Blogmas Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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GoodReads Summary:
Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless, she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic.
Caraval (Caraval, #1)Review:
In an attempt to read all of the GoodReads Choice Awards Nominees, I am having to catch up on a few series that I have fallen behind on. Caraval is one of those series. I read this when it first came out in 2017. But never managed to pick up the second book when it came out. So, now the series is complete and the third and final book is a nominee, so I’m playing catch up.
I enjoyed this one. I don’t know how much of that was due to my love of the narrator and how much was actually due to the story. My all-time favorite narrator, Rebecca Soler, is really what brings life to this story. I was actually tearing up at one point because of the emotions she portrays.
Garber has created some really interesting characters in this story. Scarlett is annoying, but also, I couldn’t help but feel for her. She comes from a family that is not great. Her dad is abusive, her mother left, and her grandmother died. She’s planning to marry a stranger to escape her father. The one thing she wants most in the world is to protect her younger sister, Tella.
Tella is reckless and just wants to have fun. She doesn’t totally understand what kind of man her father is. I thought she was kind of selfish. I get choosing your own happiness, but at the expense of your sister? A sister that has done nothing but protect you her entire life? That’s selfish. I’ve heard the next book is more focused on her, so we will see if my opinion of her changes.
I really don’t even want to talk about the men. They’re all liars. They’re conniving and, dare I say, evil. I still kind of liked them though. The twist with Julian and Legend was a great one. I wanted to hate them, but…somehow couldn’t?
Overall, I enjoyed this. Though there were somethings I didn’t like, it was still a fun story. I would have liked to know a bit more about the world and the magic. The world wasn’t explained outside of Scarlett’s hometown and the island where Caraval happens. The magic was very undefined. There didn’t seem to be too many limitations and I was just left wanting to know more. I liked the characters well enough, even the ones I didn’t like really made me feel something. I had fun listening to the audiobook and I’m interested to see what’s going to happen next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

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Summary:
Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe … which is now filling with blood.
When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.
Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.
Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.
StepsisterReview:
I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer Donnelly while she was doing the book tour for Stepsister. She was honestly so inspiring. I’ve been so excited to read Stepsister since that event. I finally managed to listen to the audiobook for the NEWTs.
Stepsister is the story of Cinderella’s sisters and what happens to them after Ella marries the prince and becomes Queen. I am in awe of Donnelly with the complexities of this story. Isabelle is being guided by two characters, Fate and Chance. It took me way too long to realize the significance of Chance other than it just being his name. Chance steals Isabelle’s life map from the Fate’s, and does everything in his power to change her path.
Isabelle was a really unlikable character. Which I’m pretty sure was the intention. This wasn’t a happy story. It was a story about growth. How to find the pieces of your heart and escape the title of ‘ugly step-sister.’
I am really not sure how to explain this story. But it was one of loss and regret and learning to love yourself. The things that Isabelle and her family endure could break anyone. But she doesn’t let it. She tries and tries, again and again, to do the right things, to be a better person. But she learns that it’s not that easy. Isabelle’s path is not an easy one, but despite the forces trying to hinder her, she finds her way.
Overall, this was a fascinating story. It was filled with unlikeable characters that learned how to be better, how to change their ways before it was too late, and how to love themselves even though they may not be traditionally pretty. Fate and Chance pulled the path in countless directions, keeping things interesting. If you’re a lover of fairytales, this is the story for you.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Day Eighteen: Audiobook Edition

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Hi, lovelies! Let’s talk about audiobooks. I know not everyone listens to them, but I thought Spooktober would be the perfect time to talk about some really well-done audiobooks that would be perfect for this time of year. I’ve listened to a fair share of them in the past year, some good, some bad, but today I’ll talk about the best of them.

Sadie by Courtney Summers
If you haven’t heard about this book, specifically the audiobook, you must live in a closet. This full-cast audiobook follows two storylines and I just could not stop listening. The story is just brought to life in this format.

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
I loved this book, no matter the format. The story was fascinating and full of mystery and adventure. The audiobook really brought the characters out.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
Kate Rudd is an incredible narrator. I loved this book physically, but even more so on audio. This is a must-read for the fall season.

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
With multiple narrators, this was another one that I just didn’t want to stop listening to until I got to the end. One of Us is Lying was also good on audio, but this one was better.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Though the narrator took a bit of getting used to, I really enjoyed the audiobooks for this one. It’s such an atmospheric story, and audio really enhanced that.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
A throwback for some YA paranormal, the audiobook was fun and slightly cheesy, there were sound effects and songs and I just had fun with it.

Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts
This mystery was a wild one. I cried in the first chapter and was trapped on the edge of my seat for the rest.

Let me your audiobook recommendations in the comments! I’m always looking for the next one to listen to. Have you read any of these?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Summary:
Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interface has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.
Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.
But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.
Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)Review:
I have been wanting to reread this series for years. I remember reading these books years ago when they first came out but it’s been so long, I barely remember anything from them. The audiobooks have been repeatedly recommended to me so I thought I’d give them a try. Cinder is the book I chose to fill the spot for Ancient Runes – Retelling in the Magical Readathon (read my whole TBR here.)
I really enjoyed the audiobook version of this story. I think the narrator did an excellent job of telling the story. The characters were easily identifiable, their voice was enjoyable. I thought it was a great listening experience over all.
As for the story itself, I remembered a few of the bigger plot twists so the story seemed almost predictable but that was just because I’d read it before. Regardless, this didn’t take away from the story at all, in my opinion. I think a science fiction Cinderella retelling is one of the more creative things I’ve heard of. I also think that the retelling aspect of the story is pretty good. Cinder’s backstory is the typical father figure dying and being left with awful stepmother/sisters. I really liked that in this retelling Cinder is actually friends with one of her stepsisters.
There was so much going on in this book, but I think it was paced well and each new aspect of the mystery and plot were introduced nicely and without seeming rushed or too much. Knowing the little bit that I know about the series already; it was interesting to see how some of the ideas shared in this book were going to play a part in later books in the series.
I really liked Cinder. She was sassy but awkward. She was extremely insecure about her cyborg parts which was sad but makes me excited to see her grow more confident and happier with who she is. There’s so much potential for character growth and I know it’s coming after learning what we did in the minutes of the book. The things we learned about Cinder have me so excited to finish rereading the series.
Overall, I had a fun time with this audiobook. I’m happy to have found another series that I like the audiobooks for. I can easily get sucked into this series and I can’t wait to reread the rest of the books.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Pacifica by Kristen Simmons

Summary:
Blue skies. Green grass. Clear ocean water.
An island paradise like the ones that existed before the Melt.
A lucky five hundred lottery winners will be the first to go, the first to leave their polluted, dilapidated homes behind and start a new life. It sounds perfect. Like a dream.
The only problem? Marin Carey spent her childhood on those seas and knows there’s no island paradise out there. She’s corsario royalty, a pirate like her father and his father before him, and she knows a con when she sees one. So where are the first five hundred really going?
PacificaReview:
This is the second book by Kristen Simmons that I have tried because she is going to be at an event I am also going to be at. Sadly, I am once again disappointed. I liked Pacifica more than her other novel, but I don’t think I’ll be trying any other books by her.
I have the same issues with this story that I did with ARTICLE 5. The setting was incredible. A dystopian California full of political drama and ruined by natural disasters along with other human causes. The world was interesting and chaotic and filled with all the things I like (read: pirates, futuristic messed up America, hate to love).
Despite the potential this story had with the setting, I just didn’t care about the characters. They were alright. They weren’t anything special. The typical misunderstood poor girl and privileged boy from the nice side of town. One teaches the other how messed up the world really is and all the things that the rich people are doing wrong. I just didn’t care about any of it. I really wish I did because it could have been a story I really like but I just wasn’t invested in these characters.
I wish I had liked this story more, but I didn’t. It had all of the elements of a story I would like, but the characters just fell flat for me.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

GoodReads Summary:
Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.
Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.
Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.
The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.
Daisy Jones & The SixReview:
There were so many things I loved about Daisy Jones and the Six that I honestly don’t even know where to start. Taylor Jenkins Reid is so incredibly talented. I can only hope to be as skilled as she is one day. I listened to the audiobook for this story and I’m very glad I did. I’ll talk about that first. This audiobook was narrated by a full cast. Each character had its own narrator which is one of my favorite things. I adore audiobooks with full casts. Each narrator bought life and personality to their character. I loved the interview formatting of the story as well. Bringing up an event or time period and then letting each of the characters tell the story of that event the way they remembered it was so complex and captivating. Which brings me to one of the things that really fascinated me about this story. Because it was the memories of all seven of the band members, plus a few other characters, no one characters told the same story. They each told things they were they remembered so the experiences varied from character to character. I think that added so much complexity to the story. It really made you think about how no two people have the same memories or experiences of the same events. Another thing that Taylor Jenkins Reid does really well is writing a story that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until she’s finished. After reading this book, it was hard not to think that these were all real people and a totally true story. The fact that Reid can make me think, “wait this didn’t happen?” really just blows me away.
I’m not going to talk about each character because there were entirely too many and that would make this review way too long. The characters each had their own personality and their own voice which I appreciate. They were distinct and vibrant, each in their own ways. They all had different goals and motivations which really made for a great story. They brought such fun and excitement and life into the story. I think the character were really what made Daisy Jones and the Six was it was. The story was all about the characters and their experiences and their feelings. There wasn’t really a specific plot outside of following the band members and other miscellaneous people as they rose to fame and then eventually fell apart. I think this story was written beautifully. I loved the whole experience. I cannot wait to see what Taylor Jenkins Reid comes up with next.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Audiobooks

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 top ten – Audio Freebie (Any audio goes: audiobooks, music, podcasts, you name it.) I’m going to share my top ten favorite audiobooks.

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The Themis Files by Sylvain Neuvel

Sadie by Courtney Summers

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

One of Us is Lying  by Karen M. McManus

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Puddin’ by Julie Murphy

What are your favorite audiobook books?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare

Summary:
Simon Lewis has been a human and a vampire, and now he is becoming a Shadowhunter. But the events of City of Heavenly Fire left him stripped of his memories, and Simon isn’t sure who he is anymore. So, when the Shadowhunter Academy reopens, Simon throws himself into this new world of demon-hunting, determined to find himself again. Whoever this new Simon might be.
Join Simon on his journey to become a Shadowhunter, and learn about the Academy’s illustrious history along the way, through guest lecturers such as Jace Herondale, Tessa Gray, and Magnus Bane. These ten moving and hilarious short stories, each with an accompanying illustration, give a satisfying epilogue to the Mortal Instruments series and provide tantalizing glimpses into the Dark Artifices.
Tales from the Shadowhunter AcademyReview:
I absolutely adored these novellas. I think they are so well done and add so much to the overall Shadowhunter world. I don’t understand how people can skip reading these novella bind ups because there are so many HUGE details they will be missing out on. I prefer Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy over The Bane Chronicles but only because Simon is my all-time favorite character in this universe. He’s overcome so much as at first just a regular mundane and then dealt with becoming a vampire, then the daylighter, saving the world, and losing his memories. Simon really doesn’t get the appreciation he deserves until this book. I loved every page. I laughed. I cried. I was surprised. I had my ice-cold heart warmed. We really got new insight into Simon. Seeing the challenges he faced at Shadowhunter Academy was great, but even more, we see his personal challenges while dealing with his memory loss and trying to figure out who he is after everything. There were so many familiar faces we got to see that I was happy about. Clary and Isabelle obviously, but we also got to see Caterina in more depth and I enjoyed her parts. We also saw more of Tessa which I liked. The characters that came to visit shared stories we didn’t know about characters we knew in the past. I thought these stories were just as interesting as Simon’s experiences. I loved the story about the Lightwood’s dad (I can’t remember his name) and him sharing about his time in the circle. Then there were the secrets we learned. I think it was so interesting and creatively done that the events in TMI were connected to too various things in TDA. I think this was exactly as the synopsis says, “A satisfying epilogue to the Mortal Instruments and a tantalizing glimpse into the Dark Artifices.” But there are also connections made to the Infernal Devices and it somehow warmed and broke my heart at the same time.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Sadie by Courtney Summers

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

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

Summary:
In this dazzling and long-awaited conclusion to the acclaimed Mortal Instruments series, Clary and her friends fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother.
Sebastian Morgenstern is on the move, systematically turning Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter. Bearing the Infernal Cup, he transforms Shadowhunters into creatures out of a nightmare, tearing apart families and lovers as the ranks of his Endarkened army swell.
The embattled Shadowhunters withdraw to Idris-but not even the famed demon towers of Alicante can keep Sebastian at bay. And with the Nephilim trapped in Idris, who will guard the world against demons?
When one of the greatest betrayals the Nephilim has ever known is revealed, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec must flee-even if their journey takes them deep into the demon realms, where no Shadowhunter has set foot before, and from which no human being has ever returned…
Love will be sacrificed and lives lost in the terrible battle for the fate of the world in the thrilling final installment of the classic urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments.
Review:
This was an excellent conclusion to The Mortal Instruments. The story was wrapped up just enough to be satisfying, but with enough loose ends to know that we will be getting more from these characters. If I were reading this before all the other books were out in this world, I would be dying for more, but knowing what happens in later books I think this was a perfect ending because it leaves all the right loose ends that will be answered in The Dark Artifices. This was a reread for me. Check out my review for the previous book here.
I’m not going to ramble too much in this review. if you want more of my thoughts of this story check out my reviews of the previous books in the series. I feel as if I’ve talked about these characters enough that I don’t need to write too much about them.
Overall I loved all the characters. I’m very invested in them at this point. I think Clary really grew and I think she and Jace grew together as a couple. I liked seeing this development with them because they were honestly so annoying when they were younger. I loved the supporting characters as I’ve mentioned before. Alex and Magnus are the absolute best and I loved their struggles and developments and seeing them figure out who they are together despite their differences was great. Simon is still a million percent my favorite character in this series and I really thought Cassandra Clare was going to do him dirty like that, but she saved herself and I’m excited to read about him in the later books. I also totally ship Simon and Isabelle so hard. I think they’re so good for one another.
There are two new characters (well several but two that need mentioning.) that are introduced in the beginning of this book (which I didn’t like but I’ll talk about that later) Emma and Julian are two characters that I know will be important in TDA, but I didn’t like the way they were introduced. I didn’t like that this book started with them. I would have preferred the story start with Clary and Jace and squad instead of new characters that had me wondering WTF was going on. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Emma and Julian, I just didn’t like that we started Heavenly Fire with their point of view. I liked how it ended though because it left all the perfect loose ends to lead into TDA with these characters.
City of Heavenly Fire probably would have gotten five stars from me on GoodReads had it not been for the narrator. For some reason that I can’t think of because it just makes no sense to me, the narrator was changed. The narrator of this final book was different from the last book and I really didn’t like that. I may have liked the narrator more had I been listening to something else, but the change in narrators really bothered me so I noticed quite a few things I didn’t like. First, the narrator has an English accent. This isn’t something that usually bothers me except that these characters live and grew up in New York. None of them are English in any sense. Along with that, some of the characters were narrated without an English accent and some with it. For example, Clary was read without an accent but her mother, Jocelyn, had one and this just really bothered me because it was totally different from the previous book. There were a few other voices that were weirdly accented and it just really bothered me. I couldn’t forget about it through the whole thing. I think this really affected my enjoyment of the story sadly, but I still liked the book and I would like to try to find something else with this narrator and give her another try.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Blogmas Book Review – Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Summary:
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.
Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.
With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.
Review:
Dumplin’ has been talked about in the bookish community, so when I saw the audiobook available through my library I took the chance. This was really not what I expected. From the synopsis, you think most of the book will be able Willadean participating in the pageant when in reality we don’t even hear her consider doing it until like halfway into the book.
I’m going to keep this review short because I just really don’t have that much to say. It was an okay book. I liked Will at first but the way she changed really annoyed me. I liked all of her friends. They were interesting characters.
The narrator, Eileen Stevens, really brought this story to life. She did an excellent job telling this story, giving each character a voice of their own.
As a whole, I probably wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. But not because it was bad, there’s just so many books that I would recommend first.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

GoodReads Summary:
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
Review:
My latest library audiobook find was The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I’ve heard so many good things about this story so I couldn’t believe that it was available on my Libby app! I snapped it up and listened to this twelve-hour audiobook in two days. I could not stop listening to this book.
First off, the narrators (there were a few) did an excellent job. I liked that the different characters had their own narrators. I love audiobooks with a cast narration, they’re my favorite. They did such a great job with this book.
The story itself was written in an interesting way too. It was written as a back and forth between Evelyn and our main character Monique. Every now and then there were news articles or blog posts talking about current events or discussion events that were happening in Evelyn’s life at the point of her life she was telling us about.
I thought it was really great the different kinds of characters, there was certainly a diverse cast. Monique was biracial with a white mom and an African American father. Evelyn was Cuban American. There were also characters of all sorts of sexual orientations, gay men, lesbians, bisexual characters. I thought the variety of the players in this book just made it that much better.
There was a story being told within a story and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed getting to know Monique her life and the struggles she’s facing. Enter Evelyn, a major complication. She propositions Monique in a way that may cause her to lose her job, but ultimately make millions of dollars writing a book.
The story just got more and more in-depth and complicated. I seriously could not stop listening. I was dying to know what was going to happen in Evelyn’s story next. Evelyn was a famous actress starting in the 50s through the 80s. She pushed boundaries and did whatever she needed to get what she wanted. She was determined and ruthless. I liked that she was a kick-ass lady in a time that wasn’t always accepting of kick-ass ladies. She had so many crazy adventures and I felt as if I was having them alongside her as the story was being read to me.
I loved everything about this book. I think everyone should read it. It’s definitely going to make a few of my favorites for 2018 lists that will be coming up in the next few months.
Have you read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Summary:
The second installment in the all-new series from the masterful, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!
Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…
Review:
My latest audiobook listen, The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. The second book in The Raven Cycle series. I’m liking this series more and more as I get more into it.
This book focuses more closes on Ronan, who is my personal favorite of the Raven boys. I love a mysterious boy with a messy backstory and Ronan certainly fits this bill. I enjoyed learning more about him and the things that made him into the moody sometimes mean boy that he is.
I listened to the audiobook. I have to say that the narrator did a great job. I tend to listen to more female narrators than male, but he did great telling the story.
The only complaint I have is that the various perspectives, Ronan, the Grey Man, Blue, Adam, etc. was a little confusing with the audio. I think I’ll continue reading the series instead of listening to it because I feel like I missed out because of the back and forth between characters.
I liked this book. It was an excellent follow up to The Raven Boys (Read my review here) I’m excited to see where this series goes next. I loved these characters still (and more.) The story was full of action and adventure and craziness. I flew through the story needing to know what happens next. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a story about some weirdness. This series would have been great for Halloween!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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The Diviners by Libba Bray

GoodReads Summary:
Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.
Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.
Review:
This enormous book took me WAY too long to listen to. I had to request The Diviners three or four times before actually getting through the 12+ hour audiobook. I have a few things to talk about, some good and some bad.
Let’s start with the good. I really enjoyed the narrator. She did an excellent job portraying all the different characters. There were songs she had to sing and various male and female characters. I am super impressed that this book is narrated by one person for the entire thing. I liked the uniqueness of the story. It’s a really interesting concept. I also really liked the writing itself. Bray writes very well, giving the story personality. There were lots of little things that caught my attention that I enjoyed. There were quite a few supporting characters. Each of these characters got their own backstory. Bray did a great job of giving each of them a thorough background.
Now sadly the things I didn’t like we’re all of the important things. I didn’t like the characters. They were okay. I don’t actively dislike them, but I didn’t like them enough to get invested in them. Evie was annoying until over halfway through the book. She’s immature and selfish. She was also clever and determined and resourceful. Uncle Will was secretive and underestimated Evie at every turn, which was also annoying. He has secrets that weren’t revealed by the end of the book. I know this is supposed to make me want to read the next books, but I honestly can’t imagine listening to another 12+ hours of these characters running around. Despite all of the characters having their own stories and their futures intertwining, I just couldn’t get invested. The plot/storyline was interesting but there’s something about it that I just couldn’t get into. I think maybe it was the time period it took place in. During the time of prohibition, I’m supposed to believe there are all these people with magic powers and everyone’s just going to accept that? Meh, I’m not interested.
I really wanted to like this book. So many people love this story but I’m not one of them. I don’t know that I’ll be attempting to finish the series. I likely would have just DNF’d the book, but I by the time I said to myself, “why am I still listening to this?” I had waited a few months (this is all of the time combined) for it to be available at my library and I was 60 something percent of the way through the story. So, I decided to push through and finish it.
I thought this was going to be the perfect book for spooktober, but despite an interesting story idea and an excellent narrator I was not terribly invested in The Diviners even though I tried really hard to be. Don’t let this review deter you from the story though, so so many others loved this book. It just wasn’t for me.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our link (just click on the book cover) to support us!

Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel

GoodReads Summary:
In her childhood, Rose Franklin accidentally discovered a giant metal hand buried beneath the ground outside Deadwood, South Dakota. As an adult, Dr. Rose Franklin led the team that uncovered the rest of the body parts which together form Themis: a powerful robot of mysterious alien origin. She, along with linguist Vincent, pilot Kara, and the unnamed Interviewer, protected the Earth from geopolitical conflict and alien invasion alike. Now, after nearly ten years on another world, Rose returns to find her old alliances forfeit and the planet in shambles. And she must pick up the pieces of the Earth Defense Corps as her own friends turn against each other.
Review:
The third book in the Themis Files, Only Human, was an excellent finale to this incredible trilogy. I listened to this book (as well as the first two) as an audiobook from my wonderful library. I really loved the audiobook experience for this series. It was really more of a performance than just a narrated story. The only complaint I have for this audiobook is that two of the characters were narrated by someone different than in the first two audiobooks. I got used to the new voice of Rose, but I couldn’t handle how different the narrator for Eva sounded. In book two she had a Puerto Rican accent because that’s where she grew up until she was ten, but in Only Human, she has something closer to the accent of a New Yorker. It bugged me the entire time I listened.
I continued to love all the characters that make up this story. Rose was interesting in this book. I liked the conflict between her and Vincent. Rose wanting to stay on the alien planet was not a surprise at all, but the attitude of the aliens that inhabit the planet was a bit surprising. Vincent was still entertaining and doing his best to be a father to Eva. In his attempts, he may have made their relationship worse. His loyalty and love for Eva led him to do crazy things that may have been a bit over the line. But Vincent would do anything he needed to in order to protect his loved ones. Eva grew into a little fireball. She’s now nineteen and trying to assert her independence. Like Rose, she didn’t want to leave the alien planet. Growing up there she made friends and created a life for herself. So it’s not really a huge surprise that she didn’t want to come back to Earth. She was a firecracker and didn’t hold back. I love that she always spoke her mind no matter who she was talking to or what she was saying.
I think what I liked most about this book was that even though it was the conclusion to the series and most of the story was wrapping up loose ends there were still things happening that surprised me. I was surprised at the chaos that was Earth once they returned. I liked how this book was concluded. Too many books leave me unsatisfied with the ending of the series, but this one did not. I liked that everything felt final and like the readers got some closure.
Only Human was an excellent ending to the Themis Files. Readers got to see into the goings on of another planet while also seeing how alien intervention could affect Earth and the human population. We also see the characters make a hard choice to do the right thing, the better thing for the planet overall. I loved the characters and the story. I especially loved the format of these books. Written as if we’re listening to a series of interviews, radio broadcast and things of that nature (which I did actually listen to because audiobooks are the best), made for a really interesting listening experience. To any readers that enjoy themselves some science fiction, this series is one that I will recommend until I’m blue in the face. This series will also always be my first recommendation when talking about audiobooks.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

*Please be aware that the book cover on this post is a link to purchase this book through Amazon. Feel free to purchase with our affiliate link (just click on the book cover) to support us!