southern Continent, whose vast armies are Erelia’s last hope. But they have also come to Antica for another purpose: to seek healing at the famed Torre Cesme for the wounds Chaol received in Rifthold.
After enduring unspeakable horrors as a child, Irene Towers has no desire to help the young lord from Ararlan, let alone heal him. Yet she has sworn an oath to assist those in need-and will honor it. But Lord Westfall carries shadows from his own past, and Irene soon comes to realize they could engulf them both.
In the sweeping parallel novel to the New York Times bestselling Empire of Storms, Chaol, Nesryn, and Irene will have to draw on every scrap of their resilience if they wish to save their friends. But while they become entangled in the political webs of the khaganate, deep in the shadows of the mighty mountains where warriors soar on legendary runs, long awaited answers slumber. Answers that might offer their world a chance at survival-or doom them all…
Review:
Once again, Sarah J. Maas has completely blown me away. As I’ve mentioned in my previous reviews, I am rereading this series because the final book, Kingdom of Ash has recently been released and once a series is complete I really like to read the whole series over so I’m not forgetting any details. I’m super glad I chose to do this because there were SO many things that surprised me in Tower of Dawn that I had completely forgotten about. Like HUGE details and plot twists that I didn’t remember in the least.

“I stood on the the wrong side of the line for too damn long, and it cost me everything.”

So, I loved this book. It honestly makes me sad that there are so many negative opinions about this book because I really just loved it so much. I understand that Chaol is not the most well loved character in this series, but I still love him. He may have not reacted to some things with Aelin in the best ways, but he’s only human and people make mistakes. This book had so much character development for Chaol. He really started to realize that he’s kind of been a jackass and maybe he should have done things a little differently. He is still always trying to be the honorable Chaol that we knew in the first book, but doesn’t always succeed. I think that was the only thing I didn’t like about this book. He made promised to Nesryn and didn’t follow through with them and I didn’t care for that.

“And I am as much of a man in that chair, or with that cane, as I am standing on my feet.”

Nesryn was excellent in Tower of Dawn. I adored getting to see her with her relatives. It was clear how happy she was to be in Antica. I loved seeing her get to know and experience all of the things that are different from the life she’s used to, especially her adventures with Sartaq. I’m very interested to see where her story ends up at the end of this series.

“You must enter where you fear to tread.”

There were so many new things introduced in this book. It takes place on the Southern Continent, Antica. So we’re reading about a completely new place with a host of new faces. I loved Antica. Its traditions and customs are so different from life in the North so it was really interesting to learn about how life on the Southern Continent works and how life came to be that way. Antica is rich with history and I really loved the stories of how the khaganate became what it is today.

“But I also told him that the woman I love now plans to head into war. And I intend to follow her.”

Along with this new place were the new faces. First, Irene Towers (only sort of a new face) I was super excited to see her story mix with the characters we already knew. I am so satisfied with where Yrene was at the end of Tower of Dawn. I really couldn’t think of a better way for her story to end. I also cannot wait to see what’s going to happen with her in Kingdom of Ash.

“For wherever you need to go-and then some. The world needs more healers.”

The royal family was an interesting one. I don’t know how much I liked them because I love close knit families and I wouldn’t qualify them as one. Because of the way that succession works, it really doesn’t allow for the siblings to be close to one another. Don’t get me wrong, its clear that they love one another, just maybe not in the most traditional way. Again, I’m interested to see these characters interact with the characters we love that were absent from this story. I think the siblings each played an interesting part in this story, some more than others, and I’m still not totally sure if I liked them or not.

“Nothing valuable comes without a cost, boy.”

The story itself was great, full of character development. The characters learned much about themselves but they also learned much about the impending fight. The plot twists were super crazy. We learned some really important things and I’m amazed that I didn’t pick up the final book and stay up all night reading it. I don’t want to say anything else for fear of spoilers, but some of the things we learned had my jaw dropping even though I’ve read Tower of Dawn before. So, to those haters of Chaol, this book is still important to the series and you might just find yourself liking him by the last pages, so give it a try.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Just click the image of the book cover! As Amazon Affiliates we will get a percentage of any purchase, feel free to support us.

Blogmas Book Review – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Summary:
Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she wants to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Review:
How did I  forget how much I loved this book? I’m writing a paper for my popular culture class this term and I’ve decided to choose The Hunger Games trilogy as my topic. This series is an excellent example of popular culture because the books became movies and are still super popular today similar to the way Harry Potter blew up. So with this project, when I saw the audiobooks available I thought id reread the series to have it fresh in my mind.
The narrator did SUCH a good job telling this story. Each character had their own distinct voice and personality. I’m excited to continue listening to this narrator.
The story overall was still great, even better than I remember. Katniss is a strong-willed girl that fought tooth and nail to stay alive. Peeta is a boy resigned to his fate, in love with a girl he’ll never have. The supporting characters are lovable, relatable, and solid. They each played an important part in the story that made me love them, even Haymitch.
I actually could picture scenes from the movies in my head as I was listening to this story. Usually, I can’t reread a book after I’ve seen the movie but that was totally not the case here. I think because the movies were pretty well done and close enough to the story. But I’ll definitely rewatch the movies after I finish rereading all the books.
Overall, I still love this book 100%. Katniss kicks ass and does whatever she needs to in order to stay alive. The world she lives in is horrible, but so well built. It’s believable and terrible but also somehow I could see how our world may end up turning into the world in this book. If you haven’t read The Hunger Games where have you been? Go read them!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Just click the image of the book cover! As Amazon Affiliates we will get a percentage of any purchase, feel free to support us.

Blogmas Book Review – Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Summary:
Kingdoms will collide.
The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost as gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at off with those who don’t.
With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she’s determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protects those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.
In the breathtaking fifth installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, Aelin will have to choose what-and who-to sacrifice if she’s to keep the world of Erilea from breaking apart.
Review:
Way to rip my heart out of my chest Sarah J. Maas. As I’ve mentioned in my reviews of the previous books in this series, this is a reread for me. I’m reading the whole series again because apparently, I like the emotional pain that Maas puts us through. Check out my review for the last book, Queen of Shadows, HERE.
This book is killer and part of me just wants to skip rereading Tower of Dawn so I can finally get to Kingdom of Ash. The way Empire of Storms ended really just broke my heart, talk about a freaking plot twist.
I think my favorite part of this book was definitely getting to see the characters really develop their relationships with one another. There’s not so much development on themselves, but on their interactions with one another.

“She was not a rebel princess, shattering enemy castles and killing kings. She was a force of nature. She was a calamity and a commander of immortal warriors of legend.”

Aelin and Rowan went so much further into the seriousness of their relationship. I still adore both of the characters. Aelin is really filling in the role of Queen. She always has plans going on, even if she’s the only one that knows that plan. We get to know a bit more about Rowan in this story. But overall we see them develop more as one, together.

“Even when this world is a forgotten whisper of dust between the stars, I will love you.”

Aedion is still excellent. I really liked seeing him come to terms with certain things and find his proper place in Aelin’s court. I loved watching his friendship grow with Lysandra. I love that they’re both sassy and seeing that sass collide was always great. I enjoyed watching Lysandra grow and figure out who she is and her confidence in herself was excellent.

“Princess Lysandra Ashryver sounds nice, doesn’t it?”

I’m happy that Dorian played a bigger part in this book, but I feel like he was still mostly in the background. Though he was trying to learn about himself and his abilities and he definitely was spending time trying to figure out who he was now that he had this new role to fill. His interactions with Manon were my absolute favorite.

“It’s not such a hard thing, is it-to die for your friends.”

Manon definitely changed the most in these pages. Her whole world changed and she did her best to just go along with it, though she did cause a fair bit of that change. I loved her and Dorian talking because Dorian really comes out of his shell and seems like his old self. Manon challenges him in ways that I love. I also absolutely adore her relationship with Abraxsos. He’s the cutest but also pretty scary. I love the changes he’s sort of inspired in Manon.

“You and me,” she promised him. “From now until the Darkness claims us.”

I really really loved Elide in this book. She shows us her claws. She doesn’t take shit from anyone. She has a backbone and isn’t afraid to show it, even to those who she really just has no chance against fighting. She finds herself in some not so great situations but manages to get out of them. She shows that she’s loyal and honorable until the very end.

“I have no lands, no money, no army to offer Aelin Galathynius. But I will find her-and help her in whatever way I can.”

I really liked Empire of Storms even though it shattered my heart into a million pieces. So far, Queen of Shadows is still my favorite, but Empire of Storms finally answered so many of the questions that have been building up throughout the first four books. We got to meet lots of great side characters as well as seeing some old friends that we weren’t expecting. I loved that I was surprised again while reading this. I remembered the big twists but there were still things that I’d forgotten. I can’t wait to finally read the final book to see how this wonderful world is brought to an end.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Want to buy this book? Just click the image of the book cover! As Amazon Affiliates we will get a percentage of any purchase, feel free to support us.