WWW Wednesday

Hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To play along just answer the three questions!

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently listening to Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson.

Antonia- I haven’t started anything new yet.

What did you read recently?

Amanda- I most recently finished Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare and Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpartick.

Antonia- I just finished A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas.

What will you read next?

Amanda- This week, I’m planning to binge read some eARCs that I’ve been slacking on before Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo comes in the mail.

Antonia- I’m not sure what I’ll pick up next. I have so many books on my TBR right now.

These are our W’s this week. What are yours?

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Love to Live in

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This week’s topic is Places in Books I’d Love to Live in.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – Now obviously I don’t want to live in Prythian during the war, but I love the magic in this world.

Seven Devils by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May- Again, I’m just pretending the bad stuff doesn’t exist. I want to live on a spaceship and travel to cool planets whenever I want.

The Awakening by Nora Roberts- Honestly I’d just settle for living in Ireland but I’d also love to go to Talamh, filled with faeries, dragons and all sorts of other magic.

Winter by Marissa Meyer – Yes! Let’s live on the moon!

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson – I’m not sure I’d like living in caves but it’s still a planet other than Earth where I can fly spaceships. (Seriously, it doesn’t get cooler than spaceships.)

I could only come up with five this week. What bookish places would you want to live in?

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Books I’d Love to Live In

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

Shadow and Bone & Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
I’d love to be a Grisha. But not while the Darkling was alive.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
In case you didn’t know, I’m secretly a Summer Fae. But don’t tell anyone.

Early Departures by Justin Reynolds
As hard as it would be, I’d love to live in a world where I had the option to bring a loved one back to life, even if it’s only for a short time.

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir
While I definitely don’t want to see a future where Earth is destroyed because of climate change, I absolutely want to be one of the astronauts to be first on a new world.

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi
This world sounds like so much fun. And all of the other magical towns sound just as fun.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Hi, I want to travel on the Starless Sea. That is all.

Artemis by Andy Weir
I also want to live in a dome on Mars.

The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco
While this world does sound incredibly dangerous, the magic is so cool that I’d still want to live there.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Aside from the fact that humanity has conquered death, I can only imagine what other cool things exist in this world.

The Disasters by M.K. England
Really I just want to live somewhere that has space travel. Is that too much to ask?

What books have placed you’d want to live in?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Tome Topple Wrap Up

Hello, lovelies! Today, I just want to share with you how I did for Tome Topple round fourteen. This latest round of Tome Topple was exactly what I needed to get some big books off my TBR. If you missed my TBR post with all the details you can find it here. I’ll share the prompts below and what I read for each of them.

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Tome that’s been on my TBR the longest
I didn’t complete this prompt.

An audiobook tome
The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon
I really like the narrator for this series.

Tome with the most pages
The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon
I am honestly so over this series. But I tackled the shit out of this one.

Seasonally colored cover
Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare
Pretty yellow for the spring time.

Read one tome
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
I’m living for this reread of the Grishaverse.

Tome by a BIPOC author
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winters
I started this one, but haven’t finished it yet.

Tome in a genre I don’t usually read
Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare
I usually end up loving the historical fiction that I read, but it’s not a genre I often pick up.

Tome from a series I haven’t read in a while
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Literally, all of the books on this list would fit this prompt.

Tome that I started in a previous Tome Topple round
Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare
I think I actually read and completed this book for a previous round of Tome Topple. But I tried to start Chain of Iron and realized I needed to reread this one first.

What did you read for Tome Topple?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Summary:
Wren Southerland’s reckless use of magic has cost her everything: she’s been dismissed from the Queen’s Guard and separated from her best friend—the girl she loves. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate, Colwick Hall, to cure his servant from a mysterious illness, she seizes her chance to redeem herself.
The mansion is crumbling, icy winds haunt the caved-in halls, and her eccentric host forbids her from leaving her room after dark. Worse, Wren’s patient isn’t a servant at all but Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria and her kingdom’s sworn enemy. Hal also came to Colwick Hall for redemption, but the secrets in the estate may lead to both of their deaths.
With sinister forces at work, Wren and Hal realize they’ll have to join together if they have any hope of saving their kingdoms. But as Wren circles closer to the nefarious truth behind Hal’s illness, they realize they have no escape from the monsters within the mansion. All they have is each other, and a startling desire that could be their downfall.
Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.

Down Comes the Night

Review:
I received Down Comes the Night as an eARC via NetGalley and the publishers. I request this because the cover pulled me in and I had some friends on Twitter that were also excited for it. This book did not end up being what I was anticipating. I thought this was going to be a spooky story about a creepy house but with magic.
This story is actually about Wren, who has magic that can be used to heal. She’s impulsive and compassionate. She’s told again and again that her feelings keep her from being the soldier she is supposed to be. I liked that Wren never let herself change. She wanted to be able to change, if only to please the people in her life that were asking her to, but she made the same choices over and over. I liked this about Wren, even if she didn’t like it about herself. It hurt to read about Wren’s internal thoughts and motivations. She’s motivated by those that want her to change. It was so good to see her finally grow out of that. She learns to appreciate the things about herself that others are always criticizing. I think her growth was well done. I also really liked that Wren is bisexual, but it wasn’t really a part of the plot.
Now, the love interest. I had a really hard time liking him. Hal has done some really terrible things. But somehow, I couldn’t help but liking the relationship between Hal and Wren. I don’t know that I can say I liked Hal. But I liked their romance.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. The romance was one that I found myself invested in. The world was interesting. There was a fascinating and creepy villain. The politics of the world was interesting, too. I especially liked the ending. There were consequences for the things that Hal had done, but there was also a happily ever after for the romance. The resolutions between Wren and her loved ones was one that I could get behind. I think many people are going to love this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Summary:
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.
She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po.
She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.
With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.

Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1)

Review:
Graceling tells the story of Katsa, the niece of a king. She has the Grace of killing. She has been trained to be the king’s weapon, doing his bidding. But one day, Prince Po comes to court and Katsa finally finds a challenge. The two end up on an adventure they did not expect.
I don’t really want to spend too much time talking about what happened. So, I’m going to get into my thoughts on the things I liked about this book. Katsa was raised to be the king’s enforcer. Despite this, she finds ways to rebel against the things she’s made to do. She and her friends have created the Council. This Council helps those in need. I really liked that while Katsa mostly did what the king ordered, she found ways to do good things too. I mostly liked Katsa. She’s angry, abrasive, and stubborn. She can be selfish at times, but when it counts, she does the right thing.
Then there’s Po. I loved Po. He does his best to find ways in the cracks of Katsa’s armor. He gets to know her, even though she doesn’t really want that. I loved learning about the other kingdoms through Po and his experiences. I think Po was a well-developed character. I liked his family connections. I think Po’s personality was a really good balance for Katsa. They’re basically opposites, so things were really interesting when their relationship turned romantic.
I think the world building was alright. It wasn’t anything to call home about, but it was interesting. There was a bit of information dumping at the beginning. I think the politics of this world were one of the more interesting aspects of the story. The different kings were all pretty horrible, but it was interesting to see their differences.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. The plot is super interesting and the characters, while imperfect, kept my interest and I found myself easily invested in their story. I am very excited to continue onto Fire. I also forgot to mention at the start of this review that this was a reread. I read this series years ago, but with the release of Winterkeep, I wanted to reread all the books in the Graceling Realm before diving into the new one.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Lowest Rated Books on Amanda’s TBR – Wrap Up

Hello, lovelies! I’m back again to wrap up my TBR list of the lowest rated books that I own. You can find that post here. I had fun reading these books, mostly. I think this was a great way for me to get some books off of my TBR and I definitely think I’ll do this again in the future. I think this went way better for me than it did for Michelle @ Michelle Reads YA on YouTube. She read some pretty terrible books, so I’m glad for the inspiration from her video, but even more glad that the books on my list weren’t super terrible. So, let’s get into my mini-reviews!

Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher
Average Rating: 3.21 / 5
My Rating: No Rating
I actually DNF’d this book. There was just something about the two main characters both lying to one another that I really didn’t like. They’re both keeping a secret, leading the other along so they can get a promotion. So, one Jack is trying to get Hannah to break up with him and Hannah is ignoring all the really problematic stuff Jack is doing because she needs him to come to a work event. I didn’t like that at all and didn’t care to see how they figured out the others secret and managed to turn that into a legitimate relationship. The writing was also a bit choppy and I just kept finding myself pulled out of the story. I can see why it has a low rating, but I only read about 160 pages so I will not be rating it. I’m super disappointed by this because it has great representation with a biracial main character.

The Graces by Laure Eve
Average Rating: 3.29 / 5
My Rating: 3 / 5
I didn’t love this book. I bought its sequel so I read that as well and liked it much more. The Graces is a story about a family of witches and while it was mysterious and atmospheric, I just couldn’t find myself caring. The characters were all mostly terrible and I didn’t like them very much. But the dynamics were fascinating. It was so clear that none of these characters were good for one another. When all of them were together bad things happened. I feel like I still don’t totally understand how this book made me feel. I don’t know that I would recommend this, but damn was it a wild ride.

A Sweet Mess by Jayci Lee
Average Rating: 3.47 / 5
My Rating: 4 / 5
I bought this one solely to make sure I had something upcoming for my Books & Baking blog feature (and I definitely have something I will attempt. This book also has actual recipes at the end of the book. So, I might use that one or do the baked good I found in the beginning of the story.) I ended up really enjoying this one. It follows two Asian main characters, one that owns her own bakery and the other is a well known food critic. They have a chance meeting and it ends with a one night stand, but when Landon writes a scathing review of Aubrey’s bakery, she’s gutted. Things sort of go from here. I liked their attraction to one another. The instant attraction isn’t usually something I like, but I think it was done well in this story. I also liked that they tried to fight that attraction. I don’t really want t o spoil anything, but there’s a plot point at the end that I feel unsure about. It’s a trope that I’ve heard many people dislike, but I think it was done well in this book. I didn’t love the third act breakup, but I also didn’t hate it.

The End and Other Beginnings by Veronica Roth
Average Rating: 3.54 / 5
My Rating: No Rating
I didn’t manage to read this one. I’ve tried to pick it up several times since I put it on my TBR for this reading challenge, but I just couldn’t get myself to read it. For now, it’s going to stay on my TBR. It’s a collection of short stories, from my understanding, so I need to be in the right mood to read it. That mood just hasn’t happened for me this month. I’ll probably read it eventually when I need to fill a prompt for a readathon.

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon
Average Rating: 3.61 / 5
My Rating: 4 / 5
I really enjoyed this one. This follows Samiah and Daniel who find themselves working together and also find themselves with an irresistible attraction to one another. I really liked them as a couple. I don’t generally like the secret keeping trope, but I didn’t mind it so much in this one. Daniel is an agent that works for the government uncovering financial crimes. I thought the concept of his job was interesting. But I loved Samiah. She’s a successful and incredibly smart black woman. But she’s less successful with her love life. I could understand why Samiah felt like this was a failing on her part but I liked seeing her get out of that mindset. I loved her new friends. I loved getting to see the friendship grow. I think the trio is an excellent one. I definitely recommend this one.

So, I have to say that I’m disappointed to see so many romance novels on this list. It’s disheartening to see several romances that I really enjoyed being the lowest rated out of the 70+ books that I own on my TBR. Regardless, I thought this was so fun. I think this was a great way to motivate myself to read some books that I was ‘saving’ for absolutely no reason. What are the lowest rated books that you own?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo (Full Series Review)

Hi, lovelies! Today I have a full series review for you all. With the new Netflix adaptation of Shadow and Bone coming out in April, I decided that I wanted to reread all of the books in the Grishaverse. Soon after, I realized I’d never reviewed the original trilogy. So, this past week I binge read the three books in the Shadow and Bone trilogy. Instead of giving each book its own review, I thought it would be easier to just review the whole series in one post. So, that’s what I have here for you. (I’ve already reviewed Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom if you want to check out those reviews when you’re done reading this one.)

Book One – Shadow and Bone

Summary:
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart. 

Shadow and Bone (Shadow and Bone, #1)

Review:
I enjoyed Shadow and Bone but I think because I’ve read it before it felt lackluster. There were some things I didn’t remember, but nothing that really surprised me (maybe because I haven’t waited long enough to forget). I feel like so much happened in this book but at the same time, it felt like nothing happened the whole time. There were also some things that bothered me that I don’t think I noticed the previous times I read this book. One of those things is how quickly Alina accepts her power as Sun Summoner. I think this is supposed to be because it made sense to her, but I would have liked a bit more internal conversation about her acceptance of this. She goes from disbelief to throwing herself into her new studies too quickly for my liking. Another thing is her ‘friendship’ with Marie and Nadia. We’re supposed to care about these two girls that have befriended Alina, right? Because we know next to nothing about them in this book and I didn’t care about them at all.
It was easy to read, aside from remembering what Grisha had which power. It felt like a simple story (especially compared to her other books). Alina had one goal, well two if you count finding Mal, and she didn’t reach it. Which I think that’s why it feels like nothing happened. She was trained with her ability and then ran away. But when she got her courage together and tried to do the right thing she failed. So, it’s almost like the whole story was pointless. I know there’s two more books and I am picking up the second one tonight. I don’t know, I just feel like I remember liking this series so much more than the reading experience I just had.
As for Mal and Alina, their ‘romance’ wasn’t very easy for me to get invested in. It seemed like Alina was the one that cared more. I made a note while reading that said, “Alina shows Mal a lot of loyalty, but does Mal show the same thing back?” I think maybe eventually, but I didn’t see that in this book.

Book Two – Siege and Storm

Summary:
Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.
The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her—or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm. 

Siege and Storm (Shadow and Bone, #2)

Review:
There were a few things that managed to surprise me in this book. I forgot about a certain plot point that happens with Genya (who I still love with my whole heart). Alina starts to gain confidence in herself and we see that when she speaks up a few times. Though, she is still in denial about that fact that she needs to save the world which was annoying.
I definitely see why everyone says this suffers from second book syndrome. Beacuse it does. They plan and plan and plan, and literally everything fails. I understand why some of the stuff needed to be in there, but I feel like there was so much unnecessary story. Mal pissed me off the whole time, they found literally nothing on the firebird and Alina almost died. I think this could have been a much shorter story. And while I understand that things needed to happen, like meeting Sturmhond (the only good part of this book), there was so much telling and barley and showing because nothing is really happening. Alina is being paraded around, and people are preparing but nothing is happening. That’s really my biggest complaint. This was almost 500 pages and almost nothing happened. But I will say, despite nothing really happening, I was, surprisingly, never bored.

Book Three – Ruin and Rising

Summary:
The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.
Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.
Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.
Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

Ruin and Rising (Shadow and Bone, #3)

Review:
The first thing I want to mention about this book is the setting and the writing. I probably could have mentioned it for the previous books, but it stood out the most for me in this one. Bardugo’s writing is stunning. She really knows how to set a scene and describe the setting these characters are in. It stood out the most to me while the gang is traveling through the tunnels.
This book is my favorite out of all three. This was the book where I found myself finally invested in the relationships. Where we’re seeing all of these characters together and how they’ve grown after all the trials they’ve faced together. Zoya is my Queen and favorite. I liked that Alina and Zoya managed to find a sort of friendship when they started out hating one another. There were quite a few things that I completely forgot about in this story. I found myself surprised by twists I should have remembered more than once. I really enjoyed being surprised and I thought all of these twists were well done.
Overall, I enjoyed this one the most. There were plot twists that I’d totally forgotten about. I grew to love characters I didn’t like when I started my reread. I even ended up really liking Mal and Alina together. So many people say that he’s controlling and boring and blah blah, but I didn’t see any of that. I thought the almost constant nods to his tracking abilities were a little over the top, but after finishing the book I realize that it’s done that way on purpose. I love Nikolai with my whole heart. Genya, Zoya, David, and the twins are my favorites. I think overall this series was really well done. I know many don’t like the way this book ended, but I did. I think it was a satisfying ending that brought things to a full circle, ending where they began. Alina never wanted to be special, so I liked that she got her quiet life back.

Now, this series as a whole stands up against time, I think. I think individually each book has its issues. But if you look at all three books together, they are really great books. When I was reading the first and second books, I was considering unhauling my copies after I finished my reread. Now, that I’ve finished I remember why I loved this series so much. I may not have liked all of the choices the characters made, or even liked all of the characters, I think this was an incredible adventure. I think this series will find fans for many years to come.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda

WWW Wednesday

Hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To play along just answer the three questions!

What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently only a few pages into Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare. I’m also still working my way through the audiobook of The Fiery Heart by Diana Gabaldon.

Antonia- I’m currently reading A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas.

What did you read recently?

Amanda- I most recently finished rereading Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. You can read my review here.

Antonia- I recently read A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas.

What will you read next?

Amanda- Next, I plan to pick up King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo in anticipation of its sequel.

Antonia- Next I’ll read A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas.

This has been another weekly reading update. Leave your answers in the comments!

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: Funny Book Titles

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This week’s topic is Funny Book Titles. I’m interpreting this more as funny weird than funny “haha”.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband by Julia Quinn

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

The Handbook to Handling His Lordship by Suzanne Enoch

The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer

One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones

These are some of the books I’ve read with funny titles. Do you have any others?

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Funny Book Titles

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

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green

The Dead Queen’s Club by Hannah Capin

Let’s Call it a Doomsday by Katie Henry

How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow

The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me by Olivia Hinebaugh

This one was harder than I expected. That’s all I’ve got for this week and honestly I don’t even think these are particularly funny titles. But that’s okay! What did you pick for this week’s topic?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Mythology/Folklore Recommendations

Hey, lovelies! I have another recommendations post for you all today. I was planning to just recommend my favorite mythological retellings, but it sort of just turned into a list of books published by Rick Riordan Presents, so I expanded a bit to include books that involve folklore and mythology. Doing that allowed me to include some of the really excellent diverse stories that I’ve read recently. So, I have fourteen books that are mythological or involve folklore that I think you should add to your TBR.

Middle Grade

Aru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava Quartet, #1)

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
“Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur? One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again. But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them. The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?”

The Girl and the Ghost

The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf
“Suraya is delighted when her witch grandmother gifts her a pelesit. She names her ghostly companion Pink, and the two quickly become inseparable. But Suraya doesn’t know that pelesits have a dark side—and when Pink’s shadows threaten to consume them both, they must find enough light to survive . . . before they are both lost to the darkness.”

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia
“Space-obsessed 12-year-old Paola Santiago and her two best friends, Emma and Dante, know the rule: Stay away from the river. It’s all they’ve heard since a schoolmate of theirs drowned a year ago. Pao is embarrassed to admit that she has been told to stay away for even longer than that, because her mother is constantly warning her about La Llorona, the wailing ghost woman who wanders the banks of the Gila at night, looking for young people to drag into its murky depths. Hating her mother’s humiliating superstitions and knowing that she and her friends would never venture into the water, Pao organizes a meet-up to test out her new telescope near the Gila, since it’s the best stargazing spot. But when Emma never arrives and Pao sees a shadowy figure in the reeds, it seems like maybe her mom was right. . . . Pao has always relied on hard science to make sense of the world, but to find her friend she will have to enter the world of her nightmares, which includes unnatural mist, mind-bending monsters, and relentless spirits controlled by a terrifying force that defies both logic and legend.”

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
“THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD MIN comes from a long line of fox spirits. But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times. Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds. When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name. Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.”

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1)

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
“Seventh-grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he’s going to spend on his grandparents’ farm in Alabama, where he’s being sent to heal from the tragedy. But on his first night there, a sticky creature shows up in his bedroom and steals Eddie’s journal. Tristan chases after it — is that a doll? — and a tug-of-war ensues between them underneath a Bottle Tree. In a last attempt to wrestle the journal out of the creature’s hands, Tristan punches the tree, accidentally ripping open a chasm into the MidPass, a volatile place with a burning sea, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters that are hunting the inhabitants of this world. Tristan finds himself in the middle of a battle that has left black American gods John Henry and Brer Rabbit exhausted. In order to get back home, Tristan and these new allies will need to entice the god Anansi, the Weaver, to come out of hiding and seal the hole in the sky. But bartering with the trickster Anansi always comes at a price. Can Tristan save this world before he loses more of the things he loves?”

Young Adult

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee
“Genie Lo is one among droves of Ivy-hopeful overachievers in her sleepy Bay Area suburb. You know, the type who wins. When she’s not crushing it at volleyball or hitting the books, Genie is typically working on how to crack the elusive Harvard entry code. But when her hometown comes under siege from hellspawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are dramatically rearranged. Enter Quentin Sun, a mysterious new kid in class who becomes Genie’s self-appointed guide to battling demons. While Genie knows Quentin only as an attractive transfer student with an oddly formal command of the English language, in another reality he is Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King incarnate—right down to the furry tail and penchant for peaches. Suddenly, acing the SATs is the least of Genie’s worries. The fates of her friends, family, and the entire Bay Area all depend on her summoning an inner power that Quentin assures her is strong enough to level the very gates of Heaven. But every second Genie spends tapping into the secret of her true nature is a second in which the lives of her loved ones hang in the balance. “

Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World, #1)

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
“While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters. Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine. Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology. As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive. Welcome to the Sixth World. “

The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
“Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire… But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.”

Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox, #1)

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
“One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos. Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn. Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll. There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart. With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.”

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White
“There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl. Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot. To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free. Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?”

Girl, Serpent, Thorn

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
“There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story. As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison. Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.”

Adult

Circe by Madeline Miller
“In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child – not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power – the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves. Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus. But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.”

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
“Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America. Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break. Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, American Gods takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You’ll be surprised by what – and who – it finds there…

The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act

The Wicked + the Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, & Matt Wilson
“Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.”

There are quite a few books that will fit this list once I manage to read them and get them off my TBR. I didn’t realize how many mythology/folklore books I still had on my TBR, but after writing this post I’m excited to get to them. What books would you add to this list?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blood Sworn by Scott Reintgen

Summary:
Three cultures clash in all out war–against each other and against the gods–in the second book of this fantasy duology that’s sure to capture fans of The Hunger Games and An Ember in the Ashes.
The Races are over. War has begun.
Ashlord and Longhand armies battle for control of the Empire as Dividian rebels do their best to survive the crossfire. This is no longer a game. It’s life or death.
Adrian, Pippa, and Imelda each came out of the Races with questions about their role in the ongoing feud. The deeper they dig, the clearer it is that the hatred between their peoples has an origin point: the gods.
Their secrets are long-buried, but one disgruntled deity is ready to unveil the truth. Every whisper leads back to the underworld. What are the gods hiding there? As the sands of the Empire shift, these heroes will do everything they can to aim their people at the true enemy. But is it already too late?

Blood Sworn (Ashlords, #2)

Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review. Blood Sworn is the sequel to Ashlord (which I reviewed here.) In this book, we follow the same three characters, Pippa, Adrian, and Imelda. The way the first book ended left me wanting to know more. I wanted to know so much more about this world, the gods, and where the story is going. I got everything that I wanted from this book. Once again, the story is told in first person for Imelda and Adrian, but Pippa’s story is told in second person. I think Pippa’s story being told in this way was such a creative choice and it really does something to the story.
Pippa’s chapters were absolutely my favorite parts of this book. She has the most growth and change in this series. She starts off so loyal to her people, the Ashlords, but slowly she realizes that everything isn’t as it seems. She finally learns the truth from one of the gods and that’s where this story gets really interesting. I think Pippa is so incredibly smart. I am awed by the plans that her brain manages to create. I think she’s an incredible character and I loved her. I also really enjoyed the way that Pippa’s relationship with Adrian changed over time.
Adrian was an interesting character as well. But I feel like he sort of just went along with Pippa’s plans. I know this isn’t the case, but we didn’t actually see Adrian and Pippa make their plans so, it’s not hard to assume that Pippa (the master strategist) is the one that came up with the majority of their plans. I liked that Adrian did his part to show the Longhands that things could be different if everyone worked together to make a change.
Finally, Imelda. I wanted more phoenix horse stuff, but we got enough that I wasn’t terribly upset about it. I like that Imelda is also super smart, but in different ways than what we see from Pippa. I think Imelda’s part of the story was interesting because the Dividian’s are the underrepresented group of the story, despite having a large population. I liked following Imelda because with Pippa and Adrian working together, their stories were similar, but Imelda’s path is so different from the others. She stumbles into something she doesn’t totally understand, but manages to find herself working toward the same goals as Pippa and Adrian.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book. I loved this duology. I will recommend this series forever. Phoenix horses, political drama, characters that are complex and loveable, and a fascinating world and interesting gods, there is everything you could possibly want in a fantasy story.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Unchosen by Katharyn Blair

Summary:
For Charlotte Holloway, the world ended twice.
The first was when her childhood crush, Dean, fell in love—with her older sister.
The second was when the Crimson, a curse spread through eye contact, turned the majority of humanity into flesh-eating monsters.
Neither end of the world changed Charlotte. She’s still in the shadows of her siblings. Her popular older sister, Harlow, now commands forces of survivors. And her talented younger sister, Vanessa, is the Chosen One—who, legend has it, can end the curse.
When their settlement is raided by those seeking the Chosen One, Charlotte makes a reckless decision to save Vanessa: she takes her place as prisoner.
The word spreads across the seven seas—the Chosen One has been found.
But when Dean’s life is threatened and a resistance looms on the horizon, the lie keeping Charlotte alive begins to unravel. She’ll have to break free, forge new bonds, and choose her own destiny if she has any hope of saving her sisters, her love, and maybe even the world.
Because sometimes the end is just a new beginning.

Unchosen

Review:
Unchosen is a 2021 release that I didn’t really know anything about before going into it. I hadn’t heard too much chatter from others on the bookish parts of the internet. But the summary sounded pretty good. So, when the audiobook became available through my library shortly after its release, I thought I’d give it a listen. I liked the narrator and thought they did a great job with this story.
This book follows Charlotte after the world ends. The Crimson (a plague-like curse that spreads through eye contact and turns humans into zombies) is ravaging the world and Charlotte is just trying to survive. But her older sister is part of the leadership where they live and always protects her. Her younger sister is the Chosen One (according to legend, they will break the curse). But when their home is raided, Charlotte claims to be the Chosen One to protect her sister.
This story was full of action and high stakes. I thought the concept of the curse/plague was a really interesting one. The whole world thinks the curse was cast by a woman Anne, who plays a role in this story. I think Anne’s part of the story was excellent. The history and backstory of the curse was one of my favorite parts. I think the way that the world as we know it has changed was also super interesting. The different towns and ‘safe’ places were interesting, but I wish we’d gotten to know a little more about them.
The action was high stakes and really kept the story moving. When lives weren’t in danger, we were learning about the world, the secrets that others were keeping, and getting to know the characters. I think the characters were likeable, easy to care about, but not so much that I want to read the story again and again.
I has a few things I wanted more of. Charlotte has had a crush on her older sister’s boyfriend, Dean. And making sure Dean was safe was one of Charlotte’s big motivators. I didn’t like this. It felt a little icky. I get that Charlotte and Dean are best friends, but she’s been harboring feelings all these years and I didn’t like it. I also just wanted more with the sisters in general. I really liked that the ending had all three of them together. But I wanted to know more about their past. I understand why they weren’t all together. Charlotte was finally out from her sister’s shadow, that’s a big part of what this story is about.
Overall, I liked this book. I think it was well written and really enjoyable. The story kept me interested and engaged. I think it was fast-paced, but not too fast. I think many people will love this book despite being about a plague in a less than pleasant time in the real world.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Cake Flavored Books Tag

Hi, friends! It’s been a while since we’ve done a book tag here on the blog and Amanda saw this one from Jess @ Jessica C Writes. It took a bit of searching, but the original tag was created by Paper Fury and inspired from the #CakeFlavoredBooks tag over on Instagram. Cake is something that we love here, alongside our love for books. So, we though it would be fun to do this tag that combines both!

Chocolate Cake // A dark book you absolutely love

Amanda- All the Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle. This book was honestly hard to read during certain parts, but it’s such an important story.

Antonia- I tend to avoid darker themes but I fondly remember reading The Devouring by Simon Holt with Amanda when we were teenagers. It was definitely terrifying but still such good memories.

Vanilla Cake // A light read

Amanda- The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai. While looking through my reading list, I realized I don’t read many ‘light’ books.

Antonia- Well Met by Jen Deluca.

Red Velvet // A book that gave you mixed emotions

Amanda- A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas, I almost hated Feyre and Rhysand by the end of the book and I’m not happy about that at all.

Antonia- Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa. I loved this series but the end was just a little bittersweet.

Cheesecake // A book you would recommend to anyone

Amanda- This is a hard question because everyone has different reading tastes. So, I’m going to give a few for a few different genres.
Contemporary: Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
Fantasy: For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig
Mystery/Thriller: A Good Girls Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Antonia- Oh wow, there’s so many. I always recommend Nora Roberts to everyone because she’s forever my favorite. I also always recommend The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss to fantasy lovers.

Coffee Cake // A book you started but never finished

Amanda- The Fiery Heart by Diana Gabaldon. I’ve been reading this book for what feels like a million years.

Antonia- The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Rin Chupeco. This one is only sort of a DNF. I liked the first book but was having trouble getting through this one. I just wasn’t in the mood for it. So I moved on to something else but I do plan to pick this one up again at some point.

Carrot Cake // A book with great writing

Amanda- All of Anna-Marie McLemore’s books. Their writing is absolutely stunning. I’ve read Wild Beauty and Blanca & Roja which were both filled with beautiful prose.

Antonia- This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El Mohtar and Max Gladstone. I loved the way this book was written, it just worked so well with the story itself and really drew me in.

Tiramisu // A book that left you wanting more

Amanda- The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders. I really enjoyed this book right up until the ending. I was left wanting more and not in a good way. It felt like there were chapters missing to conclude the story. I wanted any semblance of a conclusion and I didn’t really get that from this book.

Antonia- All of them. I’ve never read a book and not wanted more from the story and characters.

Cupcakes // A series with 4+ books

Amanda- I absolutely devoured the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown in 2020 and I recommend that you do the same this year.

Antonia- Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. All of them are amazing.

Fruit Cake // A book that wasn’t what you anticipated

Amanda- Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft. I went into this one thinking that it was a spooky and magical mystery in a creepy mansion. While part of the story is this. There is much more to the story. There’s interesting world building and politics, characters I loved and hated. This book wasn’t what I anticipated but not in a bad way.

Antonia- Year One by Nora Roberts. This book was so much darker than she normally writes but it was amazing.

Lamington // Favorite Australian book

Amanda- This was a fun question because I didn’t realize some of the books that I’ve loved were written by Australian authors. Some of those books are The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne, and of course, The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff.

Antonia- I actually haven’t read any Australian authors. I would love some recommendations though.

If you’re reading this and think it would be fun to do, consider yourself tagged!