Amanda’s May Book Haul

Hey, lovelies! May was an unreasonably large haul for me, especially considering that I’m still supposed to be on a book buying ban. But! In my defense, much of these books were gifts. My in-laws came to visit, now that we’re all vaccinated, and they really spoiled me while they were here. I also went a bit overboard with buying books I haven’t read yet. I’ve curbed my buying a bit by limiting myself to books I’ve read and loved, but don’t own yet. So, that didn’t really happen this month. I did buy some books I’ve already read, but I bought or was gifted more that I haven’t read. I will link my reviews for those that I’ve read and reviewed. And then my little to no reasonable rational for why I bought the ones I haven’t read. Let’s get into it!

Books I’ve Already Read

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

New Books on my Owned TBR

Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He
This was another preorder because I wanted to support the donations that the author was running with the preorder incentive.

Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Thank you to my in-laws for this one. It was an impulse target pick.

Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson
Another gift from my husband’s amazing parents, that I impulsively picked.

Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard
My final impulse pick/gift from my in-laws. I’ve heard mixed reviews about this one. But I could say the same about Red Queen and I really liked those books.

I Would Leave Me If I Could: A Collection of Poetry by Halsey
I barely read poetry so I have no excuse for this other than I have a small infatuation with Halsey.

Share Your Icy Crown by Amanda Lovelace
Seriously, why did I buy this? I have four other collections by Lovelace and I’ve read maybe two of them.

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
This one is legitimate because this is my June book club book with my local ladies.

Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey
Last month, I bought some of Bailey’s other books and this was the only one I was missing.

Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
I love this series and I’ve been meaning to buy this newest installment since it came out.

Written in my Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon
I didn’t even know this exisisted. I thought I owned all all published books (just the books though, not the novellas) in this series. But now I do, just in time for the release of the final book later this year.

These are the books that I bought or were gifted to me in May. Quite a few of them are on my TBR list for June. So, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to add many of these to my ‘read’ list pretty quickly. Did you buy any books in May? Are any of these books you’ve read or want to read? Let me know!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder

Summary:
When word that Yelena is a Soulfinder—able to capture and release souls—spreads like wildfire, people grow uneasy. Already Yelena’s unusual abilities and past have set her apart. As the Council debates Yelena’s fate, she receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by a murderous sorcerer she has defeated before…
Honor sets Yelena on a path that will test the limits of her skills, and the hope of reuniting with her beloved spurs her onward. Her journey is fraught with allies, enemies, lovers and would-be assassins, each of questionable loyalty. Yelena will have but one chance to prove herself—and save the land she holds dear.

Book Cover

Review:
I absolutely love this series. Yelena is such an interesting main character. I mentioned in my review for the second book that it felt like the overarching series plot was getting a little lost, it felt a bit slow. But Fire Study really pulled it all together. There were a few things I didn’t totally love, like Yelena has gone through all this stuff. But she doesn’t seem to learn anything or improve until the final third of this book. It’s been almost three books, she should have grown and developed some right? It felt like she regressed in book two and so in this book she worked to get all that back. And then, we didn’t really even get to see that growth because it all happened so quickly. I still love her though. My other issue with Yelena was that she didn’t take the time to feel things. At one point, someone she loves dies and we don’t see or feel any of that grief. I get that she’s just pushing it all away because there’s a lot of other things going on at the same time, but it would have been nice to see her take a moment for herself to feel that loss.
That’s really all that I didn’t like. I loved the revealing of all the secrets. I said this in my review for the first book, but some of the plot twists were predictable and others took me by surprise. I don’t mind this as I always feel smart when I predict things that are going to happen. I think the finale of this series was pulled together so nicely with all of the bits and pieces wrapped up in a satisfying way. I really enjoyed the world and seeing people from both Ixia and Sitia come together to overcome the big bad. I felt like we got more of the characters I love from the first book which made me happy.
Overall, this was an enjoyable conclusion. I love this world. I think the magic system is complex and fascinating. Yelena is a main character I could get behind (most of the time since she runs full on into danger entirely too often). I loved the romance and would have loved to get more of that. I think the world is compelling and I’m excited to read the companion series that follows someone we met in book two. I absolutely recommend this series to any fantasy lovers.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

Summary:
You know your life is complicated when you miss your days as a poison taster…
With her greatest enemy dead, and on her way to be united with the family she’d been stolen from long ago, Yelena should be pleased. But although she has gained her freedom, she once again finds herself alone – separated from her lover Valek and suspected as a spy for her reluctance to conform to Sitian ways.
Despite the turmoil, she’s eager to start her magic training – especially as she’s been given one year to harness her power or be put to death. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes embroiled in a plot to reclaim Ixia’s throne for a lost prince – and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians.
If that wasn’t bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with her new enemies.

Book Cover

Review:
Magic Study is very similar to the first book. It follows the same sort of journey as Poison Study. Yelena is now in Sitia where she’s come to the magicians keep to be trained in magic. Yelena is reunited with her family that she was taken from as a child. She has a lot to deal with emotionally. She’s meeting a family she doesn’t know. She’s now living in a territory she doesn’t remember. She must learn to control her magic. She’s always adjusting to a completely different culture than what she’s grown up knowing.
But then, because it’s Yelena, several someone’s want to kill her. So, she’s still not fully trained and once again on edge constantly looking over her shoulder. But she’s growing. She working on trusting others and not just taking matters into her own hands. She’s not always succeeding at this, but she’s trying. She’s trying to see the bigger picture, starting to think about what the future can hold for her.
The characters are really what made this story. We get to see characters we loved from the first book like Valek, Ari, and Janco. I loved getting to see Ari and Janco again. They are such good friends to Yelena. I liked seeing them outside of Ixia. But we also have some new characters like, Leif, Dax, and Irys. Irys we met in the last book, but we get to know her a little bit better in this one. Though, now that I’m thinking about it, I feel like we didn’t ever actually learn anything about her. Not like we did with the Commander in the first book anyway. I really liked Dax. His was a bit of a superficial friendship, but he added some humor and levity to the story which I liked. Leif was a really interesting character and the more we learned about him the more I wanted to learn even more. I’m already very excited to see him again in the third book.
Overall, this story was similar to Poison Study because it follows the same plot line of Yelena learning something knew and getting taught about that as well as training and learning to ride horses. Side note, Kiki was absolutely my favorite character in this series. But once she’s learning magic, she realizes there are political things going on around her that she just can’t help but get involved in. So, there’s lots of issues in the world and Yelena always manages to make it her problem. But she learns a lot about herself and her abilities. I liked that we got to see a bit of her and Valek together again. I’m also very intrigued to read the third book and see where this is all going. So far, the first two books have had their own contained plots with mysteries to be solved. But the overarching series plot seems a bit slow so I’m interested to see where all of this is going.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s June TBR Jar Picks

Hi, lovelies! Last month was pretty successful for my first attempt with my TBR jar. I did well enough that I’m going for it again. I think the idea of the TBR jar is such a fun one that I’m willing myself to do just as well this month. So, I will pick five slips from my jar and then pick books that fit the categories I’ve picked for this month. I will also be including a few books I want to read this month that aren’t a part of my TBR jar picks. I have some eARCs I need to make sure to read this month. Let’s see what I’m hoping to read this month!

Adult
Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne
I absolutely loved both The Hating Game and 99 Percent Mine. I’m confident I’ll love this one too.

First in a Series
The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart
I’ve heard nothing but good things about this one. I was actually asked to add this to my TBR so I can let a friend know if it’s as good as it sounds.

Standalone
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
This one I found as a local used book sale. I liked Big Little Lies the novel and the tv show. I’m interested to see if I like this one too as I’ve heard good things.

New Release
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
I absolutely loved Beach Read so, I’m very excited to pick up Henry’s newest release.

Favorite of a Friend
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
My friend, Alana, has been raving about this book for literal years. So, hopefully I’ll manage to finally pick this one up.

These are the books that I’ve picked to go with my TBR jar categories. I’m hopeful that I’ll manage to read all of them. I’m excited about quite a few of these, so I think I’ll actually be able to do that this month. I’m also participating in a readathon on Twitter this month. The Clear Your Shit Readathon was wicked fun to do last year and I am in need of clearing more shit off my TBR. So, I’m joining this month long mini-round. There’s a bingo board and all that, but I’m just going to list the prompts.

Candles: a book with a white or black cover
The Test by Sylvain Neuvel
I’ve owned this forever but never pick it up. I figure it’ll be good to have something pretty short on this list.

Athame: a book in a genre you don’t normally read
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
I got this one because I’ve heard incredible things about it. It’s horror and that’s far from my usual genre.

Cauldron: a book featuring a magical object
We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal
I’ve actually already started this one. I’m only about 100 pages into it. But I really want to finish it as soon as I can. So, here it is on this TBR list.

Bells: a comfort read
Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne
I tried to share books from my TBR jar picks and this bingo board so that I didn’t have a huge list to read.

Free Space
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
This is my June bookclub book. I’m excited for this one because I adored Beartown. I’ve seen people hauling this one, but not many reviewing it. Also, I couldn’t fit it in any of the other squares.

Ancient Grimoire: a book that’s 400 pages or more
The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart
Another borrow from my TBR jar picks, but I have a lot of new romance I want to read and most of those aren’t over 400 pages.

Bag of Teeth: a creepy book
Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth
I’ve heard incredible things about this one and I’ve been eager to pick it up since I bought it.

Incense: a book in your favorite genre
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
So, technically science fiction is my favorite genre. But romance is a really close second and I don’t have any sci-fi on my physical TBR that I’m really excited about.

Chalice: a book with something elemental
Aru Shah and the City of Gold by Roshani Chokshi
This is my audiobook choice. I love the audio for this series. I also just love this series. Last month, I finished rereading the first three so I’m excited to dive into this one.

I do have a few other books on my TBR list. They’re mostly eARC’s that I really need to get to. I’ve been slacking a bit on my NetGalley arc’s since binging like 10 of them in April.

Off the Record by Camryn Garrett
I have an eARC of this one that I plan to read this month.

Better Together by Christine Riccio
Another eARC that I need to make sure to read this month.

Trouble Girls by Julia Lynn Rubin
There are a few NetGalley arc’s I need to read in June and this queer Thelma & Louise is one I’m excited for.

So, this is a much longer list than last month. But I did well enough with my May TBR jar picks. I read three of the five books that I picked. The only reason I didn’t read all five was because I didn’t read that many audiobooks last month and those two were both books I planned to listen to. So, I’m happy with my results from last month and I’m excited to push myself to stick to this TBR for June. What are you thinking of reading this month?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson

Summary:
Weeks ago, Andre Cobb received a much-needed liver transplant.
He’s ready for his life to finally begin, until one night, when he passes out and wakes up somewhere totally unexpected…in 1969, where he connects with a magnetic boy named Michael.
And then, just as suddenly as he arrived, he slips back to present-day Boston, where the family of his donor is waiting to explain that his new liver came with a side effect—the ability to time travel. And they’ve tasked their youngest son, Blake, with teaching Andre how to use his unexpected new gift.
Andre splits his time bouncing between the past and future. Between Michael and Blake. Michael is everything Andre wishes he could be, and Blake, still reeling from the death of his brother, Andre’s donor, keeps him at arm’s length despite their obvious attraction to each other.
Torn between two boys, one in the past and one in the present, Andre has to figure out where he belongs—and more importantly who he wants to be—before the consequences of jumping in time catch up to him and change his future for good.

Yesterday Is History

Review:
Yesterday is History follows Andre Cobb. Andre has survived cancer, but needed a liver transplant to do so. But his new liver comes with a secret, time travel. Obviously, Andre is not expecting to travel back to 1969 when he tries to lay down in his bed. It’s then that he meets Michael. Andre and Michael quickly develop feelings for one another. I think this was the downfall of this book. The concept was a really interesting one, but I just think it fell short. The romance between Andre and Michael felt really under developed. They’re supposed to be super in love, but they’ve only spent a totally of less than a week together. I get that it was more time than that to Michael, but only saw things from Andre’s point of view. We only saw a few days. But I was really invested in Andre’s romance with Blake. Blake was kind of an asshole, but Andre called him on it every time, going as far as explaining how to give an acceptable apology. I liked how their characters both developed both as individuals and as a couple.
I think the time travel love triangle was a really interesting concept. But I think it fell flat for me because it felt under developed. I wanted to see more. It all happened too fast. I think if we had gotten more time to see Michael and Andre together, I could have been invested. The potential was there for me to really love this, but there just wasn’t enough of the story to get me there.
Overall, I think this story was a quick and fun read. I just wanted more from it. I liked Andre a lot. He was quick to call out problematic things that others said to him or around him. But he also made it clear that it wasn’t his responsibility to educate them on their wrong doings. I liked the concept, but the execution fell a bit flat for me. I will be checking out Jackson’s future books.

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 reading We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal and Aru Shah and the City of Gold by Roshani Chokshi.

Antonia- I’m currently ready The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan.

What did you read most recently?

Amanda- I most recently finished Off the Record by Camryn Garrett.

Antonia- I most recently read Come Sundown by Nora Roberts.

What will you read next?

Amanda- Next, I think I’ll pick up People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. I’m really excited for this one.

Antonia- Next I think I’ll read Aru Shah and the City of Gold by Roshani Chokshi.

Share what your answers are in the comments!

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: Freebie

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 Freebie (choose any past topic, or come up with you own). This week I chose Top Ten favorite books from each of the past ten years.

2020: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

2019: Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa

2018: Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

2017: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

2016: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

2015: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

2014: House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

2013: Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

2012: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

2011: Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

What books have you loved over the years?

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Anticipated Sequels

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 a freebie. So, I’m going to borrow from a past topic and talk about sequels I’m excited for. Some of these are yet to be released and some are sequels I haven’t managed to read yet. I have a recent post where I talk about series finales I’m excited for (find that here) so I won’t be mentioning those here.

Skyward #3 by Brandon Sanderson

A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow

The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson

The Serpent’s Curse by Lisa Maxwell

The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore

Aru Shah and the City of Gold by Roshani Chokshi

The Last Laugh by Mindy Mcginnis

Flash Fire by T.J. Klune

Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares by Tehlor Kay Mejia

These are some sequels that I am excited to read. Some are already out and I just haven’t read them and others are not yet released. What did you choose for your freebie this week?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s May Wrap Up

Hello, lovelies! We have reached the end of another month. Which means that it’s time to once again talk about the things I read this month, how I read them, and last month I started sharing some of my blog posts I’m proud of as well as posts from other bloggers that I enjoyed. Let’s get into it!

What I Read

Physical Books
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder – 4 stars
Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder – 4 stars
Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder – 4 stars
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo – 5 stars
The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo – 3 stars
The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold – 4 stars
Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia & Anna-Marie McLemore – 4.5 stars
The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley – 4 stars
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal – 4.5 stars
Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo – 5 stars

eBooks
With You All the Way by Cynthia Hand – 4 stars
Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson – 3 stars
Evernight by Claudia Gray – 4 stars
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – 5 stars
Everlost by Neal Schusterman – 4 stars
Everwild by Neal Schusterman – 4 stars
Everfound by Neal Schusterman – 4 stars
Storm Glass by Maria V. Snyder – 3.5 stars
Sea Glass Maria V. Snyder – 3.5 stars
Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder – 3 stars
The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim – 4 stars

Audiobooks
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore – 5 stars
Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend: Notes From the Other Side of the Fist Bump by Ben Philippe
Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore – 4 stars
Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi – 5 stars
Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi – 5 stars

Blogging Highlights

Amanda’s Mythology/Folklore Recommendations

Rereading Books I Loved as a Teenager – TBR

Amanda Recommends Completed Series

Amanda’s Beginner Science Fiction Recommendations

The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennfer L. Armentrout (Book Review)

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman (Book Review)

Other Bloggers I’m Loving

20 Best Hilariously Fun Drinking Board Games from Christine @ The Uncorked Librarian
This one cracked me up. These are definitely some games I want to try once we’re allowed to have friends over again.

Welcome to Asian Pasifika Heritage Month 2021! Celebrating 17 Amazing Asian and Pacific Islander Authors and Literature from CW @ The Quiet Pond
CW is forever doing to most for us and it’s no different for the month of May. In this post, they share some highlights from last May and share a bit about what they’ll be doing in May.

Books on my TBR: Poetry Collections from Ally @ Ally Writes Things
Ally shares some books that are on her TBR. I thought this was a fun post and a great one to find new poetry collections!

Review: House of Earth and Blood (Sarah J. Maas) from V @ The Sassy Library Fox
I personally loved this book and so did V. Check out V’s detailed review by clicking the link.

Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield / Blog Tour from Jessica @ Jessica C Writes
Jessica’s review is a great one. Had I not already read this book, her review would have made me want to read it. This book covers some tough topics, so check out her review to see the content warnings.

Color the Shelves – a bookish playlist by Joan He, author of The Ones We’re Meant to Find from Fadwa @ Word Wonders
Fadwa’s Color the Shelves feature is one of my favorites. The Ones We’re Meant to Find is a book I’m really excited for and I’m hoping to read my copy very soon. I love reading about author’s playlists and writing inspirations.

The Definitive Book Blogger List from A Book. A Thought.
I had this on last month’s post. But it’s just such an incredible list of people that I had to share it again. Click the link to find some new bloggers to follow!

Share a blog post you’re proud of or share some of your favorite blog posts from the last month or so in the comments.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Mirror’s Edge by Scott Westerfeld

Summary:
The danger rises and the deception grows in the heart-stopping third book in the New York Times bestselling Impostors series!
Frey’s return to the city of her birth isn’t going to be an easy one. She and her love Col must surge on new faces and bodies in order to infiltrate Shreve by dropping from the sky and landing undetected.
Frey’s sister Rafi — no longer a twin in features, but still a twin by birth — is the wild card. Are the sisters on the same side . . . or are they playing to their own agendas? If their father is deposed from Shreve, who will take control? And what other forces may be waiting in the wings?
Mirror’s Edge is another brilliant blockbuster from one of the greatest speculative writers YA fiction has ever seen, set within the world of Uglies . . . and about to converge with Uglies in a spectacular way. 

Mirror's Edge (Impostors, #3)

Review:
Mirror’s Edge starts off with a group of characters that we know from the first two books skydiving into Shreve. This group must infiltrate Shreve to depose Frey and Rafi’s father. This book was action packed and full of twists and turns. I really enjoyed seeing more of the world, seeing the other cities coming together to try to help Shreve. I think there are two things that really make this book and series shine. The first is the characters. Frey is such an interesting main character. All she’s ever wanted to be was her own person, outside of her sister’s shadow. She manages to do that in this book in sort of an extreme way. Frey’s appearance is modified so that she can go undetected in Shreve. She’s fierce and determined to make her home a better place. She gets to see more of what it’s like to actually live in the city. Frey’s growth in this book and the series so far has been such a journey to follow. She’s always been a leader, but in this book, we see her be a part of a team. We see her let go of the leadership position that she’s working toward. I am beyond excited to see what’s going to happen in the next book, especially with the way this one ended.
The second thing that makes this book shine is the politics. I think the twists and turns of the plot are included in the politics because most of the twists are of a political nature. The whole book is leading us toward Frey taking leadership in Shreve, but when the conclusion comes, nothing goes as we’ve been led to expect. I loved this. I think the politics involving the other cities in this world were interesting too. They’ve left Shreve alone for such a long time, but they’re finally stepping in. The things we learn about what Frey and Rafi’s father is doing was wild. Westerfeld gives us little bits and pieces to try to put together (which of course I didn’t) before finally revealing everything.
Overall, I think this series, even though it’s not actually a part of the original Uglies series, will always hold a place in my heart because of nostalgia. The Uglies series is one I’ve read dozens of times and the Impsotors series is just more pieces of that world. A world that I spent so much of my formative years escaping to. So, while this may not be a masterpiece of literature, it’s one dear to my heart. I cannot wait for the next book with the surprise that was dropped in the final pages of this book. On a final note, I listened to the audiobook and I really liked the narrator.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Summary:
Eight years have passed since the young Princess Bitterblue, and her country, were saved from the vicious King Leck. Now Bitterblue is the queen of Monsea, and her land is at peace.
But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisers, who have run the country on her behalf since Leck’s death, believe in a forward-thinking plan: to pardon all of those who committed terrible acts during Leck’s reign; and to forget every dark event that ever happened. Monsea’s past has become shrouded in mystery, and it’s only when Bitterblue begins sneaking out of her castle – curious, disguised and alone – to walk the streets of her own city, that she begins to realise the truth. Her kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year long spell of a madman, and now their only chance to move forward is to revisit the past.
Whatever that past holds.
Two thieves, who have sworn only to steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, who possesses an unidentified Grace, may also hold a key to her heart . . . 

Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)

Review:
Bitterblue is the third book that’s set in the Graceling world. It follows Bitterblue, who we met in Graceling, eight years after the ending of Graceling. Bitterblue is now the queen of Monsea, but everything is not what it seems in Bitterblue’s life. People are lying to her. People that were traumatized by her father. She doesn’t know who to trust. She doesn’t know how she’s feeling and she doesn’t know what to do. so, she sneaks out of the castle and heads into the city. She meets two thieves, who change her life.
I think this might be my favorite book in the series so far. I haven’t read the newest book yet, but I really enjoyed this one. I genuinely liked Bitterblue as a character. It’s clear she’s overwhelmed by the responsibilities of being queen. But she’s trying and that’s really clear. She’s both trying to know her kingdom and people better and having some fun for herself. She can see that she’s failing but she never stops trying to do better. Even though it feels like everything around her is falling apart, she continues to be a mostly thoughtful person. She does have some issues regarding her privilege. She’s wealthy and it’s not something that she really thinks about, but she’s made to think about it and I really liked that conversation being a part of the book. Bitterblue makes friends with characters that aren’t privileged like she is. So, I was glad to see this difference acknowledged and discussed. Another thing that I liked is that Bitterblue doesn’t shy away from the past that is her father. King Leck, who we met in Graceling, was a terrible, cruel person. But Bitterblue’s memories from the time that she lived with her father are hazy. She wants to learn about the things Leck changed and what she might be able to make up for. There are many people close to her that don’t want her looking into the thinks Leck did and made others do. Many are still struggling with the trauma they were put through by Leck. I really appreciated how Bitterblue handled this. She doesn’t dismiss their trauma or ignore it. I think this was done thoughtfully and respectfully. Finally, I loved that we got to see Bitterblue take a moment to feel her feelings. People she loves are dying, she’s been betrayed, and she feels like she is failing her kingdom. But she takes the time she needs to cry, or scream, or just react to her emotion before she tries to think about what she must do next. I really liked this.
This story, like the previous two, was a pretty slow one, but it was so worth it. It builds and builds and builds until finally the story breaks and speeds up. But in that slower part, the characters are developing relationships and themselves. I appreciated this because the relationships felt so well developed. I was invested in them because I felt like I got to know the characters really well. I could sympathize with all of them, even the ones doing not great things. I also liked that we got to see characters that we already knew. We see Katsa and Po again along with a few other familiar faces. I highly recommend this one. I think this series overall is a pretty good one, but especially this one. The way that Cashore manages to make the story so full of emotion is impressive. It takes a lot for a book to make me cry, but this one had me tearing up with what Bitterblue was feeling. I cannot wait to read the newest installment of this series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda

Rereading Books I Loved as a Teenager – Wrap Up

Hi, lovelies! I’m back to wrap up my rereads! If you didn’t see my announcement/TBR post (which you can find here) I have been rereading books that I loved when I was a teenager. On that post, I have a list of the books that will be in this post, but I also listed books I probably won’t ever reread again. I also have books that I reread relatively recently, but before I had the idea for this post, so I shared thoughts on those books in that post. Now, lets get into my thoughts on how my rereading went! There were definitely some surprising hits and some not so surprising misses.

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
This is the only book that was on my original TBR post that I didn’t reread. That’s mostly because I couldn’t find this book at my local library and I wasn’t going to spend money and buy it.

Shadow Falls series by C.C. Hunter
I just reread this entire series. I’ve owned all the books since I read them the first time in 2013. I remember loving them so much because of the creative variety of supernatural species. This follows Kylie who finds out she’s a supernatural. She sees ghosts. She gets sent to a summer camp for ‘troubled kids.’ What her mother doesn’t know is that this is a summer camp for supernaturals, a place for them to learn how to navigate the human world. I liked the concept behind the story and seeing as I read the whole series, I must have enjoyed it a little at least. But there were things I didn’t like. The girls were so catty and bitchy, even the ones that were supposedly best friends. There was growth with this and I appreciated that. I wouldn’t say this is the best supernatural series, but it was definitely entertaining. My review for the first book, Born at Midnight, is linked here.

The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
I reread this via audiobook in February. I think the only reason I made it all the way through the book is because the narrator is Evan Rachel Wood (who I have a huge crush on after watching her in Middlewest). The writing is pretty bad. And somehow, I still remember some of the bigger plot twists from later in the series, so there wasn’t really any mystery for me. I think I might finally be too old for this series. I didn’t have the same emotional connection to the characters. But I will say that I didn’t realize that this series actually has a pretty diverse cast, which was a pleasant surprise.

Evermore by Alyson Noel
This one was a surprise for me. I actually found myself genuinely enjoying this book. I liked Ever. She’s grieving the death of both her parents and her younger sister. But ever since the accident that killed them, she is psychic. She can see auras, hear thoughts, and see her sister’s ghost. She hides underneath oversized hoodies and blocks out the world with her iPod (lol). I think the concept of Ever’s abilities are super cool. She’d found a way to cope that worked for the most part. I did not like Damen at all. Even Ever had bad feelings about their ‘relationship’ but found that she couldn’t say no to him? There was just a lot of icky stuff. I liked the story and the magic aspect, and Ever, but I couldn’t get invested in the relationship at all. I actually did try to continue the series. But at the start of the second book, it’s all about how in love Ever and Damen are and I just couldn’t stay interested in it because I don’t care about their relationship at all.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
This book was…not good. I didn’t really remember anything about it. I think I was remembering a different book. Hush Hush is full of fat shaming, horrible diet culture, dated references (myspace, dial up internet, etc.), and completely unnecessary girl hate. I really believe that we’ve moved past the need for high school girls hating each other and being cruel and vicious. I know from experience that these people exist, but I think we’re at a point in time that we don’t need to continually see this in fiction. At least, not in the way that it was done in this book. As for the story, I did like that the romance wasn’t insta-love. There was some actual friendship development before anything romantic started. I don’t think I will continue the series. This book wasn’t completely terrible, but it definitely wasn’t good.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
I still really enjoyed this one. I chose to listen to the audiobook, which was certainly an experience. The audiobook is an older one. This is clear with all of the musical sound effects. It took me a bit, but I came to enjoy this narration of the story. I think the story as a whole has held up pretty well for a book that’s 13 years old. I definitely think I liked it less than I did when I read it originally. I think it could more clearly see the the negative things about Katsa, rather than just loving her because she’s strong and has a powerful Grace. I adored Po though. He was my favorite. I liked the politics of the different kingdoms, but the world itself was pretty bland. I’m definitely interested to continue rereading the series. I think the idea of the Graces is an interesting one. I also want to say that I’ve continued rereading the rest of the series and have enjoyed both books two and three. I think Bitterblue is and was my favorite in this series and I’m excited to read the newly published installment.

Evernight by Claudia Gray
According to GoodReads, I rated this book 4 stars. If I were to rate this now, I would probably go with 2.75 stars. I wouldn’t say that I didn’t like it, or that it was a bad book. Because I did enjoy it while I was reading it. I think this book was one of the few that I wasn’t all that excited to reread. I ended being a bit surprised because I honestly was expecting to actively dislike this book. But that wasn’t the case. I don’t totally understand why the author chose to act like the main character (who is our narrator) didn’t know that she was going to a school full of vampires. I think this was a weird choice considering what Bianca is. Even the synopsis makes it seem like Bianca doesn’t know why the school and the students are so intimidating. This felt like a weird choice because when we did find out Bianca’s truth, it felt a bit info-dumpy as she tried to share all of the things she knew about vampires in a few pages. Aside from that, I genuinely had fun reading this one. There were definitely some eye-roll moments. And I am just as much Team Balthazar as I was back in 2009 when I read this for the first time. I just didn’t believe the romance with Lucas because it was a bit of insta-love. Then we got to see her become friends with Balthazar and that was more believable. I’m not sure that I care enough to reread the whole series, but this was a fun experience.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Green has been a favorite author of mine for many years. I read Looking for Alaska in high school and it’s a book that changed me. But I haven’t reread this one since 2013, so I honestly didn’t know how I was going to feel about it. I will say that the review linked with the title of TFIOS is the review I wrote back in 2013, so if you want to see my thoughts from when I was actually still a teenager, it’s there. Now, I’m currently 27 years old, so this book has a pretty different effect on me now. I still really loved this story. I still was easily invested in the romance between Hazel and Augustus. I think the big thing that’s changed for me is that when it comes to YA books I don’t really self insert into the story anymore. So, while I still enjoyed the romance aspect of the story, it wasn’t what I appreciated the most this time. I loved the writing. The banter between Hazel and Gus. But most of all, I liked the the journey. I think because I’m in a different place in my life than I was almost ten years ago, I can appreciate all the things that Hazel learns and experiences in this story. I may not be fangirling over Hazel falling in love, but I can still appreciate the things she goes through. This is still a beautiful story.

Everlost by Neal Shusterman (The Skinjacker Trilogy)
So, to preface, I mistakenly called this book Unwind in my TBR post. The series that I had on my kindle and planned to reread for this is actually the Skinjacker trilogy, which starts with the book titled Everlost. I managed to reread this whole trilogy over Mother’s Day weekend because it was super interesting and I just needed to know how everything ended. I made notes for each book, so I’ll briefly mention them before I talk about the series as a whole. The first book was interesting mostly because of the concept of this in-between place for lost souls. I liked the characters well enough, but I thought the plot was lacking. It felt like the first book was just world building and set up for the rest of the series. The second book is where things started to get really interesting plot wise. The story moves slowly, but it’s very clear that Shusterman placed building blocks, little bits and pieces, that would come back into the story later. This goes for the third book, too. Some of the things we see and learn about in books one and two come back into play for book three. I loved this aspect where we get to see things come full circle. There were a few different romances in this series, I liked all but one of them. I just couldn’t get behind Nick and Mary as romantic interests for one another. I think this was really the only thing I didn’t like about the series. It was there through all three books and I just didn’t find it believable. I did, however, really like Allie and Mikey together, as well as the other couples we see get together. I also want to mention the historical sites that are mentioned and some that play a part in this story. In Everlost, we see the Twin Towers, the Hindenburg airship, In Everwild the characters leave the East Coast and move west across the United States. We get to see the World’s Fair in Chicago and Graceland. The final book we get to see the Alamo and the Trinity Vortex (the site of the first atomic bomb). I think the way that Shusterman included these bits and pieces of history was fascinating and thoughtful. I just overall had a fun time reading this series. It was silly and occasionally ridiculous, but it was also way more serious than I anticipated.

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
When I read this book in 2012, I rated it 4 stars. I am standing by that rating. I’ve seen people compare this book to Throne of Glass, which I can see, except that Poison Study came first. We follow Yelena who is made the Commander’s new food taster rather than being executed. Yelena is a character that has some trauma in her past. But she seems pretty well adjusted. I am also totally here for the romance that develops later in the book between Yelena and the Commander’s chief of security. A good chunk of this book s Yelena learning how to detect poisons and I liked that. I love seeing characters learn new things. But once we’re past this part of the book, things get a lot more political. I also really enjoyed that part of the book. We see Yelena get involved in so many things that she just doesn’t need to be involved in. But also, it’s understandable because of the players that are involved. The Commander of Ixia is a trans man. I cannot speak to this representation, but if you can and you’ve read this, let me know about if you think this is good or bad representation. I enjoyed this book and I’m planning to continue my reread as soon as I’m finished writing this mini-review.

So, that’s all my thoughts on the books I picked up to reread. I’ve read all of these years ago, but it was really fun to revisit them. I was surprised to still actually enjoy some of them and not so surprised about the few that I didn’t enjoy. What books did you love as a teenager that you would consider rereading now?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Legacy by Nora Roberts

Summary:
Adrian Rizzo was seven when she met her father for the first time. That was the day he nearly killed her—before her mother, Lina, stepped in.
Soon after, Adrian was dropped off at her grandparents’ house in Maryland, where she spent a long summer drinking lemonade, playing with dogs, making a new best friend—and developing the stirrings of a crush on her friend’s ten-year-old brother. Lina, meanwhile, traveled the country promoting her fitness brand and turning it into a billion-dollar business. There was no point in dwelling on the past.
A decade later, Adrian has created her own line of yoga and workout videos, following in Lina’s footsteps but intent on maintaining creative control. And she’s just as cool-headed and ambitious as her mother. They aren’t close, but they’re cordial—as long as neither crosses the other.
But while Lina dismisses the death threats that Adrian starts getting as a routine part of her daughter’s growing celebrity, Adrian can’t help but find the vicious rhymes unsettling. Year after year, they keep arriving—the postmarks changing, but the menacing tone the same. They continue after she returns to Maryland and becomes reacquainted with Raylan, her childhood crush, all grown up and as gorgeously green-eyed as ever. Sometimes it even seems like the terrifying messages are indeed routine, like nothing will come of them. Until the murders start, and the escalation begins… 

Legacy

Review:
Thank you NetGalley and publishers for an eARC of Legacy in exchange for an honest review.
This story follows Adrian, who is a fitness/lifestyle influencer. When she was a child, her father showed up to her house and tried to kill her and her mother. He was the one that died instead. This is where the story starts. We follow Adrian as she grows into an adult and eventually come to present day where she’s working from her grandparents’ home and running a successful company that’s under the umbrella of her mother’s fitness company.
Roberts is a comfort author of mine. I think that’s because her stories lean toward predictable and are a bit formulaic. I found myself being reminded of her past books while reading Legacy with the way certain characters speak and just the overall way the story is told. I don’t want this to be taken as a negative thing because Roberts is a comfort author for me, so sometimes I just need those books where I know everything will be okay and there will be lovable characters along the way.
The characters are really what stand out in this book. I don’t know that I actually like Adrian, but she was so well developed and we got to see that development happen so it was hard not to be invested in her story. But there were many great characters. We follow them for such a long period of time, that it’s hard not to care for them. But because we started the story so early in Adrian’s life, the ending felt a bit rushed. The romantic relationship didn’t feel like there was enough time to be as in love as they were.
Overall, I enjoyed this book while I was reading it. The story was well written and interesting. The characters were well developed and lovable. But the plot felt a bit missing. I will always love Roberts books. But this one just fell a bit flat for me.

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 reading quite a few things because I keep picking up new books. So, according to my StoryGraph shelf I’m currently reading We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal, Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder, The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim, and I’m listening to Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi.

Antonia- I’m currently reading The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan.

What did you read most recently?

Amanda- I most recently finished The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley.

Antonia- I just finished Come Sundown by Nora Roberts.

What will you read next?

Amanda- Next, I’m hoping to finish up a few books from my May TBR Jar Picks. So, I’m thinking Flash Fire by T.J. Klune or Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo.

Antonia- Next I think I’ll read Sanctuary by Mercedes Lackey.

Share your answers for this week in the comments!

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday: Funny Book Quotes

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 Book Quotes that Fit X Theme. This week I’m going with quotes that make me laugh.

“You are the Daughter of Death,” hissed Aru. “You don’t walk into a telephone pole because of a boy.”
-Roshani Chokshi, Aru Shah and the End of Time

“I’m not going to wear a red dress,” she said. “It would look stunning, My Lady,” she called. She spoke to the bubbles gathered on the surface of the water. “If there’s anyone I wish to stun at dinner, I’ll hit him in the face.”
-Kristin Cashore, Graceling

“That was so completely unfair that I told Tantalus to go chase a donut, which didn’t help his mood.”
-Rick Riordan, The Sea of Monsters

“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”
-Andy Weir, The Martian

“I’m talking to the House. Which is a considerable step up from talking to you.” “It doesn’t talk back.” “Exactly.”
-Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Silver Flames

“Is this an ‘I’m sorry I tried to assassinate you’ tea ceremony?”
-Julie Kagawa, Soul of the Sword

“I’d be offended if I could be offended,” he said. “Maybe I should start calling you a cow, since you have four limbs, are made of meat, and have rudimentary biological mental capacities.”
-Brandon Sanderson, Skyward

“There is a proverbial saying chiefly concerned with warning against too closely calculating the numerical value of un-hatched chicks.”
-Neil Gaiman, Stardust

“I’m sure I’ll feel much more grateful when I find a guy who thinks complex wiring in a girl is a turn-on.”
-Marissa Meyer, Cinder

“Dear Mal, I haven’t heard from you, so I assume you’ve met and married a volcra and that you’re living comfortably on the Shadow Fold, where you have neither light nor paper to write. Or, possibly, your new bride ate both your hands.”
-Leigh Bardugo, Shadow and Bone

What book quotes do you love?