The Awakening by Nora Roberts

Summary:
In the realm of Talamh, a teenage warrior named Keegan emerges from a lake holding a sword—representing both power and the terrifying responsibility to protect the Fey. In another realm known as Philadelphia, a young woman has just discovered she possesses a treasure of her own…
When Breen Kelly was a girl, her father would tell her stories of magical places. Now she’s an anxious twentysomething mired in student debt and working a job she hates. But one day she stumbles upon a shocking discovery: her mother has been hiding an investment account in her name. It has been funded by her long-lost father—and it’s worth nearly four million dollars.
This newfound fortune would be life-changing for anyone. But little does Breen know that when she uses some of the money to journey to Ireland, it will unlock mysteries she couldn’t have imagined. Here, she will begin to understand why she kept seeing that silver-haired, elusive man, why she imagined his voice in her head saying Come home, Breen Siobhan. It’s time you came home. Why she dreamed of dragons. And where her true destiny lies—through a portal in Galway that takes her to a land of faeries and mermaids, to a man named Keegan, and to the courage in her own heart that will guide her through a powerful, dangerous destiny…
The Awakening (The Dragon Heart Legacy, #1)Review:
The Awakening is Roberts newest trilogy and I was not disappointed. I’m going to keep this review short because no one is surprised that I loved this book.
I think it’s been really interesting to see Roberts delve more into fantasy books. She has quite a few series that have a bit of light fantasy in them, but this series has a whole new world within it. I think the world was very interesting and vividly written.
Breen Kelly was kind of an annoying character, but as we learn more about her childhood, her annoying behaviors are more understandable. She grew up with a mother that belittled her most of her life, left her feeling like she shouldn’t or couldn’t try new things that she might love. She works a job she doesn’t love to pay her bills. But when she finds out her mother has been keeping money that Breen’s father sent for Breen, her life changes. I think Breen had some growth. It was great to see her try new things and realize that she might actually good at these things. The only thing I didn’t like about this aspect of the story is the process of getting a book published. Breen starts writing a novel while she’s vacationing in Ireland. And by summer’s end she’s finished her novel, queried and found and agent, and gotten a book deal. This is so incredibly unrealistic that it left a bad taste in my mouth.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was full of adventure and magic with a hint of romance. I liked that we got to see Breen learning the magic and training with swords. I think the new world she discovered was fascinating. I am definitely excited for the next book in the series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout

GoodReads Summary:
A Betrayal…
Everything Poppy has ever believed in is a lie, including the man she was falling in love with. Thrust among those who see her as a symbol of a monstrous kingdom, she barely knows who she is without the veil of the Maiden. But what she does know is that nothing is as dangerous to her as him. The Dark One. The Prince of Atlantia. He wants her to fight him, and that’s one order she’s more than happy to obey. He may have taken her, but he will never have her.
A Choice…
Casteel Da’Neer is known by many names and many faces. His lies are as seductive as his touch. His truths as sensual as his bite. Poppy knows better than to trust him. He needs her alive, healthy, and whole to achieve his goals. But he’s the only way for her to get what she wants—to find her brother Ian and see for herself if he has become a soulless Ascended. Working with Casteel instead of against him presents its own risks. He still tempts her with every breath, offering up all she’s ever wanted. Casteel has plans for her. Ones that could expose her to unimaginable pleasure and unfathomable pain. Plans that will force her to look beyond everything she thought she knew about herself—about him. Plans that could bind their lives together in unexpected ways that neither kingdom is prepared for. And she’s far too reckless, too hungry, to resist the temptation.
A Secret…
But unrest has grown in Atlantia as they await the return of their Prince. Whispers of war have become stronger, and Poppy is at the very heart of it all. The King wants to use her to send a message. The Descenters want her dead. The wolven are growing more unpredictable. And as her abilities to feel pain and emotion begin to grow and strengthen, the Atlantians start to fear her. Dark secrets are at play, ones steeped in the blood-drenched sins of two kingdoms that would do anything to keep the truth hidden. But when the earth begins to shake, and the skies start to bleed, it may already be too late.
A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire (Blood and Ash, #2)Review:
Is this a new favorite series of mine? Yes. Was Armentrout already a favorite author of mine? Yes. So, was this totally a surprise? No, not really.
I’m not going to go too deep into a summary like I do in some reviews because this is the second book in a series and I don’t want to spoil anything. So, A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire follows Poppy and Casteel as Poppy has had the world she knows completely upended. She’s learned things about the kingdom she grew up in that are horrifying and change everything for her. That’s about all you’re getting because most of the details of this are spoilers for book one.
Poppy is my queen. I love her with my whole heart. She’s been hurt many times. In her childhood, she witnessed her parents killed. She learned to fight so that she would never be defenseless again. This was a huge asset in this book because she proves again and again that she’s not someone to be fucked with. I want to reread this book again just to count how many times she stabbed Casteel or threatened to stab him. I thought it was really interesting that Poppy escaped the confinement of being the Maiden only to find herself confined once again in a completely different situation. I loved the development of her new confinement. She proved herself a useful ally and I loved seeing Poppy finally take her life into her own hands. Seeing her finally get to make choices for herself and what she wanted made me so happy.
Now, Casteel. I love him. I understand why Poppy is so mad at him, but I love him. I think it was really interesting that Armentrout used the secret keeping trope (which I usually hate) to create a huge conflict between Poppy and Casteel and then have them work through the lies and the deceptions. I was fascinated seeing Poppy figure out how to trust Casteel again after the lies he told her. I loved how determined Casteel was. He wanted Poppy. He wanted to save his brother. He wanted to save his kingdom. But his plans all change when he actually meets Poppy. He figures out a potential way to get all of the things that he wants. And I think that really spoke to who Casteel is as a person and a leader. I just love him with my whole heart.
Overall, I’m obsessed with this series. I think the world building is so well done and Armentrout has built a world that I’m infatuated with. I think this history of the world and how that history has been changed in the minds of the people is so interesting. I think the Gods are also very interesting. The fact that they’re all ‘sleeping’ is so intriguing and I cannot deal with how this story ended. I also have to mention there are a handful of steamy sex scenes and they were exactly what I wanted them to be. I think it was all around an excellent book and as I said in my review for the first book, if you like fantasy romance you will love this.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

GoodReads Summary:
A Maiden…
Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.
A Duty…
The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.
A Kingdom…
Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.
From Blood and Ash (Blood and Ash, #1)Review:
How am I supposed to succinctly explain why and how much I loved this book? Armentrout is one of my favorite authors and has been for many years. So, I bought this immediately after it came out, but waited until the second book came out so I could binge read them.
From Blood and Ash follows Poppy. Poppy is the Maiden, which means there are many restrictions on the things she’s allowed to do. This includes who she’s allowed to speak to, touch, and many other medieval ideas. Poppy does her best to follow all of the rules set for her, but she wants more from her life. She has wants and desires. One of the biggest is that she wants to help defend herr kingdom. One of her guards, Vikter, has spent years teaching her how to fight. When Poppy was a child her parents were killed and she never wants to be defenseless like that again. So, she learns to fight and she can’t always stop herself from doing things she probably shouldn’t. When her close friend and guard is killed defending her, she gets a new guard, Hawke. The time she spends with Hawke and the things they talk about lead Poppy to start questioning he role as Maiden and her whole life.
I’m going to stop my summary there because things get pretty complicated after Poppy and Hawke meet. I loved this book. I adored Poppy and I want to reread this book already. Poppy is a fighter. She fights for others before she will fight for herself. She accepts punishments she doesn’t deserve so that others she cares for won’t face punishments. She has a huge heart despite having been treated so poorly by so many people. I love Poppy so much. I also love Hawke. I thought the secrets he was keeping were so interesting. I just wanted to know more about what he knew. Hawke was just all around a fascinating character. There were so many clues about who he really was and I think Armentrout did such a great job of giving us clues and slowly revealing the truth.
Overall, this world and its politics were absolutely fascinating. I just wanted to learn more. I loved the characters. I think Armentrout did such a great job of giving the reader characters we could easily be invested in, and developing relationships, both platonic and romantic, that we would die for. I am very excited to have read this book and I immediately jumped into the second book, so I will have a review for the second book shortly. I also am eagerly awaiting book three. If you like fantasy romance, this will not disappoint.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

fullsizeoutput_3401GoodReads Summary:
In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.
Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.
Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade.
Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky, #1)Review:
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review. Black Sun was such a detailed and involved fantasy. Just as the synopsis says, it’s an epic adventure that explores power, history, and characters that are not what people assume they are. I think that’s what I liked most about this book. The characters were so well developed and fascinating. They were all people trying to live outside of what they’re ‘supposed’ to be.
The story follows several characters Xiala, Serapio, and Narampa. Xiala is Teek, which is a culture that has many stories surrounding them. This was clear in the way that others treated Xiala. She’s an excellent captain, but her crew still treats her as other because she is Teek. I really liked seeing Xiala and Serapio develop a friendship because while that was happening, we got to learn more about Xiala and the Teek. I just genuinely liked Xiala. She’s fierce and powerful. She doesn’t take anyone’s shit. Serapio was a fascinating character. For him, we got to go back and forth between the present (where he’s traveling with Xiala) and his past to see how he got to be traveling with Xiala. I think the mythology (I don’t know that his character’s story is actually based on real myths, but there’s definitely mythology about him in the story) surrounding him and his destiny was incredibly interesting. I thought it was really interesting to see him learn the things he needed to complete the destiny that his mother set in motion. Serapio is blind, but that doesn’t hinder him in any way. He can see through the eyes of crows, and his other senses are very well developed. I liked Serapio because he knew what his mission was and did his best to follow through. I like his relationship with Xiala and I feel like it developed very naturally. Finally, Narampa (or Nara). She’s the Sun Priest, but she’s also a girl from a not so good part of town. Many were surprised when she was named successor to the last Sun Priest. I liked Nara because she knew she was facing challenges, but she still really wanted to make positive changes to the world she is a part of. But she’s faced with many people that do not agree with her. Her challenges just grow greater as the story progresses. I’m very intrigued with her backstory and her criminal brother. I am eager to see how that will play out in the rest of the series. There is one more character I should mention, he isn’t introduced until something specific happens in the story, but I have a feeling he will play a larger role in the rest of the series. Okoa is the son of someone important. He returns from what is essentially college for warriors and is thrown into the politics of his clan. I wanted to know more about him, mostly where his story will go from here.
Overall, the first half of the book was a bit slower than the second half. The world was so intricate and fascinating. There was so much detail from the setting to the different parts of the world and the politics within each part. The ending absolutely slayed me and I’m dying to know what will happen now that things didn’t go the way Serapio planned or expected. I am definitely a huge fan of this book and highly recommend it for fantasy lovers. I do also want to mention that it’s a really diverse story. It’s inspired by pre-Colombian America’s, so it’s almost exclusively Indigenous peoples. It is also filled with casually queer people. Xiala is bisexual and there are several trans or nonbinary side characters. I am definitely eager for the next book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogmas Book Review: The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

GoodReads Summary:
In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.
But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.
There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.
The Once and Future WitchesReview:
Last year, I read Harrow’s debut novel (The Ten Thousand Doors of January) and it was easily one of my absolute favorite books of 2019. Well, Harrow has done it again. I’m glad I picked up The Once and Future Witches before 2020 was over so that I can happily say this book is absolutely one of my top favorite books of 2020.
Harrow created such an incredible story. I first want to talk about the powerful and stunning writing. I don’t often sticky tab my books, but I went through three packs of sticky tabs just marking lines that really stuck out to me. I cannot get enough of Harrow’s writing. I was in awe after her debut, but I am doubly in awe now. She has the ability and creativity to write such stunning prose that really packs a punch. I adored all of the little things too. The chapters starting with each sister and mimicking how they were all introduced, this continuing through the book when the sisters were apart. I just cannot get over how beautifully written this book was.
Now, the plot. It was just as excellent as the writing. We follow three sisters, James Juniper (June, the youngest sister), Agnes Amaranth (Agnes, the middle sister), and Beatrice Belladonna (Bella, the eldest sister). The sisters grew up in the south with a father that was abusive and a mother that died giving birth to June. When June was still just a kid, Agnes and Bella left and June felt abandoned. The two older sisters both had their reasons for leaving (yes, I did absolutely love how this aspect of the story came full circle when the two finally talked about it). Flash forward to present day, somehow, all three sisters have ended up in New Salem. June is hiding from the law, so of course, the first thing she does after arriving in New Salem is join in at a Suffragist protest where women are demanding their right to vote. Agnes is newly pregnant and works in a mill, living in a quiet boarding house. She’s unsure about keeping the baby and knows the father cannot love all of her. She’s walking home from work and also finds herself at this protest. Bella, a librarian, (yes, this is exactly the shit I live for, so thank you Alix Harrow) finds hidden words she remembers her grandmother, Mags, saying to them and she finds herself drawn to the protest and saying the words. Suddenly, there is a link between the sisters and Bella is saying the words. A tower appears and this is where the story starts. I don’t want to go too much into the plot except to say that it was a slow story, but I devoured every page. I loved the meandering story that showed us who these sisters really were and would become. All three have issues from their childhood that they need to overcome, grudges to forgive one another for, and secrets they’re not sure they’re ready to share. I love these three with my whole heart.
I do want to mention that the side characters are just as incredible as the sisters. There are a diverse cast of supporting characters, from black female love interests (yes, there is indeed a female/female romance, thank you again for this), to a trans woman. I love that though this is a historical story, there were still diverse characters that were included. I can’t speak to the representation as I am not trans or black, but from an outside perspective these characters seemed to be portrayed thoughtfully and with purpose. I liked that the female love interest was black because it brought this new perspective of what life in New Salem during this time period was like for people of color, something the sisters might not have thought about.
The magic in The Once and Future Witches was absolutely fascinating. Each chapter was started with a spell. In this story, you must know the words, the ways, and have the will. I thought this was such an interesting way to do magic. I really liked the messages that were shared with the magic. That women are powerful and smart. They know not to write these things down and instead pass them to their daughters in songs, children’s rhymes, and things that men wouldn’t even suspect. I adored the magic and the way that women came together to work this magic and teach one another the few things they’d learned in their lives.
Overall, this is absolutely one of my favorite books of 2020. Harrow is easily a favorite author of mine and I am dying to know what she will publish next. This book and everything about it was nothing short of a stunning master piece and I already cannot wait to reread so I can highlight and underline all of my favorite parts. If you like witches, historical fiction, women empowering other woman, and diverse stories, then this is the book for you.

Quotes:

“One witch you can laugh at. Three you can burn. But what do you do with a hundred?”

“If he peeled back her pretty skin he’d find nothing soft or sweet at all, just busted glass and ashes and the desperate, animal will to stay alive.”

“That’s all magic is, really: the space between what you have and what you need.”

“A girl is such an easy thing to break: weak and fragile, all alone, all yours. But they aren’t girls anymore, and they don’t belong to anyone. And they aren’t alone.”

“Because it’s easy to ignore a woman.” Juniper’s lips twist in a feral smile. “But a hell of a lot harder to ignore a witch.”

“Seems to me they’re the same thing, more of less. Witching and women’s rights. Suffrage and spells. They’re both…They’re both a kind of power, aren’t they? The kind we aren’t allowed to have.”

“She is a silhouette on the windowsill, an apparition in the alley, a woman there and gone again. She is a pocket full of witch-ways and a voice whispering the right words to the right woman, the clack of a cane against cobbles.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

GoodReads Summary:
Five New Yorkers must come together in order to defend their city in the first book of a stunning new series by Hugo award-winning and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin.
Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got five.
But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.
The City We Became (Great Cities #1)Review:
The City We Became was weird in all the best ways. The synopsis for this story is short, so I’m going to try to explain it a bit. There are six characters that we follow. Each of these characters represents an important part of New York City. In this world, cities come alive, and that’s what is happening in New York in this story. The city creates avatars from its important parts, sometimes one, sometimes more. This is where things got weird. Each of the boroughs was described to have personalities that fit with the people and culture of each borough. It was a bizarre but interesting way to get to know New York. As I’ve never spent much time there, I can’t speak to the accuracy. But it sure was interesting. One of the best parts of this book was the different parts of New York trying to get along and work together. I was fascinated by the things that they didn’t like about one another.
The villain in this story was also fascinating. It’s sort of an unknowable thing. I still sort of don’t really understand who or what it was. But it was following a different path than what it did with previous cities. I thought this made the story more interesting. The stakes had been upped and no one was listening to Sao Paolo when he tried to tell them that. The mystery of this villain is definitely what’s keeping me interested in the second book.
Overall, this book was confusing and weird. But I still loved it. I really loved the ending. The battle was won, but war was beginning and things were far from over. I liked that things were left in a happy place, a celebration before getting back to work. The reader is still left with questions, but we know that things right now are okay. This review is all over the place and I don’t really think I explained anything at all. But here it is.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Shadowed Sun by N.K. Jemisin

GoodReads Summary:
Gujaareh, the city of dreams, suffers under the imperial rule of the Kisuati Protectorate. A city where the only law was peace now knows violence and oppression. A mysterious and deadly plague now haunts the citizens of Gujaareh, dooming the infected to die screaming in their sleep. Someone must show them the way.
The Shadowed Sun (Dreamblood, #2)Review:
The Shadowed Sun is the second book to the Dreamblood duology, but this book is set ten years after the first. I had the same problem that I did with the first book. It took me about 100 pages to actually get into the story and care about what was going on. I think what was weird for me was that I felt like this book could be read completely separate from the first book and the reader wouldn’t really miss much.
In this book, the city we came to know is pretty different. The characters we’re following is also different. Gujaareh is being ruled by the Kisuati Protectorate. One of the Kisuati that’s left in charge of Gujaareh is a character from the first book. I really liked her for this whole book. She stood up for what she thought the right thing was, even when that wasn’t always what she was ‘supposed’ to believe.
In this new Gujaareh, there is a nightmare plague going around that the Hetewa can’t figure out. I really liked that as the reader we got to know what was going on with this aspect of the story. I also liked that we got to see more of the world. Two of the Sharers are sent on a mission to work with the rightful heir to Gujaareh. This was definitely the most interesting part of the story. Getting to see the Shares out of their comfort zone and getting to know a bit more about the desert tribes was really interesting.
Jemisin did such an incredible job building the world for this series. I thought this world was so interesting. I really liked learning about the different customs of the desert tribes but I also still really enjoyed the customs and faith of Gujaareh.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I still had a hard time getting invested in the characters. I think it was definitely easier in this book because I was familiar with the world and a few of the characters. I am very excited to read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms series, as that’s the only books of Jemisin’s that I haven’t read yet.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin

GoodReads Summary:
In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and among the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers – the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe…and kill those judged corrupt.
But when a conspiracy blooms within Gujaareh’s great temple, the Gatherer Ehiru must question everything he knows. Someone, or something, is murdering innocent dreamers in the goddess’s name, and Ehiru must now protect the woman he was sent to kill – or watch the city be devoured by war and forbidden magic.
The Killing Moon (Dreamblood, #1)Review:
The Killing Moon is a book that honestly might be a little over my head. I’ve finished it, but I still feel a little bit confused. From what I understand this is a world inspired by ancient Egypt. There are people that are trained to be Gatherers and they essentially kill people that are corrupt, or also those that are old or sick (this confused me because there’s also Sharers that heal, so I didn’t get why Gatherers killed the sick too). But Gatherers are only a part of society in Gujaareh (Don’t ask me how to pronounce that). There is a neighboring kingdom (I don’t think that’s the right word, but I’m going with it) that does not believe the way that those of Gujaareh do. When an ambassador from this neighboring kingdom is selected to be gathered, Ehiru (the Gatherer) listens to what she has to say and starts thinking that there are secrets he isn’t privy to. He does not gather her. Instead, he travels with her to her kingdom to find the truth to the things she’s told him.
I’m going to be honest; I was extremely confused for the first 100 or so pages. But once the story got going, I couldn’t put it down. The world was vivid and beautiful. It was full of complex and interesting beliefs. I liked the characters but couldn’t get as invested in them as I would have liked. I enjoyed them all, but I just didn’t care as much as I did with Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy. I liked that this story was so dark. It wasn’t outright gory or anything, but there were so many dark themes and concepts that really interested me. It really brings a great conversation to the topic of morality and specific people having the power to kill others under the concept of religion.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I’m very eager to see what happens in the next book. It’s not my favorite book by Jemisin that I’ve read, but it was an incredible story.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Archive of the Forgotten by A.J. Hackwith

GoodReads Summary:
The Library of the Unwritten in Hell was saved from total devastation, but hundreds of potential books were destroyed. Former librarian Claire and Brevity the muse feel the loss of those stories, and are trying to adjust to their new roles within the Arcane Wing and Library, respectively. But when the remains of those books begin to leak a strange ink, Claire realizes that the Library has kept secrets from Hell–and from its own librarians.
Claire and Brevity are immediately at odds in their approach to the ink, and the potential power that it represents has not gone unnoticed. When a representative from the Muses Corps arrives at the Library to advise Brevity, the angel Rami and the erstwhile Hero hunt for answers in other realms. The true nature of the ink could fundamentally alter the afterlife for good or ill, but it entirely depends on who is left to hold the pen.
The Archive of the Forgotten (Hell's Library, #2)Review:
The Archive of the Forgotten is the second book in the Hell’s Library series. I don’t know for sure if there will be a third as I haven’t looked into it at all, but the ending of this book suggests there will be more. I had to pick this one up as soon as I got it in the mail because I absolutely loved the first book. I’m happy to say that I loved this book just as much. There is one thing I didn’t like about this book, but I’ll get into that.
Our story follows my favorite people, Claire, Hero, Ramiel, and Brevity. Sadly, we don’t get any Leto, which wasn’t a huge surprise but still was a little disappointing. Instead of Leto, we got a new character, Probity. Probity is a muse and Brevity’s sister. She visits the library and I didn’t like her from the moment we met her. This is all I’m going to say about her because the details would spoil things and I don’t want to do that.
So, the story starts off when Claire finds a damsel in front of what I pictured as a pool of ink. They can’t figure out where this ink came from. I wish the team had just worked together the whole book instead of letting things come between them. I think the story did a great job with the action. There were some really exciting and suspenseful moments, but there was also a good balance of character development and growth through some dialogue and sweet moments.
I think my favorite part of this book was that we got to see the other sorts of libraries that were mentioned in the first book. Some of the characters travel to Elysium and that was a fascinating library. We also get to see a different sort of library, one that made me a bit sad. I think this world (underworld) was absolutely fascinating. I really enjoyed the fact that there wasn’t just Heaven and Hell, there were all sorts of afterworlds and I really thought it was interesting.
Overall, I flew through this story and I’m still eager for more. I loved the characters. They grew even more in this book, and there were some romantic developments that made me completely fangirl. I’m obsessed with the world and the different libraries. Plus, the covers for this book and the first are both absolutely stunning.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith

GoodReads Summary:
Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing– a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.
But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell….and Earth.
The Library of the Unwritten (Hell's Library #1)Review:
I picked up The Library of the Unwritten because a few people I follow on social media were saying such good things about it. I am so glad that I trusted them and pick this one up because it just might be a new favorite fantasy series. There’s just something that I love about books that are about books.
Claire is the Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing. This is a library that’s located in Hell filled with all of the unfinished books that exist. Her job is to make sure these books don’t manifest. So, of course, the story opens with a book character manifesting from their story and Claire has to hunt them down with her Librarian Apprentice, Brevity, and Leto, the demon who was sent to inform Claire that a manifestation had escaped to Earth. The three travel to Earth to bring this manifestation, eventually named Hero, but what is supposed to be an easy enough job turns into a quest for something much more important. I really liked Claire. She’s not perfect, kind of cold, but soft underneath. I’m really excited to learn more about her in the second book. I would have liked to have more of my questions answered. Claire has many books of her own in the Unwritten Library, and there is some history there. She has secrets and I’m interested to see how or if those secrets come to light in the next book. I completely adored Brevity. She’s a former muse and I loved everything about her. Leto was an interesting character because there was so much to his story and I’m wondering whether or not we will see him in the next book or not. Hero was also interesting because we’re led to make assumptions about his character because of how Claire classifies him, but as we learn more about him, we learn that our assumptions aren’t quite right.
Their mission changes when they run into Ramiel, an angel on a mission to find The Devil’s Bible. He’s been working what’s essentially the front desk at the gates of Heaven hoping to work his way back into the Creator’s good graces so he can go back home. But the Creator is nowhere to be found and Uriel is the one in charge. Ramiel was a complex character because at first, he jumps at the chance to complete this mission and be welcomed home. But when he realizes that Uriel might not be telling him the whole truth with his mission, he isn’t sure that being welcomed back into Heaven is actually what he wants anymore. I really liked the complexity of Ramiel’s story. His character and the choices he made were fascinating.
Overall, I loved this story. I love books that are about books. The concept of the Unwritten Library was such a great one (but made me sad because I’m a writer with lots of unfinished books). I also am very interested by the Arcane wing of the library. I am very excited to read the next book.

Quotes:

“How much easier it would be if everyone knew their role: the hero, the sidekick, the villain. Our books would be neater and our souls less frayed. But whether you have blood or ink, no one’s story is that simple.”

“The trouble with reading is it goes to your head. Read too many books and you get savvy. You begin to think you know which kind of story you’re in. Then some stupid git with a cosmic quill fucks you over.”

“We think stories are contained things, but they’re not. Ask the muses. Humans, stories, tragedies, and wishes—everything leaves ripples in the world. Nothing we do is not felt; that’s a comfort. Nothing we do is not felt; that’s a curse.

“Stories are, at the most basic level, how we make sense of the world. It doesn’t do to forget that sometimes heroes fail you when you need them the most. Sometimes you throw your lot in with villains.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

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GoodReads Summary:
It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.
Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games–an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.
And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.
A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2)Review:
I just finished this book and I really would just like to leave the Earth or completely cease existing because of the final page. I am so mad at Victoria Schwab for the final chapter of A Gathering of Shadows. But, let me back up to the beginning of this book.
I loved this book. I had a hard time the first 200 pages or so, but that was my issue and not actually related to the book. I was still interested in the characters, the story, and the world while reading, but I just wasn’t having the burning desire to pick it up. This quickly changed the further into the story I got.
I’m still very fascinated by this world. I’m loving the small changes we got to see with Grey London and the very extreme changes with White London. I’m so interested to see how it’s all going to come together in book three.
I really try not to swear too much in my reviews, but I fucking love Lila Bard. She might be my all-time favorite female character. I love that she carves her own place in this new world she’s chosen. She makes hard choices for herself and owns every single one of those choices. I just really love everything about her. She’s sassy, smart as hell, and will literally kill you if you cross her. What’s not to love?
Kell, my poor baby Kell. I really didn’t like him all that much in book one, but now I love him very much. By the end of book one, I grew to love him. So, this book was easier in the beginning because I already loved Kell. He’s treated like crap by his so-called parents (the king and queen). I really hated them in this book. They treat Kell like his life only matters now that he is tied to Rhy and that really made me mad. Kell is struggling with his new bond to Rhy. I really felt for him.
Let’s talk about Rhy. After reading this book, I feel like we didn’t get to see Rhy at all in A Darker Shade of Magic. But in book two, we get so much more. We get to know him better as Kell’s brother, as a future king, just overall as a character. I really enjoyed this because in the last book it felt like we just got to know him from Kell’s thoughts and opinions.
We also get to meet a few new characters. One of which is Alucard, the captain of the ship Lila managed to get on when book one ends. I really loved him. He called Lila out countless times and it makes me screech every time. I loved the mystery surrounding him. I also loved the romance in his past and I hope it’s renewed because I love both of them so much. I cannot wait to see what kind of role he plays in the last book.
Overall, I loved this book. I loved it significantly more than the first and I will be starting the third as soon as I finish this review. So, I’m going to wrap it up so I can get reading. I loved the world, the characters, all the little bits and pieces that Schwab brought together. Though I totally am still mad about the ending.

Quotes:

“I gave him my life, but you cannot ask me to stop living.”

“She bent most of the rules. She broke the rest.”

“If anyone could make the strange seem ordinary, the impossible look easy, it was Delilah Bard”

“Perhaps power had to be tended, like Tieren said, but not all things grew in gardens. Plenty of plants grew wild. And Lila had always thought of herself more as a weed than a rose bush.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

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GoodReads Summary:
Kell is one of the last Antari―magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.
Kell was raised in Arnes―Red London―and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.
Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.
After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.
Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.
A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)Review:
I’m going to start this review with a little back story. I recently rearranged my bookshelves (like three times before I got them to where I wanted them). I separated the books that I’ve read and the ones that I still haven’t read. Then I went further and organized them by age range (middle-grade, young adult, and adult). This made it very clear that my unread books were very unbalanced in the sense of age ranges. I have way more adult books that I haven’t read than either of the others. So, in my journey to work on getting my physical TBR down, I’ve decided to try to focus on my adult books so that I can get my TBR a little more balanced again. I feel like I’m making small goals to work toward the bigger goal. So, A Darker Shade of Magic was the first book I’ve picked up to work toward this. I’ve had A Darker Shade of Magic on my shelf for an embarrassingly long time. I’ve tried to pick it up so many times, and I even almost DNF’d it this most recent time.
Okay, now for the review. I was going to start off by saying that the world-building was my favorite part of the story, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that the characters were just as much a favorite part of this story. The concept of there being four different London’s was so interesting. Though I still have questions. Is there magic in the whole world of Londons that have magic? Is London the only commonality of these four worlds? Will we get to see more of any of the worlds in the next books? The parts of the world that we see was so interesting, but I’m still a bit disappointed that we didn’t get to see Black London. The world was so intricate and complex, the way the four London’s connect but also are so different from one another. I’m very excited to continue the series and see more of these London’s.
The characters were amazing. I wasn’t really sold on this book until I met Lila. I love Lila with my whole heart. She’s a thief, that mostly dresses as a man. I loved how fiery and strong-willed she is. I loved her dream of being a pirate. I loved her ‘take no shit’ attitude. She doesn’t let anyone tell her what she can and cannot do. It wasn’t until I met Lila that I really started to like Kell. I thought he was interesting, sure, but until he and Lila started interacting, I didn’t really care. Once he and Lila have a plan and start working toward their goal, I cared a lot. These two were really the best. Their personalities are so different but they complement each other in the best ways.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I’m very excited to pick up book two. I think the book was filled with an incredible world and characters that will make you love them, even if you don’t want to at first.

Quotes:

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

“Hesitation is the death of advantage.”

“He would see her again. He knew he would. Magic bent the world. Pulled it into shape. There were fixed points. Most of the time they were places. But sometimes, rarely, they were people. For someone who never stood still, Lila felt like a pin in Kell’s world. One he was sure to snag on.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

GoodReads Summary:
This is the way the world ends… for the last time.
The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.
Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.
For Nassun, her mother’s mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.
The remarkable conclusion to the post-apocalyptic and highly acclaimed trilogy that began with the multi-award-nominated The Fifth Season.
The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth, #3)Review:
I really don’t know how to explain my feelings for this series. I think I do it better in my first two reviews because I liked the first two books better. That’s not me saying that I didn’t like this book, because I still gave it five stars on GoodReads.
But there were a few things I didn’t like about this ending. We get parts of the story that follow Hoa, one of the stone eaters. I definitely thought getting this history was interesting but I feel like adding this made it so the conclusion was really fast. I wanted more from Nassun and Essun’s reunion. I thought it all happened too fast.
Despite not liking this aspect, I still really enjoyed this book. I loved getting Hoa’s history. I thought it was fascinating to learn about how the current world came about. I also really enjoyed the different journeys of all of the different characters.
Overall, this series was full of incredible characters that I couldn’t help but love and a fascinating world that I loved learning more and more about. I’ve already ordered all of Jemisin’s other books and I cannot wait to love them just as much as I did this series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin

GoodReads Summary:
This is the way the world ends… for the last time.
The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring – madman, world-crusher, savior – has returned with a mission: to train his successor, Essun, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever.
It continues with a lost daughter, found by the enemy.
It continues with the obelisks, and an ancient mystery converging on answers at last.
The Stillness is the wall which stands against the flow of tradition, the spark of hope long buried under the thickening ashfall. And it will not be broken.
The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2)Review:
Just like the first book, I loved everything about this story. If it was reasonable to just copy my review for that here, I would totally do it. The Obelisk Gate was just as much of a wild ride as The Fifth Season. The world is just so fascinating there’s no stopping being sucked into the story, dying to find out more about what’s happening.
What I really loved about this book was that for some of the chapters we get to see what’s been happening with Nassun, Essun’s daughter. The way that Jemisin connects the two stories is mind-blowing. All of the little bits and pieces we’re getting to figure out just made me want to read faster and faster, but I’m loving the world and its characters that I want to slow down so I can stay engrossed in the story for as long as possible.
I really loved seeing Essun’s past come back to her present. It was one of the best parts of the story because it gave me some of my favorite things from the first book back.
I’m typing this as fast as I can so that I can spend more time reading book three before I have to go to bed tonight. I loved this world. The magic and politics were so interesting, but there’s also the way we’re left wondering how the world got to be the way it is. Some characters seem to know more about it and I’m dying to learn more.
This story remains incredibly diverse with race and skin color, sexuality, and gender identity. I loved this aspect so much. I loved how these things were made to be normal in this world.
Overall, I loved this book. I cannot wait to finish the series. The story just goes by so quickly because it is so easy to get pulled into the world with these characters. Jemisin’s writing is incredible. If I am ever half the writer that she is, it would be a wonder. I found myself not realizing that I’d almost finished the story. This is a world I never want to leave and will definitely be returning to.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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

GoodReads Summary:
A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.
The House in the Cerulean SeaReview:
T.J. Klune has quickly become a new favorite author of mine. This is only my second book written by him that I’ve read, but it was nothing short of incredible.
The story follows Linus Baker at his job with the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY). He starts off as this incredibly boring man. One that does his job and goes home to his cat. A good man, he’s fair and kind, but he does his part for DICOMY and nothing more. That is until Extremely Upper Management sends him to check on an orphanage unlike any he’s been to before.
I immediately liked all of the inhabitants of the island. The children were unique and fascinating, which Linus agreed with, but he also knew that they were still just children. I really appreciated that fact because even though they were potentially very dangerous, they were still just children that wanted love and adventure. I really grew to love the children right alongside Linus. I thought the mystery of Arthur was well done. It was clear that there was something different about him, but we didn’t know what for a while. I liked that the mystery was drawn out, but not overly so. The way that Klune tells the story is just indescribable. He draws you into the world, makes you care about Arthur, Linus, and the children in a way that you just can’t help.
This whole world and all of its characters made this story perfect. It shares a message of love and acceptance. The characters are so full of life and love. They made me laugh and smile, and occasionally made my heart hurt. I think this is a story that so many people will love. I would recommend this to anyone.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.