Under Currents by Nora Roberts

GoodReads Summary:
For both Zane and Darby, their small-town roots hold a terrible secret. Now, decades later, they’ve come together to build a new life. But will the past set them free or pull them under?
Zane Bigelow grew up in a beautiful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Strangers―and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake―see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Only Zane and his sister know the truth, until one brutal night finally reveals cracks in the facade, and Zane escapes for college without a thought of looking back…
Years later, Zane returns to his hometown determined to reconnect with the place and people that mean so much to him, despite the painful memories. As he resumes life in the colorful town, he meets a gifted landscape artist named Darby, who is on the run from ghosts of her own.
Together they will have to teach each other what it means to face the past, and stand up for the ones they love.
Under Currents by Nora RobertsReview:
I will never ever have a bad thing to say about Nora Roberts. I’ve been such a huge fan of her books for so long. Under Currents was no different. The only thing that was different for my reading experience this time was that since I’ve started taking my college writing classes, I’ve begun to notice the writing in books more, rather than just plowing through the story. I found myself blown away with certain little things that she connected and certain lines. I think from the perspective of a fledgling writer Nora is a Goddess.
I’m going to try to keep this short and to the point, but longer than “I love this, go buy it and read it now.” Nora just has a way with the characters that make you fall in love with them. She gives them incredible histories and develops them beautifully. You can’t help but love her characters. In this story, that was Zane and all of his extended family. I hated the first part of this book because of Zane’s past, but once he starts living with his aunt, Emily, I just couldn’t get enough. Then we meet Darby. I finished this book and then proceeded to ask my aunt to help me plant some flowers in my yard. Her passion for what she loves to do was inspiring.
Nora’s books tend to follow a similar structure of giving the backstory on the characters, they fall in love, then some ‘big bad’ comes and shakes everything up. This one was similar but still had its own twist. I like that even though the structure was similar to most of her other standalone novels I still had such a good time reading it.
Overall, Nora Roberts can do no wrong. I will love every one of her books until the end of time. If you haven’t picked up anything by her, you should do so now.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

Summary:
When Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising.
But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .
Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.
The Poppy War (The Poppy War, #1)Review:
Another book down for the BookTube SFF Awards reading! I’ve been slowly trying to get to all the books nominated for these awards. The Poppy War is one I’ve heard nothing but good things about. So, I was surprised to find that I didn’t like it as much as I anticipated I was going to.
This is an adult historical fantasy that had quite a lot going on. I thought I was going to get a story of our main character going away to school and learning about how to lead an army or something else political in her country. But instead I got that, plus some war.
I loved the main character. Rin was sassy and sarcastic and didn’t take anyone bullshit. Just because she was a war orphan didn’t mean that she didn’t earn her place in the school she’s come to. And she doesn’t let anyone push her around. I loved it. She made me laugh quite a few times.
But the further into the book we got, the less I liked the story. As the country starts going to war is when I started enjoying it less. There were a few parts I had to skip pages because it was too gruesome and graphic. I didn’t love that. I know it’s adult fantasy, but I’ve read my fair share that didn’t have scenes like The Poppy War.
Aside from this, I thought the story was interesting and cool, but things happened so quickly. I would have liked for the story to slow down just a bit and get more into the details that happened in the beginning. I thought the mythology and the world were really intricate and interesting and thought I didn’t love The Poppy War I’m still planning to read the sequel.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Contemporary January Recommendations – Realistic Fiction Edition

Hi, lovelies! I’m back again to share with you some more bookish recommendations, one of my favorite things to do of course. This week we are continuing on with Contemporary January, click the link if you’re not sure what that is. Our genre for this week is realistic fiction. There are so many great books for this one but I’m going to do my best to only mention my favorites.

Check out Alana’s recommendations here!

Contemp Jan

Looking for Alaska John Green
My favorite book of all time. This story talks about grief and loss and found its way to me at a time in my life when I needed it the most.

Identical by Ellen Hopkins
This is one of my favorite books by Hopkins, but really I suggest reading any and all of her books. This story talks about drug use and abuse, family issues and it blew me away.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
I thought this story was so unique as it follows the main character as she gets her novel published, but it also alternates between her story and the story she wrote. Westerfeld is an incredible author and this book is evidence of that.

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Laurel writes letters to various dead people, mostly famous musicians, as she tries to deal with the loss of her sister and beginning high school at the same time. I’ve read this book countless times and you should too.

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
Despite the drama with this book/author, I will always love this book. It was one of the first stories I read about addiction and it really stuck with me.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
A story that will make you think outside of the box that you live within for sure. As someone that has never experienced the things Shirin has, this was a thought-provoking and interesting story that provided the pleasure of some romance too.

Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn
This story was hard-hitting​ but also has some sentimental value to me. My brother showed me this book after he had to read it in high school. I read it shortly after he did and several more times since then. It’s a story of love and abuse and how the two can be dangerous together.

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
I’m almost mad at myself for how long I slept on this book. I listened to the audiobook and it just made the story that much better. With the pirate accents and the powerful story, I recommend this to anyone looking for books about mental health.

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
This is a book​ I picked up when I was getting back into blogging after moving across the country twice and finally settling down and being able to buy books again. It was exactly what I wanted from it. A story about a girl that struggles with self-harm​ and drug abuse, I flew through this book.

The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody
The perfect holiday romance. Dealing with grief and survivors guilt this book was so much more than I expected. I read this during a 24hour readathon and I’m so happy to have read it.

Puddin’ by Julie Murphy
The underrated companion novel of Dumplin’. This book was so much better than the first and I hope that it also gets its own movie.

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
Alana sent me this one as a Christmas gift off of my wishlist and I’m so freaking glad she did. It was my first read of 2019 and I’m so glad it was. I cannot sing it’s praises enough.

How She Died, How I Lived by Mary Crockett
This was another recommendation from Alana and I’m glad for it. It brought ideas and conversations to the table that I wouldn’t have otherwise thought about. It was thought-provoking and hard-hitting for sure.

These are just a handful of the books I could recommend. They are the best of the best that I’ve read. Some I’ve read more recently and others I read years ago. All excellent choices and books I suggest reading as soon as possible. What books that fit the realistic fiction genre would you recommend?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #ContemporaryJanuary and tag me & Alana if you’re joining in! You can find me on Twitter, Instagram and/or GoodReads to keep up to date with any announcements and see what I’m reading!

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